Muscle Strain Or Pulled Muscles: Diagnosis, Treatment, Rehabilitation Muscle Strain Or Pulled Muscles: Diagnosis, Treatment, Rehabilitation Skip to main content

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Muscle Strain Or Pulled Muscles: Diagnosis, Treatment, Rehabilitation

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Muscle Strain OR Pulled Muscle OR Muscle Tear: Diagnosis, Treatment, Rehabilitation, RICE
Muscle Strain OR Pulled Muscle OR Muscle Tear: Diagnosis, Treatment, Rehabilitation, RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
Who likes muscle strain? No one! But still it keep visiting our body time-to-time in our day-to-day life. This injury of muscle or tendon not only causes pain, but also gives swelled, discolored or popped surface. The worst part is, muscle strain causes are hidden in our daily activities. It can happen at any moment like while lifting a over-weighty item or playing. So if such a problem comes without invitation, what should one do? Below, know about muscle strain guideline that incorporates muscle strain diagnosis method, test, cure, prevention techniques, rehabilitation process, healing or recovery time duration, and RICE treatment for muscle tear!

In Case of Muscle Strain When to See a Doctor or Take Help of a Professional?

If the problem is related to strain, one must go to expert if:
  1. You sense inside or hear the sound of a pop in the muscle when the injury incident happens.
  2. The case is of severe pain, discoloration, or swelling in the strain-affected part. 
  3. You are feeling weakness in your muscle in comparison to the muscles of your opposite body part. 
  4. You are at unease because of strain-restricted muscles. 
  5. Home remedies for muscle strain or preliminary treatments don't ease with relief within 24 hours injury.
  6. Your muscle strain shows the problematic symptoms after 48 hours too. In case, the mild muscle strain's symptoms are not disappearing within two days of injury, it is a matter of some serious call.
  7. Your mild muscle strain pain worsens as the days past. 
  8. You are unable to perform your daily chores or activities due to severe back pain. 
  9. Your treatment is not beneficial for strained back after two weeks too. 
  10. Other than back pain, you are suffering from 
  • Chill
  • Fevers
  • Weakness
  • Numb leg
  • Groin numbness 
  • Rectum Numbness
  • Pain or burning signs while urinating 
  • Lost the control or feeling unease with bladder functioning or bowel mechanism
  • Tingling in leg  

Muscle Strain Diagnosis Method: Examinations

While diagnosis, the physician or doctor or concerned person may ask you the following questions:

  • Tell about the strain-triggering moment and activity. Was there any pop that time?
  • Are you sensing the lack of muscle strength, in comparison to when you were not injured?
  • Is the pain not allowing you to move strain-affected area?
  • In the recent time, have you suffered from fever, leg numbness, weight loss, bladder or urinary issues. 
  • Do you remember any inefficiency or symptoms that may point towards any medical problem?
With noting all about the above, the concerned person examines spasm, tenderness, weakness, movement and other states.
Other than quenching incident related queries and performing physical exams, a doctor takes the medical history as well.

Muscle Strain Examination Outcomes

Here the main concern remains that the muscle tear is major (complete torn) or partial. If the examination process indicates that the muscle strain is at mild or moderate level, further extra tests can be excluded.
If the process brings doubt, three tests are useful:
  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI Scan ('M' = Magnetic, 'R'= Resonance, 'I'= Imaging)
In case of back pain, some additional muscle strain tests are performed to check if there is a problem involving:
  • Backbone or vertebrae
  • Spinal canal
  • Vertebral Disks
  • Spinal Cord
Usually professionals do not recommend more than required lab tests unless there is a traumatic history or infection's evidences are associate with the person's case. In situation of higher degree cases of muscle strain, radiology comes as an option.

RICE: Muscle Strain Treatment

Muscle Strain treatment methods: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
A girl taking RICE treatment for muscle strain problem in leg!
If you have muscle strain RICE treatment for muscle tear is the best for such a case. 'R', 'I', 'C', 'E' point towards Rest (R), Ice (I), Compression (C), and Elevation (E). A person can follow this method for muscle strain cure as short-term treatment. This is a savior method for muscle strain problem, which works as quick harm controller. 


A sufferer of muscle tear or pulled muscle needs to give rest to not only the injured part, but also to all sports activities.
No too much stretching!
No too much use of suffered part.
Complete rest to strain-affected localized area! It is necessary for commencing healing procedure. 


What to choose if have muscle strain: heat or ice? The solid form of water holds power to reduce the swelling and that redness or discoloration of affected strained area. Applicate the ice-pack for about 16 to 20 min to see the effect. 4 to 8 times of application is adequate within 24 hours. Also, do not forget to give a gap of at least one hour between two applications. Ice pack limits the flow of blood and controls swelling, giving relief from pain for short time-span.

What is Ice Pack?
Ice packs found in markets are small plastic sacks with water or liquid or some special type of refrigerant gel or solution. You can make it at home too.

Crush some ice and fill it in a plastic bag. Wrap this bag in a towel and it is ready to use. 


Muscle strain compression is an amazing technique if the injured part belongs to your hand or leg, such as ankle and wrist. The sufferer has to compress the injured or strained muscles with elastic bandage, to get the relief soon. It reduces both swelling and pain of pulled muscles. The crepe bandage or wrapping elastic strip is also addressed as ace bandage. 


To elevate the body part is also an effective trick to get improved results. This is also a useful trick especially when the injured part is an ankle. Elevation is done to raise the level of injured part above heart, which reduces the flow of blood. One can use a pillow to lift up the leg or ankle for elevation.
Pain-relievers, anti-inflammatory medicines and physio therapy are also a part to aid the process in muscle strain cases.

Special Note

If you are using these R.I.C.E. rule's technique on your own, ensure that your plan is working and minimizing pain or reducing swelling. Two days are enough to wait. After that, you should consult with a physician. Remember, the above four are useful for only acute injuries, and are a preliminary action, not enough to rely for chronic injures.

Severe Grade 2 or Grade 3 Cases

Doctors refer such cases to an orthopedic specialist, who can lead you to:
  • Immobilization for weeks, to keep your injured muscle area safer 
  • Surgery for repairing
  • Rehabilitation program for too much severity

Muscle Strain Rehabilitation Process: 3 Phases with Guidelines

Acute Phase: Muscle Strain Rehabilitation at Inflammatory Phase 

A person with muscle strain starts to get relief from condition of inflammation after 48 to 72 hours, which lasts in about 0 to 5 days. The period of time depends on the severity. 

Muscle Strain Prevention Techniques: 4 Useful Guidelines to Follow in Acute Phase

The affected person must follow the below guidelines in such a stage:
  1. Apply R.I.C.E. treatment.
  2. Watch your range of movements or motion. 
  3. Perform gently for safe side. 
  4. Do not give pointed stretches to the muscle-strain-affected area. Go for mild stretching. If it increases the muscle strain pain, avoid. 
  5. More than required physical movements or recreational activities may become the cause of further injury. Decrease the rate and intensity of such activities for muscle strain prevention. 

Sub-acute Phase: Second Stage of Muscle Tear Rehabilitation

This phase remains with the muscle tear sufferer for about 5 to 21 days after injury. As in acute injury, the period of time for this phase also depends on how severe is the loss.  In this phase, the regeneration and random lay-downing of muscle fibers happen within. Gradual resume of normal activities helps in realigning the newly generated muscle fibers in their efficient positions. 

4 Important Guidelines to Follow in Sub-acute Phase 

Follow the below:
  1. This is the time to increase the intensity of stretches. Three (03) sets are adequate, where you can take the stretch holds of 30 seconds. 
  2. Second effective realigning agent is a massage. It has power to free the facial adhesion. Massage is also helpful in realigning the muscle fibers that are new to your body.
  3. Resuming the resistance at a gradual pace is the step next. This process helps realigning the muscle fibers and regaining the strength. 
  4. In observation of a Physical Therapist, it is also important to address the strain related factors such as inefficient patterns of muscle recruitment, pelvis mobility, and spine mobility.

Maturation Phase of Pulled Muscle Rehabilitation: Recovery

In most critical case, this phase may take up to 6 months.

Guidelines: 5 Type of Trainings to Strengthen the Muscles  

  1. Resistance Training: This is the phase in which the resistance training's pace is sent to next level. The intensity is increased, slowly and steadily. 
  2. Endurance Training: One more training is supplemented with resistance training, which is endurance training. This strengthens the muscle fibers.
  3. Aerobics: Here, the not-to-forget conditioning is Aerobic or cardiovascular. 
  4. Proprioceptive and Balance Training: Needs to do it carefully to not get the the strain back. 
  5. Agility Training: Plyometrics is the main performance in this training. Practicing the quick movements is the core feature of it. This training means the damage or loss is almost recovered and the rehabilitation program can be brought to halt. 

Muscle Strain Recovery Time Duration

How long a muscle strain exists or the sprain lasts, or muscle strain takes how long to heal, this depends on the location and strain severity. Major problem or surgery means complicated and longer procedure of recovery. The muscle strain duration depends on severity of a case.

Let's know the expected duration of suffering from muscle strain, as per condition!

Mild Strain at Back (Grade 1)

Duration of improvement in muscle strain: 1-2 weeks
Duration of total relief from muscle strain: 4-6 weeks

Mild or Moderate Strain in Legs (Grade 1 or 2)

Duration of Healing of pulled muscle: About 8 to 10 weeks (or more sometimes)

Severe Strain (Grade 3)

Duration of persistence: Post surgical action, depends on repairing pace of torn muscle.

Thus prognosis or muscle strain healing time exceeds as per grade 1, grade 2 and grade 3 muscle strain. Grade 1 lasts in few weeks, problem of grade 2 takes 2 or 3 months, and grade 3 takes several months to rehabilitate after surgery to repairing.

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