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Self Treatment for Acute Injuries

If you have injured yourself in the past 3 days you are now in the acute (sharp, sensitive, intense) inflammatory phase of your injury. The primary goal of your treatment right now is to protect the injured area reducing any further strain, pain and excess inflammation. The inflammatory response is a important and natural part of the early stages of injury and commonly causes pain and loss of range of motion – limiting the use and function of the injured area.

NEVER APPLY HEAT TO AN ACUTE INJURY- Heat application will increase local circulation, elevating local hydrostatic pressure that could lead to increased inflammation and pain.

The following is the basic biomedical procedure for treating an injury in the acute phase:

PROTECTION – Rest the injured area to encourage healing and prevent further injury, elastic wraps (tubi-grip), slings, splints and crutches may be required, especially in the case of fractures or tendinous avolution.

OPTIMAL LOADING – Stimulates tissue healing and repair as the connective tissues: bone, ligament, tendon, muscle and fascia all require some tensile force or load for optimal recovery. Short term rather than continual rest is appropriate in most cases, avoiding any activities that cause pain or increase swelling.  Long term rest may actually have a negative effect by deconditioning tissues contributing to muscular weakness, joint stiffness, tightness and a reduction in propreoceptive function or ability. Furthermore, the right amount of activity can help manage inflammation as muscular contraction helps to move oedema (swelling)  away from the area agains gravity. Finally, in some cases (fractures or tendinous avolution) bed rest (no load) is indicated as the proper load.

ICE – Now a subject of intense debate in the medical field, ice is an essential tool during the acute inflammatory phase, used to decrease pain, swelling and muscle spasm. Do not apply directly to the skin as it may burn, instead apply an ice pack, cold compress or even frozen peas to the injured area using a thin cloth as a barrier. A single application of ice to the injury should last for a no longer than a 10 minute period, but can be repeated 3-4 times per day, allowing enough time between icing for fresh blood to saturate the injured area . Warning: Never totally surround the circumference of a limb with ice, instead apply the ice pack to the area covering no more than 50% of the limb circumference.

COMPRESSION – Swelling can result in a loss of motion in the injured area or joint, compression should be applied to the injury until swelling has ceased. Elastic wraps (tubi-grip) and compression garments are best to use. Also DECOMPRESSION from the proper application of kinesiology tape can be very effective. The following basic rule for compression should be observed. Warning: never compress the injury while the area is elevated.

ELEVATION – Using the aid of gravity to reduce swelling. Raise the affected area above the level of the heart and above any joints that lie between the injury and the heart. For example a sprained ankle should be elevated above the knee that in turn is elevated higher than the hip. Elevation is especially important at night.

To continue your healing, contact us to book your appointment and we’ll keep you on the right track to a fast recovery.