A pulled muscle or a muscle strain is a painful condition which occurs as the muscles are overstretched or torn. This condition generally occurs when the muscles are exposed to excessive physical activities, over usage, fatigue or improper use of the particular muscle. It can occur in any muscle, but it has been seen that it is more common in muscles on lower back, shoulder, neck and hamstrings. Pulled muscle is characterised by pain over the affected area and discomfort with movement. This may limit movement and ability to carry out daily activities. Mild to moderate muscle pull can be treated at home with adequate rest, ice application, heat compresses and other anti-inflammatory medications. Muscle pull of severe kinds may require treatment by an experienced physician.
How Long Does a Pulled Muscle Take to Heal?
Mild to moderate muscle pull usually heal within a few weeks. Severe muscle pull takes several months to heal. Sometimes, symptoms such as pain and discomfort with mobility may linger for life time. The recovery time of muscle pull depends on the grade of muscle strain as described below:
- Healing Time for Grade I Muscle Strain: This is minor condition, where only a small percentage of muscles are affected. This type of pulled muscle normalizes within a few weeks. The condition usually heals with home treatment and may not require physician consultation.
- Healing Time for Grade II Muscle Strain: There is partial tear of the affected muscle and the symptoms may last for a few months. This type of pulled muscle may require rehabilitation.
- Healing Time for Grade III Muscle Strain: This is characterised by compete tear or rupture of the muscle. The third type of muscle pull may require surgical intervention and the symptoms often linger invariably even after the treatment is complete. There may be pain and discomfort for several months and sometimes it may even last for lifetime post rehabilitation.
In most of the cases, how long will the muscle pull last depends on the location of the muscle and it also depends on the impact and severity of the injury. Under normal circumstances, symptoms of mild back muscle pull show improvement in about one to two weeks and show complete recovery in about 4 to 6 weeks. Moderate to mild pulled muscle in legs take about 8 to 10 weeks to heal completely. Symptoms of severe pulled muscle (usually grade III strain) persist until the tear in the muscle is surgically repaired. In some cases, the symptoms may persist even after the repair is done. It is advised to seek medical help if the symptoms do not improve within a few weeks with home treatment or if the pain or discomfort is unbearable. In case of any trauma followed by swelling over the area, the patient should consult a physician immediately to rule out any evidence of fracture and for correct management of symptoms at the earliest. Pulled muscle is a commonly encountered condition and it can happen to anyone even with simple activities such as walking.