As part of the inflammatory response, swelling is the body’s natural reaction to an injury. The excess fluid produced by the body helps protect damaged tissues from further injury. However, although a certain amount of swelling is unavoidable, it’s important to do what you can to control the process for these important reasons:
- Too much swelling can slow down healing.
- Untreated inflammation can lead to even more swelling.
- Excess swelling can be uncomfortable and sometimes limits range of motion.
Understanding how to reduce swelling is the first step to reducing inflammation and ensuring that your body has every opportunity to quickly heal itself.
How to Reduce Swelling After an Injury
There are several methods you can use to help control the body’s natural inflammatory response. Use any or all of these five tips to reduce swelling:
Using an injured body part will contribute to swelling by encouraging blood flow and irritating damaged cells. For example, trying to walk after an ankle sprain will cause additional excess fluid to build up as your body continues to protect the damaged tissues. Although it may be tempting to try and continue normal activity after an injury, it’s usually a good idea to rest the area for at least a few days.
2. Cold Therapy
Applying cold to an injury helps reduce swelling by restricting blood flow to the area and slowing down cellular metabolism. You can use ice packs, cold therapy systems, ice baths, or cryotherapy chambers to deliver cold to the affected area. Apply cold several times a day for 20 to 30 minutes at a time to keep swelling down, especially in the first several days after an injury.
Applying pressure to an injury helps reduce swelling by restricting the flow of blood and other fluids. You can apply compression with static bandages, elastic bandages, or cold compression devices. When using static or elastic bandages, adjust the pressure as necessary to make sure they provide enough compression without being too constrictive. As swelling increases and decreases, you should adjust the bandages accordingly.
Elevating an injury above the level of the heart also contributes to reduced blood flow and, therefore, less swelling. With leg injuries, it’s important to keep the legs elevated while seated or reclining so that excess fluid is not allowed to collect around the injury. Comfortably elevate injured areas while sleeping by using soft pillows as props.
Medications like NSAIDs can help reduce inflammation in the body and alleviate pain caused by an injury. Always follow the dosage guidelines and ask your doctor about potential interactions with other medications. In some cases, NSAIDs can cause undesirable side effects, so limiting their use is generally recommended.
You can get the most benefit from cold and compression by combining the two in a system that delivers consistent cold while helping your body to pump excess fluid away from the injured area. The Game Ready cold therapy system can be used after an injury to help control pain, reduce swelling, and accelerate the healing process. Contact us today to learn more about using Game Ready for injury recovery.