An acute injury is one with a rapid onset of pain due to a traumatic incident or an impact affecting a specific area of the body. An ankle sprain or a cut requiring stitches are both examples of acute injuries. They often need immediate treatment in the form of first aid. Although the pain from an acute injury is sudden and sometimes intense, it usually has a short duration. The first thing your doctor should do is evaluate the damage to determine its severity.
Treatment of acute injuries
With conditions such as back pain or an ankle sprain, your doctor may order an X-ray to ensure that you haven't broken a bone. If not, the usual course of treatment involves rest, ice, compression and evaluation (RICE) as follows:
Resting the back, ankle, or other affected area of your body gives it a chance to recover from the strain, so you don't make the pain worse.
Applying ice to an injured area reduces both swelling and pain. Be sure to wrap the ice in a towel before applying it to your skin for 15 to 20 minutes. You can do this several times a day.
Wrapping the injured body part in a bandage or soft cloth helps to provide consistent compression that can also reduce swelling.
This won't work with a back injury, but helps with injuries to the head, arms, hands, legs, and feet. Elevating the injured part of your body above heart level controls blood flow and can prevent swelling.
Falls can be a more significant injury than a sprain or general pain, especially if you hit your head. Your doctor must check for a concussion in this situation as well as broken bones for trauma to other body parts. He or she may also prescribe a prescription medication if you experience significant pain following an acute injury. The most important thing you can do is seek medical care right away, even if you don't initially think the injury seems significant. Working as a carer it is important to recognise acute injuries when accidents happen.
We also have a related care article - Acute Illnesses - Examples for Carers.