Essential First Aid for Musculoskeletal Injuries
Sprains and strains to muscles and joints happen to all of us and for most they are a painful, but temporary, reminder to be a little more careful. Prompt action can help your body to heal faster and may prevent further injury or prolonged pain.
Strained or pulled’ muscles often happen when we over exert untrained muscles, train without properly warming up or try to go beyond a joint’s natural flexibility. Sometimes we feel the pain straight away, however some injuries might not cause pain until later on.
What can you do?
Remember RICE (Relative rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). Applying these steps can help to relieve the pain of your injury and start the healing process
Relative rest: The first thing to do if you feel pain is to reduce the offending activity pain is usually your body’s way of telling you that there is something wrong that needs your attention. It can be normal to feel a little sore after exercises for a day or two, but if it is more than this, pushing through the pain is rarely beneficial. However movement stimulates the you process stay as mobile as comfortably can. Try to keep the joint moving through a comfortable range of motion, without forcing it to the point of pain. This will help to encourage blood flow and keep your joint flexible whilst it heals. This is particularly relevant for back pain as gentle exercise, such as walking, can help. You should slowly build your activity levels up as soon as your symptoms begin to resolve and as soon as you are able.
Ice: Cooling the area using an ice pack can help to reduce swelling and pain. Wrap a thin tea towel around the area so as to avoid direct skin contact and then apply the pack to the injured area for 10 15 minutes. You should repeat this several times per day for the first 72 hours. This will help to control inflammation, making it easier for your body to get blood and nutrients to the area and resolve the injured tissues.
Compression: Gently applying a compression dressing may help to temporarily support the injured joint and reduce swelling, though remove this immediately if there are signs that this is reducing the circulation to the area (numbness, pins and needles, the skin turning white or blue etc).
Elevation: If the injury is in the lower limb (knee or ankle), elevating the area a little can make it easier for your body drain fluids that might accumulate around the area, causing swelling. For example, if you’ve hurt your knee, sitting down with the knee raised on a low foot stool may ease your pain.
Seek medical attention
Seek help from your local A&E department, urgent care centre or telephone 111 for advice over the phone in the following circumstances:
– you have pain that can’t be controlled with over the counter painkillers
– you can’t put weight on the injured limb
– you experience paralysis or loss of sensation
– the swelling is very bad
How can osteopathy help with injury?
If the pain or discomfort fails to improve within a week, a visit to an osteopath may be beneficial. They will be able to assess the injury, advise you on the correct treatment and can provide some manual therapy which may help to relieve pain and correct posture. Visit our osteopathy page or book an appointment with our experienced clinical team to see how we can help you with your recovery back to health.
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