In the early stages of acute traumatic injuries, patients are usually advised to use the R.I.C.E principle – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. However, this treatment is currently being criticized, since it has been recently suggested that rest and ice may actually delay healing. This is because ice reduces inflammation but the tissue which is damaged through trauma or vigorous exercise requires inflammation for the healing and recovery of the muscle cells and soft tissue regeneration. Ice also had a negative effect on blood flow to the area and can hinder strength, speed, endurance and coordination. Complete rest of immobilization, may also delay the healing of soft tissue since it deprives the body of the forces it requires to stimulate collagen synthesis and promote correct alignment of fibers.
The principles of M.E.A.T – Movement, Exercise, Analgesics and Treatment have been shown to be more effective when it comes to enhancing tendon and ligament healing.
Early and controlled mobilisation has been shown to increase blood flow, thereby reducing muscle wasting, disuse osteoporosis, joint adhesions and stiffness. There may also be associated improvements in pain and swelling. The results can include early return to activity and decreased risk of complications.
Strength, range of motion, and stability exercises results in increased strength of the muscles and ligaments, functional mobility and improved balance, leading to hastened return to activities and sport.
Synol and Painstop are safe and effective analgesics which control pain without interfering with the normal inflammatory processes. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as nurofen, aspirin, voltaren and cataflam are not only associated with nasty side-effects, but once again reduces the essential inflammatory component, delaying tissue healing and should be avoided.
According to Dr Ross Hauser from Caring Medical, research indicates that most effective treatment approach is to heal the injured ligament, and this can be achieved by Prolotherapy. This is because Prolotherapy injections cause a localised inflammatory response which will stimulate blood supply and collagen deposits, causing strengthening of the injured soft tissue. Physiotherapy treatment is also an essential component of the treatment approach towards acute soft tissue injury.