What did I do to cause this injury?
Sound familiar? I get asked this question all the time by my patients. If a patient has to ask me that question, the answer is clear… usually they didn’t do anything wrong to become injured! Keep reading to find out why…
There’s Two Types of Injuries
There are basically two types of injuries we see in our clinic, either traumatic or non-traumatic. What we mean by traumatic is that there was a clear mechanism of injury that caused you to develop your injury. For example, think about an athlete tearing a ligament in their knee after someone runs into the side of their leg. The thing about traumatic injuries is that you remember them! Usually, after suffering such an injury not only is there a lot of pain, but you typically experience some other type of major limitation – like reduced strength, an inability to fully move a body part, or a lot of pain with walking.
The other type of injury we see is non-traumatic, and these are actually much more common! In an non-traumatic injury, there is no clear mechanism of injury. Typically, the symptoms have been going on for a longer period and gradually worsening in a non-traumatic injury. The good news is that most often non-traumatic injuries do not require major interventions like surgery. These types of injuries can be further sub-divided into two categories: 1) repetitive strain, or 2) age-related degenerative issues. Once again, the more common type of injury here is the latter.
Age-Related Injuries Are Not Your Fault!
As we age, all of the joints in our body tend to degenerate. Synovial joints (which are the majority of joints in your body) are lined with smooth articular cartilage. As we age, this cartilage tends to wear down and expose the bone underneath. We also tend to develop extra bits of bone, called osteophytes which tend to reduce the amount of space in the joint. This process is known as osteoarthritis or OA.
The rate at which we develop OA is based on two factors: 1) genetics, and 2) environment. The former is quite obvious. The latter involves things such as performing activities at work or play that are particularly high impact and doing these often. While we can partly control the second item, we can’t control the first. However, no matter what, we will all develop OA to a lesser or greater degree. There is also a fine line between controlling your exercise. People who are overly sedentary are also at an increased risk of developing OA too.
There is a Solution!
The good news is that Osteoarthritis can usually be managed conservatively without having to resort to surgery. Even if you have a painful hip or knee, your physiotherapist can work with you to help design exercises to help address muscle imbalances that may be causing added stress to your arthritic joints. Basically your physiotherapist will help you figure out which muscles are too weak, which are too tight, and then work to show you what exercises you can do to address these issues.
Your physiotherapist can also do certain forms of therapy to address any significant areas of pain or tightness such as intramuscular stimulation (IMS), manual therapy, and therapeutic electrical modalities, such as laser.
A Different Case of OA
The situation of OA affecting your spine is a bit different than when you have an arthritic knee or hip. Stay tuned for our next blog article where we describe how this happens and what we can do about it.
Registered Physiotherapist, Co-Owner of Thrive Now Physiotherapy