Dealing with Acute Injuries

Acute musculoskeletal injuries can often occur unexpectedly and can be debilitating. They often leave us unable to fully participate in exercise and can be very disruptive to everyday life. By managing acute injuries correctly and efficiently, we can optimise our recovery and minimise the amount of time away from exercise.

We can follow the principles of POLICE to our injuries to aid recovery. It is always best to discuss your POLICE strategy through with an LBSM doctor as this may differ depending on your injury.

P – Protect

WHY?

To protect your injury from further damage and prevent poor healing.

HOW TO?

There are different ways of providing protection for an injured body part.

PROTECTION METHODADJUNCTS
Create a physical barrier between our body and the environmentPlaster of Paris, Boot, Splint, Bandage
Immobilise the injured area and reduce any motion going through itPlaster of Paris, Boot, Splint, Brace, Sling, Collar
Reduce the amount of force through the injured tissue (lower limbs)Crutches, Braces, Boot

HOW LONG?

We want to protect the injured limb all throughout the recovery process. But we also do not want to overprotect the area and underuse it (by excessive immobilisation).
Overprotection can itself lead to stiffness, swelling and ongoing pain. It is important to get the balance correct between protection and usage.

OL – Optimal Loading

WHY?

To encourage reactivation and healing of injured tissue and surrounding muscles through appropriate loading and exercise

HOW TO?

The type of loading that is optimal will be very dependent on the type of injury and the stage of healing. As a rule of thumb, loading will increase in force and intensity as the injured tissue recovers. The adjuncts described in PROTECT may also be used to aid optimal loading. A typical loading programme may look like:

PHASE (POST INJURY)
NB Timings are a rough guide will vary on the severity and type of injury
ACTIVITY
Acute (1 week)Non-weight bearing exercises (land-based or aqua therapy)
Sub-acute (1-2 weeks)Partial weight bearing exercise using offloading aids (aqua therapy, anti-gravity treadmill, TRX, bands)
Medium-term (2-6 weeks)Low-impact exercise (please see LBSM Low Impact training guide for more details)
Long-term (>6 weeks)Impact training and return to sport (please see LBSM Return to Sport guide for more details)

HOW LONG?

We want to optimally load our injured body part all throughout the rehabilitation cycle. This is especially important once healing is complete to ensure we do not risk reinjuring ourselves.

I – Ice

WHY?

To reduce inflammation and swelling in and around the injured area to aid recovery.

HOW TO?

Placing a cold compress such as a bag of ice or frozen peas wrapped in a towel onto the injured and inflamed area. Do this for around 15-20 minutes every couple of hours if possible.

HOW LONG?

Icing is most useful in the acute and sub-acute injury phases. If there is persistent swelling at the site of injury, icing will continue to be useful. Depending on the injury, this may last many days or weeks.

C – Compression

WHY?

To reduce inflammation and swelling in and around the injured area to aid recovery.

HOW TO?

There are different tools available to help compress an injury. This include:

  • Compression bandage (e.g. tubigrip, stockings, sleeves)
  • Compression devices and recovery pumps (e.g. Game Ready provides compression and icing combined)Soft tissue massage

HOW LONG?

Compression is most useful in the acute and subacute injury phases. If there is persistent swelling at the site of injury, compression will continue to be useful. Depending on the injury, this may last many days or weeks.

E – Elevate

WHY?

To reduce inflammation and swelling in and around the injured area to aid recovery.

HOW TO?

Elevate your injury above the level of your heart. If possible, try to maintain this elevated position while you sleep. Different elevation aids include:

  • Slings (for upper limb injuries)
  • Pillows and cushions
  • Foot stool

HOW LONG?

Elevation is most useful in the acute and subacute injury phases. If there is persistent swelling at the site of injury, elevation will continue to be useful. Depending on the injury, this may last many days or weeks.

infographic police

If you are suffering with an injury, it is always best to talk this through with the LBSM team. Please contact the LBSM team if you need any further help.

Wishing you all the best for your health and fitness.

The LBSM team.

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