Featured Article
Understanding the Graston Technique

credit: GTindy @WikiCommons

Does time really heal all wounds?
When it comes to soft tissue injuries, the answer is “No.” And in fact, even when wounds do heal, they usually don’t heal as strongly as the uninjured tissue surrounding them. This is why many people experience the same injury, ache or pain over and over again through the years. It’s the same reason professional athletes always end up with multiple surgeries for the same injury. Scar tissue just doesn’t do as good a job as the original tissue. That’s just the way it is though, right? Again the answer is “No” and here’s how Los Gatos Chiropractic and Wellness can help your soft tissue injury.

So what is a soft-tissue injury?
Soft-tissue injuries, such as strains and sprains, often affect the extremities—the legs or arms. Because “soft tissue” refers to anything that isn’t bone, neck and back injuries fall into this category as well. People who suffer a traumatic injury will often need soft-tissue-specific rehabilitation to get back full, pain-free range of motion. But many soft-tissue injuries are the result of repetitive motion rather than a specific event. People we see in our office that often suffer from such injuries include:

  • Athletes and weekend warriors
  • People who spend long hours at a computer without regular stretch breaks
  • Laptop users with improper ergonomics
  • Mothers who hold their babies in one position for long periods of time
  • Students who overfill backpacks or who hang heavy backpacks over one shoulder
  • Sedentary people who allow their muscles to lose conditioning

A soft-tissue injury can occur anywhere that ligaments, tendons, muscles, or fascia are found. Ligaments connect two or more bones and help stabilize the joints. Tendons attach muscles to bones. Fascia connects and covers our muscles so they slide smoothly across one another. Ligaments, tendons, and muscles provide a natural brace to protect the bony skeleton from injury. A ligament can be injured, for example, by making a movement that would take a joint outside of its normal range. Tendon and muscle injuries happen when the muscle is used for a task heavier than it is capable of or if it becomes stretched quickly. When damaged, fascia can adhere to other layers and prevent proper gliding causing irritation.

credit: GTindy @WikiCommons

Why doesn’t time heal these wounds?

When the body is injured, it works to repair itself through a three-phase “healing cascade” process of inflammation, proliferation, and maturation.

In the inflammatory (“acute”) phase, the body releases chemicals that start the healing process. This process continues through the proliferative phase, during which the body migrates materials it needs to create scar tissue at the site of injury. This stage is where ice and compression are most effective.

During the maturation phase of healing, scar tissue forms in the soft-tissue injury site. In this phase, the injury heals with no adverse consequence or it becomes chronic. Scar tissue helps the body form a “patch” at the site of an open wound or internal injury. Scar tissue, however, is much less flexible than normal tissue and the body lays out scar tissue in a haphazard fashion. Scar tissue is fairly rigid and contracts as it heals. Pain results when movement stresses scar tissue and this results in inflammation, furthering the scarring process.

If it’s already healed, what can be done?
Most patients with soft-tissue injuries come to see us after injuries have become chronic (weeks, months, or even years post-injury). By that point, the body has completed most if not all of the healing tasks of the original healing cascade. A second healing cascade is needed to restart the healing process, bringing to the site, among other things, oxygen and nutrients.

There are several techniques which fall under the term Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) including Gua Sha and Graston Technique. The use of smooth instruments that glide over the skin but cause deep pressure into damaged tissue can help release restrictions created by scar tissue and start a chemical healing cascade. The goal of treatment is to break down scar tissue and encourage the body to remodel underlying tissue, building flexibility and strength in the area.

Does it feel as bad as it sounds?
This type of therapy, as with any soft tissue therapy, can cause minor discomfort but most often a feeling of numbness quickly develops similar to using ice. During treatment smaller capillaries in the area are broken. Therefore, bruising is a common response on the first few treatments but quickly reduces as the tissues normalize. Treatments are typically short—often just two to three minutes and some people have an immediate relief of pain with treatment. The level of discomfort typically is reduced with repeated treatments. Chronic soft-tissue injuries are not healed overnight, but your willingness to perform home stretches and exercises will hasten the process. We are very attentive to applying just enough pressure to accomplish the therapy with minimal pain and discomfort for our patient. This therapy may not be right for everyone, but it is often faster and more effective than other methods.

If you’re tired of having pain, want to get back to a beloved activity or if you’ve recently been injured and it just isn’t healing as fast as you’d like, come in to Los Gatos Chiropractic and Wellness Center and let us restart your body’s healing process. Get back to the things you love to do.

Credit to the American Chiropractic Association for information regarding IASTM.

Tags: ,

Facebook Comments:

Leave a Reply

Name (required)

Email (will not be published) (required)