5 Ways to Reduce Swelling When Injured

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No matter what kind of injury you end up with, one of the symptoms you can expect is swelling. It’s a side effect of everything from a twisted ankle to a broken bone. 

Inflammation isn’t always scary. In fact, with an injury, it’s the body’s natural reaction to any kind of harm. It occurs when fluid and white blood cells rush to the injured area to save the day.

But if the swelling lasts too long, you should take a few steps to help reduce the inflammation. Otherwise, it can turn into a chronic condition that leads to serious problems, such as atrophy and cancer.

The good news is that reducing swelling caused by an injury can be done at home. With some rest and a few of these methods, your inflammation will disappear within a few days.

1. Immobilize the Area

The first thing you should do after an injury is to prevent yourself from getting hurt even more. As an example, as soon as we twist our ankles, most of us stand up and try to walk on the damaged foot. This can take what would have been a small injury and make it substantially worse.

Don’t do anything else until you immobilize the area to keep it from moving. Use a brace, bandage, or wrap to force yourself not to use the injured part of your body.

2. Ice and Rest

When your immune system is optimally working as it should, it recognizes an injury quickly. Cells are sent to the area to start fixing the problem. The extra blood flow brings swelling, heat, and redness with it.

Applying ice to the area for the first 72 hours helps keep the blood flow at a reasonable pace. Wrap an ice pack securely in a cloth or towel, then set it on the injured spot so that it stays in place for 20 minutes. Repeat again in one hour.

Be careful not to let the ice pack touch your skin directly, or you may end up with frostbite in addition to your injury. Stop using ice after the first three days, or the swelling could get worse instead of better.

In the meantime, as you’re icing the area, take the opportunity to rest. The more you let your body “chill out,” the more resources it can send to the damaged area to help it recover faster.

3. Compression

Similar to immobilizing the area, compression works to keep the injury from becoming further damaged. It also decreases swelling because it restricts fluids and blood flow.

However, you should only use a compression bandage or device for 24 to 48 hours after your injury. Talk to your doctor about how to use compression properly.

4. Use NSAIDs

Pain to the body is an electrical impulse that comes from the nerves and is sent to the brain. But it’s also a release of a chemical called prostaglandins.

Prostaglandins cause increased swelling, and therefore pain, in the damaged tissue. Anti-inflammatories like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) reduce the effects of these chemicals.

NSAIDs are the most popular and common over-the-counter drugs that people use for pain and fever. If you’ve seen a product with aspirin in it, it’s an NSAID. 

However, you shouldn’t use NSAIDs too often or too frequently. They’re designed for occasional short-term use. There may be dangerous side effects if they’re overused. 

5. Use CBD Products

A natural alternative to NSAIDs without the harmful side effect potential is CBD. Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 states, and cannabis with THC in it is gaining traction around the country.

Decades of research have shown that cannabidiol has anti-inflammatory properties. Using CBD products, whether topical, edible, or joints, reduces the levels of inflammation your body produces.

As a caution, though, smoking cigarettes or joints when you’re injured can make the damage worse. Smoking a blunt constricts the blood flow and reduces circulation. It can prevent the essential white blood cells from getting to the tissue that needs to be repaired.

Conclusion

Swelling is a natural part of healing after an injury. There’s a fine line between letting your body do its thing and letting the swelling go on for too long.

To help your immune system repair the damage, get plenty of rest and use these five tips to stop the swelling before it causes more problems.

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