A torn muscle is - similar to a torn ligament or a strain - a typical sports injury. During a high load does not break, as the name suggests muscle fiber tear, only a single muscle fiber, but usually a whole muscle fiber bundle. Muscular fiber tears are particularly common in the thigh and calf. Learn more about the causes, typical symptoms and treatment options of a hamstring.
Causes of a muscle fiber tear
Muscle fiber tears and their precursors Muscle strain often occurs in sports such as football, handball, tennis, squash and short-distance sprints. All these sports are characterized either by suddenly occurring maximum loads on the muscles (sprints) or a quick change of braking and accelerating.
As a result of such an extreme stress, a muscle strain or a torn muscle fiber may result: a torn muscle fiber occurs when the mechanical tensile forces acting in the musculature can no longer be absorbed. This is usually the case after an intensive load, which has led to a depletion of the musculature. The heavy use of muscle metabolism can get out of balance and the communication between nerves and muscles are negatively affected.
The cause of a hamstring is therefore usually in an overload of the muscles. In addition, the risk of a torn muscle fiber increases significantly by too short a warm-up phase before training and by a cold weather.
Hamstring or muscle strain?
If the forces acting in the musculature can no longer be intercepted, overstretching of the muscle fibers occurs. The result of such stretching is first of all a muscle strain: The anatomical structure of the muscle remains uninjured, so it does not lead to the destruction of muscle cells.
Strains are usually noticeable by a slight or slightly stronger pulling in the affected muscle. If you have pulled a strain, you should immediately stop the movement and spare the muscle. In addition, it is recommended to cool the affected area.
If the muscle is even more stressed, it can lead to a torn muscle. It usually tears right a whole muscle fiber bundle and we feel a sharp pain in the muscles. In contrast to a strain, a torn muscle fiber is always associated with a structural change in the musculature: there is a destruction of muscle cells and a hemorrhage into the tissue.
At a maximum stress of the muscle, it can also happen that not only individual muscle fibers, but the entire muscle tears. In such a case one speaks of a muscle tear. This leads to severe bleeding into the tissue and a possible total loss of muscle contraction. The two muscle parts each retract in the direction of their tendon.
Muscle strain, torn muscle fibers and muscle rupture are therefore only differentiated by the damage caused in the musculature.
Typical symptoms of a hamstring
Muscle fiber tears are particularly common in the calf and thigh. This is related to the fact that in many sports the stress in these areas is particularly high. A typical symptom of a torn muscle fiber is a sudden pain, which initially does not diminish even at rest.
In addition, the functioning of the affected muscle is limited: the muscle loses strength and pain in the movements. Often, the sole tensing of the muscles without a change in length already leads to discomfort. To avoid pain, those affected take a restraint, in which the affected muscles are relieved.
In some cases, if there is a torn muscle, a dent in the musculature can be felt on the affected area - in some cases this dent is even visible. However, these symptoms may also indicate a muscle tear.
In addition, a torn muscle fiber causes hemorrhages in the tissue, resulting in a bruise at the injured site. This is - depending on how deep the injured tissue layer is - but only at a later date or not at all. Only with larger injuries such as a muscle tear, in which the hemorrhage is stronger, the bruise becomes visible faster.