Should You Use Ice or Heat After Injury
The answer depends on how recently you were injured. Healing takes place in three phases – the inflammatory phase, repair phase, and remodel phase. The goal during the inflammation phase is to decrease inflammation and pain, which ice is great for helping!
In the repair phase, the goal is to improve joint motion. Ice will continue to work to decrease pain and inflammation, but heat will improve muscle elasticity and allow more joint motion, so you should use both.
In the final phase the goal is to improve strength and flexibility, which heat is best for. When using ice, only place it over the area of pain for up to 10 minutes or until you feel numb, whichever occurs first. Your doctor can help you determine which phase of healing you are in and which therapy is most appropriate for your circumstances.
Should You Wear Brace or Support After Injury
Braces and other supports are great for stabilizing joints and preventing re-injury. During the first phase of healing, the inflammatory phase, a brace is a great idea for preventing further injury or irritation to the area.
In the second phase of healing, the repair phase, a brace can be used whenever a flare-up occurs.
In the final phase of healing, a brace is actually counter-productive to the healing process and should be avoided. Your doctor can explain further based on your individual circumstances if a brace is right for you.
When Is It Safe to Return to Work or Sports After Injury
This is a very common question after an injury. The answer is based on the phases of healing. In the first phase, characterized by pain and inflammation, the best thing to do is rest and avoid activities that might aggravate your injury.
In the second phase of healing, some work or sports activity is okay, but you still need to be careful to not stress the joint while it heals.
In the third and final phase of healing, the joint needs to stress more to improve strength and long-term stability, so sports and work are generally okay. Speak with your doctor about your condition to determine what the best course of action is for you.
Will Exercise or Stretching Help Me Heal Faster
This is completely dependent on where you are at in your healing process. If you are still in the inflammatory phase of healing (the first phase) exercise and stretching can actually make you worse.
During the second phase of healing (the repair phase) some light stretching and exercises is helpful, but care needs to be taken.
In the final phase of healing (the remodel phase) stretching and strengthening around the area of injury is an important part of healing. Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting a stretching or exercise program to make sure it is right for you.