Why consider non-surgical treatments for knee and ankle injuries
Because of the complexity of knee and ankle joints, it is fairly common to injure them during sports, exercise, and simple everyday activities like walking down stairs. You might injure your ankle or knee through a sudden trauma—a collision, getting hit by a fastball, falling, or twisting—resulting in a sprain, strain, contusion or break. We call those injuries acute. Or, you might repeat an activity often, using your knee or ankle when it hasn’t had enough time to heal from small (often painless) sprains or strains, causing an overuse injury like tendinitis or bursitis. Athletes and workers who perform the same tasks over and over are prone to overuse injuries.
If you’re suffering from knee or ankle pain, don’t assume surgery is your only option. Surgery is indeed able to restore function to some severely injured knees and ankles. It can often seem like a modern medical miracle, and it certainly has its place. But surgery always has risks and there is never a guarantee that any surgery will have the hoped for results.
We at Family Chiropractic may endorse surgery as the best option, but only after we have performed a thorough diagnosis, including physical examination and any necessary diagnostic imaging such as x-rays, or MRI’s. After diagnosis, if the patient is a candidate for non-surgical chiropractic treatment, we begin with the gentlest method, seeking to relieve pain and increase mobility. We encourage our patients to avoid all unnecessary surgery if a gentler method would achieve an equal or better outcome.
There are good reasons to consider non-surgical treatments for knee and ankle injuries. Surgery—with surgeons’, nurses’, anesthesiologists’ fees, operating room costs, recovery room costs, hospital stays, medications, pre-and-post surgery tests and consultations, and post-surgery physical and occupational therapy—almost always costs significantly more than non-surgical treatments.
When to consider non-surgical treatments for knee and ankle injuries
Many Family Chiropractic patients who suffer knee or ankle pain come to us first, before seeking other medical care, because they have developed the habit of seeking gentle, non-invasive care as their first option. So, at the first sign of knee pain or discomfort, they will make an appointment.
Other patients come to us for a second opinion after another medical provider has recommended surgery. Sometimes we confirm that surgery is required for proper healing, but in our minds, surgery is always the very last option.
When someone with a knee or ankle injury comes to our clinic for the first time, we perform a thorough examination to make sure they are a candidate for chiropractic care. If the injury and associated pain is caused by biomechanical, musculoskeletal, or nervous system dysfunction, non-invasive, non-surgical treatment might well be the best option. It’s a good idea to try gentler treatment before turning to one with more health risks.
As a chiropractor, my goal is not just to cover up the pain or mask the symptoms of the effected area, but to find and correct the root problem, restore mobility, and eliminate pain. If the patient is a candidate for chiropractic care, I apply evidence based, non-surgical treatment according to the new science of biomechanics. When it is clear I cannot help a particular patient, I refer to a medical provider who can.
What are some non-surgical treatments for knee and ankle injuries?
When someone comes to me seeking treatment for a knee or ankle injury, I generally use one or more of the following non-surgical treatments:
Adjustments of the knee or ankle work to normalize joint function through the application of specific chiropractic manipulation and mobilization techniques to areas of restricted movement. The goals are to increase movement, improve function, and reduce pain. Adjusting the knee is especially subtle, and I restore proper movement through very subtle adjustments.
Ultrasound Therapy uses sound waves above the range of human hearing to stimulate tissue. It is a form of deep heat which helps increase blood flow for tendon healing and muscle relaxation and ligament healing.
Rehabilitation is another component of non-surgical treatment. Specific exercises will strengthen and preserve proper movement of the effected joint, always with the understanding of the whole body as an integrated biomechanics system. Rehab is a conservative approach to healing, with a goal of preventing future injuries and future surgeries.
Massage can help loosen a tight calf, hamstring, or quadricep pulling on the knee, which would cause the knee to fall out of adjustment. At Family Chiropractic, we work with The Lakes Therapeutic Massage therapists, specially trained in medical massage practices, to ensure that the whole body is working together and working well for optimal mobility.
Electric Stimulation treats muscle spasms and pain by delivering impulses that make muscles contract. It has also been shown to speed the healing of postoperative wounds. We use two different electrical stimulation settings. 1 is for pain relief and swelling. It feels like tingling (pins and needles) and is a noninvasive, non analgesic treatment we use when someone is too sore for rehab or massage. We use setting 2 to relieve muscle spasms when someone doesn’t tolerate massage well.
I became a chiropractic health care provider because I, like my partners at Family Chiropractic, truly care about helping relieve people’s pain from injury or chronic conditions, so they can make the most of their lives. As health care providers, when presented with knee or ankle injuries, we always recommend the most gentle and comfortable, least invasive treatment options first, and consider surgery the last resort.
If you suffer from a knee or ankle injury and would like to explore non-surgical treatments, we hope you’ll make an appointment to see a Family Chiropractic Clinic doctor.