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October, 2015 :15

Don’t ignore muscular pain

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Clinical Directorate


Don’t ignore muscular pain

Broken bones, if set and fixed properly, heal so well that they become as strong as they were before the fracture. The same is sadly not true for the other components of our musculoskeletal system — the muscle.

A muscle tear is often unpredictable and usually happens when the muscle is stretched too quickly. Usually this occurs while the muscle is in motion, such as when running, working or participating in some form of physical activity. Muscle injuries are also often poorly diagnosed and inadequately managed.

The repair of muscle injury involves two processes — regeneration of the disrupted muscle fibres (myofibres) and formation of connective tissue scar during the process of repair. A balanced progression is a prerequisite for optimal recovery of the contractile function of the muscle.

Muscles do not actually heal with muscle tissue but with 'foreign' substances, including collagen. The resulting scar tissue is weaker, less elastic and highly prone to re-injury. Although a majority of skeletal muscle injuries heal without formation of a disabling functional scar, sometimes this scar may be excessive within the injured muscle. This would lead to the muscle function being less than before the injury. This might also lead to chronic pain which persist for months — or even years. Once a muscle is damaged, it can become a source of great pain.

Quick Tips


  • Although diagnosis of muscle injury is usually through clinical examination, MRI or ultrasound might be required for a detailed characterisation of the injury.
  • When recovering from a muscle tear, the first thing you need to do is cease the activity that caused it.
  • The amount of swelling can be best managed early by applying ice packs and maintaining the strained muscle in a stretched position.
  • You need to give your body adequate rest and proper recuperation time to heal it.