You’ve injured yourself… now what?

Acute Knee Injury

Throbbing, sore, painful, bruised. Its hard to know what to do when all these things are happening. Do we ice or heat? Do we stretch it or rest it? Can we “run it off”?

This post is here to set the record straight on what to do when you get an injury.



First is to clear serious pathology using DR ABCD – loss of consciousness, spinal injuries and fractures take priority. Call an ambulance if the above is suspected!

The next thing to do is avoid further injury:

R: Rest – get off it!

I: Ice – 20 mins in every 2 hours to stop excessive swelling

C: Compression – with a bandage, compression stocking or brace. This will help remove fluid from the area

E: Elevation – get the injured region above the level of the heart to use gravity to your advantage in draining fluid from the area

R: Refer – Almost all injures are more complicated than they look, so get a health professional to assess the problem – physio, GP or the emergency department. Have a plan (!) before leaving the sporting grounds – if you are unsure please speak to your coach or manager.


2. Do No Harm.

Recovery time can be prolonged if the following principles are not followed:

Do Not:

H: Heat – do not use heat packs, take hot baths or rub heat creams into the injured area

A: Alcohol – consumption of alcohol will increase circulation and make the injured area more swollen

R: Running/Activities – do not resume activity until you have seen your physio or consulted a doctor

M: Massage – do not poke, prod, stretch or foam roll the area. Following a physio assessment – you will be instructed on when to safely start massaging or stretching


3. Concussion

This is arguably one of the most important injuries to be aware of. Concussion is a form of brain injury where the brain moves back and forth within the skull. It typically occurs after a collision to the head, upper body or fall from a big height.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headache
  • Changes in vision, hearing, sensation
  • Feelings of tiredness or weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Memory Loss

Symptoms can be immediate or delayed (up to hours later)!

Concussion has shown in previous cases to cause death or permanent brain damage. So if you have had a head knock, or suspect you have as you may not be feeling alright – head straight to the side line and get the first-aider/physio to assess you.

Following a concussion, the recommended rest time before returning to sport for adolescents is a minimum of 14 days. For adults it is currently a minimum of 7 days. Please consult a medical physician as soon as possible for assessment and be guided through an appropriate return to sport protocol.


Have a plan!

You’ve injured yourself – now what?

As mentioned above, call 000 or attend hospital for emergencies or presence of concussion symptoms (especially if symptoms are deteriorating).

Physio’s are experts in musculoskeletal management and will be able to quickly assess your injury and give you a plan on what to do. They will be able to give you the right advice to get you back up and running as soon as possible. Physio’s can also refer you for X-rays and MRI scans if needed and can help you consult with specialist doctors if it is indicated.


Written by Andrew Alexander, Physiotherapist

B.Physio (UON), GCMSK (LaTrobe), APAM