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HealthInfo Canterbury

Self-care after an injury

Sprained ankleMany soft tissue injuries (sprains, strains and tears) get better in a few weeks if you follow some simple steps. Use the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) as soon as you're injured. Avoid doing anything that could make the injury worse.

You should see a GP or physiotherapist if:

Contact ACC

If you need to take time off work, or if you need financial help with day-to-day activities, ACC will be able to guide you and let you know what you're eligible for. To register a claim with ACC you don't need to see a GP or physiotherapist.

Set goals

If you're usually active, being injured can be demoralising and frustrating. Set realistic goals for getting better. Write these down and tick them off as you go along so you can see your progress. Talk to your physiotherapist to see if they're achievable and safe.

Tackle barriers to recovery

Are you worried about pain? Or anxious about what's going to happen to you? Are you worried you won't be able to do your job?

Negative thoughts can really get in the way of recovering from an injury. If you're struggling with mental barriers to getting better, talk to your GP or physiotherapist about them.

Be organised

Your aim is to get back to full active health. This can take time and you need to be organised to achieve it.

Make time for your exercises. Make sure you keep appointments with health professionals to make the most of their treatment and advice.

Keep active

We quickly lose muscle if we become inactive. This can really slow recovery. Gaining weight can also put more strain on your injury.

You may not be able to do your previous activities but there are always exercises you can do to stay fit and strong while you recover. Talk to your physiotherapist or GP about what you can safely do.

Stop smoking

Smoking slows down your healing. Stop smoking to help your body recover more quickly from injury.

Take care of yourself

If you aren't sleeping well or are feeling stressed, it's likely to affect how quickly you get better. Talk to your GP or physiotherapist about what you can do to ease your stress and sleep more soundly.

Getting help with recovering from an injury

The two health professionals you're likely to see most of as you recover from an injury are your GP and your physiotherapist.

If you need to find a GP, you can search on this map.

Your GP can refer you to a physiotherapist or you can search for one on Physiotherapy New Zealand's website.

Depending on the sort of injury you have and how bad it is, your GP or physiotherapist may also refer you to a sports physician, orthopaedic surgeon, or Christchurch Hospital Orthopaedics Outpatients Department.

When you first consult a GP or physiotherapist, they'll help you lodge a claim with ACC if that's appropriate. You can also call the ACC helpline any time on 0800‑101‑996.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by physiotherapy liaison, Canterbury Initiative. Last reviewed February 2020.

See also:

Driving with an injury

Relaxation techniques

Using crutches

Page reference: 174367

Review key: HILWI-174362