If you play sports or do physical exercise, you know that immediate first aid when you are injured can bring relief and may even speed up long term healing. Experts will tell you to always remember RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Using these four steps will relieve pain, bring down swelling and aid healing when you have soft tissue injuries such as sprains, pulled muscles or strains.
Just after injury, you will likely see the affected area bruise and swell. Take the following steps:
Stop the sport or physical activity, so that your injured muscle, tendon or ligament won’t suffer any further damage. Take your weight off the affected limb. The injury will need to be fully repaired before you return to your activity.
Use a cold pack, crushed ice in a bag or a bag of frozen peas. Wrap it in a thin towel (never apply directly to your skin) and apply to the injured area for about 15 minutes. This will help numb the pain and reduce swelling. Do not apply the ice pack longer – wait for your skin to warm back up before re-icing. Life Brand offers a range of cold compresses and wraps, including the popular Life Brand Instant Cold Compress with Strap. This is a great item to keep handy for emergency use when you are away from your home and ice may not be available.
Compressing the affected area can also reduce swelling and may help with pain relief, particularly if it provides additional support to the injured part. Compression can be applied by wrapping an elastic bandage around the swollen area, such as Life Brand Elastic Bandage which is available in 4 different sizes with expansion clips to keep it in place. Just be careful though – if you feel the area throbbing or notice it is too tight, loosen the wrap a little.
Raise the injured part above the level of your heart. This helps reduce swelling. For example, lie on a sofa with a pillow or two under an injured ankle.
With this treatment plan, you should see improvement after a day or two. If you do not get reduced swelling and pain relief after 2 days, see your Doctor or even visit a hospital emergency room, depending on your symptoms.
Heat can be helpful once swelling and any bleeding have stopped. Applying moist heat to the affected area increases blood supply and can promote tissue healing. You can also do a bit of gentle stretching (don’t force it!) to help avoid stiffening as the area heals. Wait to return to your activity or engage in strengthening exercises until the area is fully healed.
Life Brand offers an extensive range of well-made supports in multiple sizes for injuries to ankles, knees, backs, arms, wrists and necks. They can all provide support while you rest an affected area during healing and some, such as the Life Brand’s Woven Knee Support Stabilizer, are also great for chronic injuries where they can help stabilize the joint.