This is a complicated one. From my experience, there are some conditions that are very stubborn to treat. For example, tennis elbow is very easy to diagnose but usually involves a really frustrating recovery. There are many reasons why that is the case. Let’s go through some.
1. Limiting activity:
I spend half my days trying to convince people not to do things. Most conditions have aggravating activities. Avoiding these activities to a certain extent is key to a fast recovery. Some conditions, such as our tennis elbow example, are aggravated by virtually everything we do. Try to not use your hand for anything. It’s not practical. Unfortunately, it’s the same reason why conditions can linger. Another good example of one of these conditions is plantar fasciitis. Try not walking for moderate distances. Again, it’s not practical. What should you do in these cases? Well, braces and supportive devices, such as orthotics would help, but you will still have to moderate your activity.
2. Blood supply:
Some structures are slow healers because they have a poor blood supply. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients. This is important if you want to heal fast. Large muscle groups usually have a good blood supply, knee cartilage or some shoulder tendons do not. What to do in this case? Besides pray it’s not one of these structures, get some rest and eat well. This creates an optimal environment for healing.
3. Muscle strength:
Joints need good muscle strength to allow them to work and move correctly. I have treated injuries that have healed very well but the patient may not have enough muscle strength once healed to move without pain. Good examples of these are knee injuries and shoulder injuries. They often will present with significant weakness in key muscles groups after they have been injured. What to do in theses cases? Listen to your physiotherapist and do your exercises. It will take some time to build up strength but be persistent and you will see results; pain relief.
These are some (definitely not all) common reasons why some injuries won’t go away as fast as you would have hoped. Early treatment is key to all of the above situations. The earlier you start, the better the results.
– Tony Vu, Physiotherapist