First Aid


Acute vs. Chronic Injuries | Cold Therapy | Heat Therapy |
What can Chiropractic do for auto accident injuries?|
What to do if you are involved in an auto accident? |

Acute vs. Chronic Injuries

It can be difficult to determine when to use ice and when to use heat.

Acute injuries are sudden, sharp, traumatic injuries that occur immediately (or within hours) and cause pain (possibly severe pain). Most often acute injuries result from some sort of impact or trauma such as a fall, sprain, or collision and it's pretty obvious what caused the injury.

Acute injuries also cause common signs and symptoms of injury such as pain, tenderness, redness, skin that is warm to the touch, swelling and inflammation. If you have swelling, you have an acute injury.

Chronic injuries, on the other hand, can be subtle and slow to develop. They sometimes come and go, and may cause dull pain or soreness. They often result over usage of a specific part of the body, but sometimes develop when an acute injury is not properly treated and doesn't heal.


Cold Therapy

Cold therapy with ice is the best immediate treatment for acute injuries because it reduces swelling and pain. Ice is a vaso-constrictor (it causes the blood vessels to narrow) and it limits internal bleeding at the injury site. Apply ice (wrapped in a thin towel for comfort) to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Allow the skin temperature to return to normal by waiting 30-40 minutes before icing a second or third time. You can ice an acute injury several times a day for up to three days. Ice can be continued on a less frequent basis if symptoms persist.

Cold therapy is also helpful in treating overuse injuries or chronic pain in athletes. An athlete who has chronic knee pain that increases after running may want to ice the injured area after each run to reduce or prevent inflammation.

The best way to ice an injury is with a high quality ice pack that conforms to the body part being iced. You can also get good results from a bag of frozen corn, an ice massage with water frozen in a paper cup (peel the cup down as the ice melts) or a bag of ice. You want the area to get cold but use care to avoid frostbite. Listen to your body if it feels too cold.


Heat Therapy

Heat is generally used for chronic injuries or injuries that have no inflammation, swelling or radiation. Sore, stiff, nagging muscles or joint pain/arthritis is ideal for the use of heat therapy. Athletes with chronic pain or injuries may use heat therapy before exercise to increase the elasticity of joint connective tissues and to stimulate blood flow. Heat can also help relax tight muscles or muscle spasms. Don't apply heat after exercise. After a workout, ice is the better choice on a chronic injury.

Because heat increases circulation and raises skin temperature, you should not apply heat to acute injuries or injuries that show signs of inflammation. Safely apply heat to an injury 15 to 20 minutes at a time and use enough layers between your skin and the heating source to prevent burns.

Moist heat is best, so you could try using a hot wet towel. You can buy special athletic hot packs or heating pads if you use heat often. Never leave heating pads on for more than 20 minutes at a time or while sleeping.

When in doubt ice treatment is generally a better choice. For more information be sure to ask your doctor.

What can Chiropractic do for auto accident injuries?

The auto accident that caused the whiplash in the first place may fade memory, but the physical and psychological damage of the car accident becomes chronic, eroding in a victim's quality of life. Chiropractic techniques and chiropractors' skills are particularly well-suited to relieving neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, mid back pain, numbness/tingling, low back pain, fatigue, and other debilitating effects of whiplash because they can:

Research shows effective chiropractic treatments have proved successful for thousands of auto accident patients. A Chiropractor can significantly reduce patients' distress and allow them to return to their normal activities.


What to do if you are involved in an auto accident?

Knowing who to call and what to do right after an accident protects you and your loved ones:

Severe injuries can, and often do, result from relatively low-impact force. The fact is that many people do not notice their symptoms of neck, back, arm, or leg injuries (even severe injuries) for days or even weeks after an auto accident.

The longer you wait to get examined, the longer it can take to restore your health. It is important to have a physical exam immediately following any accident, even if the accident seemed minor.

Seemingly minor spinal injuries often go undetected by routine emergency medical examinations. If left untreated, these injuries can become permanent, causing degeneration of the spine and leading to a life of constant pain.

If you have reason s to believe you or someone you know may have whiplash as the result of an auto accident, immediately stabilize and protect the head so that it cannot be exposed to further injury.

For temporary relief, apply an ice pack to the area to help reduce inflammation and decrease the pain. Apply the ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, allowing at least 30 minutes between applications.

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