The danger is that some injuries can appear to have settled, only to cause problems in the future. A good example of this is going over on our ankle. At the start it can be painful, swollen and bruised but after a few weeks the swelling goes down, the bruising disappears and our ankle can be predominantly pain free – then suddenly out of nowhere we can feel an excruciating pain, especially when we knock it in the wrong place or slightly twist it again. Hence, a lack of pain doesn’t always mean a lack of problem.
So, what’s going on?
Unfortunately, the blood supply to ligaments (the fibres that help support the joints and bones as we move) can be poor and healing is an ongoing, slow process.
Think of an injured ligament like a frayed rope – if it does not heal properly it is weaker and can be susceptible to re-aggravation and enter periods of painful inflammatory flare.
When this is the case, a Physiotherapist is the perfect answer! Deep, transverse frictional massage helps align tissue fibres, break down inflammatory residue and reinvigorate the healing process. Therapeutic Ultrasound (sound waves) can also encourage damaged fibres to align and heal.
As well as damaging the ligament itself the nerves inside the ligament that tell the joint where it is may also be damaged and need retraining. This is why when we have gone over our ankle once, we are more likely to do it again. Progressive balance exercises can retrain the nervous system and help to reduce the risk of future injuries.
We may also advise the continued use of support or appropriate taping until the structure has healed fully, especially if it is likely to be under stress. We always try our best not to interrupt your normal lifestyle routines, meaning you can still do the things you love to do whilst in treatment.
While we can remain seemingly pain-free after an injury, it’s always important to ask ourselves “are we doing everything that we want to do?”. A lack of pain doesn’t always mean a lack of problem! We may no longer experience pain, but this can often be because we are no longer putting our body through the same stresses as before, largely caused by a lack of confidence. As we mentioned, Physiotherapy isn’t just about reducing pain, but also ensuring that we can safely return to all the activities that we need to and want to do. Physiotherapists advise on when it is best to rest, as well as when to return to activities, when it is safe to push ourselves and what exercises we can do to facilitate a return to different activities.
If you feel you are struggling with an ongoing injury you can’t shake off, or, you’ve never felt as good as you used to following an old injury, then reach out to us to see if we can help. You can talk to our therapists for FREE using our online Ask A Physio service.