When faced with an injury, some people choose to forgo medical advice, physiotherapy, or rehab, assuming that their injury will heal itself in time. In some cases, this can be true, however, often, this can result in pain, discomfort, and inconvenience years down the road. In more extreme cases, old injuries can have a knock-on effect on the entire musculoskeletal system.
But, can physiotherapy help an old injury? Research shows that physiotherapy can help to reduce the symptoms of old injuries, and can reduce chronic pain. Seeking physiotherapy for old injuries may seem to be a waste of time, but improved strength and an increased range of motion gained from physiotherapy is helpful regardless of when the injury occurred.
In this article, we go into more detail about how physiotherapy can benefit old injuries, and whether or not it can completely heal an old injury. Keep reading to learn more.
Can Physiotherapy Help an Old Injury?
Physiotherapy can help an old injury by reducing the severity of its symptoms. You don’t need to live with the pain or discomfort of an old injury, or with the regret of not seeking proper treatment at the time.
Specific strength exercises and exercises that encourage a good range of motion can help to relieve the symptoms of an old injury. Similarly, a variety of physical therapy interventions have proven to be more effective in treating old, and recurring injuries, than the more traditional treatments and pain medication.
These interventions can be as simple as the RICE method, as well as general strength conditioning, but also include treatments such as Deep Tissue Sports Massage, Acupuncture and the Active Release Technique.
Strength Conditioning for Old Injuries
Strength conditioning helps to relieve the symptoms of an old injury by strengthening the tissues around the injury, improving flexibility, endurance, and maintaining (or regaining) a good range of motion in the area. It can also help to speed up recovery times and can minimise the risk of reinjury.
Sports Massage for Old Injuries
The effects of Sports Massage on old injuries will depend on the extent of the injury, and how long ago it occurred, however, the treatment tends to work best for soft tissue and muscular injuries. With proper application, this can help to minimise pain, and can also provide a better range of motion. Thus, relieving the symptoms of an old injury and helping you to get back on your feet.
Acupuncture for Old Injuries
Acupuncture is known to have a wide range of benefits, both physical and mental, but it can also help to relieve the symptoms of old injuries, including pain management, reduction of inflammation, and trigger point release, according to the Sports Injury Journal.
Inserting needles into the appropriate areas releases chemicals, such as endorphins and opioids, and can produce a natural anti-inflammatory response. These chemicals work to block the perception of pain and can cause blood vessel dilation that allows for better circulation. What’s more, inserting needles directly into areas of tightness in the muscles can help to relax the muscles and stimulate blood flow, relieving muscular pain and discomfort.
Can You Heal an Old Injury That Still Hurts?
In some cases, physiotherapy can heal old injuries that are still bothering you, but this depends on the extent of the injury and how long ago it occurred. However, often, the pain or discomfort that you experience from an injury that occurred a while ago is a result of that injury not healing correctly and having a knock-on effect on your musculoskeletal system.
In these cases, the injury may have actually healed itself, but you are left with pain and discomfort that is a result of improper healing, tension, and body misalignment.
That being said, the NHS states that individuals with long-term injuries may benefit from physiotherapy interventions that strengthen the surrounding areas and improve range of motion. Not only will this treat the old injury, but it will also improve overall wellbeing, strength, and general fitness, which will help you to live a full, active life. This is especially important as we age.
Is it Ever Too Late to Get Physiotherapy For Old Injuries that Still Hurt?
To put it simply, it is never too late to seek physiotherapy for old injuries that are still bothering you. Even if the injury has technically healed, strengthening the area around the injury can help to relieve any pain or tightness in the area and can improve range of motion as a result.
What’s more, an injured area that has not undergone any form of rehab will be relatively weak and risks recurrence. Physiotherapy will help to strengthen the area, minimising the chance of this happening.
A physiotherapist can properly assess your injury and the surrounding structures to determine its severity and to formulate a treatment plan. Dr. Nina Purvis, a specialist author for the Independent, states that she often tells patients to consider physiotherapy advice like medical advice from a GP - completing a course of medicine is essential to get better. Completing physiotherapy exercises recommended by a qualified physiotherapist is essential for helping old injuries to heal, or to reduce their symptoms and long-term effects, no matter how long ago it occurred.
It can be detrimental to not seek treatment at the time of injury, but it’s worse to never seek treatment. Untreated injuries can, according to Dr. Nina Purvis, increase the risk of more serious conditions developing as we age, such as arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Rehab and Physiotherapy in Garforth
If you have an old injury that is still causing you pain or discomfort, 3R Physiotherapy in Garforth, Leeds is a great place to get get back on track with a variety of physiotherapy interventions that can help to strengthen the area around your injury, improve your range of motion, and allow you to start living your life to the full again; whatever that means for you.
Contact us today to see how we can help.
Can You Do Physiotherapy on Yourself?
The RICE Method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is a great way to treat injuries at home. This method is particularly useful at the time of injury, but may be beneficial in treating long-term injuries also.
You can also perform physiotherapy on yourself by way of gentle exercises that work to strengthen the affected area of the body. For example, an ankle sprain would be benefitted from gentle exercises such as the Ankle Alphabet, Towel and Tissue Scrunches, and Heel Raises, to name a few. Do some research into gentle beneficial exercises for your specific injury.
When Do You No Longer Need Physical Therapy?
Generally speaking, you no longer need physical therapy once you reach your goals, or when your physiotherapy, and yourself, agree that you no longer need treatment.
It typically takes 6-8 weeks for soft tissue injuries to heal, therefore physiotherapy would take a little longer than this to ensure that you are healed. Timescales for other injuries may vary.
However, for old injuries, periods of physiotherapy will depend entirely on the severity of the injury and how badly its symptoms are affecting you. The time between injury and attending physiotherapy could have worsened the injury, or the injury may have healed improperly causing further issues. Your physiotherapist will be able to advise you on a course of treatment, and how long they expect it to take.
How Many Times Per Week Should You Do Physical Therapy?
Many physiotherapists will initially recommend up to three sessions per week to achieve maximum benefits. However, after their initial assessment of your condition, they will be able to recommend a course of action and frequency of sessions that will benefit your injury.
Your physiotherapist may also recommend at-home exercises to be done in-between appointments to achieve maximum benefit. These exercises should be done as recommended, as and often as recommended to see the benefits.