Muscle Strain

A muscle strain happens when the fibres in the muscle get stretched or torn.

Causes of Muscle Strain

Muscle Strain usually happens during strenuous sports, such as sprinting or playing football, when the muscles get stretched beyond their normal limits or have to shorten too fast.

This is also called a muscle pull, pulled muscle or muscle tear.  Although it is a risk while playing sport, muscle strains can happen when lifting heavy objects or daily home or work tasks.  Muscles at risk of strains include the hamstrings, quadriceps, calf or lumbar muscles in the lower back.

More information

Muscle strain symptoms

  • Swelling, bruising, tenderness and inflammation
  • Pain at rest
  • Pain when the specific muscle or the joint in relation to that muscle is used
  • Weakness of the muscle or tendons (A sprain, in contrast, is an injury to a joint and its ligaments.)
  • Inability to use the muscle at all

Grading muscle strains

Doctors assess how serious a muscle strain is using a grading scale:

  • A first degree strain is mild straining of the muscles fibres. This may be painful but the muscle can still be used.
  • Second degree strains involve more muscle fibres being stretched or torn. This is likely to be more painful with some swelling and bruising.
  • In a third degree strain, the muscle will have been split or torn from tendon that connects it to the bone. The muscle won’t be able to be used until it has healed.