Pain Management Therapy Is Crucial to Sports Injury Recovery
By Dr. Mehrtash Amini
More than 8.6 million sport related injuries occur in North America, every year. While recovery time can vary, some victims experience life-long complications.
Are you living with chronic pain following a sport’s injury? Does acute pain attack without warning?
These are debilitating conditions that leave many people feeling desperate. When surgery isn’t an option, some patients turn to prescription drugs for relief without releasing the risks.
In North America, Nearly 2 million people are taking prescription painkillers and are at risk of drug dependency. If you want to avoid becoming a demographic, keep reading.
This article answers the question, “what does pain management do for me?” and explains your pain management options.
How Chronic Pain Impacts Your Daily Life
Once the initial shock and complications associated with your sport’s injury fade, you may think the healing has completed. Unfortunately, chronic pain can persist for years, or even a lifetime, following your injury.
Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common sports related injuries and occurs through a variety of mechanisms, including direct trauma (e.g., contusions, lacerations, strains and fractures) and indirect injuries (related to some underlying medical conditions, neurological dysfunctions and ischemia).
The cascade of healing is divided into these four overlapping phases: Hemostasis, Inflammatory, Proliferative, and Maturation.
Phase 1: Hemostasis Phase
Hemostasis, the first phase of healing, begins at the onset of injury, and the objective is to stop the bleeding. In this phase, the body activates its emergency repair system, the blood clotting system, and forms a dam to block the drainage. During this process, blood clots forms to prevent further bleeding.
Phase 2: Defensive/Inflammatory Phase
If Phase 1 is primarily about prevention bleeding, the second phase, called the Defensive/Inflammatory Phase, focuses on destroying bacteria and removing debris—essentially preparing the wound bed for the growth of new tissue.
During Phase 2, blood immune cells enter the wound to destroy bacteria and remove debris. These cells often reach their peak population between 24 and 48 hours after injury, reducing greatly in number after three days. White blood cells also secrete growth factors and proteins that attract immune system cells to the wound to facilitate tissue repair. This phase often lasts four to six days and is often associated with edema, erythema (reddening of the skin), heat and pain.
Studies showed that the Non-Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), laterality or naproxen interfere and cause delay in the phase 2 of healing process. 
Phase 3: Proliferative Phase
Once the wound is cleaned out, the wound enters Phase 3, the Proliferative Phase, where the focus is to fill and cover the wound.
The Proliferative phase features three distinct stages: 1) filling the wound; 2) contraction of the wound margins; and 3) covering the wound (epithelialization).
During the first stage, shiny, deep red granulation tissue fills the wound bed with connective tissue, and new blood vessels are formed. The Proliferative phase often lasts anywhere from four to 24 days.
Phase 4: Maturation Phase
During the Maturation phase, the new tissue slowly gains strength and flexibility. Here, collagen fibers reorganize, the tissue remodels and matures and there is an overall increase in tensile strength (though maximum strength is limited to 80% of the pre-injured strength). The Maturation phase varies greatly from wound to wound, often lasting anywhere from 21 days to two years.
The remodeling process forms new muscle fibers that are not as robust as our original muscle fibers. The formed scar tissue always is mechanically inferior and therefore much less able to perform the functions of a normal muscle fiber. It is also more susceptible to re-injury. A complete recovery from the injury can be compromised due to the development of fibrosis in the second week after the injury.
An Incomplete or interrupted wound healing and change in local musculoskeletal structure can lead to a chronic pain.
Pain makes it difficult to perform daily tasks, sleep comfortably at night, and lead to a negative effect on quality of life. Many people turn to prescription opioids to ease the pain. The problem is that these painkillers simply mask the pain without offering a viable, long-term solution.
BeWell Clinic takes a dual approach to pain management that includes both therapeutic treatments and a focus on healing.
Understanding your pain management options can help improve your quality of life and help you experience long-term relief.
Pain Management Options
Before you go under the knife or grab for the pill bottle, let’s explore other, less invasive, pain management options.
Trigger Point Therapy
Do you suffer from knotted (old scar) muscles that just won’t relax?
These problem areas are known as trigger points and a specific form of therapy can help.
Trigger point therapy, or TPI, involves injecting anesthesia directly into the trigger point using a small needle. This injections trigger healing process and helps to relieve pain.
In many cases, pain relief is sustained over long periods of time. In that case the patient receives injections, once a week for a month or two.
Once your pain is stabilized, you can spread injections out even further – needing maintenance shots only four times a year or less.
Trigger point injections help release muscle spasms, increase circulation near the damaged area, and help dissolve old muscular scars. TPI treatment used in conjunction with physiotherapy and rehabilitation can augment the treatment results.
One of the biggest benefits of trigger point injections is that treatment and recovery are relatively painless. Patients will feel slight tenderness at the injection site, but this will subside in less than a day. Usually after 24 hours, the chronic pain response to treatment and gradual pain relief initiates.
TPI is most used to relieve pain in the lower/upper back, neck, arms or legs. TPI can also help those suffering from tension headaches, fibromyalgia, or myofascial pain syndrome.
The procedure is one of the safest pain management approach with a minimal risk of adverse effects.
Another minimally-invasive treatment option is K-Laser therapy, also known as High Power Laser Therapy. One of the major benefits of this form of pain management is that it offers relief while also accelerating the healing process.
K-Laser therapy uses light wavelengths to target damaged tissue. During treatment, wavelengths of light pass through the skin and into your muscle cells, triggering photobiostimulation.
This form of therapy is painless. In fact, some patients report a warm, relaxing feeling with zero recovery time.
Medical professionals place a handheld laser directly over the affected area. Treatments can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 9 minutes, depending on your condition.
This process triggers your body’s natural regenerative abilities, releasing endorphins and initiating collagen production. Now, any damaged or injured tissue can heal naturally. Patients will also experience reduced swelling and stiffness, fewer spasms, and long-term pain relief.
Another benefit of this wavelength therapy is that it can stimulate every cell type, benefiting people with all types of injuries and illnesses. Whether you’ve damaged your soft tissue, nerves, ligaments or cartilage, K-Laser therapy can help. It also addresses all forms of pain including chronic, acute, superficial, and deep.
Unsure if K-Laser therapy is right for you? This form of pain management is suitable for patients of all ages, body sizes, genders, and skin tones. Common conditions that respond well to K-Laser therapy include back and neck pain, tendonitis, bruises, sprains, burns, concussions, and Sciatica.
Physiotherapy is a common form of pain management – especially when discussing sports injuries. This form of therapy encompasses many different techniques including massage, heat therapy, and exercise. The focus of physiotherapy is to improve, restore and maintain a patient’s mobility and function.
To achieve optimum results, physiotherapy should be used in conjunction with other pain management options like TPI or K-Laser therapy.
Massage is a popular form of physiotherapy because it’s both relaxing and effective – for the short-term. The benefits of massage only last for a few days and continuous sessions can get costly.
Exercise should already be a part of your daily regime – even while recovering from an injury. It’s important that you maintain a healthy weight and keep your body active to promote blood circulation, flexibility, and mobility. Physical therapy and rehabilitation can also support your current pain management treatment plan.
Cold and Heat Therapy
If you’ve experienced a sports injury in the past or suffer from chronic pain, chances are you’ve used heat or ice to ease discomfort. Both methods offer different types of relief.
Cold therapy helps dull pain and shrink nerves that may be causing your discomfort. This is a common method for acute injuries accompanied by inflammation and swelling. Heat, on the other hand, can help ease muscle soreness and stiffness.
The theory of mind over matter is more powerful than most people realize. A holistic approach to pain management involves a strong mind-body connection.
Popular techniques include mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises. A strong mind-body connection helps patients restore control over their bodies and can accelerate the healing process.
Another benefit is reduced stress. Extreme stress can lead to muscle tension, increased pain, and tension headaches.
Yoga and Pilates
Yoga and Pilates are two of the most common exercises used to speed up the recovery process and reduce pain. Focused on relaxation and flexibility, both practices can help loosen muscles and promote healing.
Like the mind-body techniques mentioned earlier, both these exercises focus heavily on breathing. Gentle movements help to elongate, stretch, and strengthen muscles.
The Healing Side of Pain Management
Addressing chronic pain symptoms isn’t just about pain management – it also focuses on the healing process. Helping ease your pain is one thing but addressing the root cause is much more effective.
You don’t want a quick-fix approach to pain management. By focusing on healing while treating your pain, you’re investing in a long-term solution.
The physicians at BeWell Medical Clinic can help you regain control of your life by combining pain management therapy with an approach to healing. This includes handling the ups and downs of pain management.
It’s important to remember that for some, pain management is a life-long struggle. There will be moments of triumph and extended relief, but there may be some missteps along the way.
Our qualified team will help support you throughout the entire healing process.
Creating a Pain Management Plan
Before you start on the road to pain relief, it’s important to create a pain management plan. You and a medical professional can sit together to discuss your options.
First, the healthcare professional will assess your current condition including when the pain started, any possible causes, and the type of discomfort you’re experiencing.
Is your pain related to a recent injury or underlying medical condition? And what type of pain are you experiencing – chronic, acute, deep or superficial?
You may not know the answer to these questions, but a trained professional can help pinpoint the specifics about your condition. They will then offer a recommendation of which therapy is right for you.
The medical team may also ask you to create a pain journal to help determine patterns. This is also a great tool for monitoring your body’s response to treatments. Once it’s determined that your body is positively responding to therapy, you and your healthcare professional can adjust your plan for maintenance.
What Does Pain Management Do for You?
If you’re living with chronic or acute pain, the struggle ends here. With new and less-invasive forms of pain management available, you can regain your independence, confidence, and active lifestyle.
Still looking for the answer to the question, what does pain management do? Contact us today for a free consultation. Our professionals will help you create a pain management plan to suit your individual needs.