Chiropractic Rehabilitation and 4 Stages of Soft Tissue Healing

The healing process is divided into four broad stages which are not mutually exclusive and overlap considerably.

1. Initial vascular reaction – Active Swelling

2. Inflammatory response – Passive Congestion

3. Proliferative phase – Repair

4. Remodeling 

Wound healing refers to the body’s replacement of destroyed tissue by living tissue (Walter & Israel 1987). It comprises of two essential components whose differentiation is based on resultant tissue: Regeneration and Repair.

TISSUE INJURY CAUSES RESTRICTION OF MOTION DUE TO:

  1. Inflammation & Swelling
  2. Pain
  3. Muscle Spasm 

THE MAJOR GOALS OF CHIROPRACTIC CARE:

  1. Relieve Pain
  2. Promote Full Healing
  3. Restore & Maintain Full Function
  4. Reduce the Likelihood of Re-Injury
  5. Prevent Accelerated Degeneration 

Chiropractic Care Should Continue Throughout the Repair Stage. It Take Longer For Tissues to Heal & Normal Function to be Restored Than it Takes for Pain Relief. Pain Relief is not the Only Goal.  Chiropractic Helps:

  1. Restore Normal Motion, Function & Biomechanics
  2. Improve Alignment of New Connective Tissue
  3. Prevent Shortening of Scar Tissue & Chronic Stiffness
  4. Restore & Maintain Flexibility of Ligaments & Muscles
  5.  Restore Normal Muscle Tone
  6. Promote Quicker, More Effective Healing
  7. Restore & Maintain Normal Sensation
  8. Reduce the Risk of Re-Injury and Degeneration 

STAGES OF SOFT TISSUE HEALING

 

STAGE I: ACTIVE SWELLING

  1. Swelling Occurs for 12 to 72 hours
  2. Motion is lost and pain increases 

Goals of Care: Minimize pain and swelling

Care:

  1. Rest & Support of Injured Area
  2. Ice to Block Swelling, Pain, and Spasm 

STAGE II: PASSIVE CONGESTION   

Fluid trapped in tissues restricts motion, causes pain, & delays healing. Begins by second to fourth day

Goals of Care for Passive Congestion:

  1. Remove fluid
  2. Pain Relief
  3. Begin to restore range of motion 

Care:

  1. Chiropractic Adjustments Help
  • restore motion
  • block pain
  • restore normal sensation
  • relax tight muscles
  • remove swelling
  • accelerate healing
  1. Heat and Cold to Remove Fluid
  2. Controlled Motion Exercises
  3. Physical Therapy helps in Some Cases
  4. Acupuncture Can Help With Pain Control 

STAGE III: REPAIR

Beginning 5 days after injury, scar tissue is made for up to 6 weeks. 

Lack of motion causes excess scar tissue in dense patterns disrupting normal function causing:

  1. Excess Scarring
  2. Chronic Stiffness
  3. Limited Range of Motion
  4. Poor Biomechanics
  5. Chronic Pain
  6. Weak Muscles & Ligaments
  7. Loss of Normal Sensation
  8. Poor Nutrition
  9. Increased risk of Re-Injury
  10. Accelerated Degeneration 

If Motion is Restored & Maintained, Tissues Heal in a Much More Functional Way.

Coals of Repair Stage:

  1. Restore Normal Range of Motion
  2. Restore Sensation
  3. Promote Full Healing
  4. Relieve Pain 

STAGE IV: REMODELING 

Connective tissue remodels for better strength & flexibility. This often takes 3 to 14 week but may take up to 1 year with severe injury. 

Chiropractic Helps Achieve these Goals:

  1. Improve & Maintain Motion & Flexibility
  2. Restore & Maintain Function
  3. Reduce Chronic Pain
  4. Reduce Risk of Re-Injury & Degeneration

This Post was based on Dr. Malik Slosberg’s Research.

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