From time to time, we’re all faced with a minor injury that hurts but doesn’t incapacitate you. Whether it came from playing sports, exercising, or being clumsy, it needs attention. Fortunately, many acute injuries may not need long-term treatment by a doctor or professional rehabilitation. With a little know-how, you can often treat the injury in the comfort of your own home.
First, you’ll need to assess the extent of the injury. Use common sense here: if the injury is bleeding profusely, or you suspect a broken bone, head off to the emergency room. If you’re experiencing discomfort, bruising, and/or swelling, you’ll need to start the RICE process. Athletes and trainers have used this process for years to treat acute injuries: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
- Rest: Immediately following a muscle injury, the area is prone to further injury in its weakened state. The best thing you can do is rest and don’t use the muscle. Let people help you get settled so you don’t over exert yourself and cause more damage.
- Ice: As soon as possible, apply an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas to the area. This will help prevent further swelling (which causes pain) and bruising. It’s best to have two ice packs that you can rotate so they are always cold. Wrap the ice pack in a towel and apply it to the injured area for 15-20 minutes. Remove the pack and allow your skin to return to its normal temperature. Then, apply the second ice pack and start the cycle over again. Continue to do this for up to 48 hours after the injury occurred.
- Compression: Wrap the area using an elastic bandage or tape-in support brace, like a Vantelin Support Brace. The compression will prevent further swelling and gently immobilize the area to keep you from accidentally overextending it. Even after the injury has begun to heal, you can continue to use a compression brace when returning to rigorous activity. Be sure not to wear it all the time because you want the area to slowly and gently be moved and stretched.
- Elevation: After an injury, you’ll want to encourage fluid to drain away from it to prevent and reduce swelling. When possible, elevate the injury above your heart, or at the very least, keep it level with it.
The first few hours of an injury are critical, so be sure to implement the RICE method. You’ll be on the road to recovery in no time! For more health tips, or to check out tape-in supports, browse the Vantelin Supports’ website and blog.