(Pulled Muscle; Strain, Muscle)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A muscle strain is an injury to a muscle. It may be a stretch of the muscle or a partial or full tear.
A muscle strain is caused by stress that the muscle cannot withstand. This can happen when:
Some muscles are more likely to be strained, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Symptoms depend on how the muscle was strained.
Strain while doing physical activity:
Strain from a buildup of stress:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked how the injury happened. The injured area will be examined. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
Tests are not often needed. The doctor may use them if there is severe pain or bleeding. Options are:
Treatment depends on the severity of the strain and the muscle involved. Options are:
Most muscle strains happen due to accidents. Healthy muscles may help prevent injury. This may be done through exercise.
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Public Health Agency of Canada
Derry S, Moore RA, Gaskell H, McIntyre M, Wiffen PJ. Topical NSAIDS for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev.2015;(6):CD007402.
Hamstring strain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hamstring-strain. Accessed October 7, 2020.
Muscle strain (pulled muscle). Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/orthopaedic-surgery/specialty-areas/sports-medicine/conditions-we-treat/muscle-strains.html. Accessed October 7, 2020.
Sprains, strains, and other soft-tissue injuries. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedics website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/sprains-strains-and-other-soft-tissue-injuries. Accessed October 7, 2020.
Valle X, L Tol J, et al. Hamstring Muscle Injuries, a Rehabilitation Protocol Purpose. Asian J Sports Med. 2015 Dec;6(4):e25411.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS
Last Updated: 5/12/2021