My shoulder aches but I just keep going! The more I do the worse it gets! The pain doesn’t stop me, it’s just there during and after training! It’s okay, I don’t need to get it checked, it’s always better the next day. Rest cures everything right?
Well, the simple answer is… no.
For the majority of us, the body is a well-oiled machine in that it can learn to function and change movement patterns to ‘survive’ when an injury is present, but everyone would agree that something like a car is more efficient after it goes in for a ‘service’ – if we hear a clunk in our gearbox, we usually send the car straight in for a service, so why is it that we don’t pay attention to our own bodies and continue to put up with pain and impaired movement before we decide to get help for ourselves?
The common case we are talking about here is something I see in the clinic on a weekly basis. The usual story generally follows a patient (let’s call him Jo) who is quite active and develops pain in his shoulder. Jo thinks the pain will just go away if he rests, which he usually won’t do, and you guessed it, it gradually worsens as weeks progress until he finally decides to see someone like me to fix the problem.
Now because Jo’s waited so long to get treated he will usually take a long time to return to full function. Why? because he reached a point where tissue damage has occurred and he is in an acute state. This means that the course of rehab will be delayed as the body needs time to settle the inflammation and irritation which has occurred. It becomes trickier because this is all happening at the same time that we are trying to address why the pain occurred in the first place.
This acute factor of irritation and inflammation can extend the course of treatment time for Jo by up to several weeks or even months.
Patients like Jo are harder to cure because they usually have had a problem for a long time and expect an instant cure, don’t complete the rehab exercises to address the cause of the problem they are given, and do what they are told not to do.
What’s the moral of the story here?
If Jo presented earlier in his injury progression, the treatment time would be significantly shorter and he could return to full health in a fraction of the time. Make sure you always:
- Listen to your body
- Seek help when you need it! Catch a problem early enough and you stop it from progressing