Don’t Ignore the Small Stuff


There’s no way to escape it: sometimes, life just happens. We’ve all been there. A hike with one too many gopher holes might lead to a muscle sprain or strained tendon (which are really just polite medical terms for tears in your muscles or tendons). We have been trained as a society to tough out these minor injuries, and usually the thought of seeing a physical therapist doesn’t even cross our minds. However, ignoring seemingly minor injuries can lead to more serious issues down the road! For example, I got into minor bicycle accident a few years back in Missoula, MT. I like to think I’m tough, but unfortunately tough can be interchangeable with stubborn. I walked off the accident, but a few days later I couldn’t walk at all. Turns out I was having muscle spasms in my lower back, and I needed weeks of physical therapy to get back up to speed. Please, don’t be like this head-strong blogger and treat yourself right! Here are some common misconceptions about injuries where you would be better off seeking professional physical therapy.

“I’ll just ice it.”

Kristen Green, Physical Therapist at Northern Rockies Physical Therapy. Back Pain.

Northern Rockies Physical Therapist, Kristen Green, works with a patient for her back pain.

Alright, ice can help with inflammation. However, you need to careful. For example, muscle spasms shouldn’t be iced. Injuries involving connective tissue also shouldn’t be iced. Ice is good at restricting blood flow and reducing swelling, but sometimes reducing blood flow to the wrong kind of injury will do more harm than good! A physical therapist knows the difference. Different pain requires different treatment, and often times even minor injuries require physical rehabilitation to be properly healed. If you have any doubt, consult with a physical therapist to be sure you’re giving yourself the treatment you need and deserve.

“I really don’t need an evaluation, do I?”

Wrong! Sometimes a seemingly simple injury becomes more complex when you dig a little deeper. Your pain might be in your back, but the cause might be from an old ankle injury tweaking the way you walk and run! Knowing the mechanism of injury, type of pain, and other factors can be helpful in not only the treatment and healing process, but also to potentially avoid a similar situation in the future. It’s important to treat pain in the short-term, of course. But it’s even more important to discover the root cause and prevent future occurrences.

“I don’t have time for appointments or to do exercises.”

It’s hard to make time in our busy lives for something unexpected. It’s even harder, though, to live with pain long-term. If you have time to binge watch The Walking Dead or House of Cards, come on, you have time to invest in your health. Don’t let that seemingly little pain develop into something bigger and meaner. Take it from me. I ignored my injury until I couldn’t walk anymore! That made it impossible to ignore. It’s better to prevent risk of long-term complications by treating the injury correctly the first time around.

Take time to care for yourself properly – both short and long-term. A healthier life with less pain will be your reward.

Call Northern Rockies PT for an appointment with one of our physical therapists. We’re here to help!

Clay SpringmeyerClay Springmeyer is a Montana grown writer, musician, and Wilderness First Aid Instructor in Portland, OR. He studied Creative Writing and Wilderness Studies at the University of Montana.