A person seeking TKR pain relief for their damaged knee

Acute Injury or Chronic Injury?

Exercising is great for your body, but sometimes, it can result in an injury that can cause mild to intense pain and strain in areas of the body. An injury can occur because of many reasons, including accidents, ill-informed training practices or poor conditioning; where possible, all three things should be managed as much as possible to reduce the chances of injury.

Footballer sustains acute injury.

Sporting injuries vary, but they are generally categorised into two groups- acute and chronic injuries. The importance of being able to distinguish between the two types is paramount, as each injury will differ in how this type is treated, their severity and impact on exercising schedules, and what will prevent it causing further damage later down the line.

Assessing the Injury

If you suspect you have a serious injury, you should go straight to A&E. The following points will help you to assess the severity of your injury and make a judgement about whether your injury needs to be seen by a professional:

  • The affected area has come up in serious swelling and is causing a lot of pain.
  • There are visible changes, for example, large lumps or limbs bent in unusual ways.
  • There are popping or crunching sounds when you move.
  • You cannot put any weight on the injured area, or you feel unstable when you do so.
  • You are struggling to catch your breath, feel dizzy or feverish.

If you are not suffering from one of the above, it may be the case that your injury is minor.

What is an Acute Injury?

Acute injuries present themselves suddenly and are typically linked with a trauma; for example, tearing a muscle or bruising. Acute injuries can also appear after players crash into one another and take a fall.

Acute injuries are known more commonly as sprains and strains.

A sprain is an injury to a ligament connecting bones – usually 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.

To tackle acute injuries, the body will utilise inflammation around the problem area to repair the damaged tissues. This results in most of the following symptoms appearing around two weeks after the injury has occurred.

Signs of an acute injury include:

– Sudden, severe pain

– Swelling

– 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


PRICEProtection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation remains one of the most recommended approaches for the management of an acute injury. The aim is to minimise haemorrhage, swelling, inflammation, cellular metabolism and pain, to provide the optimum conditions for healing to take place.

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. Rest helps to begin the healing process as your body works to heal it. The injured part of your body will be weak and vulnerable, therefore, it is imperative to five your body a chance to do its job!

Ice – for the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, apply cooling bandages to improve the healing process. Cooling therapy is usually most effective in the first two days after the injury has been sustained, therefore, highlighting the importance of having Physicool products at the ready! Cooling products work by relieving the pain in the problem area and reducing the swelling.

Compression – compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further. Compression helps to prevent the build-up of fluid in the affected area; just remember, to apply the bandages firmly around the injury but not too tightly that it would be uncomfortable and prevent the normal and necessary blood flow to the area.

Elevation – keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling. Try and relax, as well as keep the injury elevated above the level of your heart. This helps to minimise the swelling as it will encourage the fluid to drain away from the problem area. If raising the injured area above your heart causes difficulties, try to keep it around the same level to help encourage the same process.

Athlete seeks medical advice for a shoulder injury.

How Can Physicool Help an Acute Injury?

Physicool’s scientifically tested bandages work through the science of evaporation to draw heat out of the injury, reducing the swelling and the pain. The bandages can be applied for 30-minutes to two hours, depending on the injury, and is completely reusable if re-fuelled with our cooling liquid. Not only does Physicool provide the cold therapy of the ‘ice’ stage of PRICE, but also compression, which can limit the swelling and any further damage. Our bandages can be used by adults and children on a wide range of injuries; visit our injury guides page to find out more.

What is a Chronic Injury?

A chronic injury commonly results from overusing one body area or from a long-standing condition. These types of injuries are common in many endurance sports such as cycling, running and swimming, but can even present themselves from as spending too long on a computer. Because of their nature, they are sometimes referred to as overuse injuries because they occur in body parts that are used a lot whilst playing a sport or by exercising for an extended period of time.

Common chronic injuries include arthritis, tendonitis, tennis elbow, repetitive strain injury (RSI) and runner’s knee. These injuries can be linked to incorrect training techniques, pushing your body too fast or even by over-extending your body in a certain motion during a sporting activity.

Signs of a chronic injury include:

– Swelling

– Tenderness to a limb

– Long-lasting pain

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

Chronic Injury Treatment

Chronic injuries happen more frequently than acute injuries in almost every sport; however, because chronic injuries are not as immobilising and sudden as acute ones, they are often overlooked by the individual.

If you think you may be suffering from a chronic injury, it is crucial that you seek the advice of a healthcare professional, as delays in treatment can lead to a more serious injury. This should particularly be the case if you are suffering from swelling, bruising, discolouration or pain.

Management of chronic injuries include the Rest and Ice; however, many chronic injuries will need the use of medication and physical therapy to be resolved. Always seek the advice of trained medical practitioners.

When it comes to chronic injuries, the most important part of managing a chronic injury is preventing its chances of recurrence. Chronic (i.e. overuse injuries) are often the result of muscle fatigue. During this time, the muscle will tighten and can be subject to damage to the structure, with spasms and shortening in the muscle itself, leaving the muscle weak and susceptible to another injury.

To avoid recurrence of a chronic injury, ensure you wear the right gear and follow warm-up and cool-down procedures both before and after the exercise.

Woman running.

How Can Physicool Help a Chronic Injury?

Working to reduce the inflammation and keep the pain to a minimum, our bandages draw heat away from the skin, helping you to recover faster. These bandages are completely reusable and can be used before and after exercise, as well as during your physical therapy. Bandage A is suitable for smaller injuries to body parts such as the ankle, wrist and elbow, while Bandage B is better for the larger injuries such as the knee or the back. Speed up your sports injury treatment and get back to what you love to do faster with Physicool.

For more advice, head over to our blog or take a look at our in-depth injury guide below. Also, be sure to visit our shop to discover our range of cooling products!

Injury Guides

Head Injuries and Migraines
Back Injuries
Shoulder Injuries
Arm and Elbow Injuries
Wrist and Hand Injuries
Hip and Groin Injuries
Leg Injuries
Knee Injuries
Foot, Ankle and Heel Injuries

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