Home care for sprained joints

Chances are that if you’re human you’ve probably sprained a joint, pulled a muscle, or even broke a bone a time or two in your life.  I frequently get asked how to care for these sorts of injuries; almost daily.  For purposes of this article, consider an ankle sprain, because chances are you’ve probably done this at some point in your life.  Use these general guidelines below to care for such an injury.
After an injury, you will want to rest for a few days or more depending on the severity of the injury.  We call this the acute phase of an injury, sometimes referred to as the protective phase in which you will want to rest and avoid aggravating the injury.  Most of us have heard that the best thing to do to heal is to rest.  This is 100% true, but like everything in life don’t overdo it.  I’ve had many patients over the years that have hurt themselves and had to lay low at the gym for a long time, which led to slower run times, decreased ability to lift heavier weights, and ultimately led them to being less healthy.  It’s all about balancing things to optimize your health.  In fact, our clinic was named Body in Balance Chiropractic for just this reason.  Applying ice to the site of the injury can also be very beneficial during this time for approximately 20 minutes per session.  For the most part, you will want to avoid using that part of your body that was injured as much as possible.
After the majority of inflammation has come and gone, your body enters the subacute phase of an injury lasting up to a three weeks.  This is a transition phase from inflammation to healing.  From here on, it is important to get some sort of exercise.  Now, I’m not saying to jump back into running a marathon, but perhaps tape your ankle and go for a light walk or go lift weights targeting the upper body while the injured ankle takes time to heal.  You will also want to get movement in the injured body part, sometimes as simple as manually moving your ankle through all ranges of motion that are pain free.
The last phase is the chronic phase lasting from weeks, to months, and in some cases years!  This is perhaps the most common timeframe that we see patients in our office.  Up to this phase, your body has produced a lot a scar tissue.  This type of tissue is not nearly as strong as the original, which is why you’re likely to reinjure it.  This phase is also known as the remodeling phase, because during this time scar tissue can be replaced with healthy collagen fibers and is organized into optimal directions to accommodate for correct range of motion and strength.  The treatment here is very specific to the body part injured, but essentially is a combination of stretching and strengthening. 
These are just a general set of rules.  As always with anything you read online, consult a medical professional for treatment of an injury.  Dr Scott and I both have extensive knowledge of all types of injuries, not just backs and necks.  Dr Scott was a certified personal trainer and I completed an internship in sports medicine.  Therefore, we are very well versed in our treatment and approaches to include much more than what you’d expect from a chiropractor.
Yours in health,

Dr. Bryan


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