Across the board it is accepted that the most effective, primary treatment for soft tissue (muscle, ligament, tendon) injury is the R.I.C.E.(R.) protocol. So for the first 48-72 hours post injury, you should;

R is for REST. If it hurts don’t use it. Pain is the bodys way of signalling that healing needs to take place. We have to be realistic with this and accept that most of us aren’t full time athletes, and so “rest” unfortuantely will be relative to your job/daily activities etc. Certainly where possible, do not recreate the movements that cause pain.

I is for ICE. The coldness of an application of ice to the injury reduces blood flow to the area. Ensure that the Ice isn’t placed directly on the skin. Use something such as a towel  to insulate, and apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, although this can be repeated throughout the day. If the skin turns red, the ice has been on too long, or has not been insulated well enough!

C is for COMPRESSION. Putting pressure on the injured area will help in reducing swelling. This can be quite a fine line; the more pressure applied, the lower the amount of blood that can pass to the injured limb. However, cutting off the blood supply to the extremity of a limb completely can have negative effects. If the limb goes numb at all, the bandaging should be released. A tubi-grip is your safest bet.

E is for ELEVATION. Place the injury so that it is higher than the heart, where possible. As with rest, elevation is not always practical, but any time doing so is well spent and will definitely aid recovery.

(R) is for REFERAL for appropriate medical treatment. Refer the injured person (or, yourself…) to a qualified professional for precise assessment, treatment, potential ongoing care and if needs be, a rehabilitation schedule. A full recovery is then more likely. A trained Therapist will also be able to utilise Kinesiology Tape to dramtically aid in the reduction of imflamation – see http://dc-injuryclinic.co.uk/kinesiology-taping/

When this protocol has been used immediately after the occurrence of an injury, it has been shown to significantly reduce recovery time. R.I.C.E.(R.) forms the first, and arguably most important stage of injury rehabilitation, enabling the basis for a complete recovery.
24 hours after a soft tissue injury occurs, when R.I.C.E.(R). has not been used, there will be a large amount of bleeding and swelling; the application of rest, ice, compression and elevation will significantly reduced this amount of bleeding and swelling. As for anti-inflammatories, certainly for the initial R.I.C.E.(R.) period (48-72 hours), I do not recommend the need for NSAIDS. Certainly if pain relief is needed, then paracetamol should suffice.

N.B. There are no ‘one size fits all’ style quick fixes in most injury scenarios, so these article shouldnt be seen as such. They are merely guides to a better understanding of how our bodies work.

For more information please visit www.dc-injuryclinic.co.uk

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