The first rule is that you want to control the swelling as soon as possible so you reduce the rehabilitation time. Swelling is occurring within 1 or 2 hours and the problem is that it may take weeks to resolve. Excessive swelling causes lots of problems such as pain, decreased range of motion, decreased strength and loss of function. Also, inflammation which is part of the healing process, requires more oxygen when oxygen is already decreased by the injury and the swelling. This hypoxia (lack of oxygen) accelerates the death of more cells which increases the inflammation. So again, to break this vicious circle, controlling swelling is key.
A good way to do so is to combine the homeopathic Arnica (topically and internally) and the RICE technique: Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation
Icing in the first 48-72 hours has several benefits: it has an analgesic effect (numb feeling), it slows the metabolic activity of the cells therefore decreasing the need for oxygen and the hypoxia. A useful reminder: do not place ice directly in contact with your skin to avoid chilblains. Always put fabric between your skin and the ice pack. I personally prefer a bag of frozen peas because this is not as cold and not as heavy as an ice pack and it shapes itself around the area where you need it. After diagnosis is done and approximately thirty minutes to one hour after the cold pack has been removed, apply Arnicare topically (if the skin is broken, apply it around the wound).
As a teenager I used to sprain my ankle pretty often, and once it was particularly painful and got worst the first night. My parents were not worried because my the doctor had come by earlier and said it was not severe. They wanted to relieve the pain though, so they called the doctor again who gave us a good tip: when ice is not working because the weight of the pack is putting pressure and making the pain worse, or because it is falling off the ankle while you sleep, a good alternative is to wrap the ankle with compresses soaked into rubbing alcohol. The relief is amazing.
Compressing must be done immediately after the accident, ideally using an elastic wrap that should not be wrapped too tightly to allow blood circulation. Leave it on for several days and only remove it when you are icing and showering and to put Arnicare gel on.
Elevating: for a leg injury, place a pillow below the knee or ankle.
Rest: the more rest you can get the quicker the recovery will be.
As soon as possible, in all cases of trauma, take arnica Montana 6C, 5 pellets every hour and then as needed. A good idea is to always carry a tube of arnica in your sport bag. You may want to carry several as you WILL give them away very often!
If a sprain is diagnosed, you can also add the following homeopathic medicines:
Apis 30C, Bryonia 6C and Ruta graveolens 6C: take 5 pellets of each every hour for 48 hours, then 3 times a day for 3 weeks.
Needless to say that all those tips do not replace a doctor’s visit. But they can help a lot.