Soft Tissue Injury? What are the Healing Phases?
Article by John Miller
How to Manage Your Soft Tissue Injury
Soft tissue injuries are commonly categorised depending on the time frame since injury and the healing processes that are occurring at that time.
Acute - Protection Phase
A soft tissue injury is termed as acute from the initial time of injury and while the pain, bleeding and swelling is at its worst. Your body's aim at this point is to protect your injury from further damage. The usual time frame for your acute symptoms to settle is two to four days post-injury, but this can vary depending on how you treat your injury.
Sub-Acute - Repair Phase
A soft tissue injury is termed as sub-acute when the initial acute phase makes a transition to repairing the injured tissues. This phase commonly lasts up to six weeks post-injury when your body is bust laying down new soft tissue and reducing the need to protect your injury as the new scar tissue etc begins to mature and strengthen.
Late Stage - Remodelling Phase
Your body does not magically just stop tissue healing at six week post-injury. Healing is a continuum. At six weeks post-soft tissue injury your healing tissue is reasonably mature but as you stretch, strength and stress your new scar tissue it often finds that it is not strong enough to cope with your increasing physical demand.
When your body detects that a repaired structure is still weaker that necessary, it will automatically stimulate additional new tissue to help strengthen and support the healing tissue until it meets the demands of your normal exercise or physical function.
The period between six weeks and three months post-injury is commonly referred to as the remodelling phase.
Chronic Phase - Ongoing Repair and Remodelling
Beyond three months is referred to as the chronic phase and probably refers mainly to pain that lasts more than 3 months. However, your soft tissue is constantly being injured by your daily activities and workout, only to magically repair and remodel the tissue to meet your specific exercise demands.
How Does Treatment Vary Depending on the Phase?
Your treatment will vary depending upon the needs and demands of your injury. Your physiotherapist is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of soft tissue injuries and the best techniques for your specific injury and phase of healing.
For more specific advice, please contact your physiotherapist.
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