Proper Treatment for Sports Injuries

While most people will go see a doctor after any type of sports injury is incurred, there are some that do not require a doctor to treat, and still others need to be treated in the meantime until you can get to a doctor to help the recovery process get started.  Quick treatment often means the difference between a 3-month recovery and a 12-month recovery so it is very important to start treating the injury right away.

The most common injuries that are suffered are acute injuries.  The best way to treat these is to use R.I.C.E. initially then determine if seeing a doctor is necessary.  R.I.C.E. is an acronym that is short for Rest, Ice Therapy, Compression, and Elevation.  The purpose of each step is different with rest being essential to allow the healing to begin while helping to prevent further injury to the area from occurring.  Ice Terapy is vital because it can help stop swelling in the injured area, which can help when it comes to diagnosing the injury.  Compression is important because it helps to reduce swelling even further as well as provides support for the injury.  Elevation is necessary because it reduces the flow of blood to the injured area and allows the force of gravity to pull blood away, thus reducing bruising, swelling and pain.

Proper treatment using R.I.C.E. is to first take a piece of cloth such as a town and wrap it around the injury this helps to protect the skin from irritation.  Next, you want to apply an ice pack or cold compress directly over the injured area.  Using an elastic bandage or even a support bandage to hold the ice in place carefully wrap the injured area snuggly, be careful not to wrap too tightly you are not trying to cut off the blood supply, just hold the ice in place.  You should apply ice for approximately 15 minutes every three hours during the day to continue treating. 

In the event that you cannot decide if seeing a doctor is necessary, use these rules of thumb to assist you.

If you see any bone, muscle, cartilage or ligaments then an emergency trip to the doctor is absolutely necessary. 
If the pain from the injured area seems to be spreading to other areas of the body.
If you have a very large amount of swelling in the injured area that following R.I.C.E. is not helping.
If you cannot move the injured area at all.
If you cannot feel the injured area, or if it tingles or feels very weak and fragile.
If your injury has not improved after three weeks of rest.
If your injured area has developed a rash, fever, pus, or if it feels hot to the touch.
Finally, if you have any doubts about being able to treat the injury yourself then seeing a doctor is as essential as if one of the previous conditions mentioned was visible.  You should always seek help from a doctor in the even that you are unsure how to treat the injury.  You are not bugging your doctor; rather you are ensuring that you are treated safely and quickly.

If ever in doubt, seeing your doctor is advisable to receive the best possible care.  If your doctor is unavailable, and the injury is serious, go to the emergency room and see medical help there.  Never leave a serious injury without seeking medical help as the condition can worsen causing the need for serious treatment even potentially surgery to become necessary.

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Top 5 Reasons To Use Cold Therapy

How do you know if you should be using cold therapy?

For the purpose of this article, I will be focusing on Cold Therapy…we’ll get to hot therapy in a future article.
The first thing I would always recommend is that you check with your physician to be sure you’re using the proper therapy for your condition. Using the inappropriate hot versus cold therapy can actually cause even further tissue damage.

Let me start with some basic reasons why you may want to use cold therapy and then I’ll briefly go into some of the reasons why ice therapy can be helpful.

Top 5 Reasons for Cold Therapy

  1. Pain Relief
  2. Reduction of Swelling
  3. Reduction of Blood Loss
  4. Reduction of Muscle Spasms
  5. Reduction of Cell Death

Pain relief is probably the most common use of Ice Therapy. There are several different theories as to why cold therapy is so effective for relieving pain. Like blood flow, cold seems to also slow down the electrical impulses going to your brain telling you you’re in pain. It also seems to raise the body’s threshold to tolerate pain possibly by the release of extra endorphins (the body’s natural pain reliever).

The reduction in swelling and blood loss is pretty much controlled by the same process. Cold causes the blood vessels to contract (narrow). Since excessive blood flow to the injured area causes swelling, just like a cut or a bloody nose, narrowing of the blood vessels themselves will reduce the amount of blood getting to the area of concern, thus a reduction in swelling and or bleeding.

When talking about muscle spasms, generally you think of heat, however cold can also be very effective in reducing spasms! In a number of cases, pain is actually the cause of a muscle spasm so by reducing the pain, you also reduce the muscle spasm.

As for the cell death, when you have an acute injury, cold therapy can reduce the rate of cell death by reducing the need for oxygen to the affected area by slowing down the metabolic rate.

Obviously, this is a very brief explanation and does not encompass all of the factors involved, hopefully it’s given you a little better understanding of what cold therapy can be used for and why it can be helpful.