Participation in sports is growing constantly as more people realize the benefits it brings to well being and overall health. With many new people entering the athletic field, however, sports injuries are unfortunately increasing as well. The injuries occur from overuse of joints, tendons, and muscles, or an accident. To stay in the game, it is necessary to have the right treatment and to have it begin immediately.
Symptoms of an injury that needs attention include swelling or tenderness in a muscle or joint during or after a particular activity, tingling or numbness in an extremity, pain in any area, stiffness or limited range of motion in a joint. If any of these occur, it is important to seek medical evaluation by a licensed healthcare professional.
For treatment without drugs or surgery, chiropractic care continues to gain in popularity. The newer treatments combine chiropractic, massage, and other procedures to treat most sports injuries. A chiropractor can evaluate, diagnose, and treat many types of injuries. These include muscle and tendon strain, joint sprains and back injuries that are non-paralyzing, as well as garden variety aches and pains from overused muscles. A chiropractor may initially select from a variety of treatments such as ice massage to reduce swelling, ultrasound, or galvanic stimulation.
Ice massage is best performed within 48 minutes of injury to reduce inflammation, swelling, and temporary relief from pain. An ice pack is moved in a circular motion directly on the injured area for about ten minutes at a time. For muscle aches and strains, deep tissue massage may be incorporated into a treatment plan. In later stages of treatment, a chiropractor may use ultrasound to bring heat to deep tissue areas. Heat therapy alleviates discomfort from sore, overused muscles, and tendons.
Various forms of electrical stimulation to treat pain and swelling from injuries have been used for at least one hundred years. Although controversial when it was introduced, scientific studies recently proved that both chronic and acute pain can be reduced with electricity. Modern equipment that may be used during chiropractic treatment includes Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulators—TENS—Interferential Current—IFC—and Galvanic Stimulation—GS.
The various devices used in electrical stimulation apply different waveforms, frequencies, and effects. Generally, adhesive pads are placed over the injured area, through which varying degrees of electricity is delivered. The patient feels a slight tingling sensation rather than a shock. The amount of electricity is adjustable according to the preference of the patient. Some chiropractors allow the patient to adjust the charge according to his or her own comfort level. The treatment usually lasts about fifteen minutes.
Another modern technique used by chiropractors is a passive range of motion to start the healing process. In this procedure, the joint is manually moved through the entire normal range of movement without effort on the patient’s part. Recent studies have confirmed this technique initiates and improves healing to joints and tendons.
Once treatment and healing are complete, a chiropractic health center may offer a plan to help prevent future sports injuries. These may include exercises to strengthen supporting muscles and improve flexibility, as well as advice on techniques for warming up before participating in sports or other athletic activities.