Whether or not you’ve tried at-home methods, if your pain continues or worsens after a few days, see a doctor. And if you felt a popping sensation when the injury occurred, the team at UnityPoint Health advises seeing a doctor rather than trying at-home methods first.
Other signs to seek urgent care when you pull a muscle are if you feel numbness or tingling, have trouble getting out of bed or walking, experience pain radiating down your arms or legs, or if over-the-counter medications are proving ineffective. Seeing a professional will also help you understand if your healing is on the right track or if there is some other treatment required, says Loras Even, DO at UnityPoint Health.
In addition to advising on a treatment plan, an urgent care provider can also ease your discomfort by prescribing medication or administering an injection to manage your pain, providing safe strength exercises and stretching regimens, or referring you to a physical therapist to help you with your recovery. They can offer self-care advice to avert future muscle strains (especially when you return to work or athletic activities), as well as give you a doctor’s note if required.
Additionally, seeing an urgent care professional sooner rather than later can confirm the nature of the injury, which is vital if it turns out to be severe enough to need surgery to repair the muscle. Surgery may be required if your tendon has torn completely away from the bone, which is most common with hamstring muscle injuries (per OrthInfo).