Research has found benefits with physiotherapy intervention within a few days following a sporting incident. These including:
1. Relieving pain
2. Reducing scar tissue
3. Assisting your return to sport and work faster
4. Improving return to sport performance and prevention of injury reoccurrence
How do we achieve this?
Physiotherapists are primary care practitioners, who can diagnose your sports related injury. During the assessment they will be able to determine the extent of damage, likely length of rehabilitation required and any biomechanical factors that could be predisposing you to further injury. Whether imaging and/or surgery is indicated will depend on the physiotherapists assessment findings (refer to previous blog). In the case of imaging or surgery being required the physiotherapist will be able to refer you onto the correct health care professional.
– HARM factors to avoid
o Heat – increases bleeding and swelling to the injured area
o Alcohol – assists in thinning your blood, increasing swelling and bleeding.
o Exercise/ Running – increases pain, and blood flow (bleeding and swelling)
o Massage – avoid for 48-72hours due to aggravating injured tissues, promoting swelling and bleeding to the area.
– RICE principles
o Rest from exercise and painful functional movements is essential to prevent further damage. After a couple of days it is then important to get the joint and injury moving to prevent other problems arising.
o Ice to the injury site for 20minutes every 2-3 hours, this will prevent excessive swelling and pain.
o Compression will help control swelling and bleeding across the first few days following the injury. Compressive devices include: rigid strapping tape, or a supportive brace.
o Elevation above the level of your heart will prevent accumulation of swelling at your injury site cause by gravity.
– Ice or heat?
o Ice is used immediately and for 48hours following sporting injuries such as muscle strains, ligament sprains, or bruising to assist reduction in swelling and pain levels.
o Heat within this first 48hours as mentioned earlier will cause increased swelling and bleeding to the area, detrimental to initial healing process. Once the heat component of inflammation has resolved, heat packs are used to stimulate blood flow to the area, improving healing. Heat will additionally assist with muscle relaxation and reduction in pain levels.
o Your local GP or pharmacist will be able to assist you with medication for pain management and/or anti-inflammatories.
3. Optimal treatment via:
– Joint mobilisation techniques
– Hold-relax techniques for improvements in muscle length
– Individualised home exercise program – stretches, strengthening
– Functional retraining and biomechanical correction
4. Return to sport
Your physiotherapist will safely guide and monitor your individual experience with returning to your sport. The initial assessment will provide the physiotherapist with knowledge on areas to assist you with biomechanical faults which may be predisposing you to injury. They will provide you with recommendations on time frames for return, and exercises in combination with treatment to speed up this process safely.
What happens if you do not seek assistance from a physiotherapist?
Research has found if sports injuries are left untreated they are more likely to:
– Take longer to heal
– Have lingering pain
– Reoccur due to residual joint stiffness and/or muscular weakness and/or proprioception deficits
Over the longer term if left untreated these symptoms and deficits are likely to become habitual, making it more difficult to resolve.