What to do after a Muscle Strain, Ligament Sprain or Sports Injury?

It’s every player’s worst nightmare,  a sudden sharp pain in the muscle or at a joint while playing sport. It often means a muscle strain or ligament strain.  The most important thing is to manage an acute injury properly, from the very start.

Immediately after every sports injury you should use the P.R.I.C.E. approach as this is the Gold Standard treatment approach. Be it a muscle strain, a ligament sprain, a tendon injury, an overuse injury, or a dead leg, the same applies.



PROTECTION: Protect the injured area from  further injury by stopping activity, taking the weight off the injured area and immobilising it.

REST: Rest from sport to give the area a chance to heal itself as all injuries must go through an initial inflammatory phase.This takes approximately 48 hours and requires rest to occur without interruption

ice therapy

ICE: Ice or cold therapy will reduce blood flow to the area during this early anti-inflammatory stage. When you are applying ice you should protect the skin with a damp cloth to prevent ice burns. If ice is unavailable use something cold like water or cold wet towels. The ideal is to apply cold/ice therapy for 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.

COMPRESSION: Applying a compression bandage to an injured area helps prevent increased damage to the area through secondary swelling. It is often the post injury swelling that slows down rehabilitation later.

ELEVATION: Raising the injured area to allow swelling to drain away is essential. Raise it above the level of the hip or shoulder as this is where the lymph nodes are. Gravity will help drain the swelling via the lymph nodes using gravity.

Should I take anti-inflamatory medication or anti-inflamatory gels for acute injury?

During the first 48 hours after any injury you should not take anti-inflammatory medication or use anti-inflammatory gels. An important part of the healing process involves the inflammatory reaction which occurs in the injured area in the first few days.

After 48 hours you can take over the counter anti-inflammatory medications. If you are a competitive sportsperson or athlete, performing at a competitive level however you be aware of anti doping regulations. You should consult your doctor for prescribed medication, if you are already taking medication or have an underlying medical condition.

When should you start treatment for a sports injury?

Many treatments are not advocated until the anti-inflammatory stage of the first 48 hours is complete. In Kilkenny Physiotherapy & Sports Injury clinic we like to see an acute muscle or ligament strain injury and commence treatment as early as possible. We offer a number of early treatment approaches.

  • Laser therapy

    Laser equipment within the first 24 hours to accelerate the inflammatory process by enhanced cellular healing.

  • Cryotherapy pressure therapy incorporating ice therapy and compression.
  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage to accelerate the removal of swelling from the injured limb.
  • Neuro-muscular stimulation of inhibited muscles in the surrounding area.
  • Advice and education to minimise the risk of secondary injury and promote healing.
  • Early assessment and treatment planning so it will be all systems go when the time is right.
  • Maintenance exercise programmes for unaffected areas
  • Ultrasound as indicator of an underlying fracture

Why should you seek early physiotherapy treatment for a sports injury?

  • Early assessment may show up hidden fractures or more severe injuries
  • Pain reduction without medication
  • Reduce swelling and so prevent unnecessary secondary issues
  • Faster passage through the entire healing process
  • Quicker return to activity, work and sport
  • Prevent abnormal scar tissue formation
  • Less likelihood of recurrence of injury

Physiotherapy treatment in Kilkenny for muscle strain, ligament strain or sports injury after the first 48 hours?

In Kilkenny Physiotherapy & Sports Injury clinic we use a number of treatments for ligament or muscle injuries, but the first and most important task is to thoroughly assess the injury.

joint measurement

  1. Detailed history of the nature of the injury, predisposing factors, force of trauma, pre-injury status and early management.
  2. Subjective assessment of how the injury is progressing and what aggravates or eases it
  3. Objective examination including visual inspection, palpation of the area, assessment of flexibility and strength.
  4. Functional assessment of relevant activities.
  5. Biomechanical assessment of relevant musculo-skeletal system to determine underlying predisposing factors

Once a good working diagnosis has been made and a plan for management established treatment will commence. In our clinic we have a number of treatment options available to us:

soft tissue massage