What Should You Do After a New Injury?

By: Eric Walper, Physiotherapist

As a Physiotherapist in Red Deer, one of the first and most common questions we address with our patients is what they can do at home to promote an efficient and safe return following a new injury. When you experience a brand-new injury and emergent care is not required, we implement the principle called: PRICE. PRICE is an acronym that stands for: Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

PRICE starts you on the right path for recovery. Below is some more information about each phase:

    1. Protect: To brace, wrap or prevent excessive force or load going through the affected area.
    2. Rest: To avoid using the affected area for any form of performance or functional use.
    3. Ice: Intermittent ice or cold therapy to prevent excessive swelling and discomfort.
    4. Compression: Once appropriate, light compression to help prevent excessive swelling.
    5. Elevation: When able, elevation of the affected limb to avoid excessive swelling due to gravity.

PRICE is a tried-and-true method that is easy to both remember and understand. Injuries typically follow a predictable recovery that goes through three phases of tissue healing. The timing for when a patient progresses beyond the PRICE model will depend on where they are in the healing process.

Phases of Healing:

Phase 1: Is referred to as the acute phase of tissue healing and typically lasts 4 – 5 days after the point of injury. During this period PRICE is almost exclusively implemented without manual therapy or exercise to allow the body to experience the full scope of the injury.

Phase 2: The subacute phase, lasts from day 5 until about the end of week 2. During this phase your swelling and inflammation will decline with a gradual reintroduction of movement and activity. Physiotherapy treatments are often implemented at this phase to include manual therapy, modalities, and light exercise. At this point in time, we will also begin to administer heat. Heat is an effective pain control strategy that is also useful in promoting circulation for the purposes of tissue healing. Heat usually replaces ice relatively early in our treatment of injuries.

Phase 3: The remodeling phase, is focused on regaining full range of motion and improving strength through exercise. It is important to note that following injury, we are susceptible to reinjury for several months as our body continues to remodel and strengthen scarred tissue to its previous functional capacity.

While we have generalized recovery timelines with expectations on recovery, we cannot rely solely on this to determine when to progress an injury towards returning to previous demands.

Since no two injuries are the same, it is important to seek the opinion and care of our Physiotherapy team in order to make safe, educated decisions. Click here to book an appointment online.