Athletes suffer injuries all the time. Fortunately not all of them require a trip to the emergency room or an extended visit with a physical therapist. Many smaller injuries can be handled by a knowledgeable coach.
Injuries that athletes suffer from can be classified as being either an acute injury, which happened suddenly due to some trauma or a chronic injury, which progresses slowly and can be incessant. The question that still confuses many is whether to use ice or heat to treat an injury.
When to use ice and when to use heat is determined, typically, by whether the injury is chronic or acute.
With an acute injury there are often some swelling, pain and tenderness in the affected area. If an athlete has fallen, twisted or strained a muscle these are acute injuries.
Chronic injuries are less obvious about their onset. Sometimes they are more painful than at other times and can even disappear for a while. They present with a dull pain and can be sore. They are most often associated with overuse or may be the result of an acute injury, which wasn’t accurately treated.
Ice therapy is the best treatment for an acute injury. It helps to reduce the swelling by constricting the blood vessels. Ice and complete rest for several days can take care of an acute injury. If a chronic pain is aggravated after use, and there is inflammation, the athlete should ice the area until the swelling goes down.
For a chronic injury such as a stiff muscle or joint pain in which there is no inflammation, an athlete should apply heat therapy. An athlete with a chronic injury would heat the area before use to increase the blood flow and the elasticity of the connective tissues.
Obviously, if the injury hasn’t improved in a few days the athlete may need to see their doctor and may require the assistance of a sports physical therapist in Downers Grove.
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