Difference Between Pulled Muscle and Torn Muscle

It can cause muscles to pull or even tear in some cases, causing injury.


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Pulled Muscle vs Torn Muscle

The difference between pulled muscle and torn muscle is that pulled muscle is caused when a ligament is stretched more than the body is capable of while the torn muscle is caused when a tendon is overstretched more than the body’s capability. The symptoms for both these injuries can often be similar, which makes it difficult for most people to differentiate between them.

Pulled Muscle vs Torn Muscle

When a body part due to any reason twists or falls directly, it can cause the soft tissue fibers present in ligaments of that particular region to overstretch or tear, causing various symptoms depending on the severity.

When someone improperly lifts a heavyweight or anyhow overuses the muscle, it can cause muscle tissues of that region to overstretch or tear.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPulled MuscleTorn Muscle
Other NamesSprain or Ligament Tear.Strain or Torn Tendon.
CausesTwisting of the body part or falling directly on it, running on uneven ground.Lifting weights with improper technique, Bad Posture, Poor Flexibility, Lack of strength.
SymptomsPain, Bruising, Popping sound in the moment of injury, limited movement around the joint, etc.Cramps, tenderness, Swelling muscle weakness, etc.
Regions commonly affectedWrist and AnkleLower back and Hamstring (A muscle on the back of thighs)
PreventionWearing strong sports shoes to support ankles, regularly indulging in physical activities.Warming up before workouts, stretching after the workout, using proper safety equipment.

What is Pulled Muscle?

Pulled muscle or sprain is a common injury caused by a sudden overstretch in the ligaments. The tissue fibers of the ligaments can sometimes even be torn, making it more severe than just an overstretch.

There are mainly three scales determining the severity of a pulled muscle:

  • Grade 1: A mild injury caused by overstretching but no tearing of the ligaments. It is usually self-diagnosed with some rest.
  • Grade 2: A moderate injury caused by not only overstretching but a partial tearing of the ligaments as well.
pulled muscle

What is Torn Muscle?

Torn muscle or strain is an injury caused commonly by overuse of muscles fibers which leads to overstretching of one or more tendons. The tissue fibers of tendons if torn, cause severe injury.

Just like a sprain, three scales that determine the severity of a torn muscle :

  • Grade 1: A mild injury where tendons are only slightly overstretched and very few muscle fibers get damaged. It is usually self-diagnosed but can take a couple of days to completely recover.
  • Grade 2: A moderate injury where about half of the muscle fibers get damaged causing acute swelling and pain.
torn muscle

Main Differences Between Pulled Muscle and Torn Muscle

  1. The treatment mostly is similar including R.I.C.E Techniques, MRI, X-ray, etc.
  2. Muscles are pulled usually in the wrist and ankles but muscle tearing is observed in the lower back, hamstring muscles, glutes, etc.
Difference Between Pulled Muscle and Torn Muscle


  1. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/28/2/112.short
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/036354659602406S02
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