Chronic or acute injury? An acute injury is an injury that occurs suddenly during activity, often a sprain or strain. A sprain is an injury to a ligament connecting bones – commonly caused by overstretching an ankle, knee or wrist. A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon – commonly due to overstretching and tearing the muscle or tendon.
Signs of an acute injury include:
- Sudden, severe pain
- Inability to place weight on a lower limb
- Extreme tenderness in an upper limb
- Inability to move a joint through full range of motion
- Extreme limb weakness
- Visible dislocation / break of a bone
Acute Injury Treatment
Immediate treatment of an acute injury is thought to be an important factor in determining short and long term recovery. PRICE – Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation remains one of the most recommended approaches for the management of an acute injury. The aim is to minimise hemorrhage, swelling, inflammation, cellular metabolism and pain, to provide the optimum conditions for healing to take place. Physicool combines the first four elements of PRICE in a single reusable cooling bandage:
- Protection – protect the injured area from further injury – using a support bandage if appropriate
- Rest – stop the activity that caused the injury, and rest the injured joint or muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injury.
- Ice – for the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, apply cold therapy
- Compression – compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further.
- Elevation – keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling.
A chronic injury commonly results from overusing one body area or from a long-standing condition. Common chronic injuries include arthritis, tendonitis, tennis elbow and repetitive strain injury (RSI).
Some injuries require prompt medical treatment, while others can be self-treated. You should seek advice from a health professional if:
- The injury causes severe pain, swelling, or numbness
- ~You can’t tolerate weight on the area
- The pain or dull ache of an old injury is accompanied by increased swelling or joint abnormality or instability