Sunday, August 22, 2010


Yes they are a fact of life.

Especially to those of us who regularly pursue some degree of physical activity on a regular level. We do our best to avoid them because, let's face it, injuries suck. Nobody likes to be laid up on the sidelines watching our friends have all the fun.

Unfortunately though, for most of us, an injury eventually becomes an inevitability. Be it from a momentary laps in judgment or attention. Or from some unforeseeable factor that just happens to be gunning for us, pretty much everybody is eventually going to be experiencing an injury.

A sprain is a stretching or tearing of the ligament. Which is the band of connective tissue which connects the end of one bone the the end of another. The degree of sprain indicates the amount of damage done. First degree being just a stretching of the ligament to a fifth degree which is a complete tear.  Some joints prone to sprains are knees, ankles, and wrists.

A sprain is usually caused by some form of trauma, such as a fall or blow, which knocks a joint out of alignment such as a football tackle.  Physical characteristics of a sprain generally include pain, swelling, bruising, loss of movement and instability of the affected joint.

A strain is the stretching or tearing of the muscle or tendon.  Often caused by forcing a muscle to move beyond it's normal of range of motion to contract too forcefully without proper preparation. Strains are often experienced by athletes trying to perform without warming up. As with sprains a strain can range from first degree to fifth degree and a fifth degree strain can lead to loss of function if not repaired medically. Sprains are often accompanied by pain, spasm and reduced strength and function of the affected muscle or tendon.

Treament for sprains and strains
When suffering a soft tissue injury it is important to get ice on it as soon as possible. The first 24 hours are the most crucial and ice can literally be the difference between being stiff for a couple of days or being laid up for a couple of weeks. Ice for 24 - 48 hours keeping the ice on for 20 minutes and off for 10 minutes at a time. Wrap the ice pack in a thin layer of cloth such as a t-shirt so you don't freeze the surface tissue but not so thick that you insulate the injury from the cold. If you are active  in sports it is a good idea to keep Styrofoam cups filled with water in the freezer. That way if you experience a sprain you can peel back the Styrofoam and massage the tissue.

A fracture is a crack or break in  a bone. Usually caused acute impact or sudden stress, a fracture can also be caused by repetitive stress over time. Acute fractures are generally accompanied by pain and swelling at the fracture site, a complete fracture can also be angulated or in some cases pierce the skin and stick out. If you experience a fracture immobilize the area to the best of your ability and get to the doctor as soon as possible. If a fracture is bad enough it can cut off blood supply and cause permanent damage

When experiencing any kind of injury the first thing you should do is follow the mnemonic...

This will help the healing process by immobilizing and protecting the injury so as to not make it worse, and will help control the pain and inflammation.

I recommend against using anti-inflammatory such as Advil and Aleve. These interfere with the body's natural inflammation process which is a necessary part of the body's natural healing process. Using these drugs will hamper the body's ability to heal. Ice should be used to keep the inflammation from getting out of hand and to help with the pain but I say again, except in extreme cases, stay away from drugs.

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