Acute injuries can happen to any of us.
An acute injury can occur from different mechanisms of injury, including; a hit causing a bruise, rolling your ankle and spraining a ligament, sprinting and straining a muscle or falling and breaking a bone.
An acute injury is defined as a sudden trauma causing damage to the affected tissues. In this article, we will discuss the physiology of an acute injury, the stages an injury must go through to heal properly, and how to take care of an acute injury.
The Inflammatory Process
An acute injury follows a sequence of events for the healing process to occur successfully.
The initial stage is the inflammatory process. This phase begins immediately after the injury and can last up to four days. During this phase, the injured tissue sends out chemical signals to constrict the vessels and slow the bleeding process.
Very shortly after, the vessels dilate to bring blood and healing factors to clot and provide scaffolding for the tissue to heal. Cardinal signs that you are in the inflammatory phase and redness, warmth swelling, pain and loss of function.
If the inflammation phase is not managed properly and swelling persists, chronic damage to the tissues can occur.
The Proliferation Phase
Next in the healing process is the proliferation phase.
This phase starts three-four days after the injury, crossing over with the end of the inflammatory phase, and can last three weeks.
During this phase of healing, new tissue of collagen and extracellular matrix is starting to form at the injury site. This new tissue is much weaker than normal tissue and requires daily care for a successful healing process.
During this phase, it is important to protect the new tissue so as to not injure or delay the healing process. However, it is also crucial to start to stress the injury site so the new tissue can become stronger. This includes, depending on the injury, isometric strengthening of muscle, increasing the range of motion in the joint and working on proprioception.
The Remodeling Phase
The final phase of an acute injury is the remodeling phase.
This phase can start three weeks after the injury and last up to a year. At this stage of the healing process, the injury site starts to form a scar.
Depending on how the injury was managed, this new tissue and scar can be just as stable as the original tissue. If not properly cared for, the scar can weaken the tissue, decrease the range of motion, and create lasting altered function at the injury site.
It is important in this stage to continue stressing the injured tissue with progressive overload including strength, dynamic movements and return to normal activities.
Taking Care of Your Injury
The healing process of an acute injury can always vary depending on severity, tissue type, age of the person and pre-existing health.
it is also important to consider lifestyle choices after an injury, plenty of water, proper nutrition and even appropriate sleep can assist the ability of the body to heal.
Acute injuries can be scary, but if managed appropriately, you can be back to your normal activities within weeks!
If you have an acute injury, we can help you! You can book an appointment with us here.