Acute Injury = Temporary Inflammation

back pain cartoonFrom time to time, someone will call to request an appointment because they’re in desperate pain—they’ve thrown their back out, woke up with a stiff neck, or felt something pop during a sport or activity.

It’s important to know that the body has a natural inflammatory response to injury. The site may actually swell up, or sometimes it doesn’t appear swollen on the outside, but it is obviously painful and distressed on the inside.

What’s happening is that blood flow increases to the site—red blood cells nourish and white blood cells fight infection. Fluid build-up is a natural, even if uncomfortable, part of the process. Pain is our clue to take it a little easy for a few days—rest is necessary for healing!

This inflammatory process usually takes about three days, and then, depending on the severity of the injury, things should start to calm down and feel better and better each day as tissues heal.

This is not meant to suggest that we don’t need medical attention when we hurt ourselves! Of course, some injuries need professional help. But sudden pain from minor injuries that you think might be helped by massage therapy usually need to wait until after the initial inflammatory response has subsided.

I know it’s hard to wait! We want instant relief. But as my friend and colleague, veteran massage therapist Carolyn Mudgette says, there’s no such thing as an emergency massage. Some types of massage therapy on an already-inflamed area can actually make it worse.

So, patience is a virtue. Slow down, use a little ice, see a doctor if you need to, and know that this too shall pass. Just knowing that it’s a three-day cycle helps me feel calmer when I hurt myself. The other week I got stung by some kind of nasty insect, and had quite an itchy, irritated, hot, red welt. That inflammatory response also took just about three days to start to resolve.

More serious soft tissue injuries can take a long time to heal completely, and bodywork like massage and reflexology can really help. After any acute inflammation phase, I’d be happy to see if I can help you heal faster and feel better!

But here’s hoping you stay healthy and injury free, and use services like mine to stay at optimum wellness and peak performance.

Category : Blog Posted on June 8, 2016

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