Protection: Avoiding placing weight on or moving the affected area is vital to avoid disturbing the healing structures. This means you should not lift anything, if the upper extremity is injured, and that you should not walk on an injured lower extremity, sit cross legged or squat.
This can be achieved by using slings, splints, braces, elastic wraps or crutches, according to the area injured.
Rest: While it is true that an injured extremity needs rest, often this means 'relative rest', where movement and activity is still allowed so long as it does not stress the injured part. You can perform gentle movement of the joint within the range that is pain-free, along with isometric (static) contractions of the surrounding muscles. Both have been shown to speed up and improve healing.
Ice: Cryotherapy, or the application of cold/ice to the injured part, can reduce swelling and inflammation. This is done by using a frozen gel pack or crushed ice in a plastic bag. Always protect the skin by using a cloth over it, and discontinue if the skin remains reddish, raised and discolored more than ten minutes after use .
Keep it on for 10-15 minutes, and reapply every 2 hours.
Compress: This helps to reduce swelling while also providing support. The easiest way to apply compression is with an elastic wrap or a crepe bandage.
Apply it in a figure of eight (criss-cross) pattern starting a few inches below the injured region and work your way up. Only wrap it tight enough that you are able to slip one finger under the bandage, and loosen it while sleeping.
Elevate: Raising the injured part above the level of the heart helps drain the fluid caused by the inflammation. Since swelling is partially responsible for pain and restricted motion, elevation can speed up healing. It is especially effective in the first 24-48 hours, so elevate using pillows during as many waking hours as possible, and all throughout sleeping.
What else can I do in case of injury?
- Gentle massage in the area, gentle joint movements to drain fluid.
- Using over-the counter pain relief gels (not on broken skin).
- Static muscle contractions
- Take it easy- do not go back to doing what caused the injury immediately afterwards.
What should I definitely not do in case of an injury?
- Apply heat; this increases blood flow and will worsen the swelling, even if it feels good while doing it.
- Place ice directly on the skin, leave it on longer than 15 minutes, dip the part in ice water, or use the ice to apply deep pressure.
- Vigorous stretching, movements that are painful, or walking on an affected lower limb.
- Aggressively massage or rub the area.
- Completely avoid movement; this will slow healing, limit your activities and result in stiff joints and weak muscles if you keep doing it.
When should I see a medical professional?
- Rapid swelling that does not reduce at all over 48 hours.
- Reddish, purplish or bluish discoloration of the skin.
- Complete inability to move.
- Obvious deformity of the part.
- Numbness, pins and needles or burning pain that shoots or spreads elsewhere.
As with any other condition, early diagnosis and treatment is important for any injury to heal well.
Healyos has experienced musculoskeletal and sports physiotherapists who have successfully rehabilitated not just athletes, but people of all physical abilities and ages. Book an appointment today to get a head start on your return to activity.