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  • Writer's pictureLoren Wooldridge

Injury recovery strategies PEACE and LOVE: A Guide to Recovery After a Musculoskeletal Injury

Hip injury assessment
Dr. Loren assessing a hip injury at The Health Lab

Musculoskeletal injuries are a common occurrence, affecting millions of people worldwide each year. Whether it's a sprain, strain, fracture, or another type of injury, the road to recovery can be daunting. Traditionally, the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) protocol has been the go-to approach for managing acute injuries. However, recent research has cast doubt on the effectiveness of this method, particularly the use of ice and rest in the early stages of injury. A groundbreaking study by Dubois et al. in 2020 introduced a novel approach to managing musculoskeletal injuries: PEACE and LOVE. In this blog post, we will delve into what PEACE and LOVE entail and how you can use these principles to facilitate your recovery journey, steering away from the conventional wisdom of RICE.

  1. PEACE: stands for Protect, Elevate, Avoid Anti-inflammatory Modalities, Compress, and Educate. PEACE should be the focused approach for the first 10 days after injury. Let's break down each component:

  • Protect: Immediately after sustaining an injury, it's crucial to protect the affected area from further harm. This may involve immobilization, using braces, or modifying activities to prevent exacerbation of the injury. The goal is to use the least restrictive equipment while still protecting the injury.

  • Elevate: Elevating the injured limb or body part helps reduce swelling by facilitating fluid drainage. Elevate the injured area above the level of the heart whenever possible, especially during periods of rest. If you're treating a leg injury, make sure your torso is level with your hip, this would look like laying flat with the leg elevated.

  • Avoid Anti-inflammatory Modalities: Contrary to conventional wisdom, recent research suggests that immediate use of anti-inflammatory modalities (such as ice, NSAIDs, or corticosteroid injections) may hinder the natural healing process. Dubois et al. advocate for avoiding these modalities during the initial stages of injury, as they may interfere with inflammation, a critical component of the healing cascade. This interference will actually prolong the healing time frame of your injury.

  • Compress: Applying gentle compression to the injured area can help reduce swelling and provide support. Compression bandages or wraps are commonly used for this purpose. However, it's essential not to apply excessive pressure, as this can impede blood flow and delay healing. Usually, you can find great compression socks at your local pharmacy.

  • Educate: Understanding the nature of your injury, its expected recovery timeline, and strategies for self-management is empowering. You should seek out a healthcare provider who can educate you about their condition, including warning signs of complications and appropriate rehabilitative exercises. This provider should not use imaging only as a mean for diagnosis or education.

Knee assessment
Dr. Loren assessing a knee at The Health Lab

  1. LOVE: complements the PEACE framework and emphasizes Load, Optimism, Vascularization, and Exercise. LOVE should be the main source of recovery after the first 10 days of an initial injury.

  • Load: Gradually reintroducing appropriate loads and movements to the injured area stimulates tissue adaptation and promotes healing. However, it's crucial to progress gradually and avoid overloading the tissues, which can lead to reinjury. If something is achy, tight, stiff, awkward, then you have the yellow light to do this activity. The yellow light highlights to proceed with caution. If you try something that is sharp in nature, then modify the activity until it changes to a yellow characteristic of symptoms.

  • Optimism: A positive mindset plays a significant role in the recovery process. Cultivating optimism and resilience can help individuals navigate the challenges of rehabilitation and maintain motivation throughout their healing journey. It is much easier to cultivate optimism if you have someone in your corner with the knowledge to guide you in the healing process.

  • Vascularization: Promoting blood flow to the injured tissues is essential for delivering oxygen and nutrients necessary for healing. Techniques such as gentle movement, massage, and heat therapy can enhance vascularization and accelerate recovery. The best bang for the buck will always come through movement, so try this first before you settle for the passive treatments like heat.

  • Exercise: Incorporating targeted exercises into your rehabilitation program improves strength, flexibility, and proprioception, ultimately restoring function to the injured area. Work closely with fitness forward healthcare provider to develop a personalized exercise regimen tailored to your specific needs and goals. You don't have to lose your fitness when recovering from an injury. The provider you work with is a big influence on just this.

Musculoskeletal injuries can be physically and emotionally taxing, but with the PEACE and LOVE framework, you can optimize the speed and complete recovery of your injury. By protecting the injured area, avoiding anti-inflammatory modalities, and embracing load management and exercise, you can facilitate tissue healing and regain function. Moreover, maintaining a positive outlook and staying informed about your injury are essential aspects of the healing process. Remember, healing take anywhere from weeks to months, so be patient with yourself and trust in the process. With dedication and perseverance, you can overcome your injury and return to an active life as an even better version of yourself.

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The Health Lab Logo

If you feel overwhelmed with this approach and don't know where to start in this healing process, we have amazing providers here to help you along the way. You can schedule a free 15 minute phone consult with them today. Just click the link below!

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