Treating Sprains and Strains

Dec 19, 2018

Sprains and strains are among the most common—and frustrating—lower limb injuries.

Often, such injuries are sports-related and occur after an awkward landing on the basketball court, or lost footing on the trail or soccer field. However, this being December in Michigan, we also see a lot of sprains and strains from slips and falls on the driveway or parking lot.

Regardless of how you injured yourself, though, prompt treatment from a professional is an extremely wise precaution. Far too many people try to take treatment into their own hands, and this can often make matters much worse.

Fortunately, the Kalamazoo Podiatry team can help, and even offer MLS laser therapy—an advanced treatment option that you won’t find in any other clinic in the city.

A Quick Refresher

Just so we’re all on the same page:

  • A sprain is what happens when a ligament is stretched or torn. Ligaments are tough tissues that connect bones to other bones within a joint. Ankle sprains are of course the most well known and common, but you can sprain almost any joint—knees, toes, etc.
  • A strain is a similar kind of injury, except in muscle or tendon tissue. (Tendons connect muscles to bones, and we probably don’t have to explain what a muscle is.)

Both types of injuries can be either acute or chronic, though sprains are generally more likely to be a “sudden” injury (from a specific fall, twisting motion, hyperextension, etc.), while strains are more evenly split between those caused by sudden trauma and those caused by repetitive overuse over time.

Either way, symptoms can include things like pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving the joint. Some strains may also be associated with muscle weakness, spasms, and cramping.

Why You Need to Take Your Injury Seriously

For a variety of reasons, many people avoid coming to see the doctor until the pain or disability they’re experiencing is extreme. Since sprains and strains are relatively common, often people feel that they should be able to handle treatment on their own.

While it is true that mild sprains and strains can often be treated largely at home, you are still strongly encouraged to get a professional evaluation as soon as possible after initially noticing the injury.

When sprains and strains aren’t handled properly or given the time or treatment they need to heal, they can linger—or even stretch and tear even more.

In some cases, you may already be hurt much worse than you realize. For example, there may be a hidden bone fracture being “masked” by the symptoms of a sprain or strain.

Ankle sprains especially that do not heal properly may lead to chronic pain, a constant sense of instability in the joint, early onset of arthritis, and a greatly increased risk of future sprains.

How Are Sprains and Strains Treated at Kalamazoo Podiatry?

At our practice, we believe strongly in taking a personalized and customized approach to injury care.

We can do this in part because we have a lot of different treatment options, including the aforementioned MLS laser therapy—more on that in a sec. So there are a lot of different paths and choices we can take.

But we also do it because it isn’t just the injury that matters—you matter. Or in other words, the best way to treat a given sprain or strain depends partly on the injury itself, and partly on your needs, preferences, lifestyle, etc.

Now, as an example, let’s talk a little bit about MLS laser therapy—a treatment you aren’t going to find at most other podiatry clinics.

Cutting-Edge Care

This is a pretty incredible piece of technology that’s only starting to become more widely available, and it’s been a real game-changer for us in terms of being able to treat soft tissue injuries like sprains and strains.

We’ll spare most of the technical jargon, but here’s the basic concept. Lasers are light, and light is energy. The MLS device uses a pair of synchronized lasers that penetrate deep into injured tissues, and with a specific energy profile (wavelength, power, pulse rate, etc.) that your body’s cells can actually absorb and use.

This triggers all kinds of positive effects, including reduced swelling, rapid pain relief, and acceleration of cellular metabolism, vascular activity, and tissue regeneration and repair. A handful of brief and painless treatments, spread out over a couple of weeks, can significantly reduce the recovery time after a sprain or strain—potentially by as much as half.

While MLS might be recommended for almost anyone who wants to take advantage of what it can offer, you can see why it might be an especially attractive option for in-season athletes, people with active hobbies, or people who work on their feet all day.

Comprehensive Options

That said, we have a lot of additional treatment options and strategies to consider—which may be used in combination with one another to achieve optimal results.

In addition to basic self-care strategies like RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, we may offer treatments such as:

  • A brace, walking boot, or even short cast (depending on severity of the injury) to stabilize and protect an injured joint.
  • Physical therapy to rebuild strength, balance, stability, and motion in the healing tissues.
  • Tougher options for managing pain, such corticosteroid injections, in moderation.
  • Surgical repair. This is rarely necessary—only for severe muscle, tendon, or ligament tears, or sprains and strains that do not respond to conservative treatments.

We’ll talk with you in detail about your condition, the pros and cons of each treatment option, timelines, and any other information you might need to make an informed decision about your care.

But remember, in order to give yourself the best possible chance at a quick and successful treatment—and minimize your risk of longer-term complications—you need to see your podiatrist as soon as possible after your injury.

The earlier you see us, the greater variety of effective treatment options we’ll be able to provide, and the more choice and flexibility you’ll have with your care.

So if you’ve suffered a sprain or strain, please contact us today

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