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How the Body Heals Following Injury

injured hand

There are many ways to prove just how fallible your body really is and they usually result in injury of some sort.  Whether you’ve broken a bone in a cliff-diving accident (water wasn’t quite deep enough), burned yourself lighting fireworks, received a deep laceration during a knife fight (when reenacting Westside Story, remember that it was just the magic of Hollywood!), or even if you just pulled a muscle lifting too much weight at the gym, your body finds a way to knit itself back together and heal the damage in a most miraculous way.  But how does it happen?

One method the body uses to heal itself is by scarring.  This generally occurs with injuries that penetrate the skin and/or muscle tissue.  First, your white blood cells knit together to form a clot that stops the blood from leaving your body.  Then, a protein called collagen forms at the site of the injury to repair the damage.  In fact, this is the same type of tissue that was there originally, but the difference is in the way it forms.  You may have noticed that hair doesn’t grow through scar tissue.  This is because the cells arrange themselves in a different pattern when scar tissue is formed.  Unfortunately, this type of healing doesn’t so much repair the damaged tissue as replace it with something slightly different.

Muscles that are strained, sprained, or torn also heal through the use of collagen.  However, this substance is not the same as what muscles are made of (unlike the skin).  This can cause a number of problems.  For starters, collagen creates a type of tissue (a scar) that is weaker than the surrounding muscle.  So while it technically repairs the gap caused by injury, the new scar simply doesn’t have the same strength and elasticity of the previously undamaged muscle.  This means that those who tear a muscle are prone to recurrent injury in the same place if they’re not careful.  As a result, severe muscle injuries can be considered a chronic condition that may change the lifestyle of those who suffer them.

Some other types of wounds, however, are repaired so that the body part that suffered from injury is more or less the same as before once the act of healing is complete.  Bones are a good example of this type of healing.  When a bone is cracked, broken, or otherwise compromised, calcium (which builds bones) rushes in to fill the gap (along with other minerals).  So as long as a broken bone is properly returned to its original position, it will fuse back together with no lasting signs of injury.  In fact, it often becomes stronger in this area than it was before because of the infusion of calcium.

Our bodies are truly miraculous machines, when you think about it.  The ability to heal from injury and return to a state that is either the same as before, even better, or only slightly damaged is nothing short of amazing.  Of course, you will have to take some steps to ensure that injuries are treated correctly if you want to experience maximum healing, but even if you did nothing, your body would endeavor to repair the damage caused by accident or illness so that you could continue to function at either partial or full capacity.

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