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Advice and information on self-management

When you have completed and submitted your self-referral form, it will be reviewed and added to our waiting list.

While you are waiting for an appointment, you may find the information below useful to help you self-manage your injury/condition.

We know from research and evidence that many musculoskeletal conditions will greatly benefit from good self-care and self-management.

Please note the information below is aimed at individuals aged over 16 years.

How to manage injuries, aches and pains

If your injury was the result of a sudden trauma (for example a whiplash injury or fall) you should have this checked by a health professional before starting any exercise programme. You can attend your local Emergency Department, minor injuries unit or seek advice from your GP.

If you have developed any of the following symptoms and have not seen a doctor about it, you should attend your local Emergency Department:

  • new episode or sudden change in your ability to pass urine
  • new loss of sensation to your inner thighs, genitals or back passage area
  • new difficulty with bowel function resulting in a loss of control (soiling yourself)
First few days after an injury

Rest is beneficial to begin with. However, early movement is vital to reduce stiffness and weakness and to encourage good healing.

You have probably heard of ‘RICE’ to manage injuries (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

This has now changed to ‘POLICE’ (Protection, Optimal Loading, Ice, Compression, Elevation). See below for more detail on each.

  • Protection: a short period of rest for the specific area involved can be beneficial to control your pain levels. Complete rest should be limited to preserve good joint strength and mobility.
  • Optimal Loading: this refers to early movement and activity of the joint. You should gradually increase the amount of activity to promote good healing and keep the muscles strong.
  • Ice: you may find that applying an ice pack or a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a damp tea towel for 15 to 20 minutes a few times a day can lower your pain levels and manage swelling.
  • Compression: you may find that applying a compression bandage to the affected area can help lower your pain levels and manage your swelling.
  • Elevation: during periods of rest, you can sit with your affected area raised, for example with your leg up on a foot stool in the case of an ankle sprain. This can help reduce your pain levels and manage your swelling.
After the first few days

After a few days of using ‘POLICE’, it’s time to show your injury ‘LOVE’ (Load, Optimism, Vascularisation, Exercise).

  • Load: a gradual return to activity with rest as needed. Listen to your body and pain levels.
  • Optimism: being confident and positive can condition your brain for a good recovery.
  • Vascularisation: choose pain-free cardiovascular activities to increase blood flow to healing tissues, for example go for a walk, use an exercise bike, swim in the pool.
  • Exercise: these may be exercises specific to the affected body area. These will be done to improve movement and strength around the joint.
What about longer-term injuries/conditions?

Even if you have had aches and/or pains for a long time (months or even years), the evidence shows that you can benefit greatly from improving your exercise and activity levels.

The page on different joint areas will give you some advice about the best types of exercise/physical activity for you.

Once you receive a physiotherapy appointment, your physiotherapist will guide you in creating your own goals and exercise programme.