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INFLAMMATION MIGHT HELP MUSCLES HEAL AFTER AN INJURY

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Tid Bits of Info

  • If injured try the RICE method of treatment: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
  • Muscle cells or myofibers do not reproduce.
  • Thousands of myofibers make up a fascicle and thousands of fascicles make up what is known as a muscle.
  • Healing time for an injured muscle can be 6-9 months or longer.
  • Seek the advice and treatment of a Physical Therapist if you suffer an injury to a muscle.

The body normally responds to musculoskeletal injuries by swelling. Healthcare providers often counsel injured patients on the various methods for reducing and eliminating inflammation. Recent studies have challenged this standard counsel. During the acute phase (2-3 days) following a muscle injury, inflammation appears to play a role in patient healing.

Muscles are made up of cells or myofibers, and they bundle together to form a fascicle. These cells are long and do not reproduce on their own.  When there is damage to the muscle cell, there has to be an “outside” source that stimulates the healing and reproduction process of these myofibers.  The “outside” help comes in the form of a stem cell known as satellite cells.   The satellite cells help to form myoblasts which proliferate in the acute phase of healing and then repair the damaged myofibers.

When a muscle injury occurs, there is internal bleeding within the damaged area.  The myofibers that are injured will become inflamed.  This is thought to be the primary cause of pain following an acute injury. More importantly, the inflammation that occurs due to the injury is stimulated by the bleeding in the area. The inflammation process can stimulate the production of mast cells which then help to activate satellite cells and begin the healing process within the muscle cell.

Eliminating the inflammation process too soon might slow down and impede the healing process of an injured muscle.  The need to stimulate a “source” outside of the muscle to jump-start the healing process is well accepted in the medical world.  Due to the amount of pain that is often present in acute muscle injuries, many people begin to administer or take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Clinically, it might be a better practice to take a non-narcotic pain reliever (acetaminophen) and apply ice as an analgesic.

inflammation and pain

The ice will curtail the inflammation process somewhat, but not nearly as effective as the medication.  The use of ice will enable the injured person to be more comfortable in the acute phase of healing/rehabilitation.

There are many treatment methods dealing with muscle injuries.  Physical Therapists deal with this type of injury on a daily basis.  Oftentimes, they utilize various forms of modalities that help to alleviate pain and stimulate healing.  Muscle injuries take a long time to completely heal.   It is not uncommon to have certain muscles take 6-9 months to fully heal.  It would be interesting to observe the amount of time that would be required to heal if all muscle injuries were treated with no anti-inflammatory medication during the acute phase of healing.