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In a typical week I see a couple of patients who complain of minor injuries – they may not justify medical intervention, but they can nevertheless be exceedingly painful.  Often these are caused by weekend sports, or lifting something heavy without proper form.  Some of these injuries will go away in time, and just require a period of rest to recuperate.

prevent-pain-workout-proper-form-0
prevent-pain-workout-proper-form-1In a typical week I see a couple of patients who complain of minor injuries – they may not justify medical intervention, but they can nevertheless be exceedingly painful.  Often these are caused by weekend sports, or lifting something heavy without proper form.  Some of these injuries will go away in time, and just require a period of rest to recuperate.

Recovery can be speeded up in many cases by massage or by the application of heat or cold.  If you are confused about whether heat or cold is best, here is the guideline: when you have inflammation, usually shortly after the injury has occurred, cold helps to reduce this.  Once the healing process has begun, this can be accelerated with the application of heat.  Applying heat to inflammation just brings more blood to the injury site, and causes greater inflammation, so the idea is to calm the injury down with cold, then to gently aid recovery with heat once the inflammation has subsided.

Sometimes, injuries are a little more serious.  Say you get an ankle sprain: you land awkwardly on one foot which creates a great force on the ankle joint.  Ankle sprains happen when the foot twists, turns or rolls beyond its normal range of motion.  The ligaments which hold the ankle’s bones and joints in position are then over-stretched, causing a sprain.  It can take four to six weeks for complete healing to occur, because ligaments, unlike muscles, have a poor blood supply, and therefore the body’s natural healing processes cannot work as quickly.

Anyone with the minimum of medical training learns the procedure for dealing with such injuries: R.I.C.E.

  • Rest your ankle by not walking on it
  • Ice should be applied immediately to keep the swelling down, for 20-30 minutes, three or four times daily
  • Compression dressings, bandages or wraps provide support and prevent movement at this stage
  • Elevate your ankle above the level of your heart as much as possible for the first 48 hours
  • Obviously if there is severe pain, a lot of swelling or redness, and no improvement, consult a physician in case the injury is more severe.

 

When lifting heavy objects, it’s important not to bend your back, but to bend your knees and lift from the hips, with your torso in an upright position.  Make sure that you do not twist your body while lifting, and do not lean forward to lift a heavy object.  Healing usually occurs in a matter of days, provided that the injury is not aggravated.  Over the counter pain medication is usually sufficient.  If the injury does not respond to pain medication or gentle massage, you may have a muscle spasm.  A prescription from your physician for a muscle relaxer will fix this.  If you experience numbness or tingling in the legs, check with your physician.

Of course, if you had remembered to warm up before engaging in heavy physical activity, most of these injuries would not occur, but we are all fallible.  If you are in a competitive frame of mind, but your body starts to protest, give in gracefully if it is not a matter of life or death.

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