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Management of Acute Injuries – follow the PRICE protocol


Management of Acute Injuries – follow the PRICE protocol

If you suffer an acute injury, such as a sprain, strain, muscle pull, or contusion, immediate first aid treatment can prevent complications and help you heal faster. The commonly recognized or golden rule of management of acute injuries is PRICE, which stands for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. The aims using these immediate first aid measures are to relieve pain, limit swelling and protect the injured part from further damage. They are applicable to all levels of injuries, whether the minor injuries that you can handle yourself, or the more severe ones that you should rush to the emergency room at the very beginning.

The PRICE Method of Acute Injury Management – Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation

Protection: Once injured, stop from the activities involved to protect the injured part from further damage.

Rest: Rest is very important to protect the injured muscle, tendon, ligament or other tissue from further injury. Resting the injured parthelps to promote effective healing. If it involves the lower limbs, weight bearing has to be limited or eliminated completely.

Ice: Cold provides a form of local anti-inflammatory treatment to the injured part. It helps to relieve pain in the short-term and limits swelling by reducing blood flow. It can be provided in the form of a cold pack, crushed ice or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a thin towel to provide cold to the injured area. An ice-cube massage is another extremely effective way to direct cold to the injured tissue. When icing injuries, never apply ice directly to the skin (unless it is moving as in ice massage) and never leave ice on an injury for more than 20 minutes at a time. Longer exposure can damage your skin and even result in frostbite.

Compression: Compression helps limit and reduce swelling, which may delay healing. Some people also experience pain relief from compression. An easy way to compress the area of the injury is to apply a tubular bandage with appropriate size. If you feel pins and needles, or if the bandage just feels too tight, remove the bandage to take a break, and re-applied sometime later.  If this does not help, change to a bigger size.

Elevation: Elevating the injured part helps control swelling. It's most effective when the injured area is raised above the level of the heart. For example, if you injure an ankle, try lying on your bed with your injured foot propped on one or two pillows.

For minor injuries, whether simple sprains, strains or contusions, your pain and swelling usually rise to a peak within the first 48-72 hours and start off reducing afterwards. If the condition does not improve as expected, make an appointment to see your doctor or go to the emergency room if you have not done so at the very beginning. Your injury may be more severe than what can imagine. Sometimes you may need the guidance or intervention of a physiotherapist if your injury does not follow the natural course of recovery.