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How to Test for a Muscle Tear

author image Erica Roth
Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.
How to Test for a Muscle Tear
How to Test for a Muscle Tear Photo Credit 4774344sean/iStock/Getty Images

A muscle tear, as defined by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, is a medical condition that is graded according to its severity. When you push yourself further than your body is accustomed to, you may feel your muscles protest as it pulls away from your tendons. A muscle tear can be very painful; a grade 3 strain, for example, may cause discomfort for months. Testing for a muscle strain includes a physical examination as well as diagnostic testing.

Step 1

Schedule a physical exam so that your doctor can examine the muscle you think you have torn. You may remember hearing a popping or snapping sound or feeling during your injury, which is not uncommon for muscle tears, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Report this to your doctor, as it can help determine if you have a muscle tear. Other symptoms include acute pain immediately following the injury, and possible bruising.

Step 2

Allow your doctor to manipulate the area in which you have the muscle strain. A muscle tear can cause swelling, and lead to a limited range of motion, explains the National Institutes of Health Patient Education Center. Examination of this kind can help test for and diagnose a muscle tear.

Step 3

Use imaging technology to test for a muscle tear. X-rays can show if you have fractured a bone in addition to straining or tearing muscles or tendons. Research reported in a 1998 issue of "The Iowa Orthopedic Journal" explains that MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is effective in diagnosing soft tissue damage. Though this research is more than a decade old, MRI is still a technique used to test for muscle tears and other forms of muscle damage.

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