For years, people have been told to put a bag of frozen peas on a torn or sprained muscle to reduce the swelling. But for the first time, researchers have found a hormone produced by inflamed tissue that could help heal damaged muscle.
This discovery turns the conventional wisdom that swelling must be controlled to encourage healing, the Daily Mail reported. It also paves the way for new methods of treating sports injuries.
The findings could lead to new therapies for acute muscle injuries caused by trauma, chemicals, infections, freeze damage and exposure to medications, according to the journal Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
Researcher Lan Zhou, from the Neuroinflammation Research Centre at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, US, said: "We hope that our findings stimulate further research to dissect different roles played by tissue inflammation in clinical settings, so we can utilise the positive effects and control the negative effects of tissue inflammation."
The study suggests muscle inflammation after acute injury is essential to repair.
Zhou and his colleagues discovered that inflamed cells produce a high level of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) which significantly increases the rate of muscle regeneration.
This discovery could also change how much patient monitoring is required when potent anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed over a long period.