Despite our best efforts – injuries can happen at any time. If you find that you’ve experienced an injury and can’t get to your chiropractor or doctor right away, there are some things you can do at home to help promote healing, ease pain and avoid further injury.
You may have heard of the R.I.C.E method before, it’s a common acronym that makes it easy to remember the steps you should take right after injuring yourself – rest, ice, compression and elevation. These simple homecare tips can greatly reduce pain and inflammation experienced after injury and prevent further damage to the area until you can see a healthcare professional like your doctor or chiropractor.
A new injury is often weakened and more prone to further injury, so resting the area is important. Additionally, much of the pain that comes from injury happens upon movement, pressure or weight-bearing so avoiding use of the injured area can help keep pain to a minimum.
While it may seem like you can quickly get back on your feet post-injury if you feel no pain or don’t notice too much swelling or inflammation, you’re actually putting yourself at risk of further damage, injury or a longer recovery.
Ice is an important part of the recovery process for the first day or so after injury. Applying a bag of crushed ice, ice pack or frozen veggies wrapped in a towel to the injured area for 20 minutes at a time can help reduce swelling and inflammation as well as help to relieve pain.
To prevent the build-up of fluid, especially in injuries to the lower limbs or arms, wrap the injured area in a compression bandage. The bandage can also provide a level of support for the injured area and keep you from moving it too much which helps with rest and recovery.
Keeping the injured area elevated above heart level can also help to reduce swelling. To do so, elevate legs or arms on pillows or the back of a couch, and use pillows to elevate the hips and glutes for injuries to those areas.
The R.I.C.E method should be used for the first 24-72 hours depending on the extent of the injury. If necessary, taking a pain reliever or anti-inflammatory such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help you manage the pain associated with your injury.
Seeing Your Chiropractor
Chiropractors see a wide range of injuries from back-related spasms and injuries to sprained ankles. If you’re sure your injury isn’t due to a fracture, visiting your chiropractor in Toronto can be a great choice for help with assessing your injury and developing a treatment plan to ensure you recover quickly and have the right tools to avoid re-injury.
Chiropractors can help at all stages of the recovery process from assessment and diagnosis of many soft tissues and sports injuries to helping you rebuild strength and prevent further injuries. In the days following an injury your chiropractor will likely focus on helping you follow the R.I.C.E. method and potentially using treatments that target swelling and aid in recovery such as cold laser therapy. As your injury heals they may begin to do gentle mobilization to encourage range of motion, prescribe gentle exercises to help you maintain flexibility, and help you rebuild strength in the muscles surrounding the area to help prevent re-injury.
When Is An Injury An Emergency?
Sometimes injuries require more immediate care, but it can sometimes be difficult to tell when an injury is an emergency. Here are some clues to help you determine if you should seek emergency care for your injury:
- Experience other symptoms not local to the site of injury such as fever, dizziness, nausea or trouble breathing.
- Severe swelling
- Visible lumps, bumps, or limbs that appear to be at odd angles.
- Unable to bear any weight.
- Severe pain.
- Joint instability.
- Audible popping, crunching or grinding when moving the area.
- Large amounts of bruising or discoloration.
If you experience any of these or are concerned that you have a broken bone, infection or other severe symptoms you should call 9-1-1 or visit the emergency department at your hospital right away.
Overall, for minor injuries, there’s a lot you can do to help ease symptoms and promote healing while you wait for an appointment with your chiropractor or doctor. Following the R.I.C.E protocol can help speed up recovery and keep you from further injuring the area. While home care is beneficial, you should always have an assessment by a chiropractor or doctor after you experience an injury to ensure proper treatment and healing.