Throughout the course of history, surgical procedures have always been a last resort. While many of the dangers of surgery have decreased significantly, such an invasive procedure still shouldn’t be the first or second option. I’m sometimes called the orthopaedic surgeon who doesn’t like to operate.
While I do like being in the operating room, I don’t like recommending surgery to patients unless it is absolutely necessary. Most of the time, there are conservative treatment options that should be prescribed and tried in earnest before hopping onto the operating table.
Step 1: R.I.C.E.. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation. These are the first steps that need to be taken in the event of an injury. Even if surgery is necessary down the road, this at-home treatment will help avoid further injury and reduce swelling. Rest is necessary so that you don’t aggravate the injury further. Icing the affected area will help with inflammation; try twenty minutes on and twenty minutes off for an hour or so. These steps combined with a compression wrap and elevation will prevent help your injury heal faster.
Step 2: NSAIDs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil or Aleve, are another way to prevent or decrease inflammation. Be sure to take them as directed, paying attention to the dosage amount and redosing intervals.
Step 3: Support. When recovering from an injury, it’s best to support the affected area with things like braces, arch supports, and better shoes. For example, if your knees are bothering you, wear a knee brace and good, supportive shoes throughout the day, especially during physical activity. If you’re suffering from tennis elbow, you can wear a brace on the elbow and wrist of the affected side to prevent further injury and relieve pain.
Step 4: Stretch and Strengthen. Once swelling and inflammation have gone down, you can start to build strength again. I recommend stretches and strengthening exercises that address the injured area as well as the cause of the injury. Physical therapy can aid the healing process and prevent future injuries.
Step 5: Proper Nutrition. Food is truly one of the best medicines. A nutrient-rich diet with lots of whole foods will help the body heal faster and more effectively. Calcium and vitamin D are good for relieving shin splints and strengthening bones. Be sure to drinks lots of water as well!
Step 6: Explore Other Non-Surgical Options. Talk to your doctor about other non-invasive options you can try. Some of these options include cortisone injections, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, and cold laser treatment. I would recommend trying as many conservative treatments as possible before going under the knife.
No matter what treatment plan you settle on, remember that it’s important to find the source of your injury. Without addressing the root cause, your pain will eventually come back and you will most likely endure injuries in the future.
Seeking the source of your injury or pain? Call to set up an appointment to see me, and we’ll work together to find a permanent solution for you.