How to Test for a Muscle Tear

Doctor examining his patient leg
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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.

Things You'll Need

  • X-ray

  • MRI

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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