Muscle Injuries And Tears: How To Treat Them

Oct 02, 2023

Muscle Tears

Muscles tears and injuries are extremally common. Here is how your should treat your muscle strain or tear, how they are diagnosed, and how Garden State Pain and Orthopedics can help.

Muscle tears, strains, and injuries vary in severity. Treatment plans for muscle tears depend on the extent of the injury, the cause of the injury, and your individual goals and can usually be treated conservatively without surgical intervention. Garden State Pain and Orthopedics focuses on utilizing conservative approaches to get you back to full health. If surgical intervention is necessary our team will guide you step by step through your recovery.  Here are the general steps and treatments commonly used for muscle tears:


How are muscle tears and injuries treated?

  • Rice Therapy: If you feel as if you injured a muscle running, lifting weights in the gym, or playing a sport the first step is to stop participating in whatever you are doing and begin RICE Therapy. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. 
    • Rest: Rest is crucial in the early stages of a muscle tear to allow the damaged muscle fibers to heal. Avoid activities that aggravate the injury, and give your body time to recover. If you pull or tear a muscle while working out, you should not continue to work out that muscle. Working out with a tear can cause further injury not only to the damaged muscle, but other complementary muscles and tendons. 
    • Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce swelling and inflammation. Use an ice pack wrapped in a thin cloth and apply it for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day, especially in the first 48 hours after the injury. 
    • Compression: Compression can help control swelling and provide support to the injured muscle. You can use an elastic bandage or compression wrap to gently wrap the affected area.
    • Elevation: Elevating the injured muscle, if possible, can also help reduce swelling and promote healing. Try to keep the injured area elevated above the level of your heart when resting.
  • Pain management: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Follow the recommended dosage guidelines and consult with a healthcare provider if you have concerns. 
  • Seeing a provider: Less significant muscle strains do not require a visit to your physician, however, if you experience an acute tear during a sporting event, or have pain lasting longer than 48 hours you should schedule an appointment with your provider to make sure you do not have any severe damage to the muscle and surrounding ligaments. 
  • Physical therapy: If the muscle tear is more severe, or if it affects your ability to move or function properly, physical therapy will be suggested. A physical therapist can provide exercises and stretches to improve range of motion, strength, and flexibility as the muscle heals.
  • Restorative exercises: As the muscle heals, it's essential to gradually reintroduce gentle, controlled movements to prevent muscle stiffness and promote healing. These exercises should be prescribed and supervised by a healthcare provider or physical therapist.
  • Surgical Intervention: In cases of severe muscle tears where conservative treatments are not effective, surgery may be considered. Surgical intervention is typically reserved for complete muscle tears or when other treatments have failed.


How are muscle tears diagnosed?

Muscle tears are typically diagnosed through a combination of a physical examination, medical history review, and sometimes, imaging tests. Here is how our physicians at Garden State Pain and Orthopedics may diagnose your muscle tear:

  • Medical history: The first step in the diagnosis is for your healthcare provider to take a detailed medical history. They will ask questions about when and how the injury occurred, the location of your pain or discomfort, and any symptoms you may be experiencing.
  • Physical examination: A physical examination is crucial in assessing the extent and location of the muscle tear. During this examination, your healthcare provider will typically feel the affected area to identify areas of tenderness or swelling, check for muscle strength and range of motion in the injured area, observe any visible signs of bruising, swelling, or deformity, and assess muscle function and stability.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound imaging uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the injured area. It can help visualize the muscle tear, its size, and location. Our offices at Garden State Pain and Orthopedics have ultrasound readily available to diagnose muscle and tendon injuries. It shows real time imaging of the injured area. 
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI provides detailed images of soft tissues, making it an excellent tool for assessing muscle injuries. It can reveal the extent of the tear and any associated damage. MRI provides a much more detailed view of your injury.
  • X-rays: While X-rays are not used to directly diagnose muscle tears, they may be ordered to rule out bone fractures or other skeletal injuries, which can sometimes occur alongside muscle tears. X-rays are not needed to diagnose muscle tears, but our offices are equipped with the technology if needed. 
  • CT scans: Computed tomography (CT) scans may be used if there is suspicion of more complex injuries, such as muscle avulsion (tearing of the muscle away from its attachment point).
  • Functional assessment: In addition to the physical examination and imaging tests, healthcare providers may assess functional deficits associated with the muscle tear. This involves evaluating your ability to perform specific movements and activities related to the affected muscle group.


What alternatives to surgery does Garden State Pain and Orthopedics offer?


PRP Therapy

PRP, or Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy, is a medical treatment that uses a patient's own blood to promote healing and tissue regeneration. Here's how PRP therapy works:

  • Blood Collection: The procedure begins by drawing a small amount of the patient's blood, typically from their arm, similar to a routine blood test.
  • Centrifugation: The collected blood is then placed in a centrifuge machine, which spins it at high speeds. This spinning separates the blood into its various components: red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma.
  • Isolation of Platelet-Rich Plasma: The plasma portion, which contains a concentrated amount of platelets and growth factors, is separated and collected. This platelet-rich plasma is what will be used in the therapy.
  • Injection: The PRP is injected directly into the affected area (joints or muscles)
  • Activation: In some cases, a substance like calcium chloride or thrombin may be added to activate the PRP, which triggers the release of growth factors and other bioactive compound

The platelets in PRP contain growth factors, cytokines, and other proteins that play a crucial role in tissue repair and regeneration. These growth factors stimulate cell growth, tissue repair, and collagen production, making PRP therapy beneficial for many conditions. 


Stem-cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is a medical approach that utilizes stem cells to treat or prevent diseases and conditions. Stem cells are unique cells with the remarkable ability to transform into various specialized cell types and to divide and replicate themselves. This inherent plasticity and self-renewal capacity make stem cells a promising tool for repairing damaged tissues, regenerating organs, and treating a range of medical conditions. Stem cell therapy can be used to regenerate damaged muscles, tendons, the heart muscle after a heart attack, restore damaged spinal cord tissue, or repair cartilage in joints.

The specific procedure for stem cell therapy varies depending on the condition being treated and the type of stem cells used. It can involve direct injection or implantation of stem cells into the affected area, intravenous infusion, or bone marrow transplantation, among other methods.

Stem cells can be sourced from a patient's own body (autologous) or from donor sources (allogeneic). Autologous stem cell therapy eliminates the risk of rejection but may not be feasible if the patient's stem cell supply is compromised.

What are the most common muscle tears?

Hamstring Tears: Hamstring strains are among the most prevalent muscle injuries, often occurring in athletes who perform activities that involve sprinting or sudden acceleration. These tears typically affect the muscles at the back of the thigh.

Quadriceps Tears: Quadriceps strains involve the muscles on the front of the thigh. They can happen during activities like running, jumping, or lifting heavy weights.

Calf Muscle Tears: Tears in the calf muscles, such as the gastrocnemius or soleus, are common among athletes and can result from activities that require rapid changes in direction or excessive use of the calf muscles.

Groin Strains: Groin injuries affect the muscles on the inside of the thigh and are frequently seen in sports like soccer, hockey, and football. These injuries can result from sudden movements or overstretching of the groin muscles.

Adductor Tears: Adductor muscle strains affect the muscles of the inner thigh. These injuries can occur in sports that involve kicking, sudden lateral movements, or high-intensity running.

Rotator Cuff Tears: Rotator cuff injuries affect the muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint. They can result from repetitive overhead motions or acute trauma.

Biceps Tears: Tears in the biceps muscle or tendon can happen, especially in sports that involve repetitive arm movements or heavy lifting.

Pectoral Muscle Tears: Tears of the pectoral muscles (chest muscles) can occur, usually in weightlifting or during activities that involve a sudden, forceful pushing motion.

Lumbar Muscle Tears: Muscle strains in the lower back can be caused by heavy lifting, improper lifting techniques, or sudden twisting movements.

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): Although not a muscle tear per se, this condition involves the overuse and strain of the forearm muscles and tendons. It is common among individuals who perform repetitive gripping activities, such as tennis players and manual laborers.


Muscle tears are painful and frustrating, but with the right knowledge and proper care, you can effectively manage and recover from these injuries. Whether you're an athlete striving for peak performance or someone looking to maintain an active lifestyle, understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for muscle tears is essential. Remember, early diagnosis and timely medical attention are key to ensuring a smooth road to recovery. With patience, adherence to treatment plans, the support from our team at Garden State Pain and Orthopedics, and physical therapists, you can regain your strength, flexibility, and confidence, allowing you to return to the activities you love. Your body has an incredible capacity for healing, and by taking the necessary steps, you can overcome muscle tears and emerge even stronger than before. If you are interested in learning more about our other treatments visit our Services page, or select “Book Now” to schedule an appointment with on of our specialists.