This post is part of The Ultimate Guide to Sports Medicine
A sports injury can occur during sports or exercise and commonly involves a muscle within your body. The injury may result in sudden or severe pain, or it may come on gradually. Either way, the first thing you should do after an injury is prevent further injury by stopping your activity.
Then, you want to pinpoint where the pain is coming from. Bruises, strains, sprains and tears can often be immediately treated with R.I.C.E. This will prevent the injury from getting worse and stop or reduce swelling.
Primary treatment for soft tissue muscle injuries:
- Rest the injured area for 48 hours
- Ice intermittently during the first 24 to 48 hours; never put ice directly on the skin, use a thin towel and apply ice for 20 minutes every two hours
- Compression bandages can be used to reduce swelling and restrict movement; great care should be taken to not apply wrap too tightly
- Elevation by raising the injured limb to an elevated and resting position above the heart
After 48 hours
Common treatment for sports injuries beyond R.I.C.E.
Your sports medicine physician may recommend a variety of treatment options depending on your specific injury. Common treatment options include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen
- Home exercises to strengthen muscles
- Physical therapy to increase strength and flexibility
- Immobilization devices such as crutches, a walking boot, arm sling or ankle brace
- Steroid injection: Injection of a corticosteroid along with a local anesthetic may relieve symptoms temporarily or permanently; if pain returns, another injection may be needed
- In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary such as a torn ACL, rotator cuff tear or combined knee ligament injury. However, even in severe sports injuries, non-surgical methods have proven successful in returning a patient to their normal lifestyle.
The best thing an athlete or active individual can do after an injury or experiencing pain is to immediately treat and pay attention to their injury at home. If that doesn’t work, a sports medicine specialist will determine the best course of treatment for the specific injury.
Learn more about sports medicine treatment at OrthoIndy.