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The importance of supporting an injury

An injury is always upsetting: the shock of the accident, the pain, the time it takes to recuperate. When it comes to the healing process, being impatient does not help, but providing the right type of support for the injured area certainly can.

Injuries can range from ligament sprains and torn muscles to dislocations, fractured limbs and multiple breakages. In the case of dislocations and fractures, medical help will be needed to set bones and possibly to repair torn ligaments. Even in the case of minor injuries, medical assessment is a good idea so that anything more serious, such as internal bleeding or hairline fractures, can be dealt with.

Painful swelling

After an injury, there will often be pain and swelling as the body tries to adapt. For minor injuries, rest, icing the area, compressing the injury with a support or bandage, and keeping the injury elevated may be enough. Supporting the injured area will help to relieve pain and swelling.

Swelling is essentially an inflammatory response to injury as fluid and white blood cells rush to the affected area. Accompanied by redness and hotness that are due to the increased blood flow to the region, the fluid that collects at the site can compress nerves, increasing pain, and even causing collateral damage to the surrounding tissue should the swelling be ignored. Supporting and compressing the injury can be comforting and will also ensure that the inflammatory response is maintained within reasonable limits. Uncontrolled swelling can be painful on its own, and in the legs especially can lead to an increased risk of blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) that can move up to the lungs.

Without adequate attention and support, swelling could become a chronic condition, with particularly negative repercussions for athletes or the very active. Inflammation that is prolonged can continue to be painful and can cause the surrounding muscles to atrophy. In addition, there may also be a reduced ability to engage and activate the muscles. Chronic swelling may also lead to the affected tissue losing pliability and becoming more rigid than the healthy tissue. In turn, the less pliable tissue is more likely to suffer another injury, thus creating a vicious cycle in which the injured site takes a very long time to regain its former health, if it manages to do so at all.

Support while healing

Supports and braces are available in a wide array of options to assist with healing injuries as diverse as broken arms, sprained or broken ankles, knee surgery, hand or wrist injuries, back damage, shoulder problems, and back pain during pregnancy.

In the case of a severe injury, a brace or support offering a high level of compression and stability would be a good choice. With knee injuries, or surgery to correct knee problems, hospital staff will try to return you to your feet as soon as possible, even less than 24 hours after the operation. Immobilising the knee encourages stiffness and wasting away of the muscles, and it is important to maintain the strength of the muscles to assist with supporting the knee. Reinforcement for the knee can assist with reducing pain and swelling, helping nearby tissues and ligaments to heal, and the added support can make it easier to maintain the necessary regime of physiotherapy exercises.

Spraining the ankle - tearing or twisting any of the ligaments that bind the joint together - is another very common injury, as millions of people find each year. Support and compression are a vital step for treating ankle injuries once rested and iced. If there are symptoms of numbness, discolouration, lumpiness or an inability to put weight on the foot, then a doctor should be consulted. The venous system needs to work particularly hard to return fluid from the feet, so support will greatly assist with reducing fluid pooling at the ankle and will give the joint added strength to enable weight-bearing and walking as soon as possible. With leg and feet injuries, although some rest is important, becoming mobile is also vital to improve circulation, ease stiffness and to help maintain muscle density. The right type of support can help sufferers get moving again more quickly.

Breaking the collar bone, or clavicle, is another common injury that is extremely painful and that can result in long-term shoulder problems if left to heal on its own. The right type of brace can provide support, help to hold the broken ends of the bone in place for optimal healing and reduce the pain. For back injuries, a brace can provide compression and extra support that provides the tissues with more opportunities to heal.

Increased stability

A support brace can also assist with providing stability for the injured area. This is especially helpful when a joint has been injured, as the right level of support can help to keep tissues and ligaments in place to help quicker healing and to help protect the area from a similar injury happening again.

For mild injuries where there is no instability, a brace or similar that offers a low level of support and compression would probably be sufficient. Where an ankle has an been sprained, for example, and there is danger of it rolling over again, then a brace offering a medium level of compression and support would be a sensible choice, as this type of support would offer some stability. In the case of ruptured cruciate ligaments in the knee as can happen, for example, while skiing, an appropriate brace for support while stabilising the knee will decrease healing time and will help you to get back on your feet as soon as possible.

Any type of injury can be very wearing not only physically but also mentally. However, the help of a brace that provides some external support will ensure that the body can muster its innate healing capabilities as quickly as possible and do its utmost to restore health and vitality to the damaged area.