Physiotherapy Following Your Injury
In the initial stages following your soft tissue injury, RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) should be applied to the affected body part. However, it's what happens after that, which requires the intervention of a quality physiotherapist. A good rehabilitation programme should return you to your previous level of function. The length of time required to achieve this will obviously depend on the severity of the injury and each individual.
All musculoskeletal injuries require active rehabilitation. You may adopt the "It will come right on its own" attitude. However, research by (Hides et al. 1996) has shown muscle to remain wasted following injury to the lower back, even though spontaneous recovery has occurred.
Rehabilitation is also essential following surgery. The goal is to have you back at optimal function as quickly as possible. There is no one recipe for rehabilitation as everyone is a unique individual.
First there is the type of injury you may suffer. Every injury is different. For example, two people may sprain their ankles. The first person may have a grade 1 ankle sprain and the second person may have a grade 3 sprain. A grade 3 ankle sprain is very different from a grade 1 ankle sprain and the person with the grade 3 ankle sprain is likely to take much longer to return to full function than the person with the grade 1 sprain. Then there are other associated factors with the injury, such as the previous history - have you sprained your ankle before; have you had any other previous injuries to your ankle, foot, knee, hip or lower back. Was there a lot of swelling? Did you continue to perform activities on your ankle after the injury? The list is extensive and we could go on.
Secondly, each person will respond differently to their injury compared to others. They will have different personalities and lifestyle factors. Some will heal faster, some will tolerate pain better, while others will be more focused and diligent with their prescribed exercises. Furthermore, each individual has different goals and requirements for returning to full function. An office administrator with a shoulder injury will have a very different rehabilitation programme to a builder with a shoulder injury.
Once a good history has been taken and a diagnosis has been made, a competent physiotherapist will formulate an individualized rehabilitation programme. The programme should be implemented as early as possible following injury or surgery, as there will be rapid loss of muscle due to pain, inflammation and inactivity. If you return to activity too early without conditioning your loss of muscle, you are likely to experience pain or risk further injury. There is also likely to be tightness in some structures that will require stretching and mobilization.
From time to time we have concerned patients wanting to know why their injury is taking so long to come right. Often they had a friend, or a family member who had a similar injury to them, but the friend or family member recovered a lot faster. Rehabilitation differs for each individual and all injuries are unique to each person. What worked, or works well for you, may not necessarily be the correct treatment for somebody else with a similar injury.
It is imperative a good physiotherapist takes a detailed history and takes time to work closely with you. If required, your family members and/or your employer may be included in your rehabilitation programme. It is important you seek professional advice following your injury.
At Total Physio we care, and most of all we care about you. We are very proficient at rehabilitating soft tissue injuries and our goal is to return you to optimal function as quickly as possible. So, don't delay or think twice about getting treatment. You are number one and your health is your priority.