Common Injuries And Tips To Heal Faster
Medically reviewed by Leann Poston M.D. on 9/25/20
Let’s face it – life can be rough sometimes. Injuries happen to us all at one time or another. Depending on your balance, coordination, overall health, level of activity, and sheer luck, you may be injured very infrequently, very frequently, or somewhere in between. Whatever the case may be, it’s a safe bet that, sooner than you care to think, you’ll likely encounter at least a minor injury. They can be simply a nuisance, or more severe injuries may be cause for real concern. In all cases, however, most people agree – once you are injured, the goal is to heal up and recover as quickly as possible. To that end, we put together a summary of some of the most common injuries, and tips to help you heal faster!
Table of Contents
Statistics on injuries can be pretty intimidating. In any given year, around 10% of people in the US will seek treatment at a hospital for an injury (as opposed to a disease, illness, or other pathology). A significant additional percentage of people likely seek treatment from their doctor, walk-in-clinics, or similar settings, though the CDC doesn’t track those statistics. Still others suffer injury and don’t seek treatment, especially if it is minor, or treat themselves at home. That’s a lot of injuries across the whole population, and a lot of pain and lost time doing more enjoyable things than waiting around to heal. It’s no surprise, then, that one of the most common injury-related topics online today is all about how to heal faster, more completely, and leverage modern medicine and lifestyle to do it.
Below, we’ll look at some of the most common injuries the average person sustains, offer some background on the processes or mechanisms at play, and provide specific tips to help heal faster. At the end, we’ll list some general tips that can help anyone heal faster, regardless of injury type and whether or not it is included on our list. So, get ready to heal faster, more effectively, and recover more fully the next time you get injured, with a little help from Invigor Medical.
Before we get into the specifics on common injuries and the corresponding tips and techniques to help heal faster, it’s worth taking a moment to pause here. While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case, especially if you have a serious injury, significant risk factors, are taking medications, or similar before you apply the tips and techniques discussed in this guide. Where conflicts may exist between these tips and medical advice from your doctor, your doctor’s advice should win out. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational, and does not constitute medical advice. Additionally, these are just tips – we’re not offering a comprehensive list of steps to take to deal with these injuries from a first aid standpoint. That’s another topic entirely for a future article. With all of that out of the way, let’s dive right in to our common injuries and the tips to help you heal faster.
Around 7.1% of all annual non-fatal injuries in the US are classified as cuts or pierces. Minor cuts typically can be treated with cleaning and a bandage, though deeper or more severe cuts may require sutures/stitches or staples in order to close fully. Cuts that are deep or intersect with major blood vessels, veins, or arteries may be a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment to avoid serious consequences.
Our tips to heal faster from cuts are primarily aimed at minor cuts that don’t require immediate medical intervention, and cuts that have been sutured and are in the process of healing.
- Moisture at the wound site can help a cut to heal faster. Consider applying petroleum jelly or an anti-bacterial ointment over the cut prior to bandaging.
- Moisturizers or lotions with collagen in them can aid in wound healing, since collagen forms the framework or lattice on which new cells organize. They can also reduce scarring on surgical wounds, or those that have been sutured or stapled in many cases.
- Mild pressure perpendicular to the cut can help it to close and seal faster. Bandages should therefore be a little tight, but not too tight – circulation is necessary for the healing process and transport of new cells and immune components to the injury site.
Burns account for around 325,000 hospitalizations each year. There’s no question that moderate to severe burns require medical attention. However, many of us experience minor burns from time to time, often when cooking, or working with hot instruments like a glue gun, soldering iron, curling iron, clothes iron, or similar. They can be extremely unpleasant, often resulting in blisters which then pop and drain before the burned skin heals. Note that, here, we’re talking about thermal or electrical surface burns, not chemical burns or radiation burns, which are an entirely different beast and typically require immediate medical attention and washing of the affected area.
To help burns heal faster, and possibly not get as bad in the first place:
- If you have the opportunity, within the first few seconds after receiving the burn, place the burned area under room-temperature running water, or soak in room-temperature water if running water is impractical. Cold water or ice will shock the cells that were just burned, and can often exacerbate the damage and eventual blistering.
- Aloe vera, moisturizing cream, and antibiotic ointments can help the damaged skin and underlying tissues to regenerate and heal faster.
- Avoid sun exposure on burned skin, as this can aggravate the immune response, making it take longer to heal or with blistering being more severe.
- Consider having an over-the-counter burn cream on hand. There are many products which are meant to be used in the first minutes after a burn is sustained, to reduce the duration and scope of injury.
The causes of back pain are numerous and varied. It can be nerve-based (such as in the case of a trapped or irritated nerve), a symptom of a damaged or herniated disc in the vertebrae, or soft tissue (muscle, tendon, and ligament) in nature. The most common type of back pain is the result of overuse of back muscles, such as due to lifting too much and/or without stretching or proper form, pulling muscles due to sitting or sleeping in an odd position for too long, and similar.
For soft-tissue related back pain, tips to heal faster include:
- In the first 48 hours after sustaining a back muscle injury, ice or cold compresses on the affected area can help you heal faster. From around 48 hours and beyond, switch to heat instead of cold.
- While it is important to rest injured muscles, some light activity, such as walking, can help speed your recovery and reduce pain, too.
- Massage can be useful for improving many back conditions and injuries. They increase circulation, which helps deliver more of the vital components your body needs to repair the tissue damage and return to normal functioning.
There’s nothing quite like the exquisite pain of a calf muscle spasm, also known as a charley horse. Some people don’t seem to be affected as severely as others, and can simply stretch the muscle without much pain or discomfort. For others, Charley horses can be debilitating, with lasting pain and compromised function for days. While usually not severe enough to require hospitalization, they can be a right pain in the …or at least, in the leg.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help stop a Charley horse and associated pain quickly, and get your calf muscles back to full function more quickly:
- If you are prone to Charley horses or feel one coming on, as the muscle starts to tense up, try to alternately extend or contract the muscle by flexing your ankle. This can sometimes reset the muscle and avoid the spasm.
- Once a Charley horse starts and pain starts shooting through your leg, move into a sitting position where your leg is totally relaxed from the knee down (e.g. gently sit down on the floor or a hard surface with your affected leg bent at the knee, and your ankle or foot region brought up to your rear. This isolates and relaxes the muscle and is one of the quickest ways to stop the pain and avoid more serious muscle injury.
- To heal faster, be sure to drink or eat something with sufficient electrolytes – potassium and sodium particularly – as an imbalance and/or dehydration can cause them in the first place, and may make you more prone to a recurrence in a compromised calf muscle while you heal.
Bloody noses can be vexing. Because of the delicate membranes in the nose, and the plethora of blood vessels in the face, it can seem like you are losing loads of blood, and that the nose is taking forever to stop bleeding. It can also start back up again when you least expect it. While most cases are not serious, nosebleeds that cannot be stopped or occur regularly may require medical intervention, or be the sign of more serious health problems.
For occasional, minor nosebleeds, you can get them to stop faster, and help reduce the likelihood of recurrence in the hours and days that follow, with the following tips:
- Pinching the bridge of the nose can often help stop a nosebleed.
- Stuffing a tissue in the affected nostril, and sitting back comfortably with the head tilted slightly forward, and breathing slowly through your mouth, can help you heal faster and get the flow of blood stopped.
- In the hours and days that follow, to heal faster, and help avoid the nosebleed starting back up again, keep the affected nostril slightly moist – petroleum jelly is very good for this purpose.
- Don’t blow your nose, hold your breath, or do anything else that might cause excessive blood pressure or physical irritation to the nose for at least 48 hours after a nosebleed.
Sprained Ankles Or Wrists
Two of the most common accident or overextension injuries are sprains of the ankle or wrist. Both are the result of either awkward or unnatural movements of the ligaments that connect the bones at the respective joints, such as when you fall, step/swing/throw awkwardly, jump or turn and land poorly or move the wrist with great force suddenly, or suffer an impact such as when playing sports. This destabilizes the joints and causes stress, ruptures, or tears in the ligaments around the joint, resulting in pain and decreased function for days or weeks. Severe sprains may require professional medical help and immobilization, such as with a brace or sling.
Minor sprains can heal faster and present fewer problems if you:
- Follow the RICE method – rest the affected area; use ice or cold compresses on the area; compress the area with something like an Ace bandage to help control swelling and pain; elevate the affected area for the same purpose, and to promote blood flow for healing.
- Once pain and swelling decrease, slowly resume light activity on the affected joint and ligaments. This will help increase flexibility and strength back to pre-injury levels, and can accelerate the healing process.
All-Purpose Tips To Heal Faster
Below are some all-purpose tips that can help promote healing and overall health. They’re applicable to almost any injury, whether featured on our list or not and will help you heal faster and more completely. That’s especially true when combined with the specific tips for injuries we’ve mentioned above.
- Be sure to maintain a balanced, healthy diet. Get plenty of fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, as well as some whole grains and healthy fats. Proteins and fats are essential building blocks for most soft tissues in the body, and necessary for healing and recovery. Likewise, sufficient vitamins and minerals from a well-rounded diet are required for the body to function optimally, and that includes healing.
- Consider a multi-vitamin supplement, or at least a vitamin C and zinc containing one, as they play an important role in cell replication, and therefore healing.
- Stay hydrated.
- Try to reduce stress in your life by whatever means work for you – meditation, mindfulness, psychotherapy, medication, daydreaming, reading, hobbies, etc. Stress results in the release of chemicals that can, among other things, decrease circulation, tissue resiliency and elasticity, and make healing slower.
- Get 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night. Your body repairs and recovers the most when sleeping. Poor sleep or insufficient sleep can lead to poor or slow healing.
- Exercise regularly. That’s one of the best ways to decrease your chances of getting injured in the first place. As you recover from an injury, don’t overdo it, but don’t avoid exercise and working the affected area, either.
- Cut out harmful vices like alcohol or smoking. Both impair healing through a number of different processes and pathways.
- Incorporate balance, flexibility, and range of motion exercises into your daily routine. Often, failures in one or more of these areas result in the accidents and injuries discussed in this guide.
- For healthy skin and for skin and surface wounds or injuries to heal faster, be sure to keep skin moisturized. Use sunscreen and avoid excessive sun exposure, which dries out your skin and makes it harder to heal, and more likely to be injured in the first place.
When in doubt, go to a doctor or clinic to have an injury looked at and professionally treated. If there’s any question as to whether or not a particular injury is severe enough to warrant it, just do it. It’s better to err on the side of caution than end up not treating something serious, and it getting worse or becoming a permanent disability.
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.