How to best manage mild, non-traumatic soft tissue injury?
Most folks are familiar with the traditional principles to manage acute (non-traumatic) soft tissue-related injury as the following; R.I.C.E.: rest, ice, compress, elevate. These principles have served us well in the past to manage acute injuries such as sprains and strains. However, newer research and treatment protocols show that R.I.C.E misses some critical aspects of managing soft tissue-related injury. Current evidence-based research (Dubois and Esculier (2019)) proposed a new acronym to optimize recovery from nontraumatic soft tissue-related injury: P.E.A.C.E. and L.O.V.E. PEACE and LOVE include more comprehensive approaches for acute management to longer-term recovery from soft tissue-related injury.
PEACE: for immediate injury treatment.
Unload or decrease movement for a few days; however, minimize the rest period and let pain guide return to use and reloading.
Elevate to help promote fluid flow into and out of the affected area.
A=Avoid Anti-inflammatory modalities
The inflammation process is hugely helpful as it's our body's way of healing itself.
Anti-inflammatory medications: can inhibit the inflammatory process and delay or impair healing; they also can give us a false sense of pain relief, causing us to overdo it too soon.
Ice: the use of ice is primarily to provide pain relief. However, newer evidence shows that ice disrupts the inflammatory process and can cause more tissue-related damage when misused.
Taping or loose bandaging can help support the joint/tissues in the short term and provide gentle external stability while the area is healing.
Your body is resilient and hugely capable; listen to it! Let your symptoms help guide your recovery. Taking an active approach to recovery has been proven to far surpass passive treatments. Be sure to see a physical therapist for help/treatment if symptoms persist for more than a few days.
LOVE: to be used 1-3 days post-injury.
Movement and exercise: normal activities should be resumed as symptoms allow. Early and gentle loading can help facilitate faster healing when we respect pain.
Our brain is often a significant barrier when recovering from injury, and psychosocial factors play a huge role in recovery. Having a positive outlook about healing and return to activity can hugely help speed up the healing process.
Return to pain-free cardiovascular activity helps improve blood flow to injured tissues, which helps promote the healing process. Return to activity also improves overall physical function, mood, and can help reduce pain.
Exercise improves mobility, strength, and stability in an affected area; it is also an effective mood booster. Pain should serve as a guide to return to exercise.
Our goal is to promote healthy habits and train strong, resilient bodies to prevent injuries. However, with avid recreation enthusiasm comes a slight risk for injury; if you should find yourself with a minor strain or sprain, treat yourself with PEACE and LOVE and be sure to call us for help should symptoms last more than a few days.
Nicole Todisco MacDonald