Healing the Pain: Bone vs. Muscle


What a week it’s been! First, my best friend’s little girl broke her leg. She was riding her scooter in the driveway and took a spill. Nothing out of the ordinary there huh? That happens everyday in driveways across the world and usually ends up being nothing more than  a bruised ego or a scraped knee, sometimes both. Unfortunately for cute little Madison, her spill didn’t end so well. She broke her tibia…right on the epiphyseal plate too…ouch! Of course, messing with the growth plate means surgery to put strategically placed pins in, which she did amazing though, of course. Now, she  is now sporting a bright pink (that’s my girl Maddie!) cast on her right leg! Can’t wait to sign it!   😉

Then on Friday, I pulled a hammy. Of course this is not the first time I’ve done that (it’s the second) but I didn’t feel it happen last time either, only the “ouch” that came  later…not this time. Oh trust me, I felt it alright…and just kept on running. Genius, eh? Not so much. I know what you’re thinking, “Well, why didn’t you stop running?” to which the answer is this: I was sooooooo close to beating my previous record, I HAD to see if I could do it (and in case you’re wondering…yeah, I DID)! So, at the moment, it  was well worth it because I’d kicked my own butt…now however, feeling it ache with every step and each time I sit down (which thankfully, doesn’t happen much) I’m thinking it may have been smarter to postpone said butt kicking for a week or two rather than  continuing to push it… Oh well, live and learn right?

So, with me worrying about  Maddie’s leg and having my hammy (which is refusing to allow me to forget about it)  the repair process that our bones and muscles undergo when injured ~and even more so~  the time frame associated with it, is definitely on my mind. I thought  it’d make a great post too, since most people don’t have a clue about the healing process that our bodies undergo.

First, let’s go over bones.   As with most processes in our bodies, once a negative change has been sensed (which happens faster than you can imagine) the process to “fix it” begins immediately.   This is why it is so important to make sure that any broken bone (even if you  only suspect  it’s  broken…better safe than sorry) is put in proper alignment as quickly as possible.   Now obviously, if you’ve got a buddy or a child with a bone sticking out of their leg you shouldn’t mess with it, call 911 and let them do it, but if there’s nothing protruding make sure that the suspected break is supported. When my oldest daughter was screwing around in Walmart, fell and broke her  wrist all I had with me was  one of those travel wipe containers that I kept in the diaper bag…but it worked perfectly. Okay, so here’s why it’s so important to support it now rather than later…wanna look like this? (notice  the wrists)


When a bone is  fractured or broken it causes bleeding at  point of   the fracture/break, this blood collects around the fracture and forms  a clot. The immune cells that are in the blood that forms the clot begin the healing process by beginning to  bridge the gap between the ends of the broken bones. They form a ‘web” or “bridge” of collagen fibers, which is then reorganized by  some of the  bone cells and  turned  into  an  osteoid.   This osteoid is then stuffed full of  calcium which  forms a loose supportive bone tissue called the callus. Once the callus is in place, it is  remodeling into normal, hard bone tissue. Cool huh? So with bones, as  long as  it  is set  in it’s proper place (with a splint, brace, cast, or in Maddie’s case; pins), it will heal so well that it will actually be stronger than it was before it broke. Good news, huh Maddie? 😉

When you tear a muscle, the body immediately goes into “fix it” mode. In order for any injury to heal, blood must be present. Blood carries the oxygen and oxygen is what heals, so good circulation to the damaged area is absolutely critical. If the blood vessels into and out of the muscle have been ruptured or compromised in any way, the first thing that our body will do is  repair them. On the other hand, if circulation is already present,  our body goes into the next step  of repair  mode. Which is the creation of scar tissue. Scar tissue  is  produced by  our bodies very quickly and is used as the “patch”  to piece torn muscle fibers  back together. So, it’s a good thing, but it can be a  bad thing too.   Why?

If large amounts  of scar tissue forms and remains over time at the site of the injury, you’re asking for trouble. See, scar tissue is much weaker than muscle fiber, and MUCH less flexible. If you experience  strain  at the same site, rather than holding, the scar tissue most often tears and Voila! You’ve got another pulled muscle. Boo! Hiss! No good!

So, in order to help  your body break down this good/bad scar tissue, not to mention  re-develop strong and healthy muscle fibers, mild motion is needed. During the recovery process,  remember to lightly exercise the muscle that is in recovery, it will break down the scar tissue and rebuild the muscle.

So out of the two injuries,  bone ends up healing stronger, where muscle (through rehabilitation and proper recovery)  can get back to  where it was, assuming scar tissue is dealt with properly. Looks like Maddie wins! She gets a crazy cool pink cast and she’s gonna end up with a tibia to be envied! Go Maddie!   😉

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