All physio's understand the signs and symptoms to be expected for pretty much every injury that walks in the door. We know that when people have nerve pain it’s often described as “burning” or “tingling”. That when someone tears a muscle, they may describe a tearing or “pop” sensation. But, unless we have been incredibly unfortunate, we often haven’t been in the position where we have experienced every single injury that crosses our wake. So, it is with a sheepish hop and an enlightened attitude that I write to you from the point of view as a client rather than as a physio.
I hurt myself recently. Whilst I would love to come up with some elaborate cooler-than-reality story, the truth is that I was skateboarding down a hill and didn’t have the courage to swerve the million people suddenly walking the walkways of Trigg early on a Sunday morning (I mean, where did they come from all of a sudden?!) and so with an agility more like a baby gazelle than Tony Hawke, I removed myself from the situation post haste by jumping off my board, which by this point had the speed wobbles, and instantly felt the commonly described “POP” as my quadriceps muscle (the top of my leg) tore in an effort to stop my fall. In my defence, apart from some awkward hops where I remember thinking “Ohhh so thiiis is what they mean when they say they feel a POP” and hoping against hope that my leg wouldn’t give way on me, I didn’t end up stacking it any further and remained with my dignity (if not my leg) mildly intact. Until I attempted to walk and decided that the better course of action would be for me to just lower myself down onto my skateboard instead.
Now, come to me as a client and I would advise you of the following:
I am not a huge fan of icing a brand new injury, if anything, I’d rather you walked in some steady, cool water (like a pool) and compress the area to still allow healing to occur rather than hindering the process.
In the same respect, I don’t encourage anti-inflammatories. Inflammation is there to aid in recovery and taking anti-inflams can, again, slow down the process of healing.
Pain relief is to be used at your discretion. If you feel you need it to get through the day, then go ahead. However, be aware than pain relief numbs the area and may allow you to move when perhaps you shouldn’t be moving just yet. So again, not hugely encouraged on my part.
Gentle movement within pain-free range is encouraged.
Using crutches is ONLY advised if you find you cannot walk normally at all and only for 1-2 days to prevent other areas from compensating and becoming injured.
So, sitting on my skateboard, in a bit of shock and a lot of pain I came to the conclusion that I would do my best not to live up to the common statistic of physios being their own worst clients. So, ignoring the devastation that came with missing my morning skate to breakfast (which I had been looking forward to all week) and the fact that the downwinder I had lined up for that afternoon was probably off the cards, as were the kiting plans I had planned in my head with a week of wonderful sea breezes kicking in, never mind thinking about my snowboarding trip coming up in 7 weeks time I determined to do my best to get me back to 100% as quickly as safely possible.
First things first, I was reluctant to get into the ocean because the water Is still a tad fresh at this time of year, but off I hobbled, attempting to walk a couple of laps before giving up because the tiny little waves rolling in felt like tsunamis as they threatened to throw me off balance. This resulted in me just tightening up more than initially which may have been due to the time passed but in my head made me wonder why anyone would even contemplate putting a freezing cold, hard object on an acute injury such as this one. My stance to icing an acute injury stands strong.
Once home after a detour to the clinic to grab some tubigrip (the perks of owning your own physio clinic) and me holding on for dear life as Kate, my partner in crime through this whole sorry incident, drove like a madwoman (so it seemed to me who had temporarily lost her ability to brace with her leg), I eagerly took whatever form of medication Kate could offer me. Stuff this no pain relief rubbish – who ever suggested that. This was agony. I was currently in a state of “give me all the drugs” and would’ve taken whatever people gave me at this point. Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) living in a predominately hippie household with minimal medication of any type, the only form we had lying around was some incredibly strong pain relief that was recommended to Kate prior to having her wisdom teeth out. (*side note, do not take random medication left lying around that was not prescribed to you)
Let’s cut down this part of the story and just summarise to say that whilst I didn’t think they provided much relief to my pain symptoms, it definitely provided much comic relief to Kate and my partner. Needless to say, when I rocked up to work the following morning and physically got sick from the pain, my first port of call after cancelling my clients for the day was to make sure I had enough pain killers to get me through the rest of the day and night. And apparently, anti-inflammatories, because as the lovely pharmacist told me, you had to take both. This was not the time to stand on my high horse so off I went, pain killers and the AI and a pair of crutches in hand.
Well, lovely Anti-inflammatories. My friend. My saviour. As I wasn’t able to take any pain medication when I got home (as I hadn’t surpassed my 4 hourly limit just yet), I started with the anti-inflammatories and this was when the pain finally turned a corner. I remember waking up the following morning in an absolute panic because I couldn’t feel my leg. I soon realised it wasn’t from numbness or because my leg had fallen off but rather because it was the first time in 3 days that I had no pain. In that static position only, mind you, which I learnt pretty quickly.
So overall, what have I learnt?
I have learnt to get off my high horse. And that yes, whilst in theory, no pain relief and anti-inflams may be the better way to go to encourage healing the best way possible, it is a very different story when you are the one in that position, in that pain and hoping upon hope that this pain would let up soon, even just for a second.
You do whatever you need to do to get through this.* You do you Boo.
*Disclaimer – I’m sure I’ll be climbing back to the top of my horse soon once the memory of the pain fades. But just so you know. I was there. I relate. I am sorry if I ever guilted you into not taking anti-inflams and I’m sorry in advance for when I do it again.
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