What happens when damage occurs
In the event of soft tissue injury, whether it’s bruising, a sprain or a strain, some degree of bleeding will occur due to the damaged vessels. Inflammation results from the introduction of additional fluid which is produced to remove the dead cells of the damaged tissue. The combination of damaged nerves, swelling and muscle spasm causes pain and reduced range of movement. The pain is experienced as a reaction from your nervous system to prevent further damage.
Soft tissue repair
When skin or organs are damaged, the body naturally wants to heal itself. Since the body cannot re-create healthy skin or tissue, it puts together new fibres in a hap hazard fashion, that are not as functional as the original tissue, but that serve as a protective, useful barrier. When this barrier is completely healed, it is known as a scar.
Scar tissue is the fibrous connective tissue which forms a scar; it can be found on any tissue on the body, including skin and internal organs, where an injury, cut, surgery or disease has taken place, and then healed.
Thicker than the surrounding tissue, scar tissue is paler and denser because it has a limited blood supply; although it takes the place of damaged or destroyed tissue, it is limited in function, including movement, circulation, and sensation. Other than with minor cuts and scrapes, scarring is a common result of any bodily damage, whether internal or external.
Where internal damage has occurred, whether it’s to a muscle, tendon or ligament the scar tissue that forms around the area can hinder the normal function of the affected structure.
There are three stages to soft tissue repair:
The Acute Stage(Inflammatory phase) with last up to 72 hours. Massage should not be applied at this stage. You should follow the RICE protocol during this time i.e. REST, ICE, Compression, Elevation.
The Sub-Acute stage(Repair phase) which can take anything from 72 hours to 21 days. The greatest influence in the formation of collagen fibres occurs during the sub-acute phase.
This is the most important time when massage can be applied to encourage the rate of tissue repair and removal of metabolic waste, minimise stiffness by maintaining flexibility whilst keeping the restrictive adhesions to a minimum. Applying ice to the affected area can also greatly assist in repairing damaged tissue during this phase.
The Chronic stage(Remodelling phase) which can take from 21 days up to 2 years. Massage, controlled stretching and movement are all helpful at this stage.
Categorised in: Helpful Information
This post was written by Chris Wood