Perhaps you’ve slipped down a slope, twisted your ankle by stepping in a pothole, or hit a soccer opponent in a way that’s left you injured. The pain is excruciating and within hours seems to get worse instead of better. You may even find you’re stiff all over. What do you do?
For the most part, when encountering a musculoskeletal injury, you’ll need to take quick action to focus on self-care. Injuries are more likely to heal quickly when adequately treated. More serious injuries can take weeks to heal. The earlier the treatment, in every case, the better.
It can be helpful to understand just what’s going on that’s causing the discomfort. There are many ligaments and tendons in the body, and anyone of them are vulnerable to injury. Shoulders are susceptible to rotator cuff injuries. Knees are susceptible to sprains or tears of the anterior cruciate or medial collateral ligaments. One quick jolt of the knee in the wrong direction can leave a person limping for weeks.
Muscles and joints can also become injured through overuse. A week of canoeing or doing heavy gardening can leave a person stiff and sore. This type of pain is often referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Stiffness (DOMS).
If there’s an injury or imbalance in one area, until it’s healed, another muscle may work overtime to compensate for the malfunctioning body part. When other muscles are called into action, they may revolt, causing more distress.
. Rest the injury. Immediately stop using the injured area as you have been. It needs time to rebound.
. Cool the injury. Most experts agree the best immediate action is to apply ice to the sore area. An icepack wrapped in a thin cloth and placed on the area for ten minutes several times a day will help reduce inflammation.
. Consider using compression. Wrapping the injured area may help keep it safe by restricting movement. A wrap or brace may also provide greater support to the stiff, weak, or injured muscles and ligaments.
. Take a pain reliever. An over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine may help reduce the pain from inflammation.
. Add herbal supplements to your regime. There are plenty of supplements specifically designed to reduce inflammation, and others designed to repair joints.
. Us topical gels. Anti-inflammatory, deep heat, and icing gels can be purchased over-the-counter. Gently massage these into the injured area to provide a further layer of pain relief.
. Try a pain relief strip. New to the market are pain relief patches that contain a combination of ancient herbs and minerals designed to reduce minor aches and pains. Simply peel back the protective paper and apply the patch to the injured area.
. Switch to an anti-inflammatory diet. Foods such as tomatoes and peppers and those high in sugar and flour may promote inflammation. Search the internet for an anti-inflammatory diet that includes low glycemic index foods.
. Keep moving. While rest is important, equally important is to keep the injured part moving to enhance circulation and mobility.
. Strengthen your body. In most cases, there are other body parts you can still exercise while in recovery. It’s also important to stretch and strengthening the injured area to prepare it to withstand stress once recovered.
. Seek professional help. Build a team of professionals to enhance your recovery process. Your general practitioner may order x-ray, ultrasound, or MRI imagery of the injured area. You may also benefit from the services of a physiotherapist, chiropractor, laser therapist, or even acupuncturist.
Though you likely have a number of routines to accomplish, whether walking your dog, mowing your lawn, or simply grocery shopping, it will be important to pace yourself. Overdoing it may set you back.
Many individuals are surprised by the length of time it takes for some injuries to heal. It’s not uncommon for an injury to take six to eight weeks or several months to heal. In most cases, the injured area will become fully restored and mobility will resumed. Patience and a revision of the way life is handled, in the meantime, will be needed for success.