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How to treat an Acute Injury

 

For years, people have been advised complete rest following injury. The most well known acronym for the management of acute injuries is the R.I.C.E principle. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. However, in 2012 a new study was published that indicated the best care for an acute injury is now P.O.L.I.C.E. Lets explain what this means:

Protect:

Look after the site of injury, be more vigilant and conscious not to twist, turn or roll the joint. It may be helpful in this period to use crutches, braces, casts etc to allow the area to heal.

 

Optimal Loading:

This is the key difference. While rest may be beneficial in the very short term, it can lead to increased joint stiffness, muscular tightness, weakness and decreased balance and stability. Optimal loading will facilitate a healing response from your body and stimulate tissue repair. It is important to remember that this is not the case for all injuries, for example a fractured bone will need to be casted alone. However, with a simple ankle sprain you may be able to begin balance and strengthening exercises immediately. We recommend in clinic to begin loading as pain allows. Avoid living in fear of pain. You do not need to be 100% pain-free before beginning your rehabilitation journey.

 

Ice:

This is always a popular topic. Unfortunately there is no conclusive evidence that the application of ice reduces swelling post injury. We do know that it can certainly provide local pain relief by numbing the area. Please be careful with this, as over application can cause a skin burn. We recommend a 10-minute application with a cloth between the ice and your skin. If this isnโ€™t a viable option, keep moving the ice to cause some friction.

 

Compression:

Another topic where there is inconclusive evidence. However, compression is very important in conditions such a lymphoedema for reducing swelling and therefore from clinical experience we do recommend its use. Remember not to apply your compression bandage too tightly as it can restrict circulation.

 

Elevation:

A simple but very effective method of managing swelling. The aim is the keep the injured area above the level of your heart.

 

Remember, complete rest isnโ€™t always the answer. The next time you get an injury, think about the P.O.L.I.C.E principle. As always, P.O.L.I.C.E is not applicable for all injuries and we recommend seeing a professional for advice.

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