How to Repair Connective Tissue:

Clients often present to clinic with conditions which unfortunately won’t heal with one gentle tweak! In many cases qualified practitioners will recommend ‘additionals’ to assist the healing process. I am often asked ‘why and how’ regarding these supplements, so I am offering a bit of background information………

Mature connective tissue is subdivided into several kinds:

  1. loose connective tissue = strength support and flexibility (skin, mucous membranes, blood vessels, nerves, surrounding body organs)

  2. dense connective tissue = strength (regular e.g. tendons-attach muscle to bone, ligaments-attach bone to bone; irregular e.g. fascia, joint capsules, heart valves),

  3. osseous tissue = cartilage, bone

  4. vascular tissue= blood

The primary factors which affect repair are:  Age, Circulation and Nutrition.

Generally tissue heals faster and better in the young, who possess a better nutritional state and blood supply as well as a faster cellular metabolic rate which can synthesise needed materials and divide more quickly.

In tissue repair efficient blood circulation is essential to transport oxygen, nutrients, antibodies, and many defensive cells to the site. Blood also plays an important role in the removal of tissue fluid, bacteria, foreign bodies and debris. These elements would otherwise interfere with healing.

Therefore, the better the blood supply, the more efficient the healing. Connective tissue is generally highly vascular however tendons only have a scant supply and cartilage is avascular and slow growing. Therefore these can take longer to heal. Bone in contrast has a rich blood supply and heals much more quickly.

Good nutrition is vital as repair places a great demand on the body's stores of nutrients. Adequate protein is important as most of the cell structure is made from proteins. Also involved are a diverse range of vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins play a direct role in wound healing.

  1. A - essential in the replacement of epithelial tissues, especially the respiratory tract.

  2. B group ... thiamine, nicotinic acid, riboflavin - are coenzymes needed by many enzyme systems in cells. They assist in pain relief and are necessary for the division of cells that accomplish repair. Nicotinamide in particular has been found to improve joint mobility and enhance the repair of damaged articular surfaces.

  3. C - retards the erosion of cartilage. It directly affects the normal production and maintenance of matrix materials, especially collagen and strengthens and promotes the formation of new blood vessels. It also increases the synthesis of the endogenous glycosaminoglycans such as chondroitin sulphate, that are necessary to repair damaged joints. A deficiency can result in even superficial wounds failing to heal and the walls of the blood vessels becoming fragile and easily ruptured. Antioxidants like vitamin C also mop up excessive free radicals that have been implicated in the development of arthritis.

  4. Bioflavonoids are produced by plants in their photosynthesising cells, and are commonly found in vitamin C-rich foods. They are responsible for the majority of the yellow, red and blue pigmentation in plants. They can reverse connective tissue damage by enhancing the synthesis of collagen and may also reduce the pain of the condition. Bioflavonoids are involved in the maintenance of small blood vessel wall integrity, and are able to reverse capillary fragility. Improved capillary integrity has many clinical benefits- reduction of pain, inflammation, bleeding, bruising, and oedema due to injury.

  5. Zinc is an essential cofactor in the production of connective tissue, cartilage and bone, and has been shown to help arthritic conditions. Zinc is one of the minerals (with copper and manganese) necessary to produce vital antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) - active in the neutralisation of free radical activity and inflammation in joint tissue. 

  6. D - necessary for the proper absorption of calcium from the intestine. Calcium gives bones their hardness and is necessary for the healing of fractures. D3 activates osteoblasts to increase bone metabolism and repair.

  7. E - antioxidant. Important to the maintenance and protection of cell membranes, promoting the healing of injured tissues and believed to prevent scarring

  8. K - is needed for the production of certain proteins that participate in blood clotting and thus prevents the injured person from bleeding to death. There is also increasing evidence indicating a significant role for vitamin K in bone metabolism and osteoporosis. Osteocalcin is a protein specifically produced by the osteoblasts, and is utilised within the bone as an integral part of the process of its formation. Vitamin K functions as a cofactor for the enzyme that assists in the formation of osteocalcin. Therefore vitamin K helps "glue" the calcium directly into the bone matrix.

  9. Glucosamine Sulphate - Cartilage consists of a dense network of collagen fibres and elastic fibres firmly embedded in chondroitin sulphate - a jelly-like substance that provides support and adhesiveness in cartilage, bone, the skin and blood vessels. The strength of cartilage is due to collagen fibres, its resilience is due to chondroitin sulphate. Glucosamine is a natural component of cartilage (it is also the main component of chondroitin sulphate). As an essential component of the connective tissue matrix of ligaments and tendons, it is involved in preserving joint structure.

  10. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a highly biologically valuable source of sulphur. Sulphur is important for joint tissue support, as it assists in the management of inflammation and promotes the formation of collagen and healthy cartilage.

  11. WATER - Loss of water results in a decrease in volume of blood plasma … oxygen and other nutrients can't be efficiently delivered to the brain and other tissues. A fall in volume reduces pressure, leading to inability of the heart to pump vital nutrients to the brain and other tissues (7-10% water loss can lead to hallucinations and heat stroke 5% can lead to cramps). Water is required for dissolving and eliminating waste; maintaining the circulatory system; supporting the activity of enzymes and functioning of all cell membrane components; dispersing and dissolving nutrients and nutrient carriers in the body.

  12. Calcium is essential for the building and maintenance of all bones and teeth. The nerves transmission of impulses requires calcium with magnesium and potassium. The body's electrolyte balance and blood pH are regulated by calcium, as are the kidneys. Calcium has also shown the ability to protect against heavy metal toxicity, particularly through inhibition of absorption by osseous tissue. Muscle growth and health is facilitated by calcium, whilst a deficiency may result in pain and muscle cramps. Maintenance of cell permeability and regulation of blood coagulation are also dependent on this mineral.

  13. Magnesium has been called "the action mineral." This is due largely to its role as a co-factor and triggering mineral in enzyme systems, particularly in the metabolism of glucose and the creation of cell energy Neuromuscular control and contraction relies on magnesium, as does the health and integrity of the nervous system, particularly nerve impulse transmission. Where levels are low, irritability and nervousness occur. Evidence suggests that magnesium (along with calcium), can help to protect against the development of heart disease and high blood pressure, as it plays a part in vasodilation of blood vessels and the overall integrity of cardiac function. This mineral is required for the proper utilisation of the B complex vitamins, as well as vitamins C and E, calcium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium. The acid-alkali balance of the body, the regulation of body temperature, the building and maintenance of bone and the inhibition of platelet aggregation are other areas where magnesium is essential.

  14. Manganese enhances bone growth and repair through stimulating osteoblasts and suppressing osteoclast activity.

ALSO…..

Anti-inflammatory agents such as quercetin, can help to remove the products of free radical stress at the site of inflammation. Herbal antioxidants such as Grape seed (Vitis Vinifera) and Green Tea (Camellia Sinensis) support normal metabolic processes and detoxification.

Homoeopathic preparations of herbs such as Arnica Montana, Bryonia Alba and Rhus Toxicodendron may be of use in reducing pain, inflammation and accelerating healing with stress fractures.

These are just a few, there is quite a range, some more relevant to specific injuries than others, therefore it is wise to consult a professional therapist to help you decide which is the most appropriate for your particular condition.

FINALLY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY……..

TAKE IT EASY AND ALLOW YOUR BODY TIME TO HEAL!!!!

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