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What are the Most Common Torn Muscle Symptoms?

Amanda Barnhart
Amanda Barnhart

The most common torn muscle symptoms are pain in the muscle or joint, weakness, inability to move the affected muscle, swelling, bruising, and tenderness. When a muscle is strained due to excess pressure, quick movements, or an injury from work or physical activity, the fibers and tendons attached to the muscle can tear, leading to these torn muscle symptoms. Pain results from irritation to the nerves surrounding the torn tissues. Bruising appears when the torn fibers bleed internally.

Resting and treating torn muscle symptoms can often be done at home, though tears that result in serious pain, excessive swelling, or the inability to move the muscle or joint should be evaluated by a doctor. Refraining from using the affected muscle as much as possible allows the fibers to heal and repair the muscle tissue. Resting the affected area will also help eliminate pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or aspirin, help relieve mild to moderate pain.

Bruising is a common symptom of a torn muscle.
Bruising is a common symptom of a torn muscle.

Elevating the affected muscle above the heart and wrapping it with an elastic bandage or compression brace can help reduce swelling. Applying ice to the muscle for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day for the first few days after the injury also helps relieve swelling and numbs the area temporarily to minimize pain. Some over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, are also anti-inflammatories, meaning they help reduce internal swelling.

Weakness, bruising, and tenderness in the area usually subside on their own as the muscle strain heals. It can take anywhere from a few days to several months to fully recover and eliminate torn muscle symptoms, depending on the severity of the tear. Patients who have severe muscle tears may be prescribed narcotic pain medications to relieve intense pain, though these medications are typically only used for short periods of time due to the risk of addiction.

Physical therapy can help restore strength and range of motion in the affected area if the patient suffers from weakness, a decreased ability to move the muscle, or other torn muscle symptoms that affect usage or interrupt their daily activities. Therapists work with patients with torn muscles by having them perform supervised exercises with resistance bands, weights, machines, and other devices to slowly rebuild strength. Many patients with severe tears go through several weeks of physical therapy and follow up treatment with at-home exercises recommended by their therapists.

While rare, some patients require surgery to repair the torn fibers or tendons. Surgery is generally a last resort and is only considered when other treatment methods have failed to reduce a patient's symptoms. Orthopedic surgeons often perform muscle repairs through very small incisions with special cameras to help them see inside the muscle. Patients who undergo these minimally invasive procedures usually have a shorter recovery time.

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    • Bruising is a common symptom of a torn muscle.
      By: roblan
      Bruising is a common symptom of a torn muscle.