The P.R.I.C.E. Protocol, this is where self help begins.
If you suffer from a minor injury such as a sprain, strain, muscle pull or tear, immediate first aid treatment can relieve pain, limit swelling, protect the injured soft tissue, prevent complications and help you heal faster.
The P.R.I.C.E. Method of Acute Injury Treatment
P.R.I.C.E. begins with protection. If injured, stop playing and avoid putting weight on the injured part.
Wrap it with an elastic bandage, and/or purchase a brace.
Rest is vital to protect the injured muscle, tendon, ligament or other tissue from further injury.
Without rest, soft tissue injuries will take longer to heal, and there is a risk of abnormal repair or chronic inflammation.
The period of rest should be long enough that the patient is able to use the affected limb or area with the majority of function restored and pain essentially gone.
Ice is excellent for reducing the inflammatory response and slowing the flow of pain impulses from the area.
A good method is 15 minutes of ice per hour, using a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a wet towel.
Never apply ice directly to the skin, and never leave ice on an injury for more than 15 minutes at a time.
Longer exposure may be detrimental, and can result in frostbite.
Compression helps limit and reduce the edematous swelling that results from the inflammatory process.
Although some swelling is inevitable, too much swelling results in significant loss of function, excessive pain, and eventual slowing of blood flow due to vessel restriction.
An elastic bandage is preferable because athletic tape has no give to it, and can further reduce blood flow. The fit should be snug so as to not move freely, but still allow expansion for when muscles contract and fill with blood.
Elevation uses the force of gravity to reduce swelling. Generally speaking, you want the swollen area to be higher than the heart. For a sprained ankle, for example, you could lie on the floor with your hips and knees bent and your feet up on a sofa or chair. Lying on the sofa with your feet up on the back of the sofa is not recommended because a sofa is too soft to provide adequate support for your back.
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