Are you back to sport yet? With the winter sports getting well and truly underway, we start to see a rise in acute sports injuries such as ankle sprains, muscle tears and ligament injuries. So while you’re preparing for the big season ahead, here is a simple guide on the best way to manage these types of injuries when they first happen. If you know how to manage your injury you can minimise time on the sidelines and prevent the injury from occurring again in the future.
What happens when I get injured?
Your body has a natural response to acute injury which is known as the ‘acute inflammatory response’. The aim of the acute inflammatory response is to break down and then repair injured tissue. It usually lasts around 48 hours and it is a necessary response for your body to repair itself. However there are steps that should be taken to assist your body’s healing during this time and minimise pain and impaired function caused by the effects of the acute inflammatory response. Problems associated with the acute inflammatory response relate to unnecessary pain and swelling that persists beyond a useful time-frame, thus causing reduced range of movement and a prolonged recovery.
Here’s What You Should Do
- Rest – The acute inflammatory response is painful and that is your body’s way of saying “something isn’t right, stop using this part of your body for a little while”. Keeping pressure off the injured area by using crutches or a sling for example, for up to 48 hours is a good way to let healing occur. After this time it is best to start gradually moving as normal again to prevent weakness and stiffness occurring.
- Ice – For an acute sports injury, applying ice for a short amount of time such as 10 minutes every hour will help reduce pain, and minimise the amount of swelling to an area. The acute inflammatory response will cause the blood vessels near the injury to dilate and leak fluid around the affected area to help the healing cells be transported to the injury. Ice can help reduce this response. Avoid icing for longer than 15 minutes at a time as a reflex reaction occurs that can cause more swelling.
- Compression – Compress the area to avoid excess swelling by using a compression bandage or tubigrip stocking.
- Elevation – elevate the area as often as possible above the level of the heart to utilise gravity to reduce the acute inflammatory response.
What We Do for You
You should get it check out by a physiotherapist as soon as possible if symptoms persist. We can provide you with an early diagnosis and assist with the pain and swelling during the acute phase of the injury. Once the acute inflammatory response has subsided, we would provide you with a correct rehabilitation program to ensure you regain full function of the injured area and reduce the chance of the injury recurring.