sprained ankle

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This is a companion to Dr. Jamie Grimes’ post about common cycling injuries.

“I’m injured and in pain! Who should I see to fix it?”

This is probably the most common question we get when people call the front desk at Synergy.

Deciding which healthcare practitioner to see is a tough question for us to answer at first, because there is so much overlap in methods and techniques between the different types of musculoskeletal practitioners at Synergy Health Centre.

To complicate matters further, there are many new and incredibly effective treatment methods and technologies now that did not exist even 10 years ago (this fact sheet lists some of them).

Without a background in pathology, years of clinical experience and an understanding of how the treatments work at a physiological level, it’s really hard for our rock star front desk staff answering the phones to determine which member of our team can help you the best.

One of the things you learn after 15 years of clinical practice is that no matter how good or how nice we are as practitioners, we still won’t achieve results for our patients if unless we, as practitioners, choose the correct treatments first.

The treatment must address the actual source tissue that is causing the pain or dysfunction, and a problem will not stay resolved if the root cause of the tissue injury itself isn’t discovered and removed or prevented.

Diagnosing your injury

No matter what type of practitioner you see, we all have to diagnose the injury and determine what exact tissue types are damaged or injured, and what types of injury they received.

The more specific we can get about the tissue types injured, the more specific the treatment will be and the more specific the result will be. General diagnoses lead to general results, and nobody is ever satisfied with that.

Understanding how and when the injury, dysfunction or cause of pain occurred is critical in choosing the best treatment at the time of exam.

Common tissue injuries include:

  • Sprained or torn ligaments
  • Strained or torn tendons
  • Muscle tears and fascia tears
  • Scar tissue adhesions
  • Compressed nerves
  • Torn cartilage
  • Herniated discs, degenerative cartilage (arthritis)

Acute versus chronic injuries

When choosing a treatment type, we first need to determine whether the injury is acute or chronic.

Diagnosing acute injuries

Acute injuries are either new or re-injured chronic injuries. They are generally inflamed, swollen, and red and often have a sharper or more intense pain.

With acute injuries, the body’s inflammatory repair system is very active. In this phase of healing, the goal is to allow a healthy amount of inflammation, which is the body’s natural healing process, and control or limit excessive inflammation so that the body doesn’t over-produce scar tissues. Every tissue type responds to inflammation differently.

Tissues with more circulation, like muscles, tend to get more inflamed than white tissues with less circulation, such as ligaments.

The general treatment protocol and home care advice for acute injuries is RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) to control inflammation, swelling and avoid worsening the injury further.

More effective and specific treatments can be used once the practitioner determines the source tissues that are causing the pain.

Diagnosing chronic injuries

Chronic injuries are older and have already gone through the body’s acute repair and healing process, yet something didn’t heal properly or the injury never quite finished healing.

Sometimes the healing process goes wrong and creates a new problem or new pains. Chronic injuries are generally less inflamed and sometimes not inflamed at all. Treatment at this point can often be more aggressive without causing further damage or injury.

The general goal is to remove the sources of the chronic pain or dysfunction, and re-stimulate healing where the body didn’t finish or where the initial healing went wrong.

Many times the role of a healthcare practitioner at Synergy is simply determining whether the client’s daily activities are keeping the injury sore, especially when the initial cause is not obvious.

Choosing the right treatment

In an upcoming blog post we’ll sharesome insights about how we determine the best treatment plan for soft tissue injuries.

For more details about how these and other treatments work or to inquire if they can help your own pain or injury please leave a comment below, or book a pain and injury evaluation at 250-272-3737 Ext 2.

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