Why surgery is not always the answer to your sports injury
Sports are fun, and can be a great way to build camaraderie, self-esteem, and physical fitness, but they can also often be the arena where injuries occur, both acute and chronic. Acute injuries are those which occur suddenly during activity. Signs include sudden, severe pain, swelling, inability to place weight on a lower limb, extreme tenderness in an upper limb, inability to move a joint through its full range of motion, extreme limb weakness, and visible dislocation or break of a bone. Chronic injuries usually result from overuse of an area while playing a sport or exercising over a long period of time. Signs include pain when performing an activity, a dull ache when at rest, loss of range of motion, and/or swelling.
Common Types of Sports Injuries include:
- Muscle sprains and strains
- Tears of the ligaments that hold joints together
- Knee injuries
- Tears of the tendons that support joints and allow them to move
- Shin splints
- Dislocated joints
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Fractured bones, including vertebrae
Whether acute or chronic, never try to “work through” the pain of an injury; do not subscribe to the “no pain, no gain” mindset! Pain is your body’s 911 call to STOP doing the activity or movement that is bringing you pain before it causes further harm. Pain is never an indicator that you should continue with any activity. While some injuries require prompt medical attention, some will require physical therapy, and still others may require corrective surgery.
Although severe injuries may need emergency treatment that includes surgery, most musculoskeletal sports injuries can be assessed and, in many cases, treated by your primary health care provider or professional chiropractor.
Depending on the severity of your injury or the likelihood that you could experience ongoing, long-term problems, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist or orthopedic surgeon. However, surgery is a solution that often requires extensive recovery and healing time, and can sometimes come with unwanted side effects, not to mention the drain on your budget! If your insurance does not cover certain costs, you could be in for a big surprise in the way of an unwanted financial burden after surgery.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), you should seek the advice and treatment of a health professional if your injury causes severe pain, swelling, or numbness, you can’t tolerate any weight on the area, or the pain or dull ache of an old injury is accompanied by increased swelling, joint abnormality, or instability.
The NIH recommends using the RICE method to relieve pain and inflammation and speed healing immediately after injury, and to continue this treatment for at least 48 hours:
- Reduce regular exercise or activities of daily living as needed. If you cannot put weight on an ankle or knee, crutches may help. If you use a cane or one crutch for an ankle injury, use it on the uninjured side to help you lean away and relieve weight on the injured ankle.
- Apply an ice pack to the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day. A cold pack, ice bag, or plastic bag filled with crushed ice and wrapped in a towel can be used. To avoid cold injury and frostbite, do not apply the ice for more than 20 minutes. (Note: Do not use heat immediately after an injury. This tends to increase internal bleeding or swelling. Heat can be used later on to relieve muscle tension and promote relaxation.)
- Compression of the injured area may help reduce swelling. Compression can be achieved with elastic wraps, special boots, air casts, and splints. Ask your health care provider for advice on which one to use.
- If possible, keep the injured ankle, knee, elbow, or wrist elevated on a pillow, above the level of the heart, to help decrease swelling.
Chiropractic care offers several methods of pain relief for sports-related injuries. These include muscle stimulation, ultrasound therapy, dry needling, laser therapy, kinesio tape, acupuncture, massage, and manipulation. All of these methodologies are available to help your body heal from injury, and we at Springs Chiropractic will tailor your pain management treatment to fit your unique condition and situation, and we will do our best to help you avoid surgery whenever possible.
If pain or other symptoms worsen, it is always best to check with your health care provider. If you want to benefit from sports injury doctors who offer various techniques to treat sports-related injuries, call the experts at Springs Chiropractic today for an appointment.