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Comparison of Stages of Inflammation

Stages of Inflammation Time Frame Symptoms ROM & Pain
Acute - beginning of healing stage From the moment of injury up to 3-4 days post injury Redness, Swelling (edema), heat, pain and often loss of function.  Muscle spasm and guarding.  Bruising if present, is black, blue, red or purple Pain is secondary to muscle spasm and guarding
Early Subacute - Granulation tissue and epithelialization stage. Within two days to two weeks Affected area shows diminishing signs of inflammation, pink, warm, slightly edematous, somewhat less painful tissue.  Muscle spasm diminishes.  Bruising if present, relatively unchanged With ROM pain is experienced when tissue resistance is encountered.
Late Subacute - wound retraction and scar remodeling stage Begins 2nd to 3rd week of subacute stage May or may not be a pocket of residual swelling.  Minimal discomfort but potential loss or ROM due to adhesions and muscle weakness.  If bruising present it changes to yellow, brown, green and then disappears. Pain is encountered with overpressure (stretch) to the affected tissue
Chronic- restoration of function Overlaps with the latter part of the subacute stage at about 2-3 weeks post injury up to 1-2 years Inflammatory process is resolved.  No edema, but there is loss of full ROM Pain is encountered with overpressure (stretch) to the affected tissue or secondary stress placed on the contracture.


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