Sprains and strains

Back pain isn’t always a sign of a serious medical condition – it’s much more likely that an awkward movement has pulled a muscle or sprained a ligament. Simple cases often improve within 4–6 weeks. Staying active and getting on with normal activities is one of the best ways to deal with back pain, but you can take painkillers if you need to. It’s very important to exercise the affected muscle to improve its strength, although you should rest if the muscle is in spasm. Unless you’re in severe pain you probably won’t need to see a doctor.

Sciatica

Back pain is sometimes linked with pains in the leg which are called sciatica. It affects the sciatic nerve that runs from the spine to the leg. The pain is felt anywhere from the buttock to the big toe. Other symptoms include numbness and tingling in the legs and feet.
Sciatica is caused by an irritation of the sciatic nerve – there’s nothing wrong with the leg itself. If you notice weakness of the muscles in your leg, especially if you can’t pull your foot up towards you, or if you lose bladder or bowel control, you should see your doctor urgently.

What can be done to help?

Exercise

Exercise is the most important way that you can:

  • ease stiffness and pain
  • build up muscle strength and stamina
  • improve your flexibility and general fitness.

If your back pain lasts a while, lack of movement can cause the muscles to become weak. It’s important that you don’t rest for too long and keep moving.

Medication

Painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen may help and you should use them if you need to. Take them regularly and at the recommended dose to help you control pain and allow you to continue exercising. Don’t wait until your pain is severe before taking painkillers.

You shouldn’t take ibuprofen or aspirin if you’re pregnant or have asthma, indigestion or an ulcer until you’ve spoken to your doctor or pharmacist. Medication can have side-effects so you should read the label carefully and check if you have any queries.

Physiotherapy

If your back pain is affecting your activity and is persisting, ask your GP about referral to a physiotherapist. Premier has physiotherapists in your area.

Premier physiotherapists can provide a variety of treatments, help you understand your problem, get you back to your normal activities and give advice on how you can prevent symptoms returning in the future.

Download Back Pain Information here

Cervical spondylosis

Spondylosis occurs due to everyday use over many years. This is where discs become thinner, the facet joints become worn and the spaces between the bones become narrower. Spurs of bone, known as osteophytes, form at the edges of the vertebrae and the facet joints. These changes are very similar to those seen in osteoarthritis. You can take painkillers to ease pain, and exercise will help you to stretch and strengthen your muscles.

Whiplash

Whiplash injuries are most often seen as a result of car accidents. They’re caused by the body being carried forward, causing the head to flip back. Then, as the body stops, the head is thrown forwards. There’s often a delay before you feel any pain or stiffness. It’s thought that the pain is caused by the stretching of the ligaments and the capsule around the facet joints, along with muscle spasm as the body tries to splint the injury.

Although whiplash can badly strain your neck, most cases improve within a few weeks or months. Seat belts and properly adjusted headrests in cars greatly reduce the damage from whiplash injuries. Gentle exercises to keep the neck mobile will help to prevent longer term problems and get you back to normal as soon as possible.

Tension

Muscles at the back of the neck must always be tensed in order to keep your body upright. When we’re stressed we often tense these muscles even more, which can cause neck pain and tension headaches.

What can be done to help?

Exercise

Exercise is the most important way that you can:

  • ease stiffness and pain
  • build up muscle strength and stamina
  • improve your flexibility and general fitness.

If your neck pain lasts a while, lack of movement can cause the muscles to become weak.

Medication

Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may help. It’s important that you take them regularly and at the recommended dose to help you control the pain and allow you to continue exercising. Don’t wait until your pain is severe before taking painkillers.

You shouldn’t take ibuprofen or aspirin if you’re pregnant or have asthma, indigestion or an ulcer until you’ve spoken to your doctor or pharmacist. Medication can have side-effects so you should read the label carefully and check if you have any queries.

Physiotherapy

If your neck pain is affecting your activity and is persisting, ask your GP about referral to a physiotherapist.

Premier physiotherapists can provide a variety of treatments, help you understand your problem, get you back to your normal activities and give advice on how you can prevent symptoms returning in the future.

Download Neck Pain Information here

There are many causes of shoulder pain, but most cases will only affect a small area and are relatively short-lived. Shoulder pain may also be part of a general condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.

Shoulder pain isn’t always caused by a problem in the shoulder joint – problems in the neck can cause pain that’s felt over the shoulder blade or in the upper outer arm.

What can be done to help?

Aim for a balance between rest & activity to prevent the shoulder from stiffening. Pace yourself and try to do a bit more each day.

Try to avoid movements that are most painful, especially those that hold your arm away from your body and above shoulder height. It’s important to remain active, even if you have to limit how much you do.

Posture

Don’t sit leaning forwards with your arm held tightly by your side. This position can make the problem worse, especially if some of the pain is coming from your neck. When sitting, keep a pillow or cushion behind your lower back with your arm supported on a cushion on your lap.

Reducing the strain

When raising your arm or lifting objects, reduce the strain or pull on your shoulder by:

  • keeping your elbow bent and in front of your body
  • keeping your palm facing the ceiling.

To lower your arm, bend your elbow, bringing your hand closer to your body.

Your pain should ease within 2 weeks and you should recover over approx. a 4–6 week period.

You should carry on with the exercises overleaf for at least 6–8 weeks to help prevent symptoms returning. If you have severe pain or your symptoms haven’t improved after 2 weeks, contact your doctor.

Following the self-help tips and exercises here will likely help, but if your pain isn’t improving after about 2 weeks then you should speak to your GP.

Medication

Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may help. It’s important that you take them regularly and at the recommended dose to help you control the pain and allow you to continue exercising. Don’t wait until your pain is severe before taking painkillers. You can also rub anti-inflammatory cream directly onto the painful area.
You shouldn’t take ibuprofen or aspirin if you’re pregnant or have asthma, indigestion or an ulcer until you’ve spoken to your doctor or pharmacist. Medication can have side-effects so you should read the label carefully and check with your pharmacist if you have any queries.

Physiotherapy

If your shoulder pain is affecting your activity and is persisting, ask your GP about referral to a physiotherapist.

Premier has physiotherapists in your area.

Premier physiotherapists can provide a variety of treatments, help you understand your problem and get you back to your normal activities.

Download Shoulder Pain Information here

There are many different causes of knee pain. A common cause is osteoarthritis, a condition that affects the body’s joints. The surfaces within the joint are damaged so the joint doesn’t move as smoothly as it should. Your doctor will be able to tell you what has caused pain. The info & exercises here are relevant in most cases.

What can be done to help?

Medication

Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may help. It’s important that you take them regularly and at the recommended dose to help you control the pain and allow you to continue exercising. Don’t wait until your pain is severe before taking painkillers.

You shouldn’t take ibuprofen or aspirin if you’re pregnant or have asthma, indigestion or an ulcer until you’ve spoken to your doctor or pharmacist. Medication can have side-effects so you should read the label carefully and check if you have any queries.

If over-the-counter medication doesn’t work, your doctor may prescribe stronger painkillers or capsaicin cream.

Physiotherapy

If your knee pain is affecting your activity and is persisting, ask your GP about referral to a physiotherapist

Premier has physiotherapists in your area.

Premier physiotherapists can provide a variety of treatments, help you understand your problem and get you back to your normal activities.

Download Knee Pain Information here

An ankle sprain is one of the most common types of soft tissue injury.

It occurs when the foot is moved through a greater range of movement than normal. This stretches and weakens the soft tissues and ligaments that support the ankle.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Difficulty moving the ankle normally

How long will it take to recover?

The initial pain usually settles after a few days and during this time it is important to follow the simple treatment advice in this leaflet to ensure a good recovery.

The soft tissues (muscles and ligaments) normally take around six weeks to heal, this timeframe may vary as everyone recovers from injuries at different rates.

You are more likely to sprain your ankle if you have sprained it before. Be careful on uneven surfaces, going up and down stairs, and walking in shoes that are not supportive.

Premier physiotherapists can provide a variety of treatments, help you understand your problem, get you back to your normal activities and give advice on how you can prevent symptoms returning in the future.

Download Ankle Pain Information here

In Physiotherapy where we are concerned with conditions involving joints and muscles it is the Cervicogenic headache which originates from the neck which is the most common type treated. There are many other types of headache of which are vascular in origin (including migraines)

Cervicogenic headache typically occurs due to damage to one or more joints, muscles, ligaments or nerves of the top 3 vertebra of the neck. The pain associated with this condition is an example of referred pain (i.e. pain arising from a distant source – in this case the neck). This occurs because the nerves that supply the upper neck also supply the skin overlying the head, forehead, jaw line, back of the eyes and ears. As a result, pain arising from structures of the upper neck may refer pain to any of these regions causing a cervicogenic headache.

Physiotherapy for cervicogenic headache

Physiotherapy treatment for patients with this condition is vital to hasten the healing process, ensure an optimal outcome and decrease the likelihood of injury recurrence.

Though commonly referred to as Tennis Elbow and Golfers Elbow, these injuries are caused by the inflammation of the tendons and muscles in the forearm, and as such is a form of tendonitis. These particular muscles are used to bend the wrist back, causing the palm to be face up or down. The Forearm muscles become overused, bringing on the inflammation and pain.

Does tennis elbow only affect tennis players?

No. Another sport where tennis elbow can be a common problem with players is golf, and consequently is sometimes referred to as golfer’s elbow. The symptoms and pain are similar in this case, the difference being that any swelling appears on the inside of the elbow, because the arm, muscles and tendons are used differently in the repetitive movement of the golf swing. For instance, a left-handed golfer will feel the pain in his/her right elbow, as pulling the club through the swing with the right arm causes the inflammation and discomfort. Tennis elbow can also affect weightlifters and baseball players.

The symptoms of tennis and golfers elbow?

  • Swelling on the outside of the elbow (or inside, in terms of golfer’s elbow)
  • Tenderness or discomfort around the elbow joint. Pain when moving the elbow joint.

The usual treatments for tennis elbow include complete rest of the arm, the application of ice packs, and an elbow support or wrist-splint in order to assist the healing process and encourage rest of the tendons.

How can tennis elbow be prevented?

A cure for tennis elbow can have as much to do with technique as medical treatment. A tennis player can learn to position his/her feet in order to put the full weight of the body behind a shot without putting too much stress on the elbow, muscles and tendons of the racquet-bearing arm. Learning the correct body position for a shot can drastically reduce the stress on the elbow, as the player is using the weight and strength of the body rather than the arm.

Premier physiotherapists can provide a variety of treatments, help you understand your problem, get you back to your normal activities and give advice on how you can prevent symptoms returning in the future

Causes of wrist pain

Common causes of wrist pain include overuse and repetitive strain injuries, accidents or trauma, which have caused injury in the past, arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome (this occurs when the median nerve gets trapped as a result of inflammation in the wrist).

Symptoms of wrist pain

Symptoms will usually depend on the cause of the pain. Injuries and accidents usually cause acute pain, swelling and bruising at the time of the injury, which will often contribute to pain in the future. Carpal tunnel syndrome usually presents with swelling. Arthritis affects the range of movement in the joints and often leads to stiffness and a lack of flexibility.

Treating wrist pain

Treatment for wrist pain will depend on the nature of the cause of the pain; medical problems such as arthritis will be treated in a different way to injuries caused by trauma. In the case of an injury, the wrist will usually be treated with ice and medication to control pain and reduce swelling; the wrist will also be rested to allow it time to recover. In some cases, the wrist will be immobilised using a splint or plaster cast. Once the healing process has begun, Physiotherapy will help to strengthen and remobilise the damaged muscles and bones and condition the wrist to make it more resistant to injury in the future.

Premier physiotherapists can provide a variety of treatments, help you understand your problem, get you back to your normal activities and give advice on how you can prevent symptoms returning in the future

Thigh or Groin pain is commonly the result of a strain or pull. Groin strain is caused by the adductor muscles in the inner thigh being over-stretched or pulled. Thigh pain can be either in the front (Quadraceps) or the back (Hamstrings) of the thigh.

Symptoms of thigh and groin strain

Groin strain usually results in localised pain but may also cause swelling and tenderness around the affected area.

Treating groin pain

Mild strains usually heal quickly if the area is rested. More serious strains can take a while to recover and may require more intensive therapy, which may include massage or physiotherapy. People suffering from a thigh/groin strain should refrain from taking part in demanding exercise for a period of time in order to allow the muscles time to heal.

Thigh/Groin pain in sport

Groin strain is common in sport, especially football, where players often stretch to reach the ball. More serious strains can put players out for up to 6 weeks, while milder cases may recover after a week or two. If a player pulls up with a thigh/groin injury, ice should be applied to the area in order to reduce the swelling; they should then initially rest but after 24 hours seek advice from a Physiotherapist.

Preventing thigh/groin strain

The risk of suffering from groin pain can be significantly reduced by warming up, stretching and cooling down properly; this given the muscles chance to warm up before they are used.

Premier physiotherapists can provide a variety of treatments, help you understand your problem, get you back to your normal activities and give advice on how you can prevent symptoms returning in the future

The terms ‘shin splints’ refers to the pain experienced in the muscles close to the shin bones, which run down the front of the lower leg, from knee to ankle. The pain itself is caused by inflammation and microfractures (tiny fractures) in the surface of the shin bone.

What causes the pain of shin splints?

The pain associated with shin splints usually occurs around the middle third of the shin, on the inner side. This is because the muscle which raises the arch of the foot is attached to the shin bone at this location. As the foot hits the ground, the arch of the foot collapses, pulling the tendon which comes from this muscle. As this process is repeated, the collapsing arch starts to pull and inflame muscle fibres. This damage causes bleeding around the bone and subsequent pain.

Who is susceptible to shin splints?

Shin splints are common in runners or joggers, and are usually caused by running or jumping on hard surfaces. Those who are not accustomed to exercise or training can also suffer from the condition, as well as experienced athletes who begin to run on harder surfaces or even simply wear unsuitable footwear.

How are shin splints treated?

The main type of treatment is also a method of prevention, and is the use of an arch to support the foot. Physiotherapy through inflammation reduction and rehabilitation might also be required. This arch prevents the excessive pull on the tendons which cause shin splints, and can eradicate the problem almost immediately. In order to prevent shin splints, it is advisable to warm up thoroughly. It is also extremely important to wear footwear specifically with arch and ankle support, that will support the foot and prevent excessive pulling on the tendons. The risk of shin splints is also reduced when running on a softer surface, such as grass.

Premier physiotherapists can provide a variety of treatments, help you understand your problem, get you back to your normal activities and give advice on how you can prevent symptoms returning in the future

Pain