Rehabilitation aims to restore function to the musculoskeletal system and if necessary, addresses any psychosocial impediments (such as fear or anxiety) to an individual’s recovery from a disease or injury. It is a multidisciplinary field that is not owned or confined to any one profession (chiropractic, osteopathy, physiotherapy) and emphasises a patient centred approach to care.
Rehabilitation focuses on the restoration of strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination and balance, and begins as soon as pain and inflammation of an injury subsides enough, so as to reactivate an injured person, thus preventing the deconditioning syndrome and disability.
The deconditioning syndrome can include muscle weakness, loss of endurance/fatigue, joint and muscle stiffness, incoordination and poor balance. It not only affects the musculoskeletal system but also cardiovascular fitness and pain coping strategies, leading to fear-avoidance behaviour (ie someone who equates hurt with harm while performing a given task/exercise).
Even when an exact diagnosis for someone’s musculoskeletal pain remains elusive (eg disc herniation, facet joint syndrome, ligament sprain) rehabilitation can be commenced, encouraging the injured person to remain active and prevent any of the above mentioned deficits.
Integrating chiropractic and rehabilitation (ie passive and active care) ensures no stone is left unturned in the injury management process. Chiropractic is effective at reducing pain and inflammation in the acute phase of an injury, and helps to aid patient reactivation in the subacute phase. Stabilisation training can then commence, emphasising muscle endurance and co activation strategies, helping to spare the injured joint or tissue while allowing “regrooving” of ideal movement patterns. In later stages of the rehabilitation process more functional training can be implemented, focusing on strength and power.
Whether you are an injured worker (occupational athlete) or an elite sport’s person, the rehabilitation process is tantamount to both. Repetitive unvaried movements sitting in a constrained posture at work causes fatigue, repetitive strain and microtrauma. Muscular fatigue and incoordination on the playing field can also lead to microtrauma that leads to frank tearing of a muscle, tendon or ligament. Chiropractic and rehabilitation will be crucial to both scenarios in any case.