Acute injuries can be very painful (like twisting an ankle going down the stairs, or pulling a muscle lifting something heavy).
Doing the right things in the early stages and avoiding some common no-no’s can really help.
If you have hurt yourself, the best advice is to follow the following guidelines.
In the first 48-72 hours after injury Do use R.I.C.E.R (not steamed rice…)
Ice: Using icepacks can dramatically reduce inflammation (painful, swelling and pressure) after injury. A pack of frozen peas wrapped in a damp cloth…so it feels coooooold 20 mins on, then 20 mins off, every hour. The cold also often works as a good pain reliever in an acute injury.
Compression: Prevent an injury from swelling by wrapping it in a compression bandage. Leave the bandage on removing only to ice it, so yep even wear it in bed. *Ensure that it is firm but not cutting off circulation—blue toes/fingers means it’s too tight.
Elevation: Elevate the injured body part, to avoid gravity’s effects i.e. keep an injured ankle up on a pillow above the height of your knee.
Referral: So you have done all the right things but it is still not right? Time to refer it to a physio.
The R.I.C.E.R regime also applies to a back or neck strain (when you’ve done something to cause strain).
Avoiding the following No-No’s also makes a big difference to healing time in the first 48-72 hours
Heat – Using heat packs, hot baths etc. may Increase blood flow, inflammation and bruising
Alcohol– Even a few beers, can increase the degree of swelling and inflammation
Running – This relates to any vigorous exercise that may increase the stress on the tissues and compromise the early phase of tissue healing
Massage– Is best to avoid in the initial stages of injury, as it encourages blood flow which can increase inflammation.
What about Physio??
Physiotherapists are experts in assessing Musculoskeletal injuries (it’s what we do all day, every day). Your Physio will assess an injury and help you protect it to encourage optimal healing. There may be exercises and / or positions of comfort that are helpful and your Physio will guide you in these. They will also show you what not to do….NB often stretching an injured area slows down the healing in the early stages.
Your Physio can also help decide whether an injury needs specialist input, x-rays /scans etc.