Movement should be restricted in musculoskeletal injuries, in particular when a severe injury has occurred. If the injury is minor, however, beginning rehabilitation as soon as possible may actually hasten recovery. Always ensure pain or discomfort is not increased with movement.
Cold application decreases swelling, pain, and congestion in the inflamed or injured area. Cooling an injured area is acceptable for short periods to provide relief, keeping application times to no longer than 10 minutes. After a 20 minute break, this process may be repeated once or twice. Keep in mind that ice causes blood vessels to constrict, which prevents the cells important for inflammation and healing to get to the area.
Direct pressure reduces vasodilating effects and the development of edema, along with compression bandages that provide support to injured joints, tendons, and muscles. The application of compression in these instances should be applied by a trainer, coach or doctor familiar with these injuries. Specific compression and tension is required to avoid further injury.
When an extremity is elevated above the level of the heart, edema is reduced at the injury site by increasing venous and lymphatic return.
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