How to Naturally Prevent and Treat Chronic Injuries
We all have that friend–the one who always talks about his nagging knee or shoulder injury from high school or college that just won’t go away. It probably happened during a big game and the pain is still persistent decades later, even with treatment or surgery. And as much as they try to ice it or rehab it, it still flares up and forces them to sit out on game day. But not all hope is lost! Natural solutions can not only treat chronic injuries, but can also heal them. If that friend is you (or a teammate of yours) read on to learn how to get yourself back on the court or gym and prevent future injuries.
What is chronic pain?
Pain is a common occurrence in athletes because of their active lifestyles. Some pain is acute (a sudden injury, like an ankle sprain) but it can become chronic (such as complications after surgery, improper treatment, reinjury, etc). If you have an old, nagging injury then you’re well acquainted with chronic pain.
Chronic pain is persistent. It can last weeks or years and is caused by inflammation in the body. When you’re injured, inflammation is your body’s natural reaction as it begins to heal itself. Oftentimes this isn’t enough, and it’s easy to push treatment to the side when your plate is full with balancing your career, family, and hobbies. But when it’s not treated it can gradually become a much bigger problem.
The risk of injury rises for athletes as they age
It’s a fact of life that our bodies evolve and change over time. As you get older, you may notice physical changes such as a loss of muscle mass, decreased flexibility, increased stiffness in your tendons, and a decline in strength. This does not mean that you are any less of an athlete! In fact, exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body as you get older. Keeping fit and eating healthy are great for warding off diseases and injury and improving your quality of life.
Around age 40, many athletes and individuals start to notice that they are becoming injured more easily and are healing slower. This is a common age where newly active individuals visit their doctor for the first time or seasoned athletes come back for more treatment. You may also feel the weight of your injury aggravating other parts of your body that weren’t painful before because your body is overcompensating. And if you keep pushing your doctor’s appointment further down your to-do list, you’re only going to be in more pain. It’s important to stay on top of your health in all phases of life so you can keep doing the things you love, pain-free.
Common injuries in middle-aged athletes
As a lifelong athlete, you’re used to pushing your body to the limit. You love waking up at the crack of dawn to train or hit the gym straight from work and look forward to the adrenaline rush that comes with hitting a new PR or winning a game. But you’ve probably noticed that your muscles stay fatigued longer than they used to or that your joint pain is flaring up more than normal.
Around age 40, your cartilage and tendons become drier and your ligaments lose elasticity, making it a little more difficult to recover. There are some people who age sooner than others, but if you’ve been active your entire life you are more likely to keep up the healthy habits. Common sports injuries in middle age are:
- Stress fractures – thin, hairline fractures caused by repetitive force and overuse (commonly seen in runners and soccer players)
- Tennis elbow – an overuse injury that comes with repetitive movements and soreness outside your elbow, caused by inflamed tendons
- Rotator cuff and bicep injury tears – injuries that are caused by falls or wear and tear from repetitive movements (such as lifting weights or swinging a hammer). Your rotator cuff is crucial in allowing your shoulder to move
- Lower back pain – any pain in the lower back that includes but is not limited to a slipped disc, arthritis, disc degeneration, acute injury, and more. This can be caused or aggravated by a sedentary lifestyle
- Muscle strains – occur when your muscles are overstretched (strained), forcing a tear to occur. This tear can be small or large, and may need extensive treatment in some cases
Can future injuries be predicted?
Whether you are an athlete or not, you are bound to become injured at some point in your life. Some of us are more injury prone than others and some are more resistant, but you should still take proper care of your body.
A great indicator whether you may become injured or not is your injury history, especially if you have an injury that constantly flares up. Of course, participating in high-risk activities such as football or hockey will drastically increase your chances of injury, but that doesn’t mean that having an active lifestyle guarantees injury. Injuries are accidents, and accidents can happen at any level of fitness to anyone, including an individual with a sedentary lifestyle.
Old injuries can turn into chronic, lifelong problems
Although our bodies are made intelligently and have the natural ability to heal themselves, we are often neglectful, especially in our youth. You have probably forced yourself to play with an injury at some point, only to be plagued with pain later.
Unfortunately, this mistake from your youth can turn into a lifelong, chronic injury that will bog down your gym or game time. Even with proper care, some injuries are more prone to flare up than others and the pain can be debilitating to live with.
When to see your doctor
If you are experiencing any type of pain, you should speak to your doctor right away. Ignoring symptoms (or thinking you can “tough it out”) can be detrimental to your health down the line. You only have one body–taking care of it should be top priority. Thankfully, modern science and natural medicine have teamed up to provide you with the relief you’ve been looking for.
If you are experiencing chronic pain daily, particularly pain that worsens or prevents you from completing your daily tasks, reach out to your doctor for proper treatment so you can return to living your life free of pain and get back in the game.
Preventing injuries in middle-aged athletes, naturally
As an athlete, you’re no stranger to pain. The pain of a big loss and the pain of slamming down on your ankle are part of the territory. You know that training is hard work and that patience is key when recovering from an injury. Even if you’re not at the pickle ball court on the weekends, you can still take a few steps to keep yourself healthy and away from the painkillers.
Our bodies become less flexible as we age, making them more susceptible to injury due to the loss of range of motion, which can affect your balance. Taking the time to incorporate stretching into your daily routine is essential to your flexibility, even if you’re not in the gym everyday. You can include it in your morning routine, bedtime routine, or both.
Proper warm up
As a kid, you may have skipped the warmup during gym class or before soccer practice because it was boring. But as you’ve remained active and gotten older, you have probably noticed how important it is. If your muscles and joints aren’t properly lubricated or warmed up, your chances of injury drastically increase.
Your warm up is meant to activate your muscles and “wake” them so they can perform at their best. Stretching, light cardio, mobility work, and muscle activation exercises are all great components of a great warm up routine. Just like your computer can’t run when you first turn it on, your body can’t perform well when it’s not ready. Gradually moving into a faster pace will help prevent injuries and keep you in the game longer.
As we’ve mentioned, your muscle mass begins to decrease around age 40 which affects the stability of your joints. Research has shown that strength training a few days a week provides an array of benefits including protecting your joints from overuse and acute injuries.
Strength training does not have to include lugging around heavy weights. You can consult a physical trainer for the best training program according to your goals, current fitness level, and preferences. Tennis, golf, squash, and yoga are all part of an active lifestyle. If you don’t like a certain routine (or need it modified due to pain or injury) that’s okay! Fitness should be a fun addition to your life, and with a myriad of options there’s bound to be a few activities that you can enjoy.
Your natural solution to chronic pain
If you suffer from chronic pain from an old injury, chances are you’ve reached for the Tylenol a few times. But after a while the effects don’t last or come with side effects that disrupt your day. Did you know that you can treat your symptoms naturally, and oftentimes heal them without risking joint replacement surgery? With natural medicine, it’s absolutely possible.
A natural, holistic approach
Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine promotes the wellness of your whole body in order to treat, prevent, and heal diseases. This branch of medicine combines the healing powers of nature with science by treating you as a whole and not just a body part.
Traditional Western medicine attempts to mask symptoms by prescribing dangerous medication without bothering to understand why you are experiencing symptoms in the first place. Natural medicine on the other hand seeks to find the root cause so you are healed from the inside out–without needing to suffer bouts of side effects from medication.
Instead of treating your symptoms after they have surfaced, natural medicine heals you from within. By stressing the importance of a healthy diet, an active lifestyle, and mental clarity, many injuries and diseases can be prevented and even cured. Your active lifestyle is a key piece in the health puzzle and can be elevated and improved with a thorough analysis.
At MedLink Health Solutions, we take the time to properly evaluate you in order to provide you with the best treatment plan, customized to you and your needs. Instead of treating you like a number you are welcomed with open arms as part of the MedLink family. Your initial consultation takes a deep dive into your health status, your health history, diet and exercise habits, and more in order to get an accurate picture of where you are now so we can get you to where you need to be.
In addition to treating your injuries, you will also receive nutrition guidance. Even if you’re meticulous about your diet, you may still have gaps in your nutrition. This can be closed with quality supplements that we recommend based on your unique circumstance.
Natural medicine is a powerful tool on your road to recovery, or back in the gym. It can treat several conditions without the need for joint replacement surgery, such as:
- Chronic joint pain
- Ligament tears
- Knee pain
- Rotator cuff tears
- Sports injuries, and more
Our office specializes in regenerative joint therapy injections including PRP (platelet rich plasma), ozone therapy, and more to treat and heal your symptoms. These therapies are great for joint, tendon, knee pain and other injuries due to their incredible capabilities. And because they are natural, you will not experience the nasty side effects that you normally would from traditional medicine. Our treatments are safe, effective, and provide a multitude of benefits.
For more information on natural medicine and the therapies we use, click here to check out our previous blog.
Heal your chronic pain naturally with MedLink Health Solutions
Continue to play past your prime pain-free with MedLink Health Solutions. Our thorough evaluations and tailored treatment plans help ensure we stay on top of your health and your goals. As an athlete you’re already doing a great job of keeping yourself healthy, but oftentimes this can get bogged down by busy schedules, holidays, the kids’ weekend activities, and injuries. Don’t let chronic pain get in the way of you scoring the game-winning point. Heal naturally with the MedLink team and schedule your appointment today.