Wear and Repair!

Repetitive strain and overuse injuries like Plantar fasciitis and carpal tunnel syndrome are very common and can cause significant disability. Many of us may suffer such an injury and the reason for its onset may seem as simple as repetitive typing on a computer keyboard. Unfortunately many of us may be prone to such injuries due to our genetic makeup and due to the type of lifestyle we lead.  This understanding can be very important in treating this type of injury because although pain and discomfort can be debilitating, for most of us our wrist, hip, shoulder or lower back is not worn out. We sometimes forget that although our bodies work in a somewhat mechanical way we still have living tissue which has the ability to heal. This healing or repair rate is mostly down to our immune system and  for a lot of people this system can be over or underactive. Therefore establishing and figuring out what has gone wrong may not be as simple as blaming the repeated task or movement.

Pain due to overload is a protective reflex and is there to alert us to the tissue tolerance level being breached. Repeated overuse of certain areas of the body beyond their threshold and an overactive healing or immune system are two factors which can drive the pain response.

Treatment therefore of this type of injury and pain can boil down to improving the tolerance of the tissue affected through graded exercise or settling down an overactive immune system. In some cases both approaches may be needed such as a steroid injection to subdue pain and inflammation and then progressive exercises to boost tissue tolerance. Overall it is always best to get a health professionals opinion who can help you formulate an action plan.

Written by Kevin Conneely MISCP Chartered Physiotherapist , 2017 

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