You can usually tell when you have injured yourself. You may even be able to tell whether your injury is mild or more serious.
The injured area will be painful, there may be swelling and bruising and you may not be able to move the area as normal or put any weight or pressure on it.
The greater the loss of function or the greater the pain, swelling and bruising the more serious the injury may be. If the injury appears to be more serious or a fracture is suspected it would be advisable to attend an A&E without delay.
An injury occurs when an action or movement stresses your joint, ligaments or muscles more than they can safely withstand and causes small to larger tears in the affected structures allowing cellular fluid and bleeding to escape into the surrounding tissue and which causes pain, inflammation, swelling and bruising. The body immediately goes into a ‘repair and protect’ mode so that there is tightening and stiffening of the injured tissue and loss of function to aid the repair process.
A few examples of injuring actions would be lifting something too heavy or awkwardly, a sudden uncontrolled movement or action such as a fall or a stumble or a direct blow. This could result in a joint sprain, a pulled muscle, deep muscle bruising etc.
The effect of the injury usually gets worse over the first 3 to 5 days before it starts settling down ie there may be increased pain and stiffness, more swelling and the bruising becomes more noticeable before it starts fading.
The advice below does not apply in the case of open wounds or lacerations.
WHAT TO DO AFTER INJURY
In the first 48 hours :
For a more significant or serious injury go to your local A&E or see your GP without delay.
For a mild or minor injury you can start self-treatment using the RICE method :
R – Rest immediately after injury and stop your normal activities
I – Ice pack – wrap around the injury for about 10 minutes. This can be done a few times a day. Your ice pack could be a bag of peas or crushed ice in a plactic bag or damp towel. Cover the ice pack with a thin towel before applying.
C – Compression – wrap a stretch bandage around the injury ensuring that it is not too tight and that the compression is comfortable and supportive. Do not keep your injury compressed for too long. It can be removed for a break and then re-applied for a few hours.
E – Elevation – Support the injured area comfortably on one to two pillows in such a way that it is above the level of your heart. You would usually be lying down comfortably.
Short term use of over the counter pain medication such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or nurofen can be helpful to ease the discomfort and reduce the inflammation. You may require other prescription medication from your GP.
If your leg has been injured and you are unable to walk on it, reducing the weight through your leg with the use of one or two crutches for a few days up to a few weeks may be helpful.
If you have injured your shoulder supporting your arm in a sling for a few days may help.
Short term use of braces and supports are useful to help protect the recovering injury.
You may need to have a break from work or normal activities depending on the severity of the injury and the impact on your life at the time.
After a few days once the pain and swelling has settled down, gentle movement of the affected area can be attempted as pain and discomfort allows.
Most acute injuries will make a good recovery provided that the RICE method and sensible self-management and care is followed.
An injury can take from 3 weeks to 3 months to recover, sometimes longer depending on severity.
Minor injuries will usually recovery on their own, but more significant injuries with greater loss of movement and function would benefit from physiotherapy as it is very effective in injury management.
• Aids tissue repair and helps the recovery process.
• Aids in restoring mobility, tissue flexibility, strength and return to normal function.
• Monitors the injury recovery progress offering reassurance and advice along the way
• Offers tailor made rehabilitation and exercises to aid full return to sport and normal activities.
An acute injury can become chronic if nothing is done during recovery to help restore mobility, flexibility and function. This could result in recurring pain, a chronic weakness