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 after an injury occurs. When you experience a brand-new injury, but don’t need the emergency room, we implement our favorite principle: 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: This is the acute phase of tissue healing, and typically lasts 4 to 5 days after the point of injury. During this period, PRICE is almost exclusively used without manual therapy or exercise. This is to allow the body to experience the full scope of the injury.

Phase 2: This is the subacute phase, and it lasts from day 5 until about the end of week 2. During this phase, your swelling and inflammation will decline. As they decline, we gradually introduce movement and activity. This is when physiotherapy comes in. Treatments 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, and is also useful in promoting circulation, for the goal of healing your tissue. Heat usually replaces ice relatively early in our treatment of injuries.

Phase 3: This is the remodelling phase. Phase 3 focuses on you regaining full range of motion and improving your strength through exercise. It is important to note that following injury, you are susceptible to re-injury for several months. During this time, your body will continue to remodel and strengthen scarred tissue to its previous functional capacity.

In general, we have recovery timelines to help us know what to expect during recovery. Even so, we can’t guarantee when an injury will recover enough for you to return to regular functioning. Everyone is different!

Since no two injuries are the same, it is important to seek the opinion and care of our physiotherapy team. They can help you to make safe, educated decisions. Click here to book an appointment online, or give us a call to get started on your recovery journey!