One of the many common questions we get at 3D or when we’re out at an event is “At what point do I know an injury isn’t going to get better?” Well, the answer to that question is never straight-forward. In fact, many of us learned in PT school that the best answer is always “it depends”. However, there are a few clues we can use to point folks in the right direction.
Inflammation is okay
First, it’s important to know a little bit about your body’s typical healing process. Your body starts a process of inflammation after any acute/overuse injury or pain-flare. The process is totally normal and is nothing to worry about.
During the inflammatory phase of healing, your body is flushing the injured area with blood and healing factors. That process typically takes 7-10 days to complete. Your body is laying down scar tissue and repairing damaged tissue during this time. Sometimes that is very obvious, like a cut healing. More often than not though, it is happening at a micro-level, as is the case in sprains and strains.
Follow these simple rules
So, you started to notice pain in a joint or muscle. What do you do? Should you wait it out? Call for help? How do you know? Follow these simple rules to help decide:
Treat your injury early and recover faster
Many patients report that they didn’t want the hassle or cost of seeking medical help for a “simple sprain.” However, keep in mind that research shows that the earlier an injury is treated, the quicker it fully recovers and less care is actually required. In the long run, it’s easier on you and your wallet to start corrective action right away. Treating an injury right away allows us to treat the actual injury, and frees us from having to deal with all the compensations that develop over time.