The Importance of Treating Recurring Injuries

Physical therapists are trained to care for and develop plans to assist in the recovery of both acute and chronic conditions. Helping patients achieve their physical goals and return to prior levels of function is our purpose from the moment our patients enter an ATI clinic. Once an injury is sustained, the risk of recurrence in the same area of the body increases. This can also lead to recurring injuries, which can worsen over time and limit functional movement.

The long-term impact that recurring injuries have on the body can be much more severe. If you’ve sustained a recurring injury, some symptoms may include:

  • Increased chronic pain
  • Loss of movement and range of motion
  • Difficulty performing daily activities and job tasks
  • Increased medical costs
  • Longer recovery times

Who is at risk?

After surgical procedures, it’s especially important to have your therapy guided by your knowledgeable clinician so you allow for appropriate healing of the repaired tissue and strengthening of the surrounding structures to decrease risk of re-injury. The most common patients at risk for recurring injuries are athletes and children. Constant physical activity for these age groups puts wear and tear on the body, making the likelihood of sustaining an injury even higher.

For instance, studies show that after a knee ACL reconstruction, a patient has a risk of 20 to 40 percent of re-injury. Similar statistics can be found for re-injury of lumbar spine complaints after the initial onset. Surgery or not, it is important to include physical therapy in your plan for returning to a healthier lifestyle and to continue individualized home exercise programs. Following these programs can lower the risk of re-injury and keep you safe and symptom-free.

How to prevent recurring injuries

Through our dynamic, therapeutic approaches using established theoretical and evidence-based practices, we help decrease the chance of re-injury. This can be accomplished with the use of manual treatments, tool-assisted interventions, exercises, modalities and patient education. Education may include using proper form and mechanical-loading strategies for the involved areas. Working with your physical therapist can help you build healthier habits.

As a profession, physical therapists have been utilizing more evidenced-based and functional exercises to better care for patients and establish the importance of physical therapy in scope of rehabilitative care. By supporting the importance of the progression to functional exercises with research, using closed kinetic chain exercises and incorporating dynamic exercises, we help patients achieve their goals in a timelier fashion and decrease risk of re-injury.

Preventing recurring injuries can be most successful by first preparing the body before an initial injury can occur, then implementing these tips following any physical activity:

  • Listen to your body
  • Understand proper warm-up and cool-down techniques
  • Seek treatment if you experience pain
  • Improve physical readiness

Are you experiencing a recurring injury?

If simple home interventions are not helping to lessen aches, pains and discomfort, it’s time to see a physical therapist. Stop by your nearest ATI Physical Therapy clinic for a complimentary injury screening and get back to being you.

Contributions by: Andrew Grahovec and Eric Shifley, PT, MPT, COMT, CertDN for ATI Physical Therapy

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