Acute Vs Chronic Injuries

There are two different types of injuries a person can suffer: acute injuries and chronic injuries.  Acute injuries happen right away; for example, a torn ligament or a fractured wrist would be injures that occur very suddenly.  Chronic injuries are injuries that occur over time. Examples of chronic injuries are a a sore back or having aches and pains after you are finished with physical activity.  One of the most important things that you can do when you are suffering any kind of injury is to STOP what you are doing.  Never try to work through the pain.  If the injury is causing you severe pain or causing a hindrance on your daily life, go see a doctor.

Acute muscle injuries are usually caused by stretching a muscle or ligament past its normal elasticity.  After you have an injury like this, it will usually cause you some degree of pain right away.  Along with the pain will usually come bruising and swelling, and it will become very tender.  Normal use of the area will be limited for a duration of time.  As soon as you suffer an injury like this, it is important to remember the acronym R.I.C.E.  This stands for REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, and ELEVATE.  It is important to start this process as soon as possible after the injury occurs.


Rest is one of the most important steps to take after an acute injury.  Right after you suffer an injury, the injured part of your body is weak, and if you continue to put stress on that part of the body it can continue to make the injury worse.  The amount of rest can vary based on the injury and/or the individual; you want to make sure when you start activity again that there is full range of motion, no swelling, and that it is not causing you any pain.


Right after you suffer the injury, it is important that you place ice or a cooling wrap around the injury to prevent swelling.  If you are using ice, you do not want to put the ice directly against the skin because this can cause skin irritation or even frostbite.  There are cool wraps out there that will allow you to accomplish the same thing but that will not cause you any skin irritation.  Whichever method that you use, make sure that you keep the injury cool for 24-48 hours after the injury.  If you go past the the recommended period of time for this step, it can be detrimental to the healing process.


Compression is usually done with some sort of elastic or flexible wrap.  When you do this, you do not want to wrap it too tightly because you can cut off blood flow to the injured area.  Also if the bandage is wrapped too tight, you may feel increased pain, numbness, or find swelling in the area that is below the injury.  There are a few options that you can use for this step.  They include an elastic bandage, air cast or a special boot.  There are other options.  You should consult a doctor on which method is best for you.


Anytime you are sitting down, try to keep the injury elevated; you want the injured area at or above the level of the heart.  You can achieve this by using a pillow to lift the injured area higher while you are sitting or laying down.  If you can keep the injured area at or above the heart, it should help to reduce swelling.

It is important that right after an injury occurs that you do not apply heat to the injured area for at least 48-72 hours.  Heat can increase blood flow to the injured area which can cause swelling and pain to worsen.

Another item that can be useful right after a injury are ant inflammatory drugs.  These drugs include aspirin or ibuprofen.  Tylenol can help reduce pain, but it will not have any affect on the swelling.

Chronic Injuries

Chronic Injuries can also be referred to as overuse injuries.  As the name suggests, chronic injuries are usually caused by the overuse of a body part during a long duration of time.  There is usually a low amount of pain that is ignored and overlooked.  This can cause an injury that can be very difficult to heal.  An Example of chronic pain would be something like tennis elbow or tendonitis.  Chronic pain can be very frustrating and difficult to relieve the symptoms.  It may take a combination of two or three different remedies to determine a method to releive the pain.  It is important to remember chronic pain is rarely cured; it can only be managed.

The main objective with all the remedies is to reduce the pain and get the individual back to functioning normally without pain.  If you can not manage the pain with home remedies, there are a few other options of which you can discuss with your doctor.  Some of these include: nerve blockers, acupuncture, medications and surgery.  There are also less invasive procedures that include but not limited to relaxation therapy and behavior modification.

Although acute injuries are usually more painful, they are many times not as frustrating as chronic injuries.  Chronic injures can last for years.  Many will try several different methods to try and stop the pain, only to have all those methods not assist with the pain.  There is no easy solution to getting rid of chronic injuries.  On the other hand, while acute injuries can be very painful depending on the type of injury, there is usually a clear cut recovery method.  Although it may take a while before you can completely recover from the injury, many will often make a full recovery.






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