POST-OPERATIVE OR INJURY RECOVERY AND YOUR DOG

Galen Myotherapy© has an important role to play in any post-operative treatment plan; capable of addressing the correct rehabilitation of tissues as well as the needs of the dog’s entire body. An holistic approach ensures that possible compensatory issues or areas of referred pain prior to surgery do not impact on the dog’s future mobility.

phases of soft tissue healing following injury

Skeletal muscle repair is a highly synchronized process involving both cellular and molecular responses, where the coordination between inflammation and regeneration or tissues is crucial to a successful outcome of the repair process following muscle damage.

There are three phases to the healing process:

Inflammatory phase
This initial acute phase typically lasts 24 – 72 hours to a week but this will vary considerably depending on the severity of the damage and the presence or otherwise of infection. This stage in the healing process can be characterised by the clinical signs of heat, redness, swelling, pain, and loss of function. It begins with haemostasis; the prevention of blood loss and leads to inflammation - the primary outcome of the initial inflammatory phase is wound cleansing.

Myotherapy is contraindicated during the inflammatory phase of the healing process, however appropriate techniques applied alongside cold treatment during both proliferation and remodelling phases can be extremely effective in supporting healing and good muscle function postoperatively or following injury.

Proliferation phase
Often referred to as the sub-acute phase, it can last between 3 – 4 days to up to a month and can be considered as a ‘clean-up’ phase before the repair stages. Numerous issues can occur during this phase which can lead to chronic inflammation; tissues can degenerate and within the muscles of the locomotor system, chronic inflammation can lead to rupture and muscle tearing – however if the cause of the injury is eliminated, muscle tissue repair can begin.  

The formation of newly developing tissue, associated blood supply and nerve endings will be dependent on the level of tissue damage therefor phase length will be relative - the primary outcome of the second proliferation phase is wound healing.

During the proliferation phase of repair the injured area is weak, however the appropriate use of myotherapy techniques can gently stretch and strengthen the weak tissues; lengthening and realigning fibres, limiting scarring and potential adhesions within fascial and connective tissue layers.  Myotherapy treatment during the proliferation phase can assist in restoring tissue strength, realign scar tissue and improve circulation; effectively stimulating the healing process. 

Treatment creates a controlled return to the inflammatory phase as it serves to ensure the correct rehabilitation of tissues; the application of ice to the affected area prior and post treatment will limit pain and constrict the surrounding blood vessels; reducing secondary damage from any further swelling and inflammation generated.

Remodelling phase
Following the proliferation or sub-acute phase, tissue can repair and be strengthened during the remodelling phase. During this final phase, the new collagen laid down during the repair phase is progressively replaced; maturing to adapt to the original tissue.  

Collagen bundles increase in size resulting in the creation of a stronger scar, however its final strength never reaches that of uninjured collagen and the subsequent tissue will never the be the same as the original tissue – they may be some loss of function, loss of sensitivity and the area may be more prone to injury.

The formation of new tissues will be dependent on the level of initial damage and may take up to two years to complete - the primary outcome of the final remodelling phase is wound strengthening.

myotherapy's role in supporting tissue healing

Injured muscles can heal very slowly and often with incomplete functional recovery; however appropriate tissue therapy intervention and correct application of ice can have a profound effect on the formation of health tissue following injury or surgery.

  • Treatment can help to control and reduce post-operative pain by soothing nerve endings and interrupting pain receptors, reducing the effect of the pain/spasm cycle.
  • Treatment can contribute to a reduction in stress and anxiety, promoting relaxation and a sense of comfort.
  • Treatment can stimulate and strengthens the immune system and prevents infections. 
  • Treatment can limit oedema and inflammation by promoting effective lymphatic drainage to dispose of metabolic waste and toxin build up; it eases pain by relaxing muscles and ensuring effective blood circulation to the area.
  • Treatment can promote better blood flow therefore the delivery of nutrients and oxygen, encouraging the wound to heal correctly. Healthy circulation promotes cellular and tissue repair, and via the natural clotting process it protects the wound against infection.
  • Treatment can assist with optimal scar tissue formation; preventing the build-up of connective tissue restrictions and adhesions which can restrict future movement.
  • Treatment can shorten post-operative healing time; improved blood flow enhances the delivery of nutrients to the site thus shortening surgical healing time and preventing atrophy in inactive muscles.
  • Treatment can promote flexibility and faster mobility within affected muscles and joints, restoring kinaesthetic function and range of prior motion.
  • Treatment can minimises areas of overcompensation and pain referral, detrimental to the dog’s mobility.
  • Treatment can improve mood by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system to release natural endorphins; chemicals capable of generating a pain blocking sensation and creating a sense of wellbeing.

In surgical cases the optimal time to begin treatment is two to three weeks post-operatively, however this is subject to the progress of tissue healing.

Healing phase lengths can never be firmly established; each of the phases may overlap and your veterinary surgeon will obviously advise in all cases of soft tissue healing.

To talk to me about Galen Myotherapy© and how it can assist your dog prior or post-operatively or following an injury, contact me here.