It might take a nanosecond to injure yourself, but don’t kid yourself. Recovery takes considerably longer. An injury to a muscle, ligament, or bone, or the wearing away of cartilage causes pain, perhaps swelling, and discomfort. You need to repair those body parts to heal. And that means you need time. Healing takes time and patience.
In Physical Therapy, successful rehabilitation– decreased pain, greater range of motion, restoration of function, return to work and daily activities—is a multi-step, time-consuming process.
In the acute phase—when you have swelling, are in a considerable amount of pain, and have trouble moving—your body will need to begin to heal. To heal you will need:
- Immediate rest
- Limited movement
- Compression bandages or sleeves might be used along with elevating your hurt body part to reduce swelling
- Heat and/or ice along with massage may be used to enhance healing
You may work with a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, or both. This first stage may take days or weeks, depending upon the severity of your injury or condition.
As healing begins and you start to feel better, you may begin to work on regaining a normal range of motion, and increasing your strength.
- You may feel stiff and unstable if you’ve been immobile for a while
- A doctor or therapist may work with you on stretches and limited exercises during this phase of rehabilitation
- You may still be wearing a splint or brace during the day and at nighttime as your recovery continues
As therapy continues over the next few weeks or even months, the pain and swelling should continue to subside.
- Additional exercises may be added—as tolerated
- You may learn about new ways to perform or avoid painful activities so that you don’t re-injure yourself.
- For example, if your thumb hurts, you may want to re-think activities that make the pain worse. If chopping vegetables makes your thumb ache and swell, you may start using pre-cut options so you don’t have to cut and slice at all.
- You may also learn to use adaptive or assistive devices like a book rest that holds your book open for you so that you are not holding it with your thumbs.
Successful rehabilitation and a return to normal activities—can happen. But, it does take time, along with a healthy dose of patience.Like what you’ve read? Click here to subscribe to the blog!
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