With the winter sports season coming, it’s time for a few tips on treating soft-tissue injuries. It’s also possible to damage muscles, tendons and ligaments in the course of your normal routine at home or at work.
If you do suffer a soft-tissue injury, attend to it immediately – the first 48 hours are vital. Then, you need to rest up to fully recover before you resume normal activity, or get back into sport.
Two types of injury
Overuse injuries result when we repeatedly use one part of the body. These can happen when we overdo gardening activities, or sports, causing things like “tennis elbow”, or shin splints in runners.
Sudden injury happens when we slip and fall, or from body contact in sports, resulting in sprained ankles or torn muscles. Head injuries should be immediately assessed by a doctor.
Healing time for most soft-tissue injuries where there’s swelling, pain and bleeding (bruising), can be shortened by using the RICE treatment straight away.
- Rest – stops further damage.
- Ice – reduces inflammation, pain, and muscle spasms. Get a gel cold-pack from your pharmacy or put crushed ice or frozen peas in a damp towel and apply this to the injury.
- Compression – reduces bleeding and swelling. After applying the cold pack for 20 minutes, strap the area with a compression bandage.
- Elevation – raising the injured limb reduces bleeding.
Repeat the ice/compression treatment every few hours if possible for a couple of days.
Consult your doctor or physio if the injury does not respond to treatment, or if you have any concerns about it.
Paracetamol is an effective pain reliever for soft-tissue injuries.
Your doctor or pharmacist may recommend anti-inflammatory medicines. These can help reduce the swelling and pain associated with an injury.
- Warm up properly before activities, exercise, or sports, to prepare your body.
- Cool down following intense activity.