Kelly Chiropractic
        Johnsonville, Wellington

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Anti-inflammatory Drugs

When many people sprain their ankle the first thing they do is use anti-inflammatories, thinking that this is the solution to their problem. However, is the inflammation the problem?

When you sprain any joint what you are actually doing is creating a tear (usually partial tear) of the ligaments which are designed to prevent excessive movement of a joint. When a sprain occurs, your body creates an immediate response, releasing a whole raft of white blood cells, which begin the healing process. The tissue surrounding the joint swells up - it is this inflammatory process which limits further movement of the joint. The healing occurs naturally and the inflammation remains for as long as it is required.

If you use anti-inflammatories to remove the inflammation, you are taking away an essential part of the healing process. In effect you are limiting the body's ability to heal the sprain. Often people see the swollen joint and think that this is the problem, and the solution is to remove the swelling. They conclude that anti-inflammatories are the answer to the problem. This thought pattern is rife in modern medicine, I have symptoms, I don't want them, I will take drugs to make me better. The underlying assumption is that they will become healthier by taking the drugs. In actuality, they are helping their body to feel better, not to function better.

Chiropractors recognise that the body is both self-regulating and self-healing. We would rather people allow the body to do its job. Rather than take anti-inflammatories, we suggest people use a natural rehabilitation approach.

If you're not in extreme pain, the best thing you can do is naturally rehabilitate yourself. This begins with resting the joint, slowly introduce stretching, then continue with strengthening exercises. If there are functional problems then it is important to address these.

If you sprain your ankle, initially you will have to minimise the amount of weight you place on that leg. There will be a decreased range of motion for a while. As you feel you are able to, start stretching the ankle gently in all movements, but don't inflict pain on yourself. If it hurts ease off. Then once the range of motion starts returning, you will need to retrain the muscles. There are various strengthening exercises you can do.

If you sprain your back or neck, you will need to start by decreasing the amount of activity, but quickly introduce stretching. When you sprain one or more of the joints in your spine, especially if you have done it severely or repetitively, you can develop functional problems in the vertebrae, chiropractors call this "vertebral subluxation". So when you sprain your back and neck, it is wise to seek the help of a chiropractor to help you regain proper function. He or she will also recommend the best exercises for stretching and later strengthening your spine.