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Swell no more: Tried and tested ways to reduce injury swelling

Author: Steve Stretton
January 11, 2021
Post In: sports injury

Even if you’re the most careful person, you’re bound to have an injury at least once in your life. This is normal, because life has taught most of us that injuries are the best teachers. Injuries, however, always come with a bonus. It’s either the excruciating pain, or the swelling that marks this or both. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the tried, tested and most effective ways that you can try to reduce swelling from an injury.

But first, in order to know how to extinguish something, we must know what it really is. Did you know that sports is one of the biggest causes of injury? For example, in the United States alone, more than 3.5 million children and teens sustain an injury from playing sports per year.

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Why does our body or body part swell when injured?

We’ve all been there before: you could be walking to work and you accidentally turn your ankle in. The next thing you know, you’ve got a swollen ankle and a bruised ego. Inflammation or swelling is the body’s response to an injury. We can consider this as our body’s first response towards healing. All the symptoms like redness, heat, pain and heat are part of the body’s initial reaction to the trauma or injury. When injury occurs, there is a rush of fluid and white blood cells movement into the affected area. This is what mainly causes the swelling. In terms of pain, the combination of chemical release and nerve compression in the affected area is what causes the painful and sore sensation. 

How can injury swelling be reduced?

Cold, not heat

First of all, it’s important to know that one element can reduce swelling: cold temperature. Never make the mistake of exposing an injured area to heat. This will make things worse. Heat encourages blood flow to any area, so this is good if you want to relax muscles and reduce stiffness. 

However, for swelling reduction, cold is your best friend. Cold therapy is also known as cryotherapy and it works by reducing blood flow to the injured area. This will reduce inflammation and swelling. The cold temperature will also numb out the painful sensation. 

You can take the following steps to reduce your injury swelling:

RICE method

If all the swelling reduction methods should be given a prize, award and commendation goes to the RICE method for being the most reliable. This has been tried and tested throughout the decades. 

Let’s assume that your injury is in the knee or ankle area. After all, most injuries do involve the lower limbs!

Sprains and dislocated kneecaps are two of the most common injuries one can sustain in the leg. The moment your injury happens, this is what you should do:

R – Rest – Rest the affected leg. If you sustained the injury via a physical activity, you must stop all rigorous movement in the leg. Do not rest any weight in the affected leg. 

I – Ice – Enter cryotherapy. You can use an ice pack, but if your pain and swelling is spread around a large area of your leg, you’re best to use a specialized pack like this leg ice pack. You can expose the injured area for up to 20 minutes at a time,  three times a day or more.

Be careful when using a makeshift ice pack or ice bag because, for one, they might still be frozen if you’ve gotten them straight out of the freezer. You will have to wait for the bag to defrost and soften a little because you’ll add more pain to an injury if you try to wrap something hard around it. Second, they may not hold the cold temperature long enough, so you may end up having to use two ice bags. 

This is why we recommend specialised leg ice packs like this. It has a patented gel pack that remains ice cold for a full 25 minutes, and most of all it is readily flexible even when you get it straight out of the freezer. It also offers complete coverage, so whether your injury is in the thigh, knee or shin, you’re covered. 

C – Compression – After icing, you must apply compression. The pressure applied to an injury helps in reducing the swelling. This is because it restricts the flow of blood and other fluids to the injured area. For compression, you can use elastic bandages. 

E – Elevate – Last, your injured area should be elevated. Put your affected leg up on an elevated stool or use pillows to prop them up. This will help decrease blood flow to the affected area, reducing the inflammation in the process.

Take ibuprofen

If you’ve done the RICE method and no improvement has occurred over the next two weeks, please consult your doctor before taking ibuprofen or any drugs. Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory ASAID. This works by reducing hormones that cause pain and swelling in the body. 

Continued rest

It’s important that the body gets adequate rest most, especially after it’s been a lot of stress from its injuries. Getting enough rest after the first day of injury will really make a difference. When the body gets injured, the immune system responds with swelling and inflammation. So even when you see improvement from doing the above methods and the swelling subsides a little, do continue to rest. Small movements are okay, but wait until your body is completely healed before resuming full activity, especially putting on weight on the affected leg. 

We hope this has helped you reduce your injury swelling. After all, all’s swell that ends well! If you have any questions regarding pain management or injury swelling reduction, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

 

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