About this service

Acute injury management

PROTECTRESTICECOMPRESSELEVATE
Protect your injury from further damage, for example, by using a support or splint.
Rest your injury for the first two or three days. You may need to use crutches if you’ve injured your leg and you want to remain mobile. Then reintroduce movement gradually so you don’t delay your recovery by losing muscle strength.
Ice the painful area with a cold compress such as ice or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel.  This will help reduce swelling and bruising. Do this for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours. Don’t apply ice directly to your skin as it can damage it.
Compress the injured area with an elastic bandage or elasticated tubular bandage to help limit swelling and movement. But don’t leave the bandage on while you sleep.
Elevate your injury by resting it above the level of your heart and keep it supported. This could mean lying on the sofa with your foot on some cushions if you’ve injured your leg.

Swelling and pain

Part of the body’s normal response to injury is pain and swelling. Follow the simple steps below to manage your symptoms.

  • Ice: Applying ice to the site results in the constriction of blood vessels, reducing circulation and swelling. It may also be effective in reducing pain. Use ice packs or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a thin towel to the site of the injury. You may find it helps to apply ice before and after completing your exercises. Do not apply ice directly to the skin. Do not leave the ice pack on for more than 20 minutes at a time in one hour. Repeat as much as required.
  • Elevation: It is normal to experience swelling post injury.  Elevation reduces swelling, which in turn relieves pain and speeds up your healing.  Keep your injured limb elevated as much as possible during the first 72 hours.
  • Medication: A&E may have prescribed you with some pain relief. Take these as instructed to help keep on top of the pain. If you do not feel that this medication is helping, consider talking to a pharmacist or your GP to see if there is an alternative option.

Driving

If you have an injury to your lower limb, you can return to driving when you no longer require the orthopaedic boot or crutches and are confident that you are able to do an emergency stop.

If you have an upper limb injury, you can begin driving when you are no longer using your sling and when you have sufficient pain-free strength in your arms.

If you have a follow up appointment with us please wait until your consultant or physiotherapist has given you clearance to drive. If you are in any doubt, do not drive until you have spoken to our team.

Work and Sport

Decisions to return to work are made on a unique basis and should be discussed with the Virtual Fracture Clinic, your GP and your employer. You may require a period of time off work and when you return you may need light or amended duties. The advice given will depend on your profession and your injury.

Advice regarding return to sport will be given during your telephone consultation.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

When you are less mobile you are at higher risk of developing a blood clot, known as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Some patients require medication to reduce this risk. The clinician who referred you to the Virtual Fracture Clinic will have considered this and prescribed if required.

If you develop signs of a DVT you need to seek urgent medical attention. The signs are:

  • Swelling and tenderness in your calf and lower leg, rather than your knee.
  • A change in colour of your toes compared with your other leg (typically purple)
  • Pain in the calf, groin or chest area.
  • Redness and heat in the affected area

Smoking with an injury

Medical evidence suggests that smoking prolongs fracture healing time. In extreme cases it can stop healing altogether. It is important that you consider this information with relation to your recent injury. Stopping smoking during the healing phase of a fracture will help ensure optimal recovery from this injury.

Orthopaedic Department, Colchester Hospital, Turner Road, Colchester  CO4 5JL
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