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Acute soft tissue injury


            I’m guilty of it and I know some of my patients are as well. Ever bump into a piece of furniture or door frame (usually followed by some sort of verbal acknowledgement such as “Ow”) and then keep right on doing whatever it is you were doing? And then the amnesia of what happened sets in. Later, perhaps days later, you discover what appears to be a random bruise. Sometimes it’s sensitive to the touch and that is what prompts you to its existence or even just seeing the bruise in its later stages of healing (a lovely shade of green or yellow).What exactly happens during the healing process after an injury? How can massage help with the healing process? A number of things happen on a cellular level and in this blog I’m going to take you step by step on the body’s amazing healing capabilities.

           When tissue is damaged, histamines are released that cause local vasodilation and increased vasopermeability. This causes swelling, heat, and tenderness in the area of the injury. The body works hard to achieve homeostasis (becoming balanced) so recovering from an injury is no different. The tissue surrounding the injury site is flooded with interstitial fluid to flush away damaged and dead tissue, all while fibroblasts begin to lay down a random network of fibrin to secure damaged tissue. This is all happening within the acute stages after the injury occurs and can last anywhere from a matter of hours to a week depending on the severity of the injury as well as your physical condition. During this time massage is locally contraindicated due to the delicate fibrin structures.

            Risk of blood clots is only if the hematoma (bruise) is extreme and there is a family history. Otherwise, there isn’t any proof of massage moving blood clots and I sincerely doubt there ever will be because there is not a direct correlation showing that massage has the means to move the clot.  

Jennifer Roldan massage therapist at Northwest Wellness in Federal Way