Let’s take a look at acute care. Please note that acute means very recent, it does not comment on severity. In this case, we’re talking about the first 3 days after injury, and that isn’t severe enough to justify A&E (or if they release you with nothing too much to worry about). If your problem is not improving after 3-4 days, then it may be time to seek a diagnosis with more specific advice and care.
The best, and most important piece of general advice (after first aid) is POLICE:
PROTECT – This may be a splint, or a brace; or it may be the application of common sense; basically, avoid aggravating factors; surprisingly enough, they can aggravate things.
OPTIMAL LOADING – Movement is essential to allow full perfusion of oxygen and nutrients (and white blood cells and serum), allow the body to actively heal itself, and minimise scar formation; this also means not to be afraid to use the injured area – let the pain guide you here; just don’t over-load things either. NB: We used to call this “Rest”, but too many people took us too literally, and assumed it meant bed rest.
ICE – Real ice is better than fake cold from gels and sprays; but often less convenient. Always wrap your ice pack in a thin layer of dry material; this prevents you getting an ice burn. For the first day or so use it in bursts of <5 minutes, repeating every 20-30 minutes. After that, use bursts of 10-15 minutes, repeating every 60-90 minutes.
COMPRESSION – Has a dual effect, it minimizes excessive oedema, by not allowing it room to expand, and provides an element of support to a joint, allowing the ligaments more rest. Don’t wear strapping for more than a few days without seeking further advice (unless it’s bandaging for an open wound, or a broken bone, obviously).
ELEVATION – Helps drain oedema, blood and lymph from the area, basically, try to keep the injured area higher than the heart so it can drain – obviously, easier with limbs than torso injuries; don’t use for more than a couple of days.
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