How Can I Tell the Difference Between Muscle Soreness and Muscle Strain?

Feeling sore after a hard workout is certainly a common feeling for many of us. After all, no pain, no gain, right?

While muscle soreness isn’t abnormal, the difference between muscle soreness and muscle strain is quite stark, but how can you tell which one you’re dealing with?

Our AFC Urgent Care South Charlotte team shares some helpful information below, so keep reading!

How Can I Know If I Pulled a Muscle?

Telling the difference between muscle soreness and a pulled muscle can be difficult—especially if you don’t know what to be on the lookout for. Health experts say that with muscle soreness, you won’t feel it until a day or two later.

With a pulled muscle, however, the pain is usually immediate. In fact, the pain from a pulled muscle is intense, sharp and localized to where the injury occurred and can also be associated with swelling, bruising and difficulty moving the joints nearby. We’ve listed some additional symptoms of a pulled muscle (muscle strain) below.

Symptoms of Muscle Strain

  • Sudden onset of pain
  • Soreness
  • Limited range of movement
  • Bruising or discoloration
  • Swelling
  • A “knotted-up” feeling
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness

What Actually Happens When I Pull a Muscle?

When you pull a muscle, the surrounding muscle fibers are stretched or torn. Most muscle strains happen for one of two reasons: either the muscle has been stretched beyond its limits or it has been forced to contract too strongly.

If you’ve pulled a muscle, don’t hesitate to visit our AFC center to get the treatment you need! In the meantime, try the below-listed R.I.C.E. method to help your injury feel better.

R.I.C.E. Method

  • Rest. Even if your muscle strain is fairly minor, you should avoid physical activity for at least 24 hours.
  • Ice. As soon as you feel your muscle or tendon strain, grab an ice pack. Apply ice for 15–20 minutes every two to three hours, and follow this routine for the first few days after your injury.
  • Compression. Compressing your strained muscle reduces the swelling.
  • Elevation. Elevating your injury above the level of your heart will help to reduce the pain and swelling.

Don’t hesitate to visit our AFC Urgent Care South Charlotte team today for all your non-emergency medical needs!