Muscle Strains: Know How Long They Take to Heal

A man is sitting up in his bed, massaging his neck with his eyes closed in pain.


A majority of muscle injuries are strains or contusions. Nearly 90% of those who experience an injury to a muscle in their body experience a strain. These injuries can occur in various ways, from sports to work-related causes. Knowing how long they take to heal and precisely what you can do to treat them is essential to long-term recovery.

If you believe that you’ve recently experienced a muscle strain, we are here to help you identify the symptoms, care for your muscle, and know how long you may be required to let your muscle rest and heal.

Let’s explore muscle strains and recovery in more detail.

What Is a Muscle Strain?

A muscle strain is an injury that occurs to your muscle or tendon. It is often referred to as a “pulled muscle.” It occurs when your muscle or tendon fibers are overstretched or torn.

There are various causes of a muscle strain, including:

  • Overworking a muscle
  • An accident
  • Muscle misuse


When you strain a muscle, symptom severity can range from moderate to severe based on the extent and location of the injury.

Symptoms often include:

  • Pain on and near the affected area
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Inability to fully move the affected limb or area
  • Tenderness

Muscle Strain Types

Pulled muscles are categorized into three separate grades.

1.  Grade I:

A mild muscle strain that damages less than 5% of muscle fibers.

2.  Grade II:

Extensive loss of muscle movement and ability needed to perform basic tasks. It affects many muscle fibers but does not result in any muscle rupture.

3.  Grade III:

The worst type of muscle strain, which involves a muscle or tendon rupture resulting in significant swelling and extreme pain. Many with grade III muscle strains require surgery to reattach the affected muscle or tendon.


Muscle strain treatment depends on the grade of muscle or tendon injury.

Most often, mild to moderate muscle strains follow the “RICE” rule:

  • Rest to avoid further complications or injury
  • Icing to reduce swelling and ease pain
  • Compression using an appropriate bandage for support
  • Elevation to prevent excessive swelling or fluid retention

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are both great options to manage pain and reduce swelling. Depending on the severity of your muscle strain, you may be required to visit an orthopedic surgeon for further evaluation, where treatment could involve surgery.

How long will it take my muscle strain to heal?

The length of time it takes to fully recover from a muscle strain depends on the severity and location of your injury, along with your personal health history and age.

For most with grade I muscle strains, healing time takes about 2-4 weeks. You can typically expect a full recovery in about 2 months for those with a grade II strain. If you experience a grade III strain, healing time depends on the type of surgery you receive and could take anywhere from 6 to 9 months or longer.

When to visit State Urgent Care for a muscle strain

Most muscle strains heal on their own with time, rest and diligent care. Often, they do not require a visit to the doctor or an urgent care facility.

Moderate to severe muscle strains require immediate attention. We urge you to visit State Urgent Care if:

  • You feel or hear a “pop” in your muscle
  • Your muscle becomes swollen
  • The affected area changes color
  • You cannot move the injured muscle
  • Your symptoms remain the same or worse after 48 hours
  • Your pain is severe, especially in your back

At State Urgent Care, no appointment is necessary. We are open seven days a week to treat your strained muscles. Don’t delay! Start feeling better today and get the care you need now.