Have you been benched by a recent sports injury? Has an acute strain, sprain or other damage left you hobbling instead of competing? Is chronic pain from an overuse injury or badly healed previous injury affecting your performance? Sports injuries can prove as frustrating as they are painful, so it’s good to know what causes these afflictions and how conservative care can help. Our Tucson physical therapy clinic can offer a variety of safe, natural treatments to get you off the bench and back in the game.
What Is A Sports Injury?
The wide world of sports encompasses an equally wide world of sports injuries. Generally, however, they break down into two basic categories: acute sports injuries and chronic sports injuries. Acute sports injuries include those sudden, traumatic moments such as torn muscles, sprained or ruptured ligaments, dislocated joints, broken bones and herniated discs sustained in ugly falls, ill-advised moves, or brutal impacts. The silver lining with acute sports injuries is that once you’ve healed and rehabbed that injury, your pain and disability vanish, and you’re ready to compete again.
Chronic injuries may be less agonizing in the short term but more debilitating in the long term. A chronic sports injury can develop gradually as some underlying physical imbalance puts too much stress on particular tissues or joints. Scar tissue left over from a previous injury can cause chronic pain by restricting the muscles and connective tissues, a condition known as “adhesion.” Athletes who punish their legs can develop chronic injury issues such as runner’s knee, jumper’s knee and a foot inflammation called plantar fasciitis. These conditions only get worse and worse without treatment.
Causes Of Sports Injuries
The cause of an acute sports injury may be painfully clear, such as a football tackle that drives your spine into the turf or gives you whiplash. But a weak muscle here and there can also unbalance your body without your even knowing it, making you prone to a catastrophic muscle tear or another failure. Failing to warm up your body properly before training or competition can also invite acute injuries.
Chronic sports injuries are typically related to overuse. For instance, over-training on the tennis court can mean too many racket swings for your shoulder, elbow or wrist tissues to handle. Tiny tears in the tissues have no chance to heal themselves before new tears are added, leading to the ache of tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome or rotator cuff strain. (Golfers develop similar injuries for the same reasons.) A degenerative problem such as a bulging disc can also pinch critical nerves, weakening an arm or leg, and causing all kinds of discomfort in that extremity.
How Physical Therapy Helps Sports Injuries
Physical therapy plays a critical role in all parts of your recovery from a sports injury, from initial medical treatment to end-stage rehabilitation. Your physical therapist will perform a detailed evaluation of your musculoskeletal system, posture, range of motion and symptoms to pinpoint the exact source and cause of your problem. You may need to spend some time receiving first aid measures such as R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) to reduce acute pain and swelling before you can move on to other physical therapy techniques.
Depending on your specific condition, your physical therapist may prescribe:
Gentle range-of-motion exercises to help injured tissues heal normally, without adhesions
Deep tissue massage techniques to break up an adhesion from an old injury
Low-level laser therapy, ultrasound or electrical stimulation to ease pain and promote healing
Strengthening and balancing exercises to help you get back your strength and stability
A course of physical therapy may seem like a lengthy process — but that’s a good thing where your safety, comfort and complete recovery are concerned.
Don’t let a sports injury keep you away from the activities you love. Whether you’re struggling with chronic symptoms or nursing acute damage, the right physical therapist can make all the difference in your heroic comeback. Contact our Tucson, AZ sports injury clinic today as we can devise your game plan for a full recovery!