Skip to main content

Acute injuries: The basics you should know

Acute Injury
4 minutes, 7 seconds

If you’ve ever been injured, chances are you had an acute injury. An acute injury occurs suddenly, usually due to sudden force or trauma to a specific area of the body. Sprains, strains and fractures are examples of acute injuries. 

Although many of these sudden injuries happen due to uncontrollable factors, many of them could have been prevented or reduced. In fact, an orthopedic department reported that about 24% of patients’ acute injuries were preventable. 

The most common acute injuries

There are many acute injuries that people develop every day. Many of these injuries occur while playing sports or while at work. Injuries from slips or falls are also common. 

Now you have an idea where or how many acute injuries happen, but you may not know which acute injuries are most likely. Some of the most common sudden injuries include: 

  • Sprains — A sprain occurs when a ligament is overstretched or slightly torn. For instance, rolling your ankle during sports can lead to an ankle sprain. 
  • Strains — A strain happens when a muscle or tendon is overstretched or slightly torn. You may have developed a back muscle strain by lifting an object that was too heavy, or you may have strained a hamstring while playing sports or exercising. 
  • Fractures — A broken bone is synonymous with the medical term “fracture.” This injury is particularly common among people who slip or fall. For instance, throwing your hands out to catch yourself when falling has a high chance of causing a wrist fracture.

Acute vs. chronic injuries: They’re not the same

Acute and chronic injuries are different in several important ways. First, the time frame in which each type of injury happens is different. As mentioned above, acute injuries occur suddenly often because of trauma or a sudden force being applied to the body. 

Chronic injuries develop over longer periods of time. Often, anywhere from weeks to years. Let’s look at an example: someone who has carpal tunnel syndrome. The reality is that the pain and other symptoms of this condition probably didn’t appear overnight. They are likely the result of weeks, months, or even years of poor wrist posture and/or poor wrist mechanics when doing repetitive tasks that repeatedly irritated the affected wrist.

A second major difference in these two types of injuries is how long you feel pain from them. Acute injuries tend to cause pain for a few days or weeks, typically. However, they may cause some level of pain or discomfort for up to six months. Chronic injuries tend to cause varying levels of pain for six months or longer

How can physical therapy help prevent acute injuries?

Between medication, doctor’s appointments and possible surgery, a single acute injury can cost thousands of dollars. With help from a physical therapist, however, you can help prevent severe acute injuries so that you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank. Physical therapists can help you prevent sudden injuries by: 

  • Reminding you of your proper forms and techniques.

    During a physical therapy session, your physical therapist can remind you how to align your body while working or playing games. Knowing proper body mechanics can help you avoid injury in the future. For example, athletes are particularly susceptible to acute injuries like tears and fractures. In your session, physical therapists can demonstrate proper warmup techniques, strength-training exercises and cooldown routines that can significantly minimize an athlete’s risk of injury.
  • Examining your body for degenerative changes.

    Our bodies change over time. And if you’re an athlete, your body can change rapidly. That’s where physical therapy sessions come in. The data your physical therapist gathers during your sessions allows you to track your progress over a long period of time. By knowing how your recent PT session compares to your last one, you and your therapist can pinpoint areas for improvement. You’ll also be able to recognize if you need further care to address your body’s changes, which can reduce the chance for injuries down the road.
  • Sharing your limitations.

    During an initial physical therapy session, your physical therapist can test your endurance, flexibility, strength and musculoskeletal alignment. When you know your body’s limitations, you can avoid situations that put too much stress on your body. Your physical therapist may also encourage you to increase your mobility via exercises and stretches. For example, if you find out that your shoulder has limited mobility, you can avoid situations that place immense pressure on your shoulder. In the meantime, you can also try to improve your shoulder’s mobility at home or by continuing to work with a physical therapist. 

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for your injuries

Whether it’s acute or chronic, you don’t have to address your injury alone. Physical therapists are ready to walk with you down your path to recovery, no matter how long or short that path may be.

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. 

Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you address your specific injury and symptoms. 

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 
Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury.

Get Help at a Location Near You

Find a Location