We hurt our bodies or we get sick but we "don’t have time" to be sick so we throw back some meds and hope to be better within the week! However, the process of healing is never a straight line, especially if you have reached the chronic-degenerative stage of tissue damage and dysfunction. In most of these cases, the initial interference occurred 30 to 40 years ago and the tissue degradation is progressively and rapidly getting worse!
Although we wish for your healing to occur from the first time you consult with a chiropractor and for the healing to be quick, effortless and instantaneous, in reality, this is not the case. The process of healing has to follow a physiological path in order for it to be sustainable and depends greatly on the amount and variety of tissues damaged.
The healing process is a specific and complex cellular and biochemical process which is directly related to the general phenomenon of growth and tissue regeneration. It comprises of four overlapping stages:
In certain cases, the initial interference, whether it be an illness or an injury, got ‘stuck’ in chronic inflammation. This can mean that the inflammation phase was stopped prematurely (the extensive use of anti-inflammatories or repeating the same initiating stressors, are the main culprits, as is not allowing your body the correct time and care to heal). When care is initiated in these cases, acute inflammation will reoccur. New blood and inflammatory factors move back to the area of illness or injury, increasing the pain the patient feels. This starts the new healing process. Swelling and bruising may be noted, the amount and extent based on the amount of tissue healing that needs to occur.
The influx of bacteria-eating cells and the release of growth factor allows for the tissue(s) to heal as normal tissue and not just scar tissue. Stage 1 & 2 may last up to 5 to 14 days. Stopping the process of healing here leads to a proliferation of chronic inflammation and ongoing tissue damage. The body will have to compensate further, thereby building the extent of the issue and the degradation. This usually occurs because the patient is concerned about the increase in the pain they feel.
Fibroblasts arrive at the site of healing and begin making collagen and the basic building blocks of new tissue(s). This stage lasts up to several weeks or months and is classified by the formation of granulation tissue. This replaces the inflammation, swelling and bruising, providing strength to the injured tissue which will eventually become normal tissue. Stopping the healing process here leads to the formation of very immature tissue which gets injured easily and forces the body to compensate further. This is usually why much more extensive tissue damage occurs on subsequent injuries. Patients stop care prematurely because they are feeling much better and can now return to the basic activities of their daily living.
May take many months to a year or so depending on the type of tissue damage. This is the remodelling stage where normal, fully functioning tissue is formed. Full reconditioning, rehabilitation and adaptability can occur based on the patient’s compliance and motivation to restore full strength, flexibility and mobility to the body. In certain circumstances, extracellular activities and metabolism will restore back to normal, full normal tissue(s) will have been formed and for all intents, you would not know that any previous injury had occurred. However, if the healing process is stopped or interfered with during this stage, ineffective scar tissue(s) still remain, maintaining the weakness of the site. Tissue degradation then continues to occur, mostly silently until the next episode of injury. This usually happens because the patient feels that to fully restore the body is hard work, or they have no mental image of what the damage looks like so they become complacent and accept something less than their best.
All healing takes time and effort. Follow the full cycle for the full effect!