Discover the Four Major Types of Skeletal Muscle Injuries

John Miller Physiotherapist

Article by John Miller

What are the Four Skeletal Muscle Injury Types?

An Insight from a Physiotherapist’s Perspective


Muscles, vital for movement and strength, come in various types, each with its own role in the body. This article, drawing from a physiotherapist’s perspective, discusses skeletal muscle injuries, which are the most common. Understanding these injuries is crucial for effective prevention and treatment.

skeletal muscle injuries
Skeletal Muscle Injuries

Skeletal Muscle Injuries: A Comprehensive Overview

Skeletal muscles, the type most susceptible to injury, can suffer from four main types of damage:

1. Muscle Strain or Soreness

Muscle strain injuries occur when muscles stretch or pull beyond their capacity, causing microscopic tears in the muscle fibres. Common sites include the hamstrings, shoulders, neck, and lower back.

Symptoms and Treatment: Symptoms like soreness, stiffness, weakness, swelling, and spasms are common. Most strains heal within days. Treatments include ice therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, massage, and gentle stretching.

Preventing Muscle Strain: Gradually increasing exercise intensity and duration is key to preventing strains, especially Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), a type of strain associated with eccentric exercises.

2. Muscle Tear or Rupture

More severe than strains, these involve partial or complete tearing of muscle fibres, often due to high-force activities or overstretching.

Symptoms and Treatment: A muscle tear causes sudden, severe pain, bruising, weakness, and swelling. It often requires a physiotherapist-guided rehabilitation and possibly surgical intervention in cases of complete rupture.

Physiotherapy for Muscle Tears: Tailored rehabilitation programs are essential for a faster and safer return to activity.

3. Muscle Contusion or Haematoma

Common in contact sports, these result from direct blows to the muscle, leading to internal bleeding and bruising.

Symptoms and Treatment: The injury presents as pain, swelling, weakness, and reduced motion. Mild cases respond well to rest and ice, while severe cases might need surgery.

Role of Physiotherapy: Physiotherapists play a crucial role in managing contusions, aiding in recovery and preventing future injuries.

4. Rhabdomyolysis

A rare but serious condition, rhabdomyolysis is where muscle fibres break down and release contents into the bloodstream, potentially causing kidney damage.

Symptoms and Treatment: Symptoms include muscle pain, weakness, and dark urine. Treatment often involves hospitalisation with intravenous fluids and, in severe cases, dialysis.

Recent Advances in Muscle Injury Treatment

Advancements in physiotherapy and medical science have brought new insights into muscle injury treatment.

For instance, the use of Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy and advanced imaging techniques like MRI have improved the diagnosis and treatment of muscle injuries. Moreover, evidence-based exercise programs have shown significant success in both rehabilitation and prevention of muscle injuries.

What to Do? Seek Professional Advice

If you suspect a muscle injury, it’s vital to consult a physiotherapist. They can provide a precise diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan. For more information, check out articles and resources at PhysioWorks, a trusted source for physiotherapy insights.


Understanding the four types of skeletal muscle injuries is crucial for effective management and prevention. Whether it’s a strain, tear, contusion, or rhabdomyolysis, timely intervention and proper physiotherapy can lead to optimal recovery.

Always consult a professional for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Further Reading and Resources

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