When Should I See a Doctor After a Sports Injury?
Exercise is paramount for healthy living and staying fit, but there's also an inherent risk of injury for all the fun that comes with it. And while broken bones and torn ligaments are no-brainers for treatment, other injuries may not be as obvious. Lingering soreness? Pain that worsens? Let's look at the importance of sports medicine and the definitive signs for treatment.
The Importance of Sports Medicine
Sports medicine is a specialty of orthopedic medicine that focuses on the musculoskeletal system (i.e., joints, muscles, and bones). What was once an area of care reserved for professional athletes is now available for all individuals who have a sports-related injury, want to improve their performance, or prevent future injuries.
Moreover, a sports medicine physician will educate a patient on preparing for exercise safely. Care may focus on strengthening areas in the body vulnerable to repeat injuries when exercising or playing a sport.
Signs It's Time to See a Doctor
Repeat Injuries. These are chronic injuries occurring in the same spot, usually from repetitive movements in sports like running, cycling, and swimming. Over time these injuries can result in wear and tear and may worsen with incorrect form. Examples include runner's knee, stress fractures, and tennis elbow. A sports medicine physician will provide rehabilitation and prevention techniques to stop the cycle of injuries.
Numbness and Tingling. A "pins and needles" sensation in the arms or legs may indicate nerve damage due to a bone fracture, dislocated disc, or a pinched nerve. Sometimes nerves are damaged directly from a sports-related injury, or it could be inflammation or swelling irritating the nerve.
Sprains and Strains. These occur from tearing or stretching soft tissues, usually in the ankles, wrists, and knees, caused by fast jerking motions or awkward movements. A moderate sprain or strain may tear a ligament, causing instability, swelling, and pain.
Inability to Bear Weight on Leg. Having difficulty walking or bearing weight on a leg is a sign of a severe orthopedic injury. It can occur from rolled ankles and muscle spasms to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and broken bones. Symptoms usually include tenderness, pain, and significant swelling.
Lingering Pain. When sudden pain or soreness occurs after exercise, the first instinct is often to practice RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate). However, this isn't sufficient treatment when the pain lingers for weeks or even returns after disappearing for some time. This lingering pain is a clear sign that a sports medicine physician is needed to intervene.
Injury Interferes With Day-to-Day Life. Most athletes — professional and novice — practice their sport of choice several times a week. Over time, pain can develop from overuse, making one susceptible to future injuries and potentially disrupting a workout routine and day-to-day activities indefinitely. Working with a sports medicine physician will alleviate areas of pain and soreness and provide techniques to prevent future injuries.
Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, PA
Are you suffering from a sports-related injury? Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, PA can help. We are experienced in sports medicine and can develop a treatment plan to have you back and safely participating in your favorite sport in no time. Contact us at 252-443-0400 and set up an evaluation appointment today.