Posts made in December, 2015

Understanding The Three Main Aspects Of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

If you have recently suffered a sports related injury, you most likely have a plan for recovery that can include corrective surgery and several months of rehabilitation. While it is important to work with a physical therapist and follow their instructions for appropriate exercises to aid in your recovery, it is also important that you understand the basic aspects of rehabilitation and what each step of your rehabilitation regime is trying to achieve. Understanding how rehabilitation works can reduce your frustration with the process and limit your risk of injuring yourself again during your training. 

Pain

The first part of sports rehabilitation involves reducing your pain in the injured area. This generally involves large amounts of rest, appropriate braces to reduce stress and strain on the injured area, and a slow weaning off of pain medication. 

Although you can start physical therapy while you are still suffering mild pain at your injury site, you should not return to your sport until your pain has completely subsided and you are no longer taking pain medication. Being honest with your physical therapist about your pain levels can help them create a more effective, long-lasting therapy routine for you. 

Strength 

Once your pain has subsided enough for you to put pressure on your injury site, your physical therapist will give you gentle exercises to rebuild your strength at your injury site. During the strength rebuilding phase, it is important to not overdo your exercises. You may experience slight fatigue and pain, but if you experience extreme fatigue or pain that lasts for more than a day, you should let your therapist know so they can modify your exercises. 

You should not advance in your exercises without permission from your therapist and you should not return to your sport until you have regained most of your strength. 

Neuromuscular Training 

While you are completing strength training, you will also complete neuromuscular training. This involves slight pressure and corrective resistance to encourage your nerves to activate the correct muscles for each physical task. Neuromuscular training may feel gentle and passive, but it is an important part of your recovery because it teaches your body to stop accommodating an injury that is no longer there and improves the efficiency of your movement. 

You can return to your sport while you are still undergoing neuromuscular training, as long as you are at safe strength levels. However, it is unlikely that you will reach your prior abilities until our neuromuscular training is complete. 

Each aspect of physical therapy has a slightly different purpose. It is important that you discuss the goals of each session with your therapist so you can work together to reach your full physical potential. 

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Surgery To Correct That Painful Lower Back

You have a ruptured intervertebral disc, also called a slipped disc, in your lower back. Your orthopedic doctor has been using non-invasive techniques to treat the condition, but the pain won’t go away. Now your doctor suggests surgery to ease the pain. There are a few ways the surgeon can approach your back problem. Here is what you need to know about the surgery and your recovery afterwards.

Correcting the Cause of Your Pain

Your spine consists of alternating bones, the vertebrae, and cartilage, the intervertebral discs. The discs are soft and filled with a gel-like material. They allow your spine to bend and twist without the bones rubbing against each other.

Your spinal cord runs down through this column with bundles of nerves extending out from it, through the bones and disc, to other parts of your body. The nerves travel through narrow channels between the bones and discs as they exit the spine.

If you have a back injury from a fall or sudden twisting motion, one of the discs may tear, allowing the gel inside to be pushed out. This creates a bulge on the surface of the disc that pushes into one of the bundles of nerves. The nerves become irritated and the tissue covering them becomes inflamed. This is what causes the pain in your lower back and will be the focus of the surgery.

Surgical Options

Your doctor will do a number of X-rays before the spine surgery to get a good idea of what procedure to do. But once they can see that portion of the back directly, they may choose one or more procedures to relieve your lower back pain. Some of the approaches they may choose include:

  • Removal of part of the vertebrae above or below the ruptured disc to give the nerves more room.
  • Widening of the channel through which the nerves exit the spinal cord.
  • Removal of all or part of the disc. If this creates an instability in your spine, the doctor will fill the space between the two vertebrae with bone chips to fuse them together. Metal rods may be attached to the bones to secure them in place while the bones fuse together.

Recovering After Surgery

Your doctor will give you a number of instructions when you leave the hospital to recover at home. For several days you will:

  • restrict the amount of weight your lift and carry
  • limit the amount of time you sit or stand in one place
  • not put stress on your back by bending or reaching quickly or too far

After a few days at home, you’ll start working with a physical therapist to loosen up and strengthen the muscles in your lower back. This will be a slow, incremental process so as not to put stress on the site of the surgery. You may need several weeks of physical therapy to regain the natural motion in your back.

If spinal fusion was part of the procedure done on your back, your recovery will take longer to allow the bones to fuse together. You will do some mild physical therapy to keep the back muscles flexible. But the fusion will take weeks to heal, then you can begin the muscle strengthening therapy. Talk to a local spine surgery center, like Blue Valley Surgical Associates, for more information.

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