Physical therapy is an essential part of many treatment plans, especially for athletes of all ages and skill levels. When an injury occurs, the physical therapist evaluates and treats the patient to assist in recovery and help the patient return to their prior level of function. Many people who are prescribed physical therapy feel a sense of urgency that makes waiting for complete recovery more difficult. The temptation to return to the game, whatever that game is, can be very strong.
Skipping physical therapy can be counterproductive, particularly for a person who is suffering from a muscle injury. Given time and proper therapy, the injury should heal. Without therapy, the injury may not heal properly. Below are five reasons why people should never skip physical therapy when trying to recover from an injury.
1. Injuries Always Have Potential to Get Worse.
All injuries have the potential to get worse, especially if they aren't allowed to heal properly. Injuries that worsen before they get better can lead to other injuries and complications. For example, a grade one muscle strain needs only a few weeks of therapy for the patient to heal completely. If the patient does not get therapy, a complication may arise. Common complications for muscle strains include:
- Further straining within/around the muscle You may have an increased risk of a further strain to the muscle belly or other muscles within the same area.
- Compounding injuries to surrounding areas. When strained musculature is tight and scarred down, this leads to decreased range of motion, which can increase stress on other structures. As a result, a patient’s chance for further injury is also increased.
- Chronic pain to injury site. Patients can develop chronic pain due to a number of factors if strains are not dealt with effectively. One example is the development of scar tissue, which restricts the patient’s ability to perform at their optimal level.
All of these conditions have longer recovery times along with a worse prognosis than if performed with physical therapy, which can lead to difficulty in returning to the prior level of function.
2. Skipping Physical Therapy Wastes Healing Time
Minor injuries have a set healing time recommended by physicians and physical therapists. Attending physical therapy sessions helps patients heal on time. Patients who try to push their recovery or who skip over physical therapy sessions may only succeed in drawing out their healing time, making it take longer than it would have otherwise.
3. Injuries Affect Performance
A person who tries to perform in a physical activity while they're suffering from an injury is unlikely to perform at peak levels. Injuries can affect performance by affecting muscle strength, balance, and stamina. Patients who take the time to recover from their injury find it easier to participate in physical activities and compete against others.
4. Lack of Treatment Costs Money
When a minor injury is allowed to turn into a major injury, the costs can be astronomical. For example, a grade one muscle strain is a relatively minor injury that requires little more than time and work with the physical therapist in order to heal. A grade three muscle strain is a relatively major injury consisting of a total tear of the muscle. Grade three strains can require surgery in order to heal. A patient who allows a grade one strain to turn into a grade three strain could be required to spend thousands of dollars on their own recovery.
5. Severe Injuries Can Cause Permanent Damage When Untreated
In some cases, severe injuries can cause permanent damage. Compartment syndrome is an excellent example of this. Compartment syndrome — which is another complication that could arise from an untreated muscle strain — can cause permanent nerve damage and may even result in amputation.
Contact Legacy Medical Centers
At Legacy Medical Centers, we help patients recover from a variety of physical ailments, including muscle strains, whiplash, back injuries, neck injuries, and more. If you're an athlete suffering from a recent injury or chronic pain because of an injury, we provide physical therapy and a variety of alternative treatments to help you get back on your feet. To make an appointment or to learn more about our services, contact us today.