Ne-nagh ne-nagh…here comes the POLICE!! (Acute injury management)
If you’re about to embark on a running adventure this weekend then it may be a good idea to keep POLICE in mind! You can leave your handcuffs at home, we’re talking about the management of acute injuries! The acronym POLICE stands for Protect, Optimally Load, Ice, Elevate and Compress. Used in the acute stage of injury, these will help reduce pain and speed up recovery. Useful to remember if you pick up an injury when there’s no chartered physiotherapist about.
Protection may involve the use of crutches, slings, bandages etc. These protect the area from further damage and allow healing. Protection is useful initially, and is essentially part of the optimal loading stage.
The previous acronym for the management of acute injuries was PRICE, where the R stood for rest. However certain injuries do not benefit from complete rest, and so the R was replaced with OL (optimal loading) to conveniently make another word..POLICE! Which is perfect as it fits in with my ne-nagh ne-nagh gag nicely!
Rest was thought for a long time to be essential in the early management of injury, and although useful initially, continued rest may cause muscle weakness, joint stiffness and longer healing times. For example in the case of an acute ankle sprain gentle movements of the ankle joint can be useful to reduce swelling and pain, where rest would prevent this. Also recent studies have shown that optimal loading plays an important role in stimulating bone, tendons, ligaments and muscles to repair. What constitutes optimal load, is tricky to define. Generically speaking it would be weight bearing/loading with minimal pain. Sometimes the optimal load may be no load at all and rest may be called for. This is very much dependent on the extent and severity of your injury.
There is a lot of controversy in physio-land regarding ice and it’s use, how long for? how often? hot cold? bag of peas vs ice bath? Etc
As a general rule;
- Ice for 10-20mins, no longer
- Protect the skin while icing, place a damp towel between the ice and your skin.
- Repeat approximately 3 times per day for the first 5days
Compression can be very useful in minimising and reducing swelling. A bandage or compression sleeve, which you can get in the pharmacy or here at the clinic, are handy ways of managing swelling and pain. When using compression ensure it is not too tight, and that blood flow is not impeded to the extremities. Wear throughout the day and remove at night.
Elevation is a simple, yet effective tool for reducing swelling and alleviating pain, and the perfect excuse for sitting down and putting your feet up…literally!
In short, if you pick up an injury think POLICE. It is a very useful tool to adopt if you sustain an acute injury, however it doesn’t replace medical assessment and treatment. If you are concerned about your injury, seek medical advice immediately or contact the clinic on 067 42837 or visit us online at www.sportplus.ie