My apologies to the foodies who saw the title and thought there might be a great new recipe. This purpose of this brief article is to help people who have been injured from becoming injured again.
RICE is an acronym for "rest, ice, compression and elevation" This is the time honored way of treating the various sprains and strains that often come with activity at all levels.. Rest being to avoid what hurts. Ice to apply to the injury will lessen pain and inflammation. Compression, by the use of a wrap or similar compression garment/appliance, to lessen the accumulation of swelling in the injured tissues, the beginning of the healing process.. Elevation to help decrease swelling by the use of gravity, removing additional tissue fluid from the injury area..
Hopefully, you will "RICE" for a few days and your pain decreases and might well be gone... Are you really recovered? The answer depends upon your definition of "recovered". Our professional take on this is that the answer is "probably not." RICE is a great start, but, at best, only a start. For us to do our job fully we need to progress you back to full function and also prevent you from being injured again.
Two quotes we routinely share with our patients are: "The absence of pain does not equal the absence of a problem" and "first move well, and then move often." The absence of pain, is certainly an objective of treatment and the reason most people come through our doors. However, to do our job fully, we still need to know if the person can competently move both sides of his/her body through space in all three planes of motion. These movements need to be done fluently, equally and most importantly, Pain Free.
Research has clearly shown that the #1 risk factor for injuries is having had an injury to that body part in the past. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about that, as it is history. We can't go back in time. But the #2 risk factor for being injured is demonstrated asymmetry in functional movement tests. That is, people who don't move well. These poor movement patterns are the silent injury residuals that participate in poor movement patterns and assist new injury occurrence. As Physical Therapists we have the ability to identify these limitations, address them and prevent re-occurring injuries, preventively. We can identify poor, or less than optimal, movement patterns and correct them before the next injury happens.
We see examples of this in our practice almost weekly. A person comes in for knee pain for "no reason." Upon examination the Physical Therapist might identify that the ankle on that side moves poorly. This would lead us to ask about previous damage or injury to that area. The answer is often "yes" and almost always "yes but I forgot about it because it didn't hurt anymore." These people usually and appropriately performed "RICE", but nothing more. Some had physical therapy, but possibly weren't rehabilitated fully to restore symmetrical functional movement patterns. This lack of normal movement patterns causes compensations and those compensations generally are causing the knee pain; or at least strongly participating in the process of pain and limitation.
At Peak Sports and Spine we routinely utilize evidence based functional measures so our patients know when they're ready for a more safe approach to returning to sports and activities. We don't want this years' ankle sprain to be next years' knee pain. No one can eliminate injuries that occur during sports and activity, but we can minimize your risk.
This type of functional movement testing is especially helpful to complement the pre-season physical performed at your doctors' office. Call your local Peak Sports and Spine today. We would be happy to help prevent your next injury.