What Are the 4 Main Injuries to a Skeletal Muscle?

Close-up of soccer player's foot on soccer ball

Injuries to skeletal muscles—the soft tissues that are attached to bones and power movement—can be downright painful and disruptive to everyday life. Thankfully, many muscle injuries are mild and can be addressed at home or at a reputable immediate care center like PhysicianOne Urgent Care. Let’s take a closer look at the four main types of skeletal muscle injuries and what symptoms they may cause.

Mild Muscle Strains

A muscle strain describes a microscopic injury to a muscle or tendon. A mild strain generally refers to an overstretching of tissue, while a more severe strain may cause a partial or complete tear that is visible on an imaging test.

Most strains are mild and occur in the muscles or tendons of the hands, elbows, legs, and ankles. Telltale symptoms of a mild muscle strain include:

  • Tenderness and pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle weakness
  • Limited range of motion in the affected area

Muscle strains are very common and can affect anyone, although people who frequently exercise or play sports have the highest risk of injury. Fortunately, many mild muscle strains can be addressed at home by resting and icing the affected area.

Muscle Tears

Also referred to as a “pulled muscle,” a muscle tear is a severe strain that causes a muscle or tendon, along with its blood vessels, to tear partially or completely. It is a more extensive injury that requires prompt treatment from a medical professional.

It usually takes a significant amount of force to cause a muscle tear, such as what may be experienced during a motor vehicle accident or contact sports injury. Symptoms typically involve sudden, intense pain along with weakness, swelling, and bruising. Areas of the body that are most susceptible to muscle tears include the neck, shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings.

Muscle Contusions

A muscle contusion—also known as a muscle bruise or hematoma—results from a forceful, blunt impact, such as getting hit in the thigh with a baseball. While this impact doesn’t break the skin, it crushes underlying muscle and can cause significant bruising, swelling, pain, and reduced range of motion.

Most muscle contusions can be managed at home with self-care measures like periodic rest and ice therapy. Rarely, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure that can build from internal bleeding and swelling.


Rhabdomyolysis is a rare condition that requires emergency medical treatment. Also referred to as “rhabdo,” rhabdomyolysis occurs when muscle fibers die and release a damaging type of protein into the bloodstream, potentially harming the kidneys and heart and resulting in disability or death.

Anyone can get rhabdomyolysis, although it largely affects people who routinely perform intense physical activity and work in hot environments. Examples of high-risk individuals include construction workers, firefighters, first responders, professional athletes, and farmers. Common signs and symptoms of this condition include:

  • Unusually painful muscle cramps or aches
  • Dark-colored urine that may resemble cola
  • Fatigue or weakness

We’ve Got You

While rhabdomyolysis should be treated in a hospital setting, most other non-emergency skeletal muscle injuries can be addressed at PhysicianOne Urgent Care. Our urgent care centers throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York are led by experienced physicians and equipped with digital X-ray machines to provide convenient onsite diagnostics. If a patient’s muscle injury requires specialty care, we can arrange a referral to a trusted orthopedist in the area and help ease discomfort in the meantime.

Let’s get in touch! Visit a PhysicianOne Urgent Care location near you today or connect with us online using our 24/7 telemedicine service. If you have any questions regarding our urgent care services, locations, or accepted forms of payment, give us a call at 1-860-650-3848.

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