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How is Muscle Damage Repaired?

By Carol Francois
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Muscle damage is repaired through a combination of time, physical therapy, and rest. On rare occasions, surgery is required, but this is a last resort, when all other options have been exhausted. There are two types of muscle damage: torn and strained muscles. These have different causes and recovery paths.

Muscles are comprised of a series of interwoven fibers that cover the skeleton. Muscles are attached to bones by tendons, which are a thicker set of interwoven fibers. The muscle fibers are designed to stretch and contract in order to allow a specific range of motion. Any effort beyond this range can tear the fibers and cause muscle damage. When a muscle fiber is damaged, the body immediately starts to repair it at the cellular level.

A torn muscle can occur when there is a sudden interruption in the forward movement of the muscle, causing muscle damage. There are several possible causes for this type of injury, such as a car accident or a fall. A tear to a few muscle fibers is part of any physical activity and causes next day muscle stiffness. A tear through an actual muscle causes great pain, swelling and bruising.

The torn muscle cannot be used to support any weight until it is fully healed. A doctor must examine a torn muscle to determine the location of the tear and if surgery is needed. For the vast majority of cases, all that is required is time and rest. Ice is applied to reduce the swelling in the area of the injury. The injured muscle cannot be used, but the body will repair the damage and reconnect the muscle fibers in time. Once the tear is repaired, additional work is required to strengthen these new muscle fibers.

Muscle building occurs when a muscle is used to exert more effort than was previously required. The fibers break and are rebuilt. The repetition of this process of tearing and rebuilding added more muscle fibers to the area, creating additional muscle bulk.

A strained muscle is one that has been overworked past the outer tolerance level. This can occur due to excess weight or repetition. Rest, ice, and time can repair a strained muscle. Once the soreness has gone, it is important to slowly build the muscles back. Multiple strains to the same muscle greatly increase the chance of a muscle tear.

To rebuild the muscle strength, start by lifting a small weight with the injured muscle. Increase the weights and repetitions each day. After each set of weight lifting, reduce swelling with ice.

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Discussion Comments
By anon926624 — On Jan 20, 2014

I used to play lots of cricket. My stomach and shoulder muscles are damaged. I used to play cricket but now, I haven't left played for the past five years, but I'm still having a muscle problem. Is there any possibility of recovery of the muscles, or will I have to live with this pain for the rest of my life?

By anon343979 — On Aug 04, 2013

I did a day's charity work and stood for seven hours holding a charity box (with flat shoes on). Of course, during the day, it got heavier and heavier and although I didn't notice it at the time, the next day I could not move because of the pain. After a few days, I felt like someone had hit me fully across the lower back with a baseball bat. I had shooting pains down my legs and have been in agony for five weeks now.

It went on to feel like bruising on the left side of my back, and although I did not check to see if it was bruised, it felt like it does now, sore and tender. I considered myself fit because I regularly work out, but even the thought of exercise sends me running. Pain killers are not touching it. What is the answer?

By anon273640 — On Jun 07, 2012

Funny how we're all anonymous. So I was just minding my own business when out of the blue, then BAM! It hit me out of nowhere this pain in my ankle. What I mean to say is it hurt a little at first but later the next day i couldn't walk on it. Help please.

By anon269225 — On May 17, 2012

My spinal muscles were damaged due to a car crash they are so bad I can barely walk. I have been told basically that it will not repair but I am forever the optimist and I was wondering if there is actually treatment available just not on the nhs?

By anon257145 — On Mar 25, 2012

My shoulder muscle got damaged due to an accident and I m really scared about the consequences. The doctor told me that no surgery is needed. What further steps should I take to repair it and how to take care of it?

By anon121035 — On Oct 22, 2010

I have to stretch the fascia vigorously, ice, not heat a lot of the time to prevent stiffness, then work on flexibility to get the muscle back up to normal function so it's ready for the heavier workloads.

By anon70388 — On Mar 14, 2010

How can a protruding muscle be corrected? This resulted from a hematoma that tore a fascia.

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