Rehab for Soft Tissue Injuries: How a Chiropractor Could Help
So, you tore your ACL. Or maybe you strained your hamstring or sprained your ankle. You’ve done the RICE method—rest, ice, compress, elevate—and maybe you’ve had imaging (or even surgery) done. Now, you just want to get better as fast as possible, so you can get back to doing the things you love. Rehab for soft tissue injuries can make a big difference, and you might be surprised to know a chiropractor can help.
Soft tissue injuries often occur through sports or exercise activities but can also happen in daily life. Jaime Ayuso, DC was a Chiropractic Sports Resident in the Human Performance Center (HPC). In the HPC, chiropractic students in the sports and rehabilitation emphasis program address many soft tissue injuries.
Their goal is to get patients moving like they did before the injury. They use soft tissue work, which is a form of manual therapy, in addition to some instrument-assisted techniques like electrical stimulation, laser, and ultrasound as part of rehabilitation after injury.
Everyone is an Athlete
Dr. Ayuso and the HPC team know that movement is important to everyone.
“I like to think that all athletes are patients and all patients are athletes,” Ayuso said. “Our patients can range from the athlete who just had an injury such as an ankle sprain or post-surgical care — think of ACL or meniscus tear — to the average person with an overuse injury.”
The HPC offers integrative team care for competitive sports teams in the Twin Cities: chiropractors like Dr. Ayuso oversee student interns in providing adjustments and manual therapies. They work alongside acupuncture and massage therapy students to help patients achieve the best results possible.
What is Treatment & Rehab for Soft Tissue Injuries?
Soft tissue work can be done by a variety of practitioners, including chiropractors. The modalities used are dictated not only by the injury and what symptoms the patient is presenting with, but by the goals of the patient. It often includes soft tissue work from a provider and take-home exercises.
Why seek out soft tissue work and rehab for knees, hamstrings, and ankles? In short, it could help you get better faster.
Strains can typically take from 4-6 weeks to heal with normal interventions, but with soft tissue work in conjunction with rehabilitation, Dr. Ayuso has seen athletes get better in as little as 3-4 weeks.
“Recently we had an athlete with a hamstring strain. It’s common with athletes because of the explosive movement,” Dr. Ayuso explained. “When they came in, it was still very new. We wound up using laser in conjunction with instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization. Then we jumped immediately into rehab, because that’s going to be the best window to capitalize on influencing movement for the patient, and the patient was able to get back to full go in about two weeks.”
The Importance of At-Home Rehab for Soft Tissue Injuries
After initial assessment and treatment of a soft tissue injury in the office, chiropractors in the HPC often give patients rehab homework. No one likes homework, but in this case, it can maximize healing.
The key is an individualized approach. Rehab isn’t one size fits all. Based on the injury, symptoms, and patient’s goals, each patient’s plan should look a little different.
Chiropractors in the HPC work to make rehab plans simple and easy to follow. “Everybody’s plan should be personalized and tailored to them,” Dr. Ayuso said. “They’ll often include simple things like stretching, doing some exercises, or heat and ice. It depends on what they’re presenting with. Sometimes it’s just getting them to move.”
“As providers, we’re laying down the blueprint and foundation of their care plan, but we have to help emphasize the importance of the rehab and movement part of the plan. We want them to move more and have more function every day.”
Interested in learning more about the HPC? They offer integrative appointments for athletic teams, and group workout classes for individuals.