Managing Pain

There are many ways to help you manage your pain. The following information is intended to complement the recommendations made by your family physician.

Some Tips for Reducing Pain

Heat or Ice?

  • Applying ice in the first 72 hours helps promote optimal healing.
  • It is recommended that you apply ice for 10 minutes, three to four times per day for up to three days. Ensure that the ice or ice pack is wrapped in a towel before application to the skin.
  • Heat should never be applied during the first two to three days. After this time, however, heat can aid in healing by increasing the blood flow.
  • Moist heat packs are preferred. If using an electric heating pad, do not leave it on for longer than 15 minutes at a time.
  • Heat packs should never be used at the same time as an analgesic rub.
  • Medication, such as painkillers, although helpful for short-term use, should not be used on a long-term basis.

How Soft Tissue Injuries Heal

  • The healing process begins immediately with the inflammatory response (swelling, redness, warmth), which is usually gone in 2 to 3 days.
  • In most cases, soft tissue injuries are completely healed in six to 12 weeks, although the pain can sometimes persist longer.
  • Maintaining light to normal activity will help to speed the healing process.

For Faster Recovery

  • Continuing normal activity and avoiding bed rest leads to the most rapid recovery from soft tissue injuries.
  • Long term use of a neck collar can weaken muscles and is not recommended.
  • Remember that most soft tissue injuries resolve quickly, so stay optimistic!

Reducing Stress

  • Stress and emotional upset can worsen pain and prolong recovery.
  • If stress is a problem for you, talk it out with someone you are close to, or tell your family doctor.
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