The 6 stages of injury and what to expect

Pain isn’t only a symptom, it’s a cycle. When injury comes about, the body undergoes a number of changes physically, psychologically and physiologically. It’s important that our clients understand the pattern of injuries because it provides insight into the different phases of injury progression and what each stage is characterised by.



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  1. Pain

The primary indicator and usually the first sign of an injury. It is an unpleasant sensation and can appear in physical or mental form. Strongly influenced by attitudes, beliefs, personality, social factors and previous episodes of trauma

  1. Guarding

The immediate and natural protective response to an injury. Surrounding muscle will increase in tone and become sensitised in order to protect the underlying injury

  1. Muscle spasm and Inflammation

Muscle spasms are further complications of muscle guarding. They arise as a result of fatigue, overuse and electrolyte imbalances in response to the localised inflammatory process occurring within the underlying damaged tissue.

Inflammation is the bodies cellular response to an injury. Characterised by redness, swelling and pain as a result of increased blood flow and the sensitising substances they release in order to contain the injury.

  1. Restricted mobility

Because tissues have become sensitised due to inflammation, normal movement becomes limited and avoided due to pain. This is often a double-edged sword as restricted mobility does limit pain provocation however also leads to muscle deconditioning and further weakening of damaged tissue due to conscious inactivity.

  1. Loss of normal function

Performing basic daily activities becomes difficult and the feeling of frustration starts to surface. The Inability to play sports, interact with your children or even go about your daily routine becomes limited due to pain and changes to normal behaviour

  1. Anger, frustration and helplessness

The consequences of leaving an injury untreated. These stressful and negative emotions can amplify physical pain symptoms and potentially lead to chronicity of the issue at hand

It is important to remember that the pain cycle varies from person to person. Factors such as previous injuries, underlying health conditions, age, levels of physical activity, occupational and lifestyle factors can influence the overall timespan and severity of each stage of the cycle.

Once an injury occurs, make the effort to get the issue assessed as early as possible so that the pain cycle is minimised and recovery is quicker.

Contact Hands on Health Care 

March 13, 2018
Bader Eldejany