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Muscle Tear or Muscle Rupture

Overview

A muscle tear or muscle rupture in the hand can impact a person’s ability to perform normal activities of daily living or participate in sports. This type of injury, also called a muscle strain, can result from an acute injury that occurs during sports or normal daily activities or from overuse. A muscle tear or rupture in the hand can vary in severity, and treatment options will depend on the severity of the injury.

  • Symptoms

    • Mild to intense pain
    • Muscle weakness
    • Muscle spasms
    • Redness or bruising of the affected area
    • Reduced range of motion
    • Swelling

    The amount of discomfort will vary depending on the severity of the injury, which is typically categorized as a first-degree, second-degree or third-degree muscle strain.

  • Prevention

    • Because a muscle tear or muscle rupture often occurs during sports or other physical activity, it is important to warm up before participating.
    • Warm-up activities should include stretching of the hand muscles.
    • Regular conditioning exercises should be performed frequently so the participant remains physically in shape.
    • Conditioning exercises may include those designed to increase gripping strength in the hands, lowering the risk of injury to the hand muscles.
  • Risk factors

    • Activities that place unusual force on the hands
    • Activities or movements that require grip strength
    • Athletic activities or job-related tasks requiring use of the hands
    • Participation in contact sports
    • Previous injuries to the hand muscles
  • Diagnosis

    • Medical history and symptom review. During your appointment, a medical provider will review your symptoms and take a thorough medical history, including a look at your lifestyle habits and activities.
    • Physical examination. To determine whether you have a muscle tear or muscle rupture, your medical provider will perform a physical exam, moving the hand around to check for areas of sensitivity or discomfort. This exam will also help ascertain whether the range of motion in your hand is negatively impacted, which helps determine the severity of your injury.
    • Imaging tests. Depending on what your provider learns during the medical review and physical exam, he or she may order imaging tests. These imaging scans may include an X-ray or CT scan to rule out bone fracture, an MRI to view images of the muscles and other anatomy in the hand, and/or an ultrasound to visualize the tendons and soft tissue in the hand.
  • Treatment

    • If your injury is minor, or until you can undergo a surgical procedure, your medical provider may recommend immobilization of the hand using a cast or splint.
    • You can alleviate discomfort by applying ice in short intervals, even over the cast or splint.
    • If you experience persistent discomfort due to a muscle tear or muscle rupture, a provider may recommend over-the-counter or prescription pain or anti-inflammatory medications, along with injected corticosteroids.
    • After or instead of surgery, a medical provider may prescribe physical or occupational therapy to help regain strength and abilities following your injury.
    • In the case of a third-degree muscle strain, where the entire muscle is ruptured, your provider may recommend surgery to reattach or stabilize the muscle.
  • Follow-up care

    • After you’ve had surgery to stabilize a muscle in the hand, a medical provider will recommend a period of rest and rehabilitation before normal activity can begin.
    • In the postsurgical period, applying ice to the affected area, even over a cast or splint, may help provide pain relief.
    • In many cases after a full muscle tear, occupational or physical therapy will be required to help you rehabilitate the muscles in the hand and restore your normal abilities.
    • Depending on the severity of your injury and the progress of your rehabilitation, a provider will recommend when and how you can return to normal activity, including sports participation.

    Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.