Recurring acute injuries are not only painful and disruptive, they can also be damaging if left untreated. Treatment recommendations vary depending on each individual case, but often include a combination of the following approaches.
1. Wrist Wraps
A wrap or splint that immobilizes the wrist may be recommended for daytime and/or nighttime use to help relieve uncomfortable symptoms such as numbness or tingling. Wrist wraps are available in a variety of materials that provide a range of support from total immobilization to relative flexibility. Some people also choose to wear these types of wraps as a preventive measure to limit motions that may contribute to future injuries.
2. Bandages with Ice Packs
Cold therapy has long been used to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Soft elastic bandages are often used to keep an ice pack in place while also providing compression. Although this method has been used for decades, it is not an ideal solution because:
- It is not possible to regulate the temperature of the ice pack.
- Putting a cold source directly on skin comes with the risk of tissue damage and bandages are difficult to apply on upper extremities without assistance.
Even with the help of a healthcare professional, it can be difficult to find a comfortable hand position when wrapping an ice pack around your hand and wrist.
3. Physical Therapy
In some cases, physical therapy is recommended to help reduce the symptoms of recurring acute injuries and possibly prevent future injuries. A typical physical therapy program might include:
- Education about your injury and its causes.
- Recommendations for activities to avoid.
- Instructions for proper posture or body positions for certain tasks.
- Exercises to strengthen the muscles in your wrist and hand.
- Exercises to increase flexibility in your wrist and hand.
- Heat and/or cold treatments to help control pain.
- A wrist wrap or splint to help reduce discomfort.
- Every program will vary, but the objective is always to reduce or eliminate symptoms and create good habits that will help prevent future injury.
4. Cold Compression Therapy
Many physicians and physical therapists recommend heat and/or cold therapy to help reduce pain and swelling in hands and wrists. Active cold and compression is the most effective way to administer cryotherapy safely. Unlike a bandage and ice pack, active cold and compression therapy allows you to:
- Control the temperature of therapeutic cold.
- Provide consistent cold for the duration of the therapy session.
- Keep the hand and wrist in a natural, comfortable position.
- Benefit from consistent compression that actively removes excess fluid and promotes blood flow.
- Benefit from deeper, longer-lasting cooling.
- Regulating therapeutic cold is especially important for treatment of hands and wrists because temperatures that are too cold can potentially exacerbate symptoms of acute recurring injuries. Adding cold compression therapy to your recovery program is the best way to ensure the fastest rehabilitation.
If you experience recurring acute upper extremity injuries or plan to have upper extremity surgery, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the benefits of cold and compression therapy.
Over the past 20 years more children are participating in organized and recreational athletics. With so many young athletes playing sports, it’s no wonder injuries are common. Half of all sports medicine injuries in children and teens are from overuse. The following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about overuse injuries and injury prevention tips.
What is an overuse injury?An overuse injury is damage to a bone, muscle, ligament, or tendon due to repetitive stress without allowing time for the body to heal. Shin splints are an example of an overuse injury.The following are the 4 stages of overuse injuries:
- Pain in the affected area after physical activity
- Pain during physical activity, not restricting performance
- Pain during physical activity, restricting performance
- Chronic, persistent pain even at rest
Who is at risk?Children and teens are at increased risk for overuse injuries because growing bones are less resilient to stress. Also, young athletes may not know that certain symptoms are signs of overuse (for example, worsening shoulder pain in swimmers). If you think your child has an overuse injury, talk with your child’s doctor. A treatment plan may include making changes in how often and when the athlete plays, controlling pain, and physical therapy.
How to prevent overuse injuriesAthletes should stay away from excessive training programs that could be harmful. The following are guidelines to help prevent overuse injuries by promoting a healthy balance of activities.
PrepareAthletes should have a preparticipation physical evaluation (PPE) to make sure they are ready to safely begin the sport. The best time for a PPE is about 4 to 6 weeks before the beginning of the season. Athletes also should see their doctors for regular health well child checkups.Athletes should maintain a good fitness level during the season and offseason. Preseason training should allow time for general conditioning and sportspecific conditioning. Also important are proper warmup and cooldown exercises.
Play smartAthletes should avoid specializing in one sport before they reach puberty. Child “superstars” are often injured or burned out prior to college. Children should be encouraged to try a variety of sports.Participation in a particular sport should be limited to 5 days per week.Athletes should sign up for one team and one sport per season.
Rest upAthletes should take at least 1 day off per week from organized activity to recover physically and mentally.Athletes should take a combined 2 to 3 months off per year from a specific sport (may be divided throughout the year [that is, 1 out of every 6 months off ]).
TrainingIncreases in weekly training time, mileage, or repetitions should be no more than 10% per week. For example, if running 10 miles this week, increase to 11 miles the next week.Crosstrain. Athletes should vary their endurance workouts to include multiple different activities like swimming, biking, or elliptical trainers.Perform sportspecific drills in different ways. For example, running in a swimming pool instead of only running on the road.
How to prevent burnoutBurnout (overtraining syndrome) includes mental, physical, and hormonal changes that can affect performance. To help prevent burnout in your child, follow the guidelines in this handout. Other suggestions includeKeep your child’s practice fun and ageappropriate.Focus on your child’s overall wellness, and teach them how to listen for problems with their bodies.
RememberParents: Your goal should be to promote a wellrounded athlete who can enjoy regular physical activity for a lifetime.
Which Athletes Benefit From Acupuncture?
Acupuncture can be beneficial for those practicing bodybuilding and for any other athletes who are training in competitive sports, aerobics, martial arts, outdoor training, or any strenuous activity as it enhances performance and gives the athlete a competitive edge. Competition is not just about physical strength or endurance; it is also about psychological confidence, which can significantly affect performance skills. Acupuncture can enhance the ability to stay focused, lower anxiety, and jump psychological obstacles which stand in their way.
Benefits of Acupuncture There are many benefits provided by acupuncture that can help an athlete that participates in any sport:
1. Acupuncture Helps The Body To Heal Itself From Injury While Reducing Pain At The Same Time: For anyone who is physically active, an injury may occur, either acutely or chronically, over time. Statistics show that adults suffer more than one million sports-related traumas annually. Injuries may include fractures, muscle strains, strained ligaments, tendons or joints, shin splints along a variety of other strains. Typically, the back, shoulders, elbows, knees, and feet are most affected during a sports related injury. Arthritis is a chronic condition which can be a result of a sports-related injury, manifesting over a long-period of time.
While massage therapy relaxes muscles and tendons, acupuncture supports and reinforces the whole body to heal itself. Acupuncture reduces the pain and speeds healing in addition to strengthening the body by reducing swelling or spasms, improving blood circulation, and stimulating natural endorphins and anti-inflammatory hormones in the body.
2. Acupuncture Enhances Performance By Cleansing The Body Organs: Acupuncture can also cleanse the body organs, which may hold unnecessary toxins, tension and stress. Qi, live-giving energy that flows to every cell, tissue, muscle, and organ in your body through 14 main meridian pathways, can become stagnated. Acupuncture can attract or repel this energy, re-establishing a balanced flow of energy throughout the whole body.
It is clear that acupuncture can improve performance, boost confidence, cleanse the body of toxins, and provide support during times of injury. So, as you head out to the gym or prepare for that marathon, drink lots of water, stretch, and consider acupuncture as part of your health regimen.