• Sprains, Strains, and Home Care

    by Kat Aleman, D.C.
    on Aug 18th, 2016

When it comes to natural and alternative healing there are lots of options. Chiropractic is a great way to help recovery from an injury like a strain or sprain. It improves functioning both ensuring the injured joint is working optimally, as well as checking to make sure the spine will allow for clear messages to and from the injury and brain. What is a strain? What is a sprain? What about when you go home?

When a muscle is pulled, or gets whiplash, or is repeatedly stressed, those muscle injuries are called a strain. A mild to moderate strain will take from 2-8 weeks to heal under conservative treatment, with a risk of re-injury during the year following the injury.

Similarly an injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and these take much longer to heal. Ligaments  attach bones to bones, have more strength than muscles, and have very little blood flow. Depending on the injury of the ligament it may take months to a year to fully heal. Some complete ligament tears may not heal on their own and may need surgical interventions.

In both cases of sprains and strains there’s a delicate balance while the new injury is in the healing phase. When you have a brand new injury it was common knowledge to “ice right away” the reasoning behind this was “the injured area is swollen, let’s fix the swelling.” The swelling isn’t the problem, in fact the inflammatory mechanisms is to bring more blood and healing cells to the injury to help heal the injury and clear out damaged tissue. When you have a new injury, wait 48 hours before icing, then apply ice for 20 minutes, rest 20 minutes, use heat for 20 minutes, and repeat for 3-4 applications.

 

Home Care

Bracing can be helpful, but you may want to get checked out first. Braces, bandages, taping can all be helpful as a reminder to be careful with the injury, it prevents you from moving your joint beyond it’s normal limits. Be sure when bracing to have the area that's being braced in a neutral position, if it's not- this will aggravate the injury or the tissue may not heal properly. Keep in mind that recent research also shows that less movement in a joint there will allow for less blood flow, in the case of a ligament injury that means slower healing, pain for longer, and a greater chance for re-injury. So unless it's a broken bone, don't keep it braced 24/7, be sure to allow the injured area to move every few hours or so.

The most common concern I hear about bracing is "Won't my muscles atrophy (weaken)?" Yes, probably, but you will certainly have the opportunity to strengthen your muscles again.

Gentle massage and trigger point therapy can be beneficial in healing muscles, encouraging relaxation of muscles, increasing blood flow to the injury. You can even do this yourself at home, or ask a trusted friend, many times these muscles will be sore and that they’re injured, don’t use pressure that causes you pain. Seeing a therapist trained in clinical massage therapy can bring relief as well.

Topical therapy can be soothing and healing. My hands down favorite recommendation topically is arnica oil, it’s great for healing sprains, strains, bruises, swelling, sore muscles and joints. When looking for a topical arnica oil, be sure to find one that is a blend with another oil, do not want to use arnica oil alone topically. Arnica is derived from a flower, usually the extracts are taken from the flowers and roots, and is toxic to be ingested or when it enters through open wounds. Arnica in a homeopathic formula can be used for healing during and after childbirth.

If you’ve got an injury that isn’t improving give us a call and we’ll get you on the track to recovery! Centrally located in the Wicker Park- Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago.

 

Author Kat Aleman, D.C. Doctor of Chiropractic

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Wicker Park

Chicago , IL 60622
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