No pain, no gain??

FAQ!! After my injury, should I do my exercises if they are causing me pain?

I will give my general answer first, then my more specific answer. You may fit into one or both depending on your injury and progress of healing.

General Answer:

Often when recovering from an injury or surgery, no… you should not push yourself into pain. I often use this analogy with my patients;  if I were to take a knife and cut a gash/wound into my arm, how do I let that heal? Well, I would not rip at it or pull at it with a little pain regularly and expect it to heal. I would bandage it and let my body do its job of healing.

Often in early and middle stages, ‘no pain, no gain’, DOES NOT APPLY. There are pain free exercises that are recommended for almost every ailment/injury to keep you on the right track as you heal.

If you do too much, you may be ‘ripping your wound’ even more.

More specific Answer:

This is a little more difficult as hand therapists see a huge variety of trauma, injuries, surgeries and pains. But what I can tell you, is that yes, occasionally you may have discomfort or pain to get back to your normal level of function, motion, and strength.

Keep in mind, there is a fine line between stretch pain, nerve pain, joint pain, and damaging pain. Often I give exercises to my patients and they say that they are having pain. My first question is, “Are we reproducing the pain that we are treating”, or “Is it a stretch pain”, or “Is it a sharp pain”, etc.

If you are reproducing the pain that we are treating, usually it is time to back off. Other pains or feelings we can address and your therapist will let you know what you should tolerate and what you should not tolerate.  There are occasions when you will have to push your body into discomfort in order to regain your full motion or function.  This is very dependent upon your specific injury and where you are in your healing process.

For example:

After a finger fracture is completely healed you may be left without your full motion, the inability to make a fist.  There will be a time when your therapist with give you exercises and possibly splints to regain your motion.  This may cause discomfort.  The finger/s have likely been immobilised for quite some time.  The soft tissues such as the ligaments, tendons, nerves and muscle tissue will be stiff.  Think of it this way, when you sit in a particular position for an extended period of time, you will feel a bit sore when you move from that position.  Well, it is the same for joints and injured tissues that have been immobilised for probably around 4 weeks.   Your tissues are stiff and to loosen them may cause discomfort.

Communicate with your therapist; voice your concerns and questions. Write your questions down as they come to you if you need to. Make a note in your phone to remind you of your concern. Every person and injury is different and we want to assist you in returning to the best you.

Depending on your injury, your hand therapist will find the right treatment plan for you.

Steph Konstantinidis