I got asked this question today and my immediate thought was, How would I know?
Of course, I didn’t say that to the patient, but it got me thinking about people’s expectations of health professionals, especially Physiotherapists.
We don’t have all the answers. There are literally thousands of ways that people find to hurt themselves. Sometimes they’re over-enthusiastic, sometimes they’re not physically prepared, sometimes they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, and sometimes they just do stupid things!
My job is to guide recovery, to gather clues about the injury, eliminate what it can’t be, and develop a plan to return them to pain-free functional movement as quickly as possible.
To answer, I need more information, please.
What were you doing when you hurt yourself? Don’t answer ‘skiing’! I already know that.
Tell me something I don’t know like ‘I hit a tree with the point of my shoulder, or I overextended my elbow when I fell’. Tell me how long ago it happened? Exactly which part hurts? Did you hear something when it happened? Is it swollen, hot, painful when you move it?
The more information you can provide, the more accurate I can be. Experience does count. Not because I will immediately know what is wrong with you, but with 30 years of injury treatment experience to call on, I have a fair idea how bodies react to stress, and what your injury is likely to be, based on the clues you give me. Try to remember as much as you can about how and when you hurt yourself. You’re going to need as many clues as you can to narrow down an accurate diagnosis.
I also look for signs that an injury is not responding as I expect it to under the circumstances. That’s when I will suggest a diagnostic test like an Xray or MRI.
As a Physio who sees sports injuries every day, my response to this question is simple, and the same as it always is, tell me more.
If you’ve got a question about an injury, try searching our new Q&A section on lockeroomhealth.com If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, ask the question. I’ll do my best to follow your trail of clues to give my advice on what to do next.