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When to See a Doctor:
Mild sprains and strains can be self-treated at home. But, you should see a doctor if you:
Tests and Diagnosis:
During the physical exam, Dr. Pisarek will check for swelling and points of tenderness in your affected limb. The location and intensity of your pain can help determine the extent and nature of the damage. Dr. Pisarek might also move your joints and limbs into a variety of positions, to help pinpoint which ligament, tendon or muscle has been injured.
X-rays can help rule out a fracture or other bone injury as the source of the problem. Ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) also may be used to help diagnose the extent of the injury.
Acute soft-tissue injuries vary in type and severity. Treating sprains and strains depends on the joint involved and the severity of the injury. When an acute sprain or strain injury occurs, the initial immediate self-care treatment is with the effective P.R.I.C.E. (see below) protocol approach, in most cases to minimize swelling (edema), etc. Try to rest the injured area for about 7 days.
Your physician may take an x-ray. If your injury is severe, your doctor may order other imaging tests, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Your injured limb may need to be wrapped in an elastic bandage or put in a soft cast. Your doctor may also refer you to a chiropractor, who will provide physiotherapy and rehabilitation by giving you exercises to help you strengthen muscles, joints, and ligaments.
1. The P.R.I.C.E. Protocol:
This protocol of initial self-care treatment incorporates five (5) simple rules to help speed recovery in the first 72 hours of a sprain (ligament) or strain (tendon, muscle) injury. In most cases beyond a minor strain or strain, you'll want your health care provider to help you with this process:
After the first 48 hours, slowly and gently start to use the injured area again and continue icing for another day or so. You should see a gradual, progressive improvement in the joint's ability to support your weight or your ability to move without pain. Mild and moderate sprains usually heal in three to six weeks.
Some evidence suggests that applying ice and using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) helps you heal faster. For more severe cases, wrap the affected area in an elastic bandage. You may need a cast to stabilize injuries.
A chiropractor (see below) can help you to maximize stability and strength of the injured joint or limb. If you are unsure of the severity of your injury, consult a chiropractor for an evaluation.
2. Non-Drug Therapy:
In cases of a mild or moderate sprain or strain, you should apply ice to the area (refer to P.R.I.C.E. protocol above) as soon as possible to minimize swelling, reduce pain, bleeding and inflammation. It may also reduce more damage to other parts of the joint. In cases of severe sprain or strain, your doctor may immobilize the area with an ankle/foot brace or splint. Chiropractic (see below) mobilizations and adjustments along with physiotherapy modalities (low-level laser therapy, interferential therapy, T.E.N.S., ultrasound, etc.), kinesiology taping, stretching and strengthening exercises, custom orthotics, ankle/foot bracing or splints for stability may be utilized.
3. Chiropractic Care for Sprains and Strains:
While anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may be effective in increasing joint flexibility while reducing pain, researchers have found that chiropractic adjustments to the joints are just as effective. In fact, chiropractic treatment is even more effective in increasing joint mobility. You can get all the same improvements without the side-effects, such as liver or stomach damage, that occasionally comes with ingestion of NSAIDs.
Chiropractors may also recommend stretching and strengthening exercises to help you recover. One study found that a balance training (proprioception) program reduced the risk of ankle sprains among high school soccer and basketball players.
In a study of people with ankle sprains, researchers compared chiropractic joint manipulation with an anti-inflammatory medication. They found that joint manipulation worked as well as the anti-inflammatory medication in improving pain and flexibility. It worked better than the medication in improving range of motion and without any side-effects.
What should you do if you experience a sprain or strain? Seeing Dr. Pisarek at Advanced Healthcare should be your first stop. Chiropractors use many treatments that may help you recover more quickly. Treatments utilized by Dr. Pisarek may include various combinations of:
Those with less severe injuries may treat the soft tissue damage at home by resting and with ice compresses. However, even those who have mild injuries can benefit from chiropractic treatment. Once the sprain or strain has healed, our ultimate goal as chiropractors is to help restore and maintain overall optimal 'peak performance' health to your spine, joints, muscles and organ systems.
Acupuncture appears to help sprains and strains. One study of 20 people found that acupuncture improved feelings of soreness. Other studies show no benefit. Acupuncturists often apply moxibustion (a technique in which the herb 'mugwort' is burned over specific acupuncture points) in combination with needling... in order to strengthen or deepen the treatment for sprains and strains.
5. Drug Therapies:
For mild sprains and strains, physicians will likely recommend basic self-care measures with over-the-counter pain relievers (analgesics) and/or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These medications consist of:
You should ask your doctor about the right dose for you. Do not use over-the-counter pain relievers for more than 2 weeks. Also, do not use pain relievers to mask the pain so you can keep using the injured area.
On July 9, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strengthened an existing label warning that non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke often immediately after taking an initial dose, either of which can lead to death. Patients taking NSAIDs should seek medical attention immediately if they experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, weakness in one part or side of their body, or slurred speech.
In some cases, such as in the case of a torn ligament or ruptured muscle, surgery may be considered.
7. Complementary Therapies:
Some nutrients and herbs may help the body restore damaged tissue, reduce swelling, and provide pain relief.
Nutrition and Supplements:
Herbs help strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your doctor before starting treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted. Herbs that may help are:
Few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies. Professional homeopaths, however, may recommend one or more of the following treatments for sprains and strains based on their knowledge and clinical experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type -- your physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate remedy for a particular individual:
Injuries often occur when people suddenly increase the duration, intensity or frequency of their activities. Many soft-tissue injuries can be prevented through proper conditioning, training and equipment. Your chiropractor probably won't need to see you again unless your injury was severe or you have complications.
Other prevention tips include:
9. Lifestyle and Home Remedies:
Regular stretching and strengthening exercises for your sport, fitness or work activity as part of an overall physical conditioning program can help to minimize your risk of sprains and strains. Try to be in shape to play your sport; don't play your sport to get in shape. If you have a physically demanding occupation, regular conditioning can help prevent injuries there too.
You can protect your joints in the long term by working to strengthen and condition the muscles around the joint that has been injured. The best brace you can give yourself is your own "muscle brace." Ask Dr. Pisarek about appropriate conditioning and stability exercises. Also, use footwear that offers support and protection... including custom prescribed foot orthotics if indicated.
10. Special Considerations:
Once a muscle or tendon is injured, it is susceptible to injury again, especially if you return to full activity too soon. Sprains and strains are easy to prevent. Basic physical fitness and strength training with proper warm up and cool down reduce the stress to muscles and joints.
Whether an injury is acute or due to overuse, if you develop symptoms that persist,
contact Dr. Pisarek at Advanced Healthcare by clicking here.
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If you are experiencing any of the common symptoms sprains and strains,
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I have been a patient of Dr. Pisarek for a few years now. Every morning I have to say "thank you Dr. P.!". Your care and your treatment renew my energy... no more pains in my lower back, knee and foot. With your help I lost 20 pounds and I am keeping it off. I am really grateful to you and your wife Hilda for taking care of me. My retirement got a new meaning, thanks to you.