Acute Injury Care
An injury to any soft tissue structure (muscles, tendons, ligaments & fascia) or even a bone fracture or displacement, that has just occurred and is in the first 72 hours of recovery is what is known as an Acute injury. This is obviously a very painful and stressful time on the body and can lead to the injured person looking for immediate relief and treatment for this injury. Obviously depending on the severity of the injury and after an assessment by a medical professional, there are many helpful and empowering practices that the injured person can perform to make all the difference in preventing further injury and aid in a faster and healthier recovery.
* The current practice for all professional massage therapists is that there should be no manual manipulation or treatment performed upon an injured area within the first 72 hours.
This is because the injured area may suffer further if it is placed under more direct stress. So it is firstly recommended to please just be careful with your actions and movements over the initial 72 hours after the occurrence of the injury.
Below is a list of the home care advice that you can attempt either some or all of within the first 72 hours and beyond, as you feel you are capable of:
- Rest ~ When the afflicted area is painful as it is now, the area will need 72 hours rest so as the structure can have time to heal past this acute stage. This means no heavy loading of the injured area by walking too much upon it, going to the gym and lifting or carrying anything exceptionally heavy.
- Drink plenty of water ~ Throughout the first 72 hours the body will use and discharge a great deal of fluids for the healing process. It is very important to keep up your water intake as this will help flush the toxins and waste that the body has produced.
- Ice ~ Placing an ice pack or frozen peas over the injured structure will help to reduce pain, initially inhibit excessive inflammation and the development of scar tissue into the affected area. The latest studies and recommended use of ice (cryotherapy) for an acute injury says it is acceptable to cool an injured part for short periods soon after the injury occurs. You could apply the ice for up to 10 minutes, remove it for 20 minutes, and repeat the 10 minute application once or twice. There is no reason to apply ice more than six hours after you have injured yourself..
- Hot showers or heat application ~ It is recommended to induce blood flow to an injured structure as long as it is not a injury that is excessively bleeding either externally or internally. This can be done by either having a hot shower or the local application of heat with a hot water bottle or wheat bag. This application of heat can be performed several times throughout each day or as you feel you need. The heat applied directly onto your injured structure will dilate the blood vessels and capillaries, allowing fresh blood and oxygen to feed into the injured area and bringing along the building blocks that facilitate the healing process.
- Pain killers, anti-inflammatory creams and warming creams/gels ~ You can use these to aid in pain relief and heat creation, but don’t rely on them for too long as they are just masking the issue and are doing nothing for the healing process.
- Compression ~ If required, such as for an ankle sprain, a compression bandage or fitted elastic brace can be applied to the area to reduce the development of excessive inflammation and swelling. However, when using these kind of bandages or braces, check and monitor circulation to the extremities and loosen or disuse if there is a restriction or increase in pain or discomfort.
- Elevate ~ If possible, elevate the affected area as this will help to reduce any swelling and aid in toxin removal also.
- Stretch and begin rehabilitation ~ If the injury is severe, follow your doctor’s advice on rehabilitation. With minor injuries, you can usually begin rehabilitation the next day. You can move and use the injured part as long as the movement does not increase the pain and discomfort. You can also attempt gentle stretches of the affected area however, only perform these to where you feel comfortable and if the area is too stiff or painful, discontinue stretching and go back to resting and the other principles above.