Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury. When you damage muscles, tendons or ligaments, the involved area tends to lose function and become inflamed – red, swollen and painful. This inflammatory response is an important part of the healing process. It limits further damage by restricting movement in the injured area and starts tissue repair and reconstruction. However, if inflammation is prolonged or a part of the inflammatory response does not work properly, healing can be delayed.
During the first 72 hours following an injury, we recommend resting and elevating the damaged area. You should also apply ice intermittently for 10-15 minutes at a time. This helps reduce the pain of inflammation and keeps your recovery time to a minimum. We also recommend chiropractic treatments to help reduce your pain and speed recovery.
There are three main parts to repairing and rehabilitating injured tissue…
- Consuming appropriate nutrients to help support your body’s response to the inflammation
- Rebuilding damaged connective tissue, such as ligaments, tendons and join cartilage
- Relaxing the soft tissue area where the injury occurred
Nutrients Essential to the Healing Process
Two of the most important nutrients to help your body deal with inflammation after an accute injury are the fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3. These fats are not produced by your body so you must get them from your diet – this is why they’re called the essential fats. Food sources rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids include…
- Fish and shellfish
- Flaxseed (linseed) oil and canola oil
- Hemp oil and soya oil
- Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- Leafy vegetables
Also important for healing are bioflavonoids and proteolytic enzymes. These substances minimize the effects of pain and swelling and speed up your recovery. Bioflavonoids are the water-soluble pigments found in citrus fruits. They have natural anti-inflammatory properties. And proteolytic enzymes, such as those found in pineapples and papaya, counteract biochemicals involved in inflammation.
(read our “The Food We Eat Can Cause Pain and Inflammation” blog post to learn more about the effect of food on our body)
Tradition Medical Solution Has Risks
The standard medical treatment for tissue inflammation is usually dispensing anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as ibprofen or similar medications. They are classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Although they have a history of effective pain management, NSAIDs have numerous side-effects making it questionable whether these drugs are worth the risk.
Rebuilding Connective Tissue
Once the inflammatory response has been effective in limiting tissue damage and promoting healing, your body’s next step is to reconstruct the injured tissue. Collagen is one of the most important parts in this repair process. It’s the main building-block of connective tissues such as ligaments, tendons and joint cartilage. Substances helpful for rebuilding collagen include amino acids, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, plus vitamins C and E.
Amino acids are found in all proteins. Therefore, health experts recommend you consume a protein-rich diet when you need to repair and rebuild soft tissue.
Free radicals are a by-product of inflammation. These dangerous molecules can cause further cell damage, so you want to minimize free radical production to help promote healing. Antioxidants are powerful molecules that neutralize free radicals. Vitamin C and vitamin E are two well-known antioxidants. Vitamin E can be found in wheat germ, almonds, or sunflower seeds. Vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits, strawberries, guava, sweet green or red peppers, and cantaloupe.
Relaxing Soft Tissue Helps Speed Recovery
To complement the positive effects of therapeutic massage and chiropractic adjustments, we suggest using dietary supplements to relax damaged tissue and facilitate healing. Two minerals useful in this area are magnesium and calcium. These minerals help with the proper contraction/relaxation of soft tissue.
Foods rich in magnesium are pumpkin seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, halibut and spinach. Besides dairy products, good sources of calcium include kale, broccoli, spinach, oranges, and salmon. Keep in mind, you need an adequate amount of vitamin D to assist your body in absorbing calcium.
Request an appointment with one of our chiropractors to discuss the best methods to heal and repair injured tissue.
Learn more about changing your eating habits, the best healing strategies and other daily factors that affect your health at our FREE Dinner with Doc event on January 29th from 6:30-8pm.
You just have to show up with at least one guest and we’ll pay for dinner! You’ll leave with the best tips and tricks provided by our doctors to help you live a longer, happier, healthier life!
Learn More and RSVP here