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Strains Symptoms & Diagnosis


Symptoms depend on how you strained the muscle.

Strain While Performing an Athletic or Physical Activity

You immediately feel soreness or pain in the affected muscle. If you try to use that muscle it hurts even more. The area becomes tender, and often has local swelling. In the most severe cases, there may be a skin bruise showing because of bleeding underneath. Moving the nearby joints causes pain. Running and lifting are common activities that cause this type of muscle strain.

Strain From an Accumulation of Stress

When you do an activity that your body is not used to doing, the muscles are not in shape for that kind of activity. There may not be one specific incident during the activity when you feel pain, but the next day a muscle or set of muscles may be very sore. The muscle will be tender, and using it causes pain or discomfort.


The doctor will ask about your symptoms, your recent physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The doctor will also examine the injured area for:

  • Tenderness directly over the muscle
  • Pain when contracting the muscle particularly against resistance

Tests may include:

  • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body (This is uncommon for most people. Usually this is done with college or professional athletes to determine when they will return to their sport.)
  • Ultrasound —a test that uses sound waves to examine the body
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to take pictures of structures inside the body

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2022 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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