Understanding wound healing stages will help you recover faster after an injury. Too often, people fail to fully recover after they sprain an ankle or sever a ligament. Returning to normal activity can result in re-injury or long-term pain that’s difficult to manage. In the worst cases, a minor injury can require surgery to fix when things go wrong.
The body requires time to heal and needs enough rest to go through the stages of wound healing properly. Otherwise, patients are more likely to experience pain and discomfort. When recovery is rushed, the body compensates, which can affect long-term movement. For example, people with knee injuries sometimes walk with a limp or change how they stand for years. These types of changes can lead to pain and other health issues later in life.
Once you know what the body must do to heal, you’re more likely to give yourself enough time and proper treatment after an injury. Here’s some useful information on all of the stages of wound healing and what you can do to move through them faster.
Stage 1 – The Hemostasis Phase
When an injury first happens, the body’s immune system scrambles to return things to balance. For instance, if you cut yourself, your body will send resources to the area to clot the blood and stop the bleeding. It seeks to limit the spread of the injury and protect your body from further harm.
The first stage is all about stabilization and stopping the pain. Indeed, the body’s immune system is remarkable with its speed and effectiveness in reaching hemostasis after a bleeding injury.
Stage 2 – The Inflammatory Phase
Have you ever noticed how an injury swells up or turns red quickly after an injury? This is because, in the second wound-healing phase, the body sends blood to the affected area to give it the resources required to build new tissue, muscle, skin, or whatever else is damaged.
White blood cells enter the area looking for harmful bacteria to fight and kill. They work to remove dirt and other debris that comes from contacting the ground after a fall that skids knees, for example.
Once the white blood cells finish their jobs, macrophages enter the area to clean the injury. Next, they put out growth hormones and proteins that promote healing and repair. This phase can last several days or longer, depending on the injury.
Stage 3 – The Proliferative Phase
After the wound is cleaned, the body moves into stage three. The proliferative phase is when the body starts to rebuild. The immune system refills the wound, shrinks its edges, and finally covers it.
Some marks of stage three include shiny red skin that you’ll see start to grow around scabs or incisions. Then, the wound starts to shrink and eventually comes together on all sides. Eventually, the cut or hole in the skin disappears, which can take anywhere from a week to several weeks.
Stage 4 – The Maturation Phase
In the final stage of wound healing, new tissue matures and becomes stronger and more flexible. Next, the fibers in the skin, muscles, or tendons start to grow into full strength. This is often the longest phase of healing because it can take a long time for certain injuries to heal. For instance, an ACL tear can take months until the repaired ligament is strong enough to bear a person’s full weight or go through regular exercises.
You’ll notice no signs of scabbing or redness in this phase. It’s more about stability and strength, which is often hard to gauge because people tend to be anxious to return to their previous activity levels.
This stage, however, is usually the most important because it takes time for the body to reach full strength after an injury. Therefore, anyone healing from a severe injury should seek professional medical advice on whether they’re strong enough to start exercising again.
Peptides & Wound Healing
The peptides Thymosin Beta 4 and BPC-157 have been through extensive research in animal models related to wound healing. Results show that they increase the rate of tissue repair and promote better cell migration, and reduce inflammation in injured subjects. In addition, both naturally occurring human proteins demonstrate in animal models that they reduce oxidative stress and protect cells that support neurons and other cells involved in tissue repair.