Body Sense

Winter 2011

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Understanding the Healing Process Where do you fall in the healing continuum? By Christy Cael Many people arrive at my massage office injured, afraid, frustrated, bewildered, and in pain. They view their body as an enemy that has betrayed them. This state of stress and panic actually interferes with essential healing processes. One of the most valuable services health- care practitioners offer is decreasing this stress by helping you understand the healing process and discover ways to support your own, unique experience. Let's explore how the body responds to injury. This will help you understand specific events associated with healing and recognize the physical sensations that accompany each. Pay attention to and discuss with your therapist your specific experience. Becoming aware of your body's reactions will help identify where you fall in the healing continuum, what sensations and changes you might expect throughout, and ways you and your health-care team can support restoration to optimal function. PHASES OF HEALING We can break tissue healing into three phases: the inflammatory response, repair, and remodeling. Each phase has a specific purpose and is characterized by common processes, sensations, and limitations. Time frames for each phase are purposefully avoided since each person is unique and many factors affect the length of time needed to heal. Inflammatory Response Healing begins immediately following a traumatic injury with the inflammatory response. The magnitude of this response depends on the type and severity of injury and varies from one person to another. As soon as the injury occurs, injured tissues release chemicals that draw resources to the area, alert the body that tissue is damaged, and inhibit function to prevent further injury. Five cardinal signs characterize inflammation and can be remembered using the acronym SHARP: swelling, heat, a loss of function, redness, and pain. Initially, surrounding blood vessels expand, increasing blood 8 Body Sense

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