Pulled muscles as well as pulled hamstrings and muscle tears are among the most common sports injuries. They are all attributable to overuse of a muscle to a different extent. A torn muscle is a minor injury and is equivalent to overstretching the muscle. A pulled hamstring is the result of tears in individual muscle bundles; whereas the entire muscle is severed when a muscle tear occurs. The latter is rather rare. The main treatment is rest and regeneration of the muscle. Surgical treatment is only sometimes necessary for a muscle tear.
Strenuous activity or overstretching of muscles that have been inadequately warmed up are usually the reason for muscle injuries. However, in rare cases, external trauma can cause a muscle injury or even a muscle tear.
The symptoms depend on the extent of the injury. If it is a muscle tear, hardening of the muscle, pressure pain, extension pain or increasing cramp-like muscle pain indicate the injury. If it is a pulled hamstring, the pain is rather acute and stabbing; in some cases a haematoma or dents form in the muscle. A tear of the entire muscle causes severe pain, which is often accompanied by a haematoma and protrusion of the affected muscle.
A muscle injury is diagnosed on the basis of the characteristic symptoms and examination of the affected muscle. The extent of the injury can be determined with an ultrasound or an MRI examination.
Muscle injuries are normally treated conservatively. In the acute stage, the application of cool dressings and elevation of the affected external extremity are recommended immediately after the injury. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication can be administered to relieve the pain. The most important part of conservative treatment is to rest the muscle in question. Depending on the type of injury, this can take days through to several months. The healing process is supported with physiotherapeutic measures, massages and electrostimulation therapy. If there is an open wound, medical advice should be sought in every case.
Surgery treatment is only required in exceptional cases. Extensive tears must sometimes be sewed. In rare cases, the injury can result in Compartment syndrome: an increase in pressure in the affected muscle which must be immediately relieved with surgery.
It is extremely important to warm up sufficiently before every sporting activity to prevent a muscle injury. In addition, if pain occurs, you should immediately stop the activity to prevent more serious injuries from occurring.