The time immediately following an arm injury can be one of confusion and questions. Below are tips and suggestions on how to best manage your neck injuries in the early post-injury period.
The goal in the first one to two weeks is to control your pain and allow normal healing to take place.
Acute arm pain is due to mechanical forces that injure pain sensitive tissues. Physiotherapists use hands-on techniques to relieve the mechanical strain, control pain and allow the injured tissues to heal naturally.
Your doctor may suggest medication to help control pain. The two most common medications are anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen with codeine. Take these medications with food. If you experience stomach pains, stop the medication and seek medical advice.
The P.R.I.C.E. Routine
|Protection||Properly applied sports tape or braces will protect the injured joint from re-injury.|
|Rest||Avoid vigorous activity.|
|Ice||To help control pain and swelling, apply an ice pack for 15 minutes every few hours.|
|Compression||An elastic bandage will help control swelling, but should not interfere with circulation.|
|Elevation||Keep your hand and arm elevated above your heart to help drain out swelling.|
|Exercise||Do fist pumping (open/close) while elevated to speed the drainage of fluids.|
Shoulder joints often lose their mobility following even minor injury. Lean over at the waist, supporting your back with the good arm resting on a table. Let the injured arm “dangle” down and have it gently swing like a pendulum, back and forth, side to side and in circle. Relax the shoulder and am and ensure no pain is felt. Repeat this for up to five minutes several times a day to maintain mobility.
At some point in the first two to four weeks you should start a graduated stretching program designed to recover your lost mobility. Stretches should be taken to the point of moderate tension, held for five to ten seconds and repeated in sets of ten. Try to perform several sets of ten throughout the day instead of many all at once. Exercises causing progressive worsening or spreading of pain should be stopped and reviewed by your Physiotherapist.
Lie on your back with your sore arm by your side. Lift the arm straight overhead leading with your thumb. Hold at the point of stiffness for 5-10 seconds. Gentle pressure can be used by the good arm but do not force movement.
Make a fist (not too tight) with the hand of your sore arm. Use your other hand to keep the fist closed and the store arm wrist flexed forward. Slowly straighten the sore arm elbow while keeping a fist and flexed wrist. Hold for 5-10 seconds short of pain.
Use your good hand to hold the palm and fingers of the sore arm. Keep your elbows straight as you pull the wrist and fingers back with the good hand. Hold for 5-10 seconds at the point of moderate tension, not pain.
Self-help Do’s and Don’ts
- Use ice to control pain and inflammation in the acute stage.
- Maintain range of arm motion, particularly at the shoulder.
- Remain as active as possible. Try to use your injured arm in normal activities of daily living, but do not aggravate your resting pain.
- Consult your Doctor. Your Physician will guide your recovery and prescribe appropriate medication and treatment.
- Stop using your sore arm for light activities of daily living.
- Use a sling. (These should only be used for brief periods when prescribed by your Doctor or Physiotherapist.)
- Force movements through pain or perform movements and activities that increase the overall resting pain such that sleep is disturbed.
If you need more help
Accurate passive movement of the joints performed by a qualified practitioner such as a “Manipulative Physiotherapist” can help restore movement and regain normal function. Techniques used should be pain-free and used for brief periods to avoid long term dependence.
This modality uses very high frequency sound waves to aid in the healing of soft tissue injuries. It is most useful in the early stages of tendon injury repair.
Resting splints and braces can help relieve the mechanical strain at your wrist, thumb and elbow. The brace must not cut off circulation and should be fitted by a Qualified Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist.