If you find yourself battling with an ongoing sport’s injury such as repeated shoulder injury, continuously sore back, or re occurring hamstring trauma, and want to get better once and for all, you must have a basic understanding of soft-tissue injuries. This understanding will help in all aspects of rehabilitation including stretching, aerobic exercise and strength training.
To heal properly you must realize what you are up against. Understanding the different types of sprains and strains and the phases of soft-tissue healing that you cannot avoid, is essential in successful recovery. You may have been diagnosed with a Sprain, which is a tear of ligaments. Strains instead are tears in the muscles and/or their tendons. Both develop trauma to the tissues. A sudden and violent type of injury may result in significant tearing of tissues. A significant trauma and dysfunction may also arise from repeated small tears over a period of time. Either way, the healing process for the tissues is the same.
Chiropractors deal primarily with type I and type II sprains and strains. Grade I tear is diagnosed when tearing of less than 50 percent of the tissue fibers is present. This is the same for ligaments and/or tendons/muscles. Grade II tear means that more than 50 percent of the of the ligament, tendon and muscle tissue fibers is interrupted, but the tissue is not completely broken. A grade I strain is much easier to treat and resolve than a grade II strain.
Chiropractors do not treat grade III and IV tears as they present instability to the area affected, however a chiropractor is able to help you with diagnosis of these more serious traumas and direct you to appropriate surgical specialist.
A Chiropractor can help you with all 3 Phases of soft tissue healing:
Phase One: The Inflammatory Phase, which lasts 48-72 hours. Swelling begins as the blood and toxins from the trauma irritate surrounding tissues. This is the period which is causing most of the pain. The key to controlling this phase is controlling the inflammation. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) is a must, and by doing this you will also reduce swelling and pain. Early movement with minimal weight-bearing and stress are recommended. You can confirm with your chiropractic doctor the right steps as early as during this stage.A Chiropractor may also help you by treating the associated joints around the trauma area, to regain mobility and relax the muscles.
Phase Two: The Repair Phase, commences after 48-72 hours, and may last for 2 to 3 months. During this period of time, the tissues begin to repair and regain strength. Increases in mild exercise, stretching, strengthening are advised during this phase. Once the tissues have achieved the strength needed to stabilize the area and resist further tearing, you may gradually increase the amount of activity.
Phase Three: The Remodeling Phase starts, when the body redirects the healing towards increasing the strength and orientation of the tissue fibers towards and along the areas of greatest stress. This process can continue for up to two years. This may seem like a long time, but it is a necessary process. During this period however, with proper guidance, you will most likely return to you’re sport as if nothing happened.
The great value in a chiropractor’s guidance and help, in optimizing this stage and making it as speedy as possible, is easy to understand. If you think about a surgical scar you may have had previously as an example. The scar remains red for a long period of time after surgery. It eventually goes from red to skin color. The red color seen after surgery is the result of capillary vessels in the scar that are supplying the nutrients for healing and remodeling the scar. Once remodeling is complete, the capillaries are absorbed and the red color (blood) will disappear.
Chiropractic care is especially valuable during the remodeling phase. Soft-tissue healing is not a quick process and nor is it perfect. The scars formed during healing are not as functional as the normal tissues. Scars are inflexible and weaker than the original tissue, leaving the area vulnerable to future injury. Chiropractic rehabilitation helps reduce many of these factors, reducing the time of the initial inflammatory process, optimizing the amount of repair during the second phase and minimizing the amount of residual scarring left to the muscle, tendon or ligaments. But even chiropractic alone it is not a complete or perfect cure, which is why we at the Chiropractic Dubai always combine chiropractic with a physiotherapy regime. The key is to start treatment early and provide proper care during each phase in order to achieve the best results.