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Early Injury Detection and Treatment: Saves Time and Money

The majority of sports or activity-induced injuries do not occur overnight but typically result from overuse.  These soft tissue and joint injuries can result from overusing a specific body part/region or from a change in daily activities or training regimen.  Such injuries can result from excessive running, swimming, cycling, fitness walking, rollerblading, repetitive job duties, gardening, yard work or housework.

These injuries gradually come on and get worse over time without there seeming to be a specific identifiable cause.  The gradual onset of pain and stiffness leaves most individuals confused about the origin of the symptoms.

The majority of progressive injuries can be avoided or the severity reduced with early detection and treatment, which reduces pain, stiffness and limitation of movement.  Additionally, this also saves time, energy and money that will be needed to treat these injuries as they worsen.

There are four stages associated with a sport or activity-induced injury (see chart below).  By identifying the correct stage of injury, one may begin proactive treatment, which will eliminate the cause of the injury. Those who ignore the symptoms, hoping they will go away on their own, will pay the price with more extensive treatment and a longer road to recovery.

Stage

Symptoms

Prognosis

Treatment

1

Aching or stiffness noticed only after an event1; sometimes hours after or the next morning

1 to 2 day recovery with proper treatment and elimination of the cause

Ice, Compression, Elevation, Soft Tissue Therapy2

2

Slight discomfort or tightness, but not pain, during an event1.  Aching and stiffness may set in after the event1.

4 to 7 day recovery with proper treatment and elimination of the cause

2 to 4 Day Rest or Active Rest3, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Soft Tissue Therapy 2, Anti-Inflammatories4, Joint Manipulation5

*Note: Seek professional help if no improvement or worse after 4 days rest and treatment.

3

More severe discomfort or pain during an event1.  Feel compelled to reduce event1 intensity or duration.

2 to 4 week recovery with proper treatment and elimination of the cause

4 to 7 Day Rest or Active Rest3, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Soft Tissue Therapy 2, Anti-Inflammatories4, Joint Manipulation5, Rehabilitation6, Return to event only when no pain noticed with activity.

*Note: Seek professional help if no improvement or worse after 7 days rest and treatment.

4

Severe pain during an event1.   Cannot take part in event1 as a result of the pain.

6 week or longer recovery with proper treatment and elimination of the cause

Seek professional help immediately. Requires professional treatment and rehabilitation. Return to event only when no pain noticed with activity.

1 Event – specific daily or weekend activity, fitness/sports training or sports competition

2 Soft Tissue Therapy – the manual release of scar tissue, trigger points or spasms in muscle, fascia, ligaments and joint capsules.

3 Active Rest – participating in an alternative activity or sport that does not cause or worsen current symptoms

4 Anti-Inflammatories – over-the-counter medications: Aspirin and Advil; if these irritate your stomach, talk to your medical doctor about a prescriptive anti-inflammatory: “COX-2 Inhibitor”

5 Joint Manipulation – the manual release of limited joint movement to improve joint mechanics (alignment and mobility)

6 Rehabilitation – a specific exercise protocol designed to improve the strength and flexibility of the injured area as well as help prevent the likelihood of injury reoccurrence



Tips for Proactive Prevention and Treatment:

  1. Acceptance:  Accepting and admitting that you are no longer invincible (like you were in your youth) and are susceptible to injuries is the first and largest step in prevention
  2. Awareness:  If you can detect an injury “in-the-making” during or after an activity, you can seek a proper course of treatment
  3. Preparation:  Keep first aid supplies on hand; these include paper cups with frozen water for ice massages (tear top of cup off), gel ice packs (zip lock bags with ice or pack of frozen veggies work as well), ACE compression bandage.
  4. Ice Rules:  Ice is used as an external anti-inflammatory agent.  Ice immediately after activity if you detect an injury “in-the-making.”  Ice for 15-20 minutes (use paper towel or thin cloth between ice and skin for frostbite protection).  Allow tissues to warm up, after icing, for at least 60 minutes before repeating.  Repeat several times a day if necessary.
  5. Compression/Elevation Rules:  These are used to reduce swelling.  If you are going to ice…why not compress and elevate at the same time?  This is called “combination therapy” and gives you the biggest bang for your buck.
  6. Anti-Inflammatory Rules:  This is to combat inflammation form the inside.  Most anti-inflammatories are also painkillers.  You should not use anti-inflammatories and continue to participate in activities that normally cause you discomfort or pain.  Masking the pain during activity can lead to further injury and irritation.
  7. Seek Professional Advice:  Do not be afraid to seek the advice of a healthcare professional.  Make sure to seek a professional with a background in physical or sports medicine as well as one that is interested in finding the cause of your problem.  This person will be able to help you return to your sport and activities more quickly with less pain and limitation.
  8. Return with Caution:  After taking time off to rest or seek treatment, return to your sport or activity with caution.  Reduce the time and intensity of the activity and gradually work back into your pre-injury level.

Dr. J. D. Hasenbank is a Sports Chiropractor in a multidisciplinary practice in Houston, TX. To find out more information on sports injuries visit www.SpineandSportsTherapy.com or email the doctor at JDH@SpineandSportsTherapy.com.



 




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