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Sports Injuries: Pain Management and Treatment

For those who participate in sports, bruises, muscle strains, and ligament sprains are unfortunately not uncommon. When the body experiences such an injury, its immediate response is inflammation. Inflammation is the first step in the healing process and it causes pain to the individual experiencing the injury.

When an injury occurs, the body experiences trauma that causes soft tissue cells to either be damaged or to die. When this happens, the dead or damaged cells release chemicals into the tissue, which causes inflammation. As a result, small blood vessels are opened and bleeding occurs within the soft tissue that is experiencing the trauma. Therefore, swelling occurs. In response, a small blood clot is formed within the tissue, which stops the bleeding and produces scar tissue, thus initiating the healing process.

Proper care must be taken to assist the injury in healing, otherwise it will get worse. In general, healing treatment for a traumatic injury follows a five-step process, which has popularly been given the acronym PRICE.

Protection  >  Rest  >  Ice  >  Compression  >  Elevation

In almost all cases, health care professionals treating injuries will utilize this trajectory of treatment. Further details on each of these steps may be found below.

In order to prevent an injury from getting worse, the afflicted area must be protected from coming into any further damage. A common way to think about an area being protected is the use of a cast on an injured area. A cast literally builds a wall around the injured area, protecting it from coming into any contact with the outside world while the injury heals.

Of course, an athlete who has been injured while engaging in sports contact will be told to abstain from any such contact while the injury is healing. However, it is not just sports that the individual will need to shy away from engaging in. Depending on the injury, the individual may be asked to keep the injured area completely resting. For example, a foot injury may result in an inability to walk for a particular period of time.

Icing an injury, also known as ice therapy, is a form of treatment that is utilized by many athletes. Ice has long been used for pain management, but few people understand why. In actuality, ice slows down the dispatch of pain signals from nerve endings to the brain. Blood vessels also constrict in the presence of ice, which slows down the blood flow to the harmed tissue. Ice also slows down metabolic reactions that cause inflammation.

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