A pharmacist’s guide to treating sports injuries at home

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Minor muscle strain and stiffness is a common issue for people who lead an active lifestyle. It is not always necessary to head to your doctor for every little tweak, but it is important to treat the injury properly to ensure that it doesn’t turn into a more serious problem later on, if left untreated and ignored.

We asked a pharmacist at Medipost Pharmacy to give us some tips on how to effectively treat a minor injury at home.

It all starts with RICE:  

R – for rest ­– take a break from physical activities that could put further strain on the area.

I – for ice therapy – place an ice pack on the area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

C – for compression – Bandage a swollen ankle but not too tightly, as this could cut off blood circulation.

E  for elevation – try to keep the affected limb propped up as this helps to reduce swelling. If your ankle is sprained, try not to put your weight on it for a few days.

What about meds? 

If you are in need of some meds, it’s wise to ask for a combination of a muscle relaxant and an anti-inflammatory.

  • The standard dose for the combination of muscle relaxant in adults is orphenadrine citrate and paracetamol 35mg/450mg [one tablet] to 70mg/900mg [two tablets], three times per day for those older than 14 years. TAKE NOTE: Orphenadrine can make you drowsy, so don’t take these if you need to drive somewhere or are about to operate heavy machinery.
  • Ibuprofen, at a dosage of 200 to 400mg every eight hours, is your go-to anti-inflammatory. The maximum dose of 1200mg per 24 hours should never be exceeded. Eat before you take an oral anti-inflammatory, and check with your doctor or pharmacist for any possible drug interactions with other medications you may be taking.
  • You could also ask for a topical anti-inflammatory, often preferred to oral, as they can be rubbed into the skin on the affected area to help reduce swelling. This has dual therapeutic benefits, as the massaging of the affected area can provide added relief and speed up healing.
  • Transdermal patches, that contain flurbiprofen, are another useful option for treating muscles or joints inflamed by exercise and can be stuck to the area like a sticky bandage, allowing the skin to absorb the active ingredients directly where the pain is. These can be used together with oral muscle relaxants or analgesics. Be careful not to place transdermal patches around the groin area or on sensitive skin.
  • If you are still in pain after more than 10 days of using the above meds, it’s probably time to visit your doctor. Remember to give yourself at least four to six weeks for a sports injury to heal before starting with training again. Be sure to stretch daily to prevent muscle strain, and allow for warming up and cooling down before and after every exercise session.

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