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Acute Injury Management

What is an acute injury?

Acute is short term and comes on quickly. Acute pain refers to any specific, sharp pain that is of rapid onset or pain that results from a specific traumatic incident such as an injury to a specific part of the body.

An acute injury is generally an injury that is severe and with sudden onset. Sprained ankles, strained backs, and fractured hands are acute injuries. Acute injury is a sudden injury that is usually associated with a traumatic event such as clashing into another player during sports or a fall from a bike. A traumatic impact can cause your bone to crack, muscles to tear or ligaments to snap. You will experience a sudden sharp pain that is often severe, immediate swelling and even cold purple regions in your body that indicates a lack of proper blood circulation in that injured part.

What you should do straight away to help

Straight after you have done the injury you should ... P.O.L.I.C.E

P.O.L.I.C.E has evolved from the acronym R.I.C.E


During the first few days after an injury, you should rest the injured joint, ligament, or muscle. After a few days, gentle motion can be started while you still maintain a level of protection for the injured area. During this time you may require some sort of assistive device, like crutches, to walk.

Optimum Loading

While you are protecting your injured body part, gentle motion can, and should, be started. For example, after a shoulder injury you should be able to progress from rest to passive ROM, active ROM, and finally, strengthening exercises. This progressive loading of your injury can help promote optimal healing of the injury. (this should be perform under the advice and supervision of your therapist)


Applying ice may help to manage the swelling around your injured muscle or joint, and ice can help decrease some of the acute pain that you may be experiencing. Apply ice straight away for 10 -15 minutes, this should be performed several times a day for the first 48 hours. You should not apply ice directly to the skin, use an ice bag like the one in the photo or use a tea towel.


While applying ice, compression can be added using an EAB bandage (stretchy bandage). Don't put the compression bandage on too tight as you will restrict blood flow and cause temporary numbness.


Elevation is simple for some body parts. An injured ankle or knee can be placed on a stack of pillows while you are lying down. An injury to your elbow or wrist requires that you elevate your entire arm on something.

Seek help from a therapist

If you have suffered an acute musculoskeletal injury like a sprain or strain, a visit to your sports therapist is a good first step in your care.

This is just advice and guidelines for the first 24-48 hours after you get injured. Please come and see us for further help.

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