Ice can be applied to injuries in the form of cold pack, frozen peas, anything you can get your hands on that has been in the freezer! The cold application reduces inflammation, reduces bleeding within the tissue, and reduces pain.
Ice should be applied in intervals for the first 72hrs of an injury (20mins on, then take it off and wait until the numbness subsides, then reapply). Used with the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation), it can be the difference between playing next week, to the injury site never being ‘right’ again. This 72 hours is the most important time in a soft tissue injury. This includes and is not limited to: strains & sprains (tissue tearing), ‘corkies’ (contusions), major bruising, dislocations etc.
We hope that you also receive professional treatment in this time (or soon after) for these conditions. Going to the emergency room sometimes isn’t the best idea and I’ll explain why; In Emergency, a rolled ankle or sprained wrist are down on the list compared to a fracture, or neck injury, or to be honest, ANYTHING else.
Soft tissue injuries are non-life threatening, so you may be waiting up to 12 hours to be seen by a doctor. In that time, you may or may not have had the injury iced, elevated, compressed etc. Do you see the problem?
NOTE: If you don’t feel confident about the extent your injury; please seek professional help!!
After the first 72 hours of an injury, heat can be applied (this is in most cases – and as I said before; make sure you are getting it treated by a professional as well).
Heat increases blood flow, reduces pain caused from muscle spasm or referral pain, eases cramping, and promotes flushing of an area by causing vasodilation. You can apply heat in the form of heat packs, hot water bottles, massage, bath/shower etc.
Most muscle issues that are not in the acute (injury) stage, can be relieved with heat. E.g. headache, muscle ache or pain, cramping, sore shoulders, lower back problems etc.
So to recap:
Straight after a soft tissue injury use the RICE method:
If you are comfortable treating the initial stages by yourself, do! To avoid lengthy waits in emergency.
If in 24-72 hours the pain has not reduced at all, go to emergency (if you have followed RICE to that stage).
Seek professional help A.S.A.P. with your injury. This can vary from Massage Therapists, Myotherapists, Osteopaths etc.
DO NOT play your sport again until you have been given the OKAY by a health care professional (someone that is familiar with the progress of your injury).
Suffering from cramps or muscle spasms can be relieved with the application of heat.
Heat can also be used to treat headaches and referral pain patterns.
At Revolution, we have been trained to assess injuries using different tests and palpation techniques. We are able to treat injuries and help with returning to full function. In cases where a referral to another health care professional is required, we do not hesitate to point you in the right direction.