Weight and Injury Healing

Is your weight preventing you from healing?

There are many factors that can affect healing time after an injury such as an auto accident, but lesser known among them is body weight. As it turns out, elevated body weight and obesity can slow and limit the body’s ability to heal.

Increased levels of adipose or fat tissue in the body place an increased load on the cardiovascular system. Although adipose tissue does not require as much energy as more active tissues such as muscle, adipose tissue is made up of fat cells that nonetheless require nutrition and energy to maintain themselves.

Collagen makes up the structure of tissues that helps hold cells together. Poor circulation decreases available oxygen, and can impact and slow proper formation of collagen, thereby slowing the overall healing process. In order to heal well, repair needs to happen faster than wear. With the healing process slowed, tissue repair may not happen quickly enough to keep up with daily wear and tear and can lead to chronic tightness, stiffness, soreness, and pain.

Both poor circulation and poor collagen formation affect the repair and healing of ligaments, which are frequently injured in auto collisions. Ligaments support movement of the joints, but do not actively contract as the muscles do. Therefore, ligaments normally don’t require as much nutrition and blood supply as the muscles. During times of injury where the ligaments need to repair and heal, they have difficulty doing so due to this limited blood supply. A significant portion of ligaments consists of collagen. Further blood supply limitation combined with poor collagen formation hinders the already slow healing of ligaments, which can slow and lengthen overall recover.

Obesity in particular has been found to be associated with chronic inflammation, which affects circulation and blood sugar levels. Additionally, chronic inflammation associated with obesity can add and contribute to inflammation that will be present after an injury or auto accident.

Type 2 Diabetes is a common condition that can develop with increased body weight. While both type 1 and type 2 diabetes affect injury healing, type 2 is of particular concern as it is related to body weight and there are options available to decrease the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a condition that involves increased sugar in the blood for prolonged periods due to insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone with many functions, with a key function being reducing blood sugar by signaling cells to take more sugar from the blood.

Even before diabetes develops, increased sugar levels in the body that are associated with increased adipose tissue can cause damage. High levels of sugar in the blood can lead to narrowing of blood vessels which decrease blood circulation and result in decreased nutrition to portions of the body, particularly the arms, hands, legs, and feet.

Many factors contribute to elevated body weight and obesity, including diet and exercise as well as psychological factors. Even the timing of meals can contribute to weight gain. For more information on healing after an auto collision or a work injury, contact our chiropractic clinic in SE Portland, OR.  Our chiropractors will be able to advise you on dietary changes and exercise to aid in your recovery following an injury or auto accident and can provide lifestyle advice that will aid you in many situations.



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