John's Post Injury Guidance
The most important treatment window of a soft tissue injury is the 24 hours immediately following trauma. When soft tissue is injured the blood vessels are usually damaged too. Thus, blood accumulates which causes local compression and may lead to a secondary ‘hypoxic’ injury to the surrounding area. The most appropriate way to treat an acute soft tissue injury is summarised by the letters RICE.
Whenever possible following an injury all activity should be ceased. A small amount of movement to stop things seizing up may be beneficial but this should only be within pain free range.
Immediately after the injury, ice is used to reduce tissue metabolism. There is no high quality evidence for how long, and how often to apply ice after an acute injury. I find 10 minute applications every 1-2 hours initially with a gradual reduction in frequency over the next 24hrs works well. Obviously care should be taken to avoid skin burns and nerve damage. Golden Nugget: Cold reduces blood flow by causing the vessels to constrict. If ice is applied for long enough to cause a red patch then your efforts may be counterproductive. Red indicates increased blood flow, which is what you are trying to avoid. If you keep the cold on for too long the vascular muscles may be temporarily paralyzed thus they dilate (widen) and blood flow increases.
This should be a gentle compression wrap to help minimise swelling in the area. The body has complex systems which promote inflammation. You should not work against these processes. Tight compression will, reduce the outflow of metabolic waste products, causing redness (increased blood flow!) and reduce the capacity for gentle pain free movement.
By keeping the injured area above the heart you may reduce blood flow to the area and therefore will help reduce swelling.
IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE SUSTAINED AN ACUTE INJURY (I.E BROKEN BONE, EXCESSIVE PAIN / RAPID BRUSING) IT IS ADVISED THAT YOU ATTEND A&E IMMEDIATELY.