The first treatment for most acute soft tissue injuries (bruises, strains, springs, tears) is to prevent, stop and reduce swelling. When soft tissue is damaged it swells or possibly bleeds internally. This swelling causes pain and loss of motion, which limits use of the muscles.
The primary treatment for soft tissue injuries is P.R.I.C.E. - protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Protection means to stop activity and protect the area from further damage. Rest means giving the tissues adequate time to heal. Intermittent icing during the 24 to 48 hours after a soft tissue injury often helps manage pain and inflammation. In order to prevent frostbite, be careful not to put ice directly on the skin or leave it on too long. Use a thin towel between the ice pack and your skin and apply ice for no more than twenty minutes every two hours. One study found it helpful to apply ice for ten minutes, remove it for ten minutes and put it back on for another ten minutes.
Applying compression to the injured body part with an elastic bandage or wrap helps keep swelling to a minimum.
Immediate Sports Injury Treatment Tips
Here is what you should do immediately when you sustain a sports injury:
- Stop the activity immediately.
- Apply ice to the injured part (use a bag of crushed ice or a bag of frozen vegetables) for 10 minutes. Let the area warm completely before applying ice again (to prevent frostbite).
- Wrap the injured part in a compression bandage.
- Elevate the injured part to reduce swelling.
- Get to a physician for a proper diagnosis of any serious injury.