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What’s the Goal of Sports Injury Treatment? By Jimmy Byun, the Master of Sports Disasters!

The main goal for the treatment of sports injuries, which include bruises, strains, and tears, is to prevent and reduce swelling. When you injure soft tissues such as muscles, ligaments, or tendons, they swell. You can also possibly have internal bleeding. The swelling causes pain and limits muscle movements.

The primary treatment for soft tissue injuries is defined by the acronym R.I.C.E.

R.I.C.E. stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

Let’s talk more about the R.I.C.E. Treatment:

  • Rest: When an injury happens, stop your activities right away and rest. There are two reasons why rest is important. First, rest protects the soft tissues from further injury. Second, your body needs to rest so it has the energy necessary to heal most effectively.
  • Ice: Cold provides short-term pain relief and also reduces swelling by decreasing blood flow to the injured area. Use ice bags, cold packs, or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a thin towel to provide cold to the injured area. Remember to apply ice for 15 minutes and then leave the ice off for at least 20 minutes to avoid damaging your skin.
  • Compression: Compression helps reduce swelling and pain. An easy way to do compression is to wrap a non-stick bandage such as an ACE bandage around the swollen part. If you feel throbbing or severe tightness from the bandage, remove the bandage and re-wrap the area so the bandage is a little more loose.
  • Elevation: Elevating an injury also reduces swelling by decreasing blood flow to the injured area. Raise the injured area above the level of the heart. For instance, if you injure an ankle, try lying on your bed with your foot placed on one or two pillows.

What do I do after the R.I.C.E Treatment?

Heat can be helpful in promoting healing once swelling and bleeding have stopped. Using heat early on is not recommended because heat worsens swelling.

Do gentle stretching once all swelling has subsided. Try to work the entire range of motion of the injured joint or muscle. Be careful not to go overboard with it and re-injure the area. Keep in mind that a stretch should never cause pain.

After a day or two of R.I.C.E., most sprains, strains, or other injuries should start to heal. If your pain or swelling does not decrease after 48 hours, talk to your doctor or other healthcare providers for help.

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