Chronic vs Acute Injury

Injury sustained in any activity either sports related or an accident can be differentiated into two types: Acute and Chronic.

Acute Injury

Acute injury is defined as an injury sustained suddenly during an activity e.g. an ankle sprain, lower back strain or a fractured limb. Acute injury is associated with some characteristic features including:

    • Sudden onset pain at the site of the injury
    • Swelling of the involved joint such as knee or ankle joint
    • Redness and increased heat at the site of the injury
    • Inability to move or increased pain on attempting to move the limb
  • Inability to bear weight on the leg in case of lower limb injury
  • Weakness of limbs
  • Visible dislocation or fracture in the bones of the limbs

Chronic Injury

On the other hand, a chronic injury generally results from or from a long-standing condition or overusing certain body part during exercise or in a sport. Chronic injuries that occur frequently are arthritis, tendonitis, tennis elbow and repetitive strain injury (RSI).
The symptoms of a chronic injury are:

  • Pain on moving the affected part during exercise, playing or any other activity
  • Dull achy pain at rest
  • Swelling of the affected part e.g. elbow joint in tennis elbow

The acute and chronic injuries also differ in approach towards their management. In acute injuries, main aim of management to keep blood loss, pain, inflammation and swelling to a minimum to provide optimum environment for natural healing to take place. The steps involved in Management are termed together as “PRICE” standing for

  • P- protection of injured part from further damage for example use of a support bandage.
  • R- Rest to the injured joint or muscle by stopping the activity that caused the injury for at least 2 -3 days
  • I- Apply Ice to the injured area in the first 24 to 48 hours after the injury
  • C- Compression of the injured area with a bandage to control swelling and movement of the part that can cause further damage to it.
  • E- Elevation of the affected limb or injured area to keep it raised over a pillow to help reduce swelling.

In chronic injuries, there is no swelling, redness or heat at the site of the injury, thus, management is mostly based on a rehabilitation program to help in weakness and restricted movement soft he injured part. These usually include stretches and exercises for increasing strength and mobility of the affected part. Ice or heat can also be applied to the injured part, but mostly people benefit from heat therapy in case of chronic injury. Your Chiropractor in conjunction with your health care provider can diagnose the cause of your chronic pain and device a treatment plan. The treatment plan may contain of manual therapies, spinal manipulation, and therapeutic exercises .