To avoid swelling, pain and a prolonged recovery, the first moments after an injury are of utmost importance. This is true when twisting you ankle or being hit by something. It does not matter, if in the end it is a contusion, strain, sprain or even a fracture or dislocation.
Stop the sport immediately and rest. Stabilize the affected region of a limb best possible. If you go on, swelling can get worse due to ongoing bleeding into the tissue and it will take longer to recover !
There are two effects of cooling: Firstly, pain can be reduced (like in burns) and secondly, as blood vessels constrict when it is cold, bleeding into the tissue and – as a result- also swelling will be less.
Like explained in the blog about burns cooling should not be performed longer than 15 minutes and to prevent from damage of the skin, ice should never be put on the skin directly !
There are also two positive effects of compression:
a. A compressing bandage stabilizes the anatomical region that is injured and therefore avoids movement (limb injuries). By avoiding movement, swelling will be less as well.
b. Compression leads to a reduction of blood flow and as a consequence less bleeding and swelling.
The bandage should not cause more pain than there was before related to the injury. If tingling, paleness of the limb (below the injured site) or numbness occur, compression must be reduced immediately.
By elevation of the affected anatomical site above the level of the heart again blood flow into the injured structures and therefore swelling can be reduced. It is reasonable to go on with elevation for hours / days.
Keep in mind that a fracture or dislocation of a joint might be the reason for the pain. This should be treated by a doctor straight away. Also, if the situation is not getting better (ongoing or even worse pain, shiny skin without skin folds or even numbness) you should see a doctor immediately !