10. MORE FREQUENTLY EXPERIENCED INJURIES
The best thing to do in the case of any injury is to go to the nearest physiotherapist. Here in this section, however, is some advice on the injuries that pilgrims suffer most frequently on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela:
Tendinitis or pulled muscles (small tears in fibres)
- When you walk 30 km per day, carrying a rucksack, it is not unusual to suffer tendinitis or pull a muscle.
- Apply a cold pack to prevent inflammation and diminish the pain. If you use ice, do not put it directly on the skin, but place a paper of cloth between the skin and the ice to avoid burns.
- If the pain is intense, take some Paracetamol, and rub anti-inflammatory cream over the area several times a day.
- Should the area become inflamed, take an anti-inflammatory, but only ever on a full stomach.
- If you have tendinitis, seek the help of a physiotherapist in the area.
- If the injury is a pulled muscle with small tears, you must put a compression bandage on it and consult a doctor and physiotherapist to see if you are fit to continue with the rest of the journey.
Sprain (a joint injury caused by stretched or torn ligaments)
- Ankle sprains are the most commonly experienced type of sprain and they happen when you twist your ankle (normally with the foot turning inwards) because you have planted your foot badly on the ground.
- When this happens you will feel a sharp pain in the outside of your ankle.
- People normally sprain their ankles when they are walking on uneven ground, especially when walking downhill.
- If you are carrying lots of things, the excess weight will damage a ligament, maybe even causing it to tear. This would make the injury much worse even.
- You can avoid spraining your ankles by wearing boots that support the ankle adequately and, of course, by carrying as little weight as possible.
- Once you sprain the ankle, if the ligament has not torn you can put some ice on the part where it hurts and rest for a day or two. This will be enough.
- Taking an anti-inflammatory will also help you.
- A level 2 sprain (one with a partial or complete tear of the ligament) will oust you from the Camino de Santiago de Compostela and send you back on your way home. There will be no other choice.
Injury-induced arthritis, especially in lower limbs
- Micro-traumatisms in a joint can create a painful situation that may force you to stop the walk.
- They are most commonly produced in the knees following prolonged descents.
- Excessively long stages, prolonged descents (Triacastela!) and carrying a rucksack that is too heavy may lead to these injuries.
- You can try to prevent this kind of arthritis by planning stages that are not excessively long and keeping the weight of your rucksack to a minimum.
- If you suffer such an injury, treat it with anti-inflammatory and a cold pack.
- If you are careful with them, these injuries do not have to be a major problem for you, although they will certainly make the journey somewhat more painful.