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Is pain from an old injury still nagging at you?

Yes, you should definitely do something about that.

Old injuries left untreated can create major problems for you. Sometimes, the consequences are minor, and other times, depending on the injury, the consequences can be much worse. Over time, untreated injuries can cause chain effects on your entire skeletal system if you don’t treat them at all.

Which injuries are most important to seek attention for, and which ones are okay to leave? When should you seek help from a physical therapist, and when is it ok to manage the pain on your own?

Keep reading to find out.

Physical Therapy for Muscle Sprains and Tears

Everyone has had a muscle sprain or tear that they left to heal on its own. Most of the time, that’s fine.

However, you need to be careful if you are continually experiencing recurring pain from that injury over time. If after 5-7 days your pain is not subsiding, that could indicate damage to deeper structures, like the bones. At that point, you should seek the attention of a medical professional to inform your injury recovery.

A physical therapist can help diagnose musculoskeletal injuries, like sprains, tears, and dislocations. They can recommend you see a doctor to get imaging like X-rays if they suspect you have a fracture.

What Happens If I Don’t Seek Treatment?

Now let’s say you chose not to seek treatment. The injury, whether it’s a fracture or sprain will eventually heal over time.

The risk is that the injury heals improperly – that the body adapts to function around the pain instead of healing and returning to normal functioning.

For example, Dr. William Doherty, an orthopedic surgeon at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital outside of Boston, says that old fractures that have healed improperly near a joint create an increased chance of developing arthritis in that joint 15-20 years after the injury.

This is because the body has had fundamental structural changes made to it, and it has adapted to those changes by compensating the way it moves. This puts unnatural stress on the joints, causing them to eventually develop arthritis.

How Physical Therapy Can Help

Ideally, you will seek physical therapy for your injuries immediately.

Doing so will help make sure that they are diagnosed and treated appropriately. Seeking early treatment gives your body the best chance at healing to avoid unnatural compensation, which leads to unwanted complications down the line.

Physical therapy helps to:

  • Maintain range of motion and structural integrity
  • Strengthen the tissues surrounding the injury
  • Speed recovery
  • Decrease the risk of re-injury or arthritis

However, if, for whatever reason, you failed to receive treatment for pain from an old injury, and it has developed into a chronic problem, it is not too late to seek treatment.

When Is It Too Late to Get Treatment?

Just because you have a bad back or a bum knee does not mean that it always has to be that way. With proper treatment and exercise, the underlying injuries can be helped or even healed.

Research shows that seeking physical therapy for old injuries helps to decrease the severity of the symptoms.  In fact, strength training, flexibility work, and endurance training helps to reduce chronic pain.

It seems that added strength and increased range of motion is helpful no matter when the injury occurred. The bottom line is that it is never too late to treat your injuries with physical therapy.

A Physical Therapist Can Provide Pain Relief for Old Injuries

Old injuries can linger around, causing pain for decades. That’s because they create compensation in your muscular system, increasing your chances of getting injured again or developing arthritis.

Treat the problem early, but if you can’t, treat it late. Physical therapy is effective in either case.   

Contact the physical therapists at South Orange Rehabilitation & Wellness to receive treatment for all your injuries, old or new.