#1 - STAY OFF IT You can never go wrong with a few days of immobilization. If it turns out to be a mild sprain, you've let it settle and allowed the joint to start to healing nicely. If it turns out to be a major ligament tear, we may recommend 10 days or more in a protective brace and those first couple days can be the critical ones to have it straight and still. If the joint cartilage becomes bruised from a major sprain or trauma, moving around on that bruised cartilage prolongs healing and may in fact limits overall healing potential and can cause early cartilage thinning and knee osteoarthritis. You can never go back and re-do the first couple days.
#2 - REDUCE THE PAIN Ice will also be very useful in the first few days. So stay out of the hot tub and avoid heat packs too. What about anti-inflammatory medications? Well, there is some good evidence that if there is a tendon injury, the use of these can be detrimental to the proper regeneration of the tendon, in fact - prolonged use can lead to degenerative tendon issues (tendinopathies). So talk to your doctor about what is right for you but in general, a pain relieving medication will help you get regenerative sleep and that is very important to your overall healing and health.
#3 - GET A PROPER ASSESSMENT Stay off it for a few days and keep it straight until a therapist or orthopedic specialist has given you other specific instructions. Ideally - get it assessed before major swelling sets up, but even if it is super swollen, there is still a lot that can be decided with a proper assessment. We do not require a physician referral to do an assessment. We can tell you to get moving it - or not. We can tell you to brace it - or not. We can tell you to walk on it - or not. We can also tell you if an X-ray is recommended - or not.
We promote a Rapid Return to Work & Play. All of the things you do will make a difference.
Have fun this winter!
By Melanie Tuck – Certified Athletic Therapist (Collegiate Sports Medicine, Red Deer AB)