Please note that all injured clients should be referred to a qualified physician.
When we are injured, our bodies react with an inflammatory response. The purpose of this response is to initiate repair of the injured tissues.
Inflammation is only the first phase of tissue healing. The three phases of tissue healing are:
- Inflammation or reactive phase
- Regeneration or fibroplasia phase
- Remodeling or scar maturation phase
Immediately after the injury, in the inflammation phase, chemical messengers are released that cause vasodilation and attract white blood cells to the area.
The white blood cells help to fight infection and remove waste products from the area. This activity causes the four signs of the inflammation phase, which are; redness, swelling, heat, and pain. Some sources also list loss of function as a sign of inflammation.
In the regeneration phase, cells named fibroblasts produce collagen to help bind the area together. In the scar maturation phase, the collagen links together becoming scar tissue. Most massage modalities are contraindicated during the inflammation phase. The exception would be energy work such as therapeutic touch or Reiki, and trigger point and counterstrain techniques, provided there is no rubbing of the tissues. Cross fiber work should always be postponed until later in the regeneration phase or in the remodeling phase. For first aid treatment of acute injuries the acronym to remember is RICE. It stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
Rest - you need to rest the area to prevent further injury and to allow healing to take place. Some therapists suggest the letter R should stand for Range of motion, as it is important to maintain mobility in the injured area. Any range of motion should be done in a way that doesn’t aggravate the inflammation.
Ice - ice the area for just 10 to 15 minutes, until numb. This reduces inflammation. Never apply heat to a recent injury as heat will increase the circulation and cause more swelling and congestion in the tissues.
Compression - A bandage may be helpful both in providing structural support and by keeping the swelling down.
Elevation - Keep the affected area raised to keep the swelling down.
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