Although treatment depends on the injury sustained, there are general treatments which can be used for many injuries.
This acronym helps to treat minor injuries such as mild sprains and strains, and is typically carried out for two to three days.
- Protection – protect the area affected from being injured even more, often by using a support.
- Rest – avoid exercise and reduce your physical activity until the injury improves.
- Ice – cool the area with an ice pack (or similar) every two to three hours, for approximately 20 minutes.
- Compression – use compression bandages throughout the day to limit any swelling.
- Elevation – where possible, keep the affected body part raised above the level of the heart.
Paracetamol can help reduce pain, whilst Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) creams and tablets, such as ibuprofen, can help reduce swelling as well as pain.
Immobilising the injury, using slings, casts or splints, for example, can help immobilise body parts whilst they heal. It can prevent further damage to the affected area by reducing movements, as well as muscle swelling, spasms and pain.
This specialised treatment involves things such as massages, manipulation and exercises which strengthen surrounding muscles and improve the range of motion, so the injured area is able to return to its normal functioning.
The most serious injuries, such as badly broken bones or even torn knee ligaments, may require surgery. This corrective surgery may be keyhole or open, and may involve crews, wires, plates or rods to fix the bones.
Recovery periods will range from a few weeks to a few months, or more, depending on the injury sustained. It is important to wait until you have fully recovered from an injury before you return to your previous activity level, but gentle movements as soon as possible are what you should aim for.
These will help to improve the injured area’s range of movement, until the pain decreases enough for you to perform stretches and exercises to strengthen the area.
Attempting to do too much too soon will only prolong your recovery time, so you should be wary of rushing back into things after an injury. Building up slowly through repetitions of basic exercises will help you to recover.
You may want to consider a sports injury specialist or physiotherapist in some instances, who can provide expert advice and recovery plans to you to aid your recovery.