Most commonly people associate chiropractors as spine only health care practitioners however chiropractors spend equal time studying spine injuries and extremity injuries. Managing your sports injury begins with a thorough history and physical examination not only to determine the diagnosis of your problem but also to identify why it has occurred and what can be done to improve it.
Sporting injuries are generally classified into two broad categories; acute traumatic and chronic overuse. Generally in the early stage of an acute trauma anti-inflammatory measures are needed including ice, compression/protection (taping/brace), elevation and rest – occasionally further imaging is needed to further assess the extent of the damage. Chiropractors in this stage not only help by diagnosing the problem and providing the relevant advice but they also can begin to address some of the effects of the injury i.e muscle tension through limping, joint stiffness from swelling to help the athlete recover quicker so they can get back to their sport.
In the chronic overuse injuries often the cause is less obvious, in this case the chiropractor will need to not only determine the tissue which is causing pain but the reason this pain has started in the first place. Diagnosing the painful tissue is just the tip of the iceberg often as there are often complex reasons why this tissue has become overloaded in the first place. Often these are a result of hypertonic “tight” muscles, joint fixations/immobility, poor running technique/shoe etc.
Whilst treatment of sporting injuries majority of the care is aimed in close proximity to the injury itself it is also important that the rest of the body (or in technical terms- the biomechanical chain) is functioning optimally. An example of this is with a chronic knee complaint often the ankle, hip and low back will be assessed and treated as appropriate.
Once the body has begun to heal rehabilitation is given so that the athlete may retrain weak/inactive muscles, stretch shortened muscles/immobile joints and gradually begin activity again. The chiropractor will already know what areas need to be addressed with rehabilitation through treatment and advise accordingly.