While exercising is good for you, sports injuries are a common occurrence. Ranging from mild to severe, they include strains, sprains, dislocations, fractures, concussions and other injuries and can be caused by acute trauma, including slips, falls, collisions with other athletes or objects, twists, over lifting, chronic overuse and many other mechanisms. Accidents, improper techniques, inclement weather and poor gear can all be predisposing factors, as can previous injuries, lack of flexibility, or not warming up.
Some common sports injuries include Achilles tendinitis, hamstring strain, concussion, contusions, jumper’s knee, rotator cuff tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, groin pull, ACL tear, tennis elbow / golfers elbow, shin splints, skier’s thumb, separated shoulder and turf toe. With soft tissue injuries, including everything except bone fractures, damaged blood vessels cause bleeding, and injured cells release chemicals that start an inflammatory reaction.
Inflammation is characterized by redness, swelling, pain, heat, and loss of function. Bleeding in the tissues is stopped by the formation of blood clots, and special cells called fibroblasts begin the healing process by laying down scar tissue.
Inflammation is a response to injury and also the first step in the healing process but too much inflammation is not good either, as it causes more pain and hampers function, but can also promote the formation of excessive scar tissue.
Therefore, for most sports injuries the pneumonic PRICE (protect, rest, ice, compression, elevation) describes the appropriate initial treatment for musculoskeletal injuries to reduce pain and swelling.
Because one injury varies so much from another, treatment has to be customized for that particular injury in that particular patient.
In general, most treatment protocols will begin with treatment in the acute stage, immediately after injury, aimed at reducing inflammation and pain and increasing range of motion (or bracing or casting in cases where tissue damage has caused excessive motion or fractures).
The rehabilitation stage aims to restore normal function and range of motion and rebuild strength lost following injury, and finally a sports specific phase where exercises are more relevant to return to play activities that restore balance and coordination as well as more specific strengthening and stretching.
Treatments that may be recommended alone, or in combination, include:
Strengthening is used to rebuild muscle weakened by injury or to increase the support of a joint that was injured. It is used to increase shoulder muscle strength following a shoulder dislocation, or to strengthen back muscles following a disc herniation. Strengthening also helps to prevent future recurrences.
At Alberta Back and Neck Rehab & Sports Injuries Clinic, we use the state-of-the-art Primus RS rehab machine, the Medx Medical Rehab machine, or the Multi-Cervical Unit (MCU) to test you in a number of different ways including range of motion, strength, power, and speed. With Primus RS, we can help you quickly recover from your injury by focusing on the measured deficits found on testing, and by using the immediate feedback shown on the Primus RS computer screen you can immediately see your progress from one moment to the next and from session to session. For athletes, Primus RS will help you to increase your performance quicker, while simultaneously being able to measure and track your progress.
For back injuries, we can measure your back strength on our MedX Medical Lumbar Rehab Machine and compare you to others of your same height and weight to see if you have lost strength or range of motion and rebuild appropriately. More.
For neck injuries, we can use our Multi-Cervical Unit (MCU) to do the same kind of measurements and rehab. More.
Myofascial release(Active Release Therapy) which is designed to ‘release’ excessive scar tissue that may be binding adjacent tissues together, causing chronic pain following an injury. More.
Cold laser therapyis used to increase cell permeability to fluids in order to reduce inflammation, and acts as a catalyst to increase chemical reactions at a cellular level, thereby speeding up the healing process. More.
Shockwave therapy is a high intensity sound wave that creates a specific type of micro trauma to chronically painful muscles, tendons and ligaments that stimulates growth of new arterioles which provides the damaged tissue with an enriched blood supply and leads to regeneration and therefore relief of pain. It can also break down excessive scar tissue. More.
Joint mobilization/manipulation restores motion to joints that have become stiffened due to muscle spasm and scar tissue. This will speed healing of the associated injured tissues in acute injuries, and restore motion and relieve pain of chronic injuries. More.
Stretching is used to elongate muscles tightened by injury or disuse and restore the joint motion.
Electro stim can be used to pump inflammation out of a muscle, reduce pain or initiate muscle movements following injuries.
Ultrasound may be used to try to help reduce swelling and pain and aid in healing.
Massage can be beneficial in the acute stage to gently reduce the swelling from the damaged tissues and sooth the pain. Later it can help to reduce scar tissue formation and relieve muscle spasm that was providing protection to the injured area. More.
Taping is used to support and protect joints, ligaments, muscles or tendons that have been over stretched.
Bracing is used to support and protect over stretched tissues as above but is generally used in more severe injuries than taping.
Foot orthotics are used to correct abnormal foot biomechanics that may be the root of many lower extremity injuries, often encountered in runners, such as shin splints, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and patellar mal-alignment syndrome. More.
Severe injuries like fractures, dislocations and ruptures may require casting or surgery.