Athlete, Heal Thyself
Treatment for mild sports injuries
With the arrival of spring, our participation in sports and activities often increases, and that means a greater likelihood of injuries. For mild sprains, strains, bumps or bruises, the P.R.I.C.E. program is a good one to follow for the first 48 to 72 hours. The goal is to control swelling to the injured area, prevent further injury and reduce pain.
Protection: Protection of the injured area will help avoid further injury. The type of protection will vary depending on the injured area, but may include an ace bandage, aluminum splint, sling, protective tape or over-the-counter brace.
Rest: Take a break for 24 hours to let the injured area rest and recover. Your body needs time to heal the injury. For injuries to the lower extremities, crutches may be a good idea to rest the injured area. As soon as you can get through your day without pain, then begin to ease yourself back into your activities.
Ice: Use an icepack on the injured area, 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on again, and then take a break for at least 30 minutes. This will reduce swelling and inflammation by slowing blood flow to the injured area, as well as reduce pain by numbing it. Repeat as often as you can.
Compression: When the ice pack is removed, a compression wrap should be applied to the injured area. This serves as a mechanical barrier so the swelling is minimized. Compression can also provide support to a weak joint. The most commonly used compression wraps are an elastic or ace bandage.The bandage should be fairly tight but make sure it doesn’t press on nerves or cut off blood circulation. If the end of a limb turns blue, the bandage is too tight. It’s also too tight if you feel throbbing in the bandaged area. Also, don’t wear the bandage at night.
Elevation: Elevation is important to reduce the amount of blood flow to the injured area. Try to keep the injured limb raised above the level of the heart to prevent fluids from pooling in the inflamed tissues. For the lower extremities, elevate your leg by lying down and raising the injured limb on pillows.
If you think you may have suffered an acute sports injury and/or the above protocol is not effective, be sure to consult with your doctor or chiropractor.