UNDERSTANDING YOUR INJURY
Useful questions to ask your physiotherapistIt is important to get fully informed about your condition, so feel free to ask all the questions you want. Some useful starters include:
- What is the main problem? What is my diagnosis?
- How serious is the problem?
- What do I need to do to help my recovery?
- Are there other contributing factors?
- How can I avoid this happening again?
- When can I return to normal activity/play?
- What are the intermediate milestones?
- Will this require many treatment sessions?
- What happens if the problem is not getting better?
AccidentsAccidents occur quickly. They relate to a sudden movement or impact which either stretches or compresses body tissues. Often there is bleeding and inflammation (the body’s chemical response to injury). Severe accidents require xrays to rule out bony injury. Most minor accidents damage primarily the soft tissues eg ligaments, muscles, and tendons. The most appropriate first aid for these injuries is RICEM (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, and gentle Movement). The initial inflammatory phase will last most commonly for 48 hours but occasionally longer. The best outcomes are achieved by working hard in this initial period to reduce the swelling.
Often a visit to the physiotherapist in these first days is invaluable as we are able to help reduce swelling and advise on self management. The better condition the tissue is in after the initial period the earlier we will be able to get you moving and back to normal activity. (A word of warning: this initial couple of days can be very painful. The good news is the pain level does not mean necessarily that the injury is serious).
As a general rule the more severe the injury, the longer the recovery time and the more treatment required.
Any body tissue that is under a sustained load either stretch or compression will eventually become uncomfortable (Try bending your finger backwards as far as it will bend. Hold it overstretched there for a couple of minutes!). Stressing tissues cause changes to blood flow and irritant chemicals within the cells are released as they run out of oxygen.
Work pain and discomfort
Most jobs require an amount of repeated postures eg sitting in an office, bending shovelling dirt, lifting or reaching in a warehouse, and standing in a library. Combine these sustained postures with non work postures and some tissues are under significant cumulative loads.
Therefore work pain and discomfort is normal, and most people will experience it regularly. The trick is recognising it early and knowing what to do. You have the ability to change things very quickly. It is our opinion that most of the severe overuse injuries will be easily avoided by early recognition and active management. Our recommendation is, on recognising discomfort, to immediately activate your ‘first aid’ plan. This is what you do to change the loads on your body. For example your plan for the first few days may be
If, the discomfort continues beyond a few days it is important to communicate this to the team leader. At this point it would also be worth seeking some advice from an experienced physiotherapist. The earlier a problem is identified the quicker the recovery. We would also expect to teach you some different ways of using your body to better share the loads and reduce your future injury risk.
- take more breaks and more often through the day
- look at your posture, eg be up tall and minimise your reaching
- make sure you keep up some light activity eg go for an easy walk in the evening rather than sit on the couch
- take some pain relief for a couple of days
- discuss the discomfort with your team leader, they may be able to alter your work