Acute injury treatment
It is good to see that more and more people are feeling inspired and motivated to take up sports and other physical activities. As a result I am being contacted by more people seeking advice and treatment for injuries. Actually, this advice applies whether you injured yourself whilst playing sport or while carrying the shopping.
When the injury has just occurred it requires ACUTE treatment, usually for the following 24-48 hours.
A strain to a muscle or a tendon is a common type of acute injury. I usually generalise and call it a pulled muscle. This occurs when the tissue fibres become torn or damaged, due to overloading, twisting or stretching. This may result in heat, pain, redness, swelling and loss of function in the area.
A sprain to a ligament is another common type of acute injury. This is when fibres of a ligament, which supports the joints, are torn. This can happen when a joint is forced beyond its normal range of movement. This may result in considerable swelling, bruising and pain with any attempt to move or put pressure on the joint.
Doing the right things as soon as injury occurs will aid quicker recovery and hopefully prevent it from becoming a chronic on-going issue.
I suggest following the RICE procedure. That is Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation for the first 24 48 hours after the injury.
Rest – immediate rest from any movement of the area involved will allow the fibres to start to knit together. Rest will also allow any bleeding to stop naturally. Resist the temptation to try and use the injured part, to see if it still hurts.
Ice – ice should be applied as soon as possible, as this reduces the amount of bleeding and swelling in the tissues. Ice has a pain relieving aspect too, as it numbs the pain receptors. Reducing the pain also reduces the protective spasm around the area. A pack of frozen peas is ideal as it can be moulded to fit the area, put a layer of kitchen roll or a thin cloth between your skin and an icepack. Ice cubes can be wrapped in a wet cloth. Using an anti-inflammatory ointment on the skin whilst moving ice slowly and smoothly over the area, can be an effective combination.
The length of time to leave an icepack on depends on the area but your shouldn’t leave it on for more than twenty minutes at a time. If your skin looks red after the ice is removed, then it was on for too long. Ice the area as often as you can, just make sure that you have given enough time in between sessions for your skin to return to its normal temperature, before re-applying it.
Compression – compression or pressure should be applied over the injured area. This can be applied using a firm pad with a strapping around it to hold it in place. Compression restricts bleeding at the injury site.
Elevation – a leg or arm should be comfortably supported so that it is raised higher than the torso. This will allow gravity to assist in the removal of swelling in the area and so aid recovery.
I can give you general massage using techniques to improve lymphatic drainage which will help to reduce swelling. Massage can be very beneficial and can be given at the same time as the RICE procedure.
All acute injuries should, ideally, be seen by a medical practitioner as soon as possible.