Everyone, at some time in their life will injure their musculoskeletal system. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and bones all have their limits tested every day through our daily activities. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives (medlineplus/backpain).
In order for these injuries to heal, they have to go through a 3 phase process. Depending on the injury and what stage of healing your tissue in, your Chiropractor will determine what type of care would be best for you. All injuries are not the same and neither are people. Having a professional rehabilitating your injury correctly so that the tissue can meet the demands and stresses you put it through.
The Three Phase Process of Healing
– Inflammatory Phase – This phase starts from when you injure the tissue and lasts up to 3 or 4 days usually. If not treated correctly it can last many days longer.
– Repair Phase – This Phase starts when the inflammatory phase begins to calm down. This phase lasts approximately six weeks.
– Remolding phase – This phase somewhere between four and six weeks and can last one and a half to three years.
When an Injury Occurs
When an injury occurs you need to decide first if you need to go to the emergency room. Severe injuries should always be seen by a professional immediately. If the injury is moderate to severe, ask yourself if the injury could give you long term problems or heal improperly such as a neck injury from a car wreck. These types of injuries also need to be seen by a specialist such as a Chiropractor or Orthopedist. If the injury minor you can usually rest, ice, compress and elevate the area (R.I.C.E.).
A sprained ankle needs a light compression like an ace bandage, elevated on a pillow, resting with a bag of ice 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off and repeat to keep the inflammation down. The better you keep the inflammation down and prevent re-injury or micro-trauma, the better it will heal.
Injuries to your neck and back are not much different. You always want to control the inflammation first. Sometimes Chiropractors may even brace the tissue if it’s damaged enough. It all depends on what tissue is injured and what phase of healing the person is in.
What’s Next When The Pain is all Gone
When you get to the point of the pain is all gone and you are feeling about normal, realize you’re not fixed yet. The remolding phase can last one and a half to three years. The healing will continue for a while after the pain is gone.
When the tissue is all repaired it will still heal for a longer time. During that time the body will recognize the demands and stresses b you put on that tissue. It will recognize the injuries to that tissue and will support that tissue to strengthen it to handle the demand.
Rehabilitating an injury
We are all unique and so are injuries. Everyone heals almost the same. Some heal slower than other, due to diabetes and age. Whether you heal normally or slowly, we all go through the same stages of healing. The foundation of rehabilitating an injury starts with the healing process.
The next time you have surgery, rehabilitate your lower back, break a bone or are on a care plan to fix your migraines, realize the doctors understand the healing process and what it is going to take to make that injury heal the best that it can. Also, it will take time and be patient now that you understand this process.
Christopher M. Lewis, D.C.