After an injury, if the pain, swelling, or function does not improve with self-treatment after a day (or two at the most) it’s time to call in the professionals. Today, a physical therapist may be the best choice for early evaluation and prompt intervention. Therapists are trained to diagnose, treat, and advise people with all types of injuries. These trained professionals can examine clients carefully and start treatment immediately.

They can also refer people to a physician if it is necessary. Physical therapists provide professional, fast, and effective & treatments. This is especially true in the cases of sprains, strains, or other soft tissue injuries.

You’ve probably heard of the RICE method of treatment (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) but nowadays, both doctors and physical therapists are recommending an updated method of POLICE for the first 48 hours after injuries of this type. POLICE stands for Protection, Optimum Loading, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

PROTECTION

Immediately after you’ve sustained an injury, stop using the injured body part for at least two days. By doing so, you are protecting the area from any further injury. Continued use could cause even more damage.

OPTIMUM LOADING

After you’ve rested your injury, start working in limited gentle motion into your routine. The re-introduction of slow and steady motion helps promote optimal healing and can prevent any delay in recovery by limiting muscle atrophy.

ICE

Put an ice pack covered with a lightweight cloth (think folded pillowcase) on the area for 15-20 minutes at a time. Longer periods of ice application can cause tissue damage. Repeat 4- 8 times during each 24-hour period.

COMPRESSION

Apply an elastic bandage or brace to reduce the swelling BUT be sure to check it often for any unwanted tightness that swelling may cause. If the area throbs, tingles, becomes numb, turns purple or unusually white, it is too tight!

ELEVATION

The general rule is– keep the injured area above the level of the heart. Hands and arms are easy to elevate. Foot injuries are a little more confining because you are expected to stay off it and keep it up. With leg injuries, lie down with at least two pillows under the leg.

Sources:

http://physicaltherapy.about.com/od/sportsinjuries/fl/Emergency-Treatment-for-Acute-Injuries-The-POLICE-Principle.htm