Total Therapy Blog

7 Signs You Should Never Ignore

If you’re like most Canadians, you’ll notice that as the weather gets nicer, your activity level increases. As activity levels increase, however, so too do injury levels. While a few aches and pains may be benign, these are 7 signs you shouldn’t ignore.

7. Redness

Although usually associated with mosquito bites or sunburns, redness is also a sign of active inflammation. If it appears over a joint or muscle, it’s a sign that the tissue underneath has been damaged, and should be brought to the attention of your family doctor or physiotherapist.

6. Swelling

Tissue edema (or swelling) is a side-effect of damaged tissue trying to increase circulation to the area to promote healing. The problem is, uncontrolled swelling can cause more damage to the hurt area. If you get swelling around a joint or over a bony area, remember your RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and check-in with your physiotherapist to get a diagnosis.

5. Aching caused by a certain type of activity

Muscle aches after activity is normal – aching in a joint is not. If running always gives you sore knees, for example, something else is going on. Abnormal wear-and-tear on a joint causes discomfort during activity, and over time, this wear-and-tear can cause premature osteoarthritis and softening of cartilage, the joints’ protective coating.

4. Discolouration

Also known as bruising, this is a sign of an acute (or “new”) injury. The purple colour of a sprained ankle is a sign that the tissue has been torn and some internal bleeding has occurred. Early care is important in these types of injuries to speed healing. A physiotherapist can employ a variety of techniques to ensure that circulation is restored to the damaged area, and that scar tissue being formed is laid down in the right orientation.

3. Tension Headaches

If you find you’re reaching for the aspirin bottle more often than not to deal with tension headaches, it’s time to seek help. Tension headaches can be caused by the tightening of certain muscles close to the back of the skull. These muscles cramp, causing a sensation of pressure that builds in the back of the neck, then spreads to the forehead. Get help to target the underlying cause by seeing someone who specializes in soft-tissue work like a massage therapist or physiotherapist.

2. Ongoing Low Back Pain

As many as 4 out of 5 Canadians will experience low back pain in their lifetime. While we might be tempted to dismiss it, this type of pain merits a closer look. Chronic back muscle spasms or cramping can indicate more serious damage, like a bulging or herniated disc.

1. Numbness and Tingling

Most of us probably wouldn’t ignore this sign, but it’s an important one to pay attention to immediately. Any numbness or tingling should be followed-up right away with your healthcare professional. Changes in sensation can be caused by a pinched nerve or herniated disc, and should be addressed immediately to avoid lingering damage.

In all of these cases, it’s important to take action. Adopting a wait-and-see attitude can lead to slower healing, or in some cases, permanent damage. Seek help early to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Don’t let aches and pains turn into a lifelong headache.

This article was contributed by our Practicing Kinesiologist, Jennifer Lyle, BSc (Kin)

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 604.437.9355 or browse through our website for more information!

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