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How to Manage an Acute Injury

Dr. Tara Brown, (Hon) BA Kin, DC, ART®, D.Ac - Doctor of Chiropractic

acute injury

An acute injury is an injury that occurs suddenly and is usually associated with trauma (i.e., breaking a bone, strain/sprains, or bruising). Whereas a chronic injury results from prolonged, repetitive motion and/or overuse. Management of acute versus chronic injuries varies. Knowing what to do when you suffer from a new or acute injury is particularly important, as it can be beneficial in speeding up the healing process.

Here are some simple steps to follow when dealing with a new injury. The best way to remember these steps is by the acronym P.R.I.C.E

P is for PROTECTION – Protect the injured area from further damage.

R is for REST – Allow the injury time to heal.

I is for ICE – Ice should be applied to an injured area as soon as possible. The 10/10/10 rule is best where you apply ice for 10 minutes, followed by 10 minutes off, then 10 minutes on again. You can continue this process until the ice pack is no longer cold. Ice works to reduce pain and slow the inflammatory process down. It is not advised that you apply heat at this time.

C is for COMPRESSION – Depending on the area of the injury, a tensor bandage may be advised. This helps to minimize swelling by preventing the build-up of fluid. The bandage should be firm but not so tight that it causes pain or interferes with your circulation.

E is for ELEVATION – If possible, raise the injured area above the level of the heart. Placing a pillow under the injured area is advised to raise the area.

NOTE: it is advised that you consult a health care professional, like a chiropractor, physiotherapist, or medical doctor, if you are unsure of the severity of your injury. The following symptoms are a guide to follow in deciding whether your injury warrants a visit to the emergency department: severe swelling and pain, visible deformities, popping or crunching when you move the injured area, inability to support any weight with the injured area, instability in a joint, trouble breathing, dizziness, or fever.

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