Acute Injuries: How Are They Caused, Treated and Prevented?

Acute Injuries: How Are They Caused, Treated and Prevented?

Whether you have been consistently active for a long time, or are just beginning to become more active, paying attention to your body is crucial. Slight aches and pains are normal, but consistent pain is not. This consistent pain could be the result of an acute injury. As a Long Island physical therapy practice, we have become proficient in acute injury treatment. In this post, we will discuss how acute injuries are caused, treated, and prevented. Read on to learn more.

What is an Acute Injury?

An acute injury is a sudden and often overwhelming injury that results from some kind of physical activity. Typically, acute injuries are caused by a sudden movement or impact during either exercise or a sport. Following the injury, the body will experience a change. This change could cause instability, or prevent another part of the body from functioning properly. Generally, acute injuries are isolated, and do not affect more than one part of the body. People often experience acute injuries from tripping, slipping, or falling during a sport. While these injuries can be quite painful, a Long Island physical therapy office can aid in the recovery process.

tennis injury

Common Acute Injuries

In many cases, sports injuries are great examples of acute injuries. The pain of these injuries is often located in the body part that receives the impact.

  • Sprains: An ankle sprain occurs after bending the foot at an odd angle tears the ligaments, which results in pain and discomfort. People are just as likely to sprain an ankle while playing soccer as they are while walking. At our Long Island physical therapy office, we have observed that ankle sprains are particularly common.
ankle sprain

  • Strains: Instead of ligaments, strains affect either the muscle or the tendon. Strains cause swelling and pain, as well as spasm-like symptoms. Back and hamstring strains are common, and may result from heavy lifting. It’s important to receive acute injury treatment for a strain immediately.
  • Dislocations: After a fall or other impact, it’s possible for a joint to be dislocated from the body. This is especially common in contact sports, such as football.

Sports that require rapid movement and redirection can pose more danger than others. Basketball players, for example, often find themselves stopping short, changing their direction and performing dangerous maneuvers. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for them to roll an ankle. After rolling an ankle, you will immediately feel a sharp pain on the outside. This injury, specifically called an inversion ankle sprain, prevents stability. Shoulder injuries and ACL tears are also common injuries for basketball players. A Long Island physical therapy office can help you to overcome these injuries.

Immediate Treatments for Acute Injuries

Acute injuries can damage the muscles, skin, soft tissues, cartilage, and fascia. In extreme cases, this damage may reach the nerves and blood vessels as well. At our Long Island physical therapy office, we are prepared to treat these injuries. Ideally, however, athletes should begin treatment immediately. The best recourse is to immediately stop any physical activity, rest, and apply ice. While heat therapy has a place in some treatments, it is not suited to treat acute injuries. This is because it would further inflame the inflamed regions, and create more blood flow.

For ideal treatment, it’s important to follow the PRICE method.

  • Protect: Putting normal levels of stress on the injured body part could compound the injury. To prevent this, you should protect it from external forces. You should also limit your movement, and immobilize the body part with a splint, sling or brace.
  • Rest: Rest is a crucial part of the recovery process. But, too much rest may prevent the constructive re-strengthening process. In general, limit your motions to those that test range of motion.
  • Ice: Between formal cryotherapy treatments and standard ice packs, ice will reduce pain. The best way to apply this treatment is cycling between 10 to 15 minutes with the ice pack on, and 1-2 hours with the ice pack off.
  • Compression: Compression wraps like elastic bandages provide support to the injured body part, and reduces swelling.
  • Elevation: As fluids collect in the injured body part, swelling increases. Elevating the injured body part above its normal resting position minimizes this swelling. A Long Island physical therapy office can help instruct you about the proper angle and method of elevation.
elevated ankle

Acute Injuries Vs Chronic Injuries

Contrary to popular belief, the difference between an acute and a chronic injury extends beyond the severity of pain.

The primary difference between an acute and a chronic injury is the time frame in which it occurs. As previously stated, acute injuries result from sudden, severe impact. Chronic injuries, on the other hand, take place over time. For example, repeatedly running with improper technique could cause a knee injury. Over time, this injury could become a chronic injury. After the onset of chronic pains, some consider them as mere discomfort, but these pains can continue without proper treatment.

Common Causes of Acute Injuries

According to Long Island physical therapy professionals, the primary cause of acute injuries varies with age.

Teenagers, young adults and middle-aged people experience acute injuries as a consequence of sports. Most acute child injuries are related to a playground incident or other fall traumas, and may lead to broken bones. For the elderly, simply tripping/falling can be catastrophic for the hips and shoulders.


To prevent an acute injury, it’s important to prepare your body for exercise or movement. Warming up, stretching, and cooling down are all critical phases in this process. Following these safety guidelines will allow your body to receive the optimal benefits from this exercise.

Long Island Physical Therapy

To eliminate the pain caused by acute injuries, you need the best treatment possible. Our versatile team at Farmingdale Physical Therapy can help you to restore your body to its former state. We can also help you to prevent future injuries. If you believe you have suffered an acute injury, contact us immediately.

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