You’ve been playing a lot of tennis recently, and now your elbow is hurting. Maybe you’re a softball player with an aching shoulder or a runner with knee pain? Do you go to a doctor, or tough it out?
Some sports injuries require prompt medical attention, while others can be treated at home. Here’s what you need to know about both types:
When to See a Doctor
Contact your doctor if:
- Your injury causes severe pain, instability, swelling or numbness (joint pain, particularly in your knee, ankle, elbow and wrist, should never be ignored).
- You can’t tolerate any weight on the injured area.
- You have a reduced range of motion.
Treatment at Home
If you don’t have any of the above symptoms, it’s probably safe to treat your injury at home – at least at first. If your symptoms worsen or pain persists for more than 48 hours, it’s best to check with your doctor. When treating an injury at home, use the RICE method to relieve pain and inflammation.
- Rest. Reduce regular exercise or daily activities as needed.
- Ice. Apply ice to the injured area for no more than 15 minutes at a time.
- Compression. Wrap the injured area in a compression bandage.
- Elevation. Keep the injured area elevated above the level of your heart, to help decrease swelling.
The following tips can help prevent sports injuries:
- Always warm up before playing. Make sure your warm up suits your sport.
- Stretch your muscles before playing.
- Cool down after playing. Jog in place for a few minutes so your pulse comes down gradually.
- Wear properly fitting shoes that provide shock absorption and stability.
- Avoid playing when tired or in pain. This is a set-up for a careless injury.