Tips on Foot and Ankle Injury Management:
One of the most common mistakes after injury and pain has ceased is starting back too soon only to find your pain has flared up again. Healing of a soft tissue or bone injury is a long and complex process that will become an ongoing part of your life as you continue to stay active. Pain is not always the best indicator of tissue health, sometimes an injury can be resolved and still painful, and sometimes pain can improve while the injury remains. Foot and ankle injuries should be managed by your Podiatrist where appropriate to ensure the best long term outcomes.
There are 3 stages of soft tissue healing are as follows
Stage 1: This stage is the inflammatory stage where a variety of nutrients, white blood cells flood the injured area to allow repair of any injured blood vessels and tissue.
Top tip number 1:
During this stage is where redness, swelling and pain are particularly common. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and possible referral for imaging is suggested. Avoid any heat, massage, alcohol or strenuous exercise at this stage to prevent any increase in swelling and pain. If this phase of healing is not managed well, delay in healing could become a potential problem.
Stage 2: At this stage collagen begins to form scar tissue around the damaged tissue.This inelastic type of scar tissue differs from the original structure which means a potential reduction in mobility and range of motion different in the original tissue of the ligament, tendon or muscle. This stage of healing can last from four to six weeks.
Top tip number 2:
It is important at this stage to ensure that the injured tissue remains in a stable and controlled condition that limits movement. This can be done through taping, compression stockings, CAM walker, plaster casting, orthotic therapy and good footwear.
Stage 3:The final phase of healing is characterized by remodeling of the collagen fibers. During this stage Tensile strength should increase, providing greater mechanical integrity around the injured tissue and should reduce the susceptibility to injury in the future. This process can continue for up to a year with the possibility that you may still feel some mild residual symptoms and may be prone to injury with lesser insult.
Top tip number 3:
Dry needling and manual therapy is beneficial at this stage to assist in the new muscles fibres and scar tissue to grow parallel to avoid lumps of scar tissue. Implementation of an exercise and rehabilitation program should also be warranted to get you back into your exercise routine.
Please remember that the stages of healing are affected by client specific factors including age, the severity of the injury, previous injuries, comorbidities, job demands, and compliance with activity modifications recommended by your Podiatrist.