HomeHealth articlesmuscle injuryWhat Is a Muscle or Tendon Injury?

Muscle or Tendon Injury - Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Verified dataVerified data

5 min read


A muscle or tendon injury can result from muscle overpulling, fatigue, or trauma that can be short-lived or lifelong. Read the article below to know more.

Written by

Dr. Anahita Ali

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Shivpal Saini

Published At February 17, 2023
Reviewed AtJuly 17, 2023


Knee injury, neck pain due to a poor sitting position, or back pain are common muscle injuries people experience daily. Muscle injuries are the most common soft-tissue injuries among athletes and non-athletes. They frequently occur from overstretching or trauma to the muscles. 55% of all muscle injuries occur during sports activities.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), musculoskeletal injuries, especially low back pain, is the leading cause of functional disability among people, reported in 568 million people worldwide. The fact cannot be denied that with the aging population, musculoskeletal injuries will also increase, but regardless of age, people of all age groups are affected for some reason. Apart from functional disability, negative impacts on society and productivity are also evident.

What Is an Injury?

Injury is physical damage or harm to part(s) of the human body.

What Are Muscles and Tendons?

Tendons are the soft tissues that connect a muscle to the bone in the human body; muscles are the tissues in the human body that produce movement.

What Is the Result of an Injury to a Muscle or Tendon?

It can result in pain, swelling, bruising (soft tissue injury due to blunt force), discoloration, and damage to the affected area.

Where Does Muscle or Tendon Injury Commonly Occur?

  • Back or spine.

  • Shoulder.

  • Wrist.

  • Ankle.

  • Knee.

  • Hip.

  • Elbow.

What Are the Common Muscle and Tendon Injuries?

  • Strain - A strain occurs when the muscle or tendon is pulled or stretched. It is the most common soft tissue injury and is commonly seen in athletes (3).

  • Sprain - A sprain is caused by a tear or ligament stretch- a tissue connecting two bones. It occurs by twisting or pulling bone joints. The ankle joint is the most common site for sprain injury.

  • Tendonitis - It is inflammation (redness, swelling) of the tendons because of overusing or repetitive motions. It occurs most commonly in the elbow, hand, wrist, shoulder, knee, hips, etc.

  • Bruises or Contusion - It is a soft tissue injury that occurs because of a blunt external force such as a kick or fall. It commonly affects the shoulder, knee, hip, foot, and ankle.

  • Stress Fracture or Break - It is a small bone crack due to physical stress or force. It commonly occurs in the legs, hips, and feet.

What Are the Types of Muscle or Tendon Injuries?

There are different schools of thought to classify these injuries. However, in general, based on the clinical signs, the traditional classification of muscle or tendon injuries is given below:

  1. Grade 1 Mild Sprain and Bruise - A few muscle fibers get affected or injured with little discomfort or pain. There is no movement limitation with little or no loss of muscle strength.

  2. Grade 2 Moderate Sprain and Bruise - It causes more damage to the muscle with functional loss compared to grade 1. Healing of the injury occurs in two to three weeks; after a month, the patient can perform normal physical activities.

  3. Grade 3 Severe Sprain and Bruise - It causes a complete loss of functional muscle ability with severe pain and discomfort. Healing of the injury occurs in four to six weeks, and the patient may feel pain or discomfort after several months of injury treatment and healing.

Based on the time of injury, there are two types, such as:

  1. Acute Injury (Short Term) - The injury occurs immediately because of a sudden trauma (falling or twisting while playing or physical activity) to the muscle or tendon. The healing takes two to three weeks. For example, acute Achilles tendinopathy, tendinitis, etc.

  2. Chronic Injury (Long Term) - The injury occurs gradually with time after overuse or stretch of muscles for a long time, resulting in pain, discomfort, and dysfunction. It is commonly seen in athletes and occupation-related injuries. The healing occurs in four to six weeks. For example, extensor elbow (tennis elbow), flexor tendon (golfer’s tendon), etc.

Based on the mechanism of trauma, there are two types, such as:

  1. Direct Injury - It occurs because of direct trauma such as contusions and lacerations. For example, laceration of flexor tendons of the hand.

  2. Indirect Injury - It occurs due to constant tensile overload or stress on a muscle. For example, indirect muscle injuries to the lower limb or leg, muscle tears due to stretching, etc.

Based on the type of trauma, there are two types, such as:

  1. Extrinsic Factors - The injury occurs because of the external traumatic event. For example, bruises.

  2. Intrinsic Factors - The injury occurs because of internal trauma, such as strain, muscle tear, or dysfunction.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Muscle or Tendon Injury?

Based on the type and severity, the signs and symptoms of an injury may differ. In general, these include:

  • Swelling.

  • Redness or bruising.

  • Pain and discomfort while moving.

  • Not able to move the affected joint or muscle.

  • Weakness.

  • Increased stiffness of muscle.

  • Inability to lift the weight.

How to Diagnose a Muscle or Tendon Injury?

  • Medical History - The doctor may ask questions about the nature of pain, time of injury, source of injury, etc., from the patient.

  • Physical Examination - The affected injury site is physically examined to check the movement, pain, swelling, and other symptoms.

  • Imaging or Diagnostic Tests -X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, or ultrasonography to see damage or bone fracture severity.

How to Treat a Muscle or Tendon Injury?

The treatment depends on the type and severity of the injury. The R.I.C.E protocol (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) should be started just after an injury.

  • Rest - Giving proper rest to the body’s muscles can help in relaxing the muscles and fast healing.

  • Ice Pack - Applying ice for 20 minutes several times a day with a wet towel on the affected area helps in relieving short-term pain.

  • Compression -Plastic compression bandages should be worn to avoid further pain and swelling.

  • Elevation - The injury site should be kept higher than the heart level while resting. This helps in reducing swelling.

  • Muscle Stretching and Strengthening - If the injury is mild to moderate, muscle stretching exercises can be done after the pain subsides.

  • Medications - To reduce the bruising (inflammation) on the injury site, anti-inflammatory drugs can be taken. In relieving pain, painkillers may help. These medications are for short-term treatment and should be taken under a doctor’s supervision.

If the injury symptoms do not subside in two to three weeks, then more advanced clinical treatment may be required that includes:

  • Corticosteroids Injections - Steroids are given to reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Physiotherapy - It includes different exercises and splinting done under the supervision of a physiotherapist.

  • Surgery - It is the last resort, required in severe injuries that do not respond to other treatment options.

How to Avoid Muscle or Tendon Injury?

One cannot completely prevent or avoid an injury, but the risk of injury can be reduced by following these tips:

  • Regular exercise or physical activity.

  • Muscle conditioning or strength training.

  • Wear properly fitting and appropriate shoes.

  • Eat well-balanced meals.

  • Warm-up exercises before playing a sport.

  • Wear protective equipment during a sporting activity.


Muscle or tendon injury is a common yet leading cause of functional disabilities. A mild or less severe injury can be managed by following the recommended treatment protocol, but not all injuries are self-manageable. Therefore, it is best to lower the risk of such injuries by taking simple actions while exercising, playing a sport, or improving the diet.

Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Shivpal Saini
Dr. Shivpal Saini

General Surgery


tendon injurymuscle injury
Community Banner Mobile
By subscribing, I agree to iCliniq's Terms & Privacy Policy.

Source Article ArrowMost popular articles

Do you have a question on

muscle injury

Ask a doctor online

*guaranteed answer within 4 hours

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. iCliniq privacy policy