Muscle strains can be prevented by knowing the correct procedure when applying ice to the affected area in order to effectively minimize the swelling. When ice is used along with compression packs, elevation and rest, it is considered as the best way to relieve discomfort linked with a damaged or torn muscle.
The use of ice on muscle injuries has been practiced throughout the years. It is important that you are fully aware on how to perform this basic first aid measure in case a family member, friend or colleague at work suffers from a sprained muscle.
Steps on how to apply ice to a muscle strain
If you suspect that an individual has a muscle strain, you have to provide the appropriate first aid care involving ice application by following these steps.
- Apply an ice pack directly on the muscle strain but make sure that the ice is wrapped in a clean cloth or towel. Allow the ice to stay for 15-20 minutes every hour during the initial hours. In case you do not have a proper ice pack available, you can use a small bag of frozen vegetables or a plastic bag filled with ice cubes as suitable substitutes.
- On the second day after the injury, you have to reduce the frequency of the application of the ice pack to 15-20 minutes every 3-4 hours.
- Always make sure that the affected area is properly cleaned and dried after the ice pack is removed especially if you are going to apply a compression pack or an elastic bandage immediately.
- On the third day after the injury, you can continue to apply the ice pack if needed and maintain the same frequency. In case the swelling and pain has not subsided by the third day, you have to consult a doctor right away. This can indicate that the tear is severe
- Utilize a heating pad or heat pack once the swelling has completely subsided. Take note that if heat therapy is properly used, it has been an effective technique in promoting the healing process. If a heat pack is used before the swelling has completely subsided, it will only worsen the injury.
Essential tips to bear in mind
The application of ice to a muscle strain is considered more effective if the PRICE method is used as the first aid measure. The “P” stands for “protecting” the affected area from further injury. The treatment also includes resting the injury to promote proper healing, application of ice to minimize the swelling, compression by wrapping the affected area using a full support flexible bandage and elevation of the injured area to minimize swelling. When applying ice, do not place it directly over the skin. Make sure that you will keep the affected area properly covered using a clean cloth or towel first.