Here’s the scenario. You’re playing a sport like Soccer or Football, or you’re out for a run, and you slip, trip or twist your ankle. What do you do when you get home? Throw some ice on it, and stay off it for hours at a time.
For years we’ve all been using the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) for treatment of acute injuries like Sprains and Strains of soft tissues. The reasoning behind this treatment approach is to reduce inflammation and the pain and stiffness caused by inflammation. Yes, ice and Ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory medications) can help with the pain management, but our bodies need the inflammatory response to begin HEALTHY and NORMAL healing of the injured tissues.
There is a newer protocol showing positive results and gaining more mainstream acceptance for acute injury treatment. It’s called MEAT (Movement. Exercise. Analgesia. Treatment). All of these steps are to be taken with caution and be gradually progressed as tolerated. The key to these steps are to listen to your body and not to push yourself beyond your limits or that can impede tissue healing.
Controlled movement of the injured body part helps prevent the formation of adhesions (scar tissue) and increases circulation to the area. Gentle range of motion movements can and should begin immediately after the injury (although there may be very little movement possible in the early stages). Simple ankle circles or very gentle movement stretching through the affected muscles can be helpful in the early stages.
Once you are able to tolerate gentle controlled movements, you can try to push the boundaries a bit and start to encourage muscle activation. You can do this by flexing the muscles in the area as well as by incorporating low resistance strengthening of tissues. This will help to increase circulation to the injured area and will help reduce instances of muscle atrophy, disuse osteoporosis, thickened scar tissue, and joint stiffness.
Pain management is necessary with injury, but we want to make sure medication doesn’t interfere with tissue healing. Avoid the use of NSAIDS such as advil or Ibuprophen as we need some degree of inflammation to promote proper tissue healing. Other forms of analgesia can be ice (for short periods), topical creams that desensitize the area (if you do not have any open wounds) and over the counter medications such as Tylenol. Always speak to a medical professional before starting any of these treatment methods to ensure they are safe for you. Non-traditional treatment methods can also be used for analgesia such as acupuncture, electrical stimulation and/or TENS.
Corrective exercise, manual therapy, joint mobilizations, myofascial release and acupuncture are all methods of treatment that can help get you back to full function quickly and safely after an injury. Consulting with a healthcare professional such as a Physiotherapist, Chiropractor or a Registered Massage Therapist are all health professionals that can offer a treatment plan based on your injury.
Unlike muscles, your ligaments, tendons, and cartilage have poor blood supply and circulation. They don’t heal as quickly as muscle when injured. Improper or incomplete healing can easily result in chronic injury, joint instability, and pain syndromes. The MEAT approach supports tissue healing, improving your recovery and return to your pre-injury level faster.
If you have any questions about this method or would like to book an appointment with one of our experienced and highly skilled Physiotherapists, Chiropractors or Massage Therapists then contact us today.