The Stages of Inflammation Following an Injury

All types of body tissues respond to injury. Damage to the tissues may be in the form of biological, physical, chemical, or radiation burns. No matter the type of damage, all types of tissue go through the same pattern of physiological events.

Injury Response Mechanism

When the body gets injured, the tissues surrounding the affected area respond immediately. Inflammation is the initial response to a injury.

Inflammation is the first line of defense against injury. It consists of the changes in the micro-circulation of the injured site. Inflammation includes fluid leakage and the movement of leukocytes from blood vessels to the site of injury.

Inflammation Phase

During the inflammation stage, vasoconstriction happens to an injured blood vessel. The injured blood vessel constricts to narrow the pathway and conserve blood coming out from the trauma site.

Other cellular components create a plug around the injured tissues. They create a seal to stop the bleeding on site. Enzymes present in the area further strengthen the plug through forming a blood clot.

The inflammation stage will last a few days. It is during this time that white blood cells become attracted to the injured site. Blood vessel fluids leak to the site of injury resulting to the signs of inflammation. The four cardinal signs of inflammation are swelling, pain, redness, and localized heat. Sometimes, loss of function is also evident.

Tissue injury may trigger local nerves that send pain signals to the spinal cord and brain. Immune cells may also activate resulting to fever. At the end of the inflammatory phase, monocyte cells clean up dead tissue cells and foreign matter in the injury site.

Proliferative Phase

During the proliferative phase, blood platelets release chemicals that help in healing. These chemicals bring in reparative cells into the injury site. These reparative cells begin the process of rebuilding starting with the extracellular barrier. These cells also produce large amounts of collagen that form into scar tissue.

The time to complete the proliferative phase will vary. The severity and location of the injury are the biggest factors to consider. Body parts with better blood flow will have a shorter proliferative phase.

Remodeling and Strengthening Phase

During the last phase of the healing, inflammation signs start to subside. The four cardinal signs are no longer visible. It is during the remodeling phase that collagen tissue fibers reorganize themselves. This happens to support the tissues better.

Depending on the location, depth, and area of injury; complete healing may take several weeks to years. Sometimes, an acute injury may lead to chronic low-level inflammation resulting to unresolved pain and irritation to the site. Special treatments are necessary to address this.

Knowing the inflammation and healing processes allows you to understand how your body works on a cellular level. With this understanding comes the necessary step to ensure complete, faster, and more effective recovery from injury. Preventing further insult to the injury is important to keep the healing process continues. Keep the wound immobilized for a specific period to ensure a complete healing process on the site.

Sources:

https://opentextbc.ca/anatomyandphysiology/chapter/4-6-tissue-injury-and-aging/

https://www.h-wave.com/blog/physiological-stages-healing-process-what-happens-when-you-injure-yourself/