Difference Between Pulled Muscle and Pinched Nerve

Every day, we are prone to harming ourselves. A torn muscle or a pinched nerve may both produce intense pain and affect your movement.

It is vital to be able to distinguish between a pinched nerve and a pulled muscle in order to obtain the proper treatment and return to activities safely.

Pulled Muscle vs Pinched Nerve

The main difference between a pulled muscle and a pinched nerve is that a pulled muscle can be felt when it is stretched beyond its capacity, caused by a workout or heavy objects. A pinched nerve can be felt when surrounding tissues apply pressure on the nerve, caused by swollen tendons or muscle spasms.

Pulled Muscle vs Pinched Nerve

A pulled muscle occurs when a muscle is forced to stretch and overextend beyond its normal capacity.

Overuse, improper technique during a workout, lifting an object that is excessively heavy, causing you to strain the muscle, and failing to properly warm up and cool down when exercising are all causes of pulled muscles.

A pinched nerve occurs when the surrounding tissues put too much pressure on the nerve or as a result of swollen wrist tendons, in the back when a nerve in the lower spine is compressed,

in the neck as a result of shoulder and radiating arm pain, and as a result of compression of the nerve root when the nerve exits the spine.

Comparison Table Between Pulled Muscle and Pinched Nerve

Parameters of ComparisonPulled MusclePinched Nerve
DefinitionMuscle is stretched beyond its capabilityPressure is applied to a nerve by the tissues surrounding it
CausesImproper workout form, lifting heavy thingsMuscle spasm or swollen tendons in wrists
SymptomsSoreness, swelling, pain in the muscleTingling “needles” sensation, numbness, burning pain
TreatmentIce treatment, elevate muscle by wrapping in bandageAlternate ice and heat treatment, stretching the affected area
SeverityLess severeMore severe; can lead to nerve damage

What is Pulled Muscle?

When a muscle is pulled, it is aggressively stretched and overextended beyond its usual limitations.

Overuse, incorrect form during a workout, lifting an object that is excessively heavy, and forgetting to warm up and cool down before and after exercise are all common causes of a torn muscle.

Swelling in the strained region; dull aching, tightness, and soreness; stiffness and weakening in muscle after injury; painful, throbbing feeling; localized pain in muscle; and discomfort

while moving or utilizing muscle are all symptoms of a pulled muscle. Muscle discomfort can also be managed using foam rollers (which assist decrease pain), massages, and heat treatment.

If you have a pulled muscle, rest the muscle first, then ice the injury for 20 minutes per hour. To minimize swelling, elevate the injured muscle and wrap it in an elastic bandage.

You can apply heat to the afflicted region after a few days.

If the discomfort does not go away, make an appointment with your physical therapist.

The physical therapist uses pain-relieving methods to treat a torn muscle and takes you through stretching and strengthening exercises to help you restore flexibility and mobility gradually and without aggravating the muscle.

What is Pinched Nerve?

A pinched nerve arises when surrounding tissues apply too much pressure (compression) to a nerve, restricting it and interfering with its function.

When a nerve is pinched, the supply of nutrients to the nerve is decreased, and the neuron membrane’s capacity to convey sensation to the brain begins to deteriorate.

The tingling, numbness, and radiating pain associated with pinched nerves are caused by this. Sharp, searing pain; numbness and sudden episodes of weakness; tingling feeling;

no swelling; pain that spreads to other regions of the body; and chronic pain that lasts for a lengthy period of time are all symptoms of a pinched nerve.

Pinched nerves are most commonly found in the arms, hands, legs, back, neck, and feet. People have also reported numbness and lack of feeling in various body regions in rare cases.

Nerve pain can also be severe, and it is generally worst in the evenings or at night.

Rest and alternate between ice and heat treatments to ease discomfort if you have a pinched nerve. You can stretch softly and move around lightly.

However, in order to safely minimize your discomfort and restore function and movement to the nerve and surrounding tissues, you must contact a physical therapist for a pinched nerve.

Main Differences Between Pulled Muscle and Pinched Nerve

  1. A pulled muscle is a muscle that has been stretched beyond its capabilities, whereas a pinched nerve occurs when pressure is applied to a nerve by the surrounding tissues.
  2. A pulled muscle may be caused by improper workout form, lifting heavy things, etc. A pinched nerve may be caused by muscle spasms, swollen tendons, etc.
  3. Symptoms of a pulled muscle have soreness, swelling, and pain in the muscle, and the symptoms of a pinched nerve are tingling needle-like sensation, numbness, etc.
  4. A pulled muscle can be treated by ice treatment and elevating muscle by wrapping it in a bandage. A pinched nerve can be treated by alternating ice and heat treatment and stretching the affected area.
  5. A pulled muscle is less severe, whereas a pinched nerve is more severe and may lead to nerve damage.
Difference Between Pulled Muscle and Pinched Nerve


Muscles and nerves are two of the most vulnerable and prevalent causes of damage in the body. A strained muscle or a pinched nerve can both produce excruciating pain and impede a person’s function and movement.

It is critical to distinguish between a pulled muscle and a pinched nerve in order to get appropriate treatment in a timely way. The main differences between a pulled muscle and a pinched nerve are that of their causes and conditions.

A pulled muscle can be caused by improper workouts and carrying heavy objects. It can result in swelling and soreness and can be treated using ice treatment and muscle elevation.

Massages and foam rollers can also help. It is less severe than a pinched nerve.

A pinched nerve can be a serious problem that can even lead to nerve damage. It is caused due to swollen tendons and excessive pressure.

It leads to a “pins and needles” sensation and burning sensation. Alternating between ice and heat treatments can help soothe the pain arising from a pinched nerve.


  1. https://europepmc.org/article/med/3940934
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/036354659602406S02
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