Fast Recovery From Pain or Injury
Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) has been the standard treatment for injuries for years; however, studies have shown that this treatment standard may not be the best method for healing. New studies have shown that Movement, Exercise Analgesics and Treatment (MEAT) helps with recovery of soft tissues in the body. Soft tissues have poor circulation which can delay healing. With the MEAT method, tissue healing and recovery times are diminished. Let’s take a look at each element in the MEAT approach and see how it can help you heal quickly.
Downside of the RICE Method
Rest – Resting an injury can cause blood flow to the injured tissues to slow down, which can keep tissues inflamed, cause stiffness and decreased healing.
Ice – Icing an injury for a few minutes can ease pain; however, it can also restrict the flow of lymphatic fluids, which can result in increased swelling. The Journal of Applied Physiology states that icing an injury for as little as 20 minutes can delay collagen regeneration, retard immune cells used in healing and delay healing.
Compression – Immobilizing an injury can be detrimental to the joints, ligaments and soft tissues. When an injury is compressed, collagen is degraded and new collagen formation is reduced.
Elevation – When you elevate an injury above the heart, the blood flow to the area is reduced. This recommendation is thought to help lower swelling; however, it slows down the flow of lymphatic fluids and oxygenated blood to the damaged tissues, resulting in slower healing.
Why the MEAT Method is Better
Movement – Range of movement exercises help in the healing process in two different ways. First, movement moves fluid in and out of the injured area. This fluid transports nutrients to the injured tissues and carries away any metabolic waste in the injured tissues. Secondly, movement, helps to strengthen the damaged tissues so after it heals it will be stronger than before the injury. Gentle range of motion exercises should be started as soon as possible following an injury. Movement helps to decrease pain, stiffness and swelling.
Exercise – Controlled prescribed exercises helps with pain relief and helps to strengthen the injured tissues. The most important word in this is controlled. The exercises will be prescribed by your physical therapist or chiropractor to help strengthen without injuring the tissues. A study published in the IOWA Orthopaedic Journal states that prolonged rest can delay recovery times and adversely affect tissues. Flexing your muscles and adding low resistance strengthening exercises can minimize scar tissue and aid in the recovery of an injury.
Analgesics – Managing pain is one of the most important components when dealing with an injury; however, it is important to ensure that the medications do not interfere with the healing process. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen and naproxen decrease inflammation; however, in order for tissues to heal properly, a small degree of inflammation in needed. Instead of taking these medications, the patient should use topical creams like capsicum creams, ice or over the counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen to provide relief. Other pain relief techniques like electrical stimulation (TENS) or acupuncture can also be used to relieve pain.
Treatment – Chiropractic manipulations, physical therapy and acupuncture can help decrease the amount of time it takes to recover from an injury. In addition to these, pulsed cold laser therapy, ultrasound therapy and hydrotherapy can be used to minimize pain and encourage healing. Each of these modalities will help activate the immune system to help heal injured tissues quicker, increase blood flow to the injured area, encourage collagen formation, speed up recovery, improve range of motion and decrease healing times.
Nutrition and the Healing Process
Proper nutrition is essential for the healing process. When an injury occurs, the body requires antioxidants, including vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, fat, carbohydrates and proteins in order to create new tissue. Let’s see how each of these nutrients aids the body’s innate healing ability.
Vitamin A is an antioxidant that helps to control the inflammatory process of the body. Vitamin C is another antioxidant that is used during the healing process. It helps create new collagen. Zinc is a mineral that helps the body synthesize protein and is used in the creation of collagen. Fat from dairy products provides fatty acids. The membranes of cells are produced by fatty acids; therefore, consuming fats can help the body produce new, healthy cells to replace the damaged cells. Carbohydrates provide the body with the energy it needs to heal itself. When choosing carbohydrates, choose whole grains. Protein provides the body with vital amino acids needed for the healing process. After an injury, the body uses protein to produce collagen and cells to recover from an injury.
To ensure you are getting the proper nutrients you need to heal an injury, you will need to eat a healthy diet and take high quality supplements. Choose a multivitamin that supplies antioxidants and minerals that help heal the body. In addition to this, an omega-3 fatty acid supplement and an amino acid supplement will ensure the body has the nutrients it needs to improve the body’s ability to heal itself. For more details, contact a certified nutritionist.
Technologies to Help Accelerate the Recovery Process
Pulsed cold laser therapy uses infrared light to promote healing, relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Pulsed cold lasers work on the cellular level by stimulating the mitochondria to produce the chemical that activates cellular healing. Additionally, pulsed cold lasers increase circulation in damaged tissues which increase blood flow and oxygen. This noninvasive technology expedites recovery, decreases inflammation, improves mobility and stimulates cell growth. Unlike other therapies, pulse cold laser therapy does not cause side effects speeds the healing process and can be used in conjunction with manual therapies, including acupuncture, chiropractic and physical therapy.
Manual Therapies Control Pain Better than Medications
There are a number of manual therapies that can help relieve pain better than pain medications. In addition to relieving pain, these therapies do not have the dangerous side effects associated with pain medications. Chiropractic manipulation, massage, acupuncture and physical therapy have been shown to promote healing, minimize inflammation, relieve pain and improve immunity.
Chiropractic manipulations help to realign the body and improve spinal mobility, which can help relieve muscle spasms, pain and improve range of motion. The chiropractor will also teach ergonomics to help support the body while it is healing to reduce the risk of reinjury. The chiropractor will also teach a number of rehabilitative exercises that the patient should use to promote healing and strengthen the injured area.
Massage has been shown to improve blood flow, reduce pain, increase relaxation and enhance immunity. When an injury occurs, it causes stress in the body, which increases cortisol production. Cortisol can increase inflammation in the body, which can slow the healing process. Massage helps to decrease cortisol production and improve sleep patterns to improve healing.
Physical therapy uses a variety of techniques to help heal an injury. These techniques include hydrotherapy, heat and cold therapy, massage, ultrasound and exercises to relieve pain, decrease swelling and strengthen the injured tissues.
Finally, acupuncture uses fine needles that are placed in at acupuncture points throughout the body. The needles are placed in the superficial layers of the skin. As the needles are placed in the skin and stimulated, a dull aching sensation occurs. This sensation decreases pain and increases blood flow to the area to promote healing.
When an injury occurs, try and move the injured area to help improve blood flow and decrease inflammation. Our functional chiropractor specializes in the fast recovery from pain and injury. He uses the MEAT method rather than the RICE method as studies have shown this technique is more effective than the recommendations of the past. Call us today and get started on your journey to pain free living.