What should I do to help my injury heal quicker?
We commonly are asked by patients what is the best thing to do for my injury? Ice vs heat, rest vs exercise, elevate or compress? Through the years many of you will have been familiar with the acronym RICE or PRICE (Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) for which there is some good evidence, however this focuses mainly on what we should do with new injuries and not as they progress beyond the first 3 days. This is a confusing topic so here are some of the current thoughts behind the advice.
The medical world moves very quickly, and as scientific research moves forward, we have new understanding of the way we feel pain and the interactions of various body systems. Anyway, although I personally am not a fan of acronyms, we have been given a few new ones to help deal with our original question. PEACE (immediate care) and LOVE (subsequent management). Briefly these not only deal with our physical recovery but also address the long overlooked psychological affects on injury.
So here it is…….
Immediately after an injury think PEACE
P – Protect
Take the affected area out of the firing line for 1 – 3 days. Restrict movement or load on the area ensuring no further aggravation or damage is caused. Please don’t completely rest beyond 3 days as this will affect overall recovery time but listen to your body and let this guide your timings.
E – Elevate
There is not a great deal of strong evidence to support the use of elevation, however, we still use it as it has some benefit and is very low risk (it also helps the acronym). Try and get the injured area above your heart to aid the flow of both blood and inflammatory fluid.
A – Avoid anti-inflammatory medication
As our tissues become injured the initial inflammatory process is actually quite a good thing, it encourages many of the early repair processes to take place. Despite their widespread use there is no strong evidence to suggest anti-inflammatories help in this early stage and to the contrary we, you are slowing the heling down which may inhibit the healing process.
C – Compress
Using compression such as a bandage or taping helps to limit oedema (excess fluid) and therefore pain.
E – Education
As therapists we aim to educate our patients about their injuries (this is why I’m writing this blog). We have recently become to understand more that the psychology of pain plays a big role in recovery and an unhelpful google search will soon have you finding a link between strawberry eating and cancer. This is why getting the right advice early during the injury process is critical, helping to avoid over-protection, worry and falling into the search for a miracle cure (I heard that adjust ones glasses can fix tennis elbow).
After the first few days have passed all you need is LOVE.
L – Load
Now we are into the phase where things are healing you need to put pressure on the tissues to aid the mechanical stresses of healing. As your body heals it needs to heal in the right way, the way you are going to be using it in the future. At this stage you should be doing movements and activities as normal but within pain limits.
O – Optimism
As I said previously psychology plays a big role in recovery. We see lots of catastrophising and fear which lead to only one thing – slower healing. Psychological barriers are thought to be one of the key factors in injuries progressing beyond 3 months.
V – Vascularisation
Blood flow to you and me. Increasing physical activity at this stage is important, if you can increase your cardiovascular rate and therefore get more blood to the area you can reduce your need for pain medication and get the injury moving to restore proper function.
E – Exercise
Returning to exercise also reduces the risk of further / future injury. Here you can start to return to previous levels of activity and ensure optimal repair as early as possible in the recovery stage.
Remember PEACE & LOVE is all you need and with a little help from us you will be back to normal as quickly as possible.
Keep active… Joe