Whether you are an Olympic hopeful or the star of your local softball league, you know that sports-related injuries can set you back. Best case scenario, they may sideline you for an inning or maybe a few games. Worst case, you might have to give up the sport altogether. Should you become injured while playing your favorite sport, here are some of the best treatments for sports injuries, many of which you can do on the field or at home.
- Tightness or light pain. Learn to stretch before and after your workout. If the pain becomes intense, your doctor might advise physical therapy and therapeutic exercises. Anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen may also reduce swelling and ease with pain.
- Stabilization is good for foot, knee, elbow, wrist, and shoulder injuries. Stabilizing or immobilizing the injured area – whether by sling, wrap, or brace – will ensure the affected area does not incur any additional movement that would prove detrimental or damaging to healing.
- Head and brain injury. Even wearing a helmet, athletes can suffer from head and brain injuries. And don’t just think of contact sports such as football or ice hockey as the main culprits. Soccer is actually a very common sport where head injuries such as concussions occur. Recent studies showed that using your head to keep the soccer ball in play could directly lead to neurodegenerative problems such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). In fact, the U.S. Soccer Federation has banned heading for children aged 11 and under and placed restriction on kids 14 and younger. Precaution is best when it comes to preventing concussion or traumatic brain injuries; “shaking it off” is not an effective treatment, as the consequences of such injuries can have devastating long-term effects. If you should hit your head, feel nauseous, dizzy, or have blurred vision or trouble speaking, seek medical attention immediately.
- Heat Exhaustion is caused by dehydration and salt loss and can lead to heat stroke. It is best to treat heat exhaustion with cool compresses, and have the athlete move to a cooler or shady space, providing them with water or a drink that is infused with electrolytes, such as Gatorade. Left untreated, heat exhaustion can turn into heat stroke, a much more serious condition that occurs when the body is unable to control its own temperature. With either heat exhaustion or heat stroke, seek immediate medical attention.
- Sunburn. Sunburn occurs when skin is overexposed to ultraviolet radiation, and can happen even on days that are overcast, or when wearing light or porous clothing. The best way to prevent sunburn is to limit exposure to the sun, wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen, and wearing protective clothing (including a hat). If you should get sunburn, apply cool compresses or aloe Vera lotion to the area. If the burns are deep or oozing, seek medical attention.
- Muscle cramps and spasms. Whether you call them cramps or “charley horses,” muscle contractions can be very painful. The best treatment is gentle stretching and hydration. To stop a foot or leg cramp in its tracks, immediately flex that area, then point. Continue flexing and pointing, working through the cramp, until it is gone.
- Blisters. Pesky blisters occur when there is friction between the skin and another object, such as shoes, a baseball bat, or hockey stick. Gloves or properly fitting shoes make for the best prevention. If you do get blisters, applying moleskin to the area will protect from future friction, and allow the skin to heal.
- Chronic pain from a previous injury or overexertion can cut short sports-related activity. While surgery is sometimes the best option, platelet rich plasma (PRP) and cellular therapies to heal injured tissues and relieve chronic pain has become an attractive medical treatment. These advanced methods use the body’s own natural healing mechanisms to provide lasting pain relief and improved mobility.
The PRICE is Right
We didn’t forget – RICE – rest, ice, compression, elevation. Recently, a “P” was added to RICE, which makes perfect sense. Let’s look at each letter, starting, for a specific reason, with R. The P will come in a bit.
- R is for Rest. Taking a load off and resting the area is effective for localized injuries like sprains and sprains. For exhaustion or full body recovery (for, say, triathletes), resting the entire body for a few days may bring the recovery needed to allow a tired body to bounce back.
- I is for Ice. Applying ice at the place of injury reduces swelling. Some prefer ice baths when they have been through the wringer, like a professional football player or ballerina after three straight hours on her toes.
- C is for Compression, which also is important to reduce swelling. Be sure to use that ace bandage or wrap only after the initial swelling has gone down, otherwise, wrapping too tight could cut off circulation and is super painful.
- Finally, E is for Elevation, which lessens the blood flow to the affected area, can drain fluid, and reduces swelling and inflammation.
There you have RICE, but what about the “P” in PRICE? That’s for prevention, and there’s a good chance you won’t have to worry about a RICE diet if you add a dash of prevention to your wellness recipe. Whether using protective equipment, such as helmets, mouth guards, pads, or proper footwear; making sure your equipment is in good working order and is right for you; or stretching before and after exercise, prevention could stop an injury before it happens.
With so many potential sports injuries and myriad ways to treat them, it may be difficult to find the best treatment. Lynx Healthcare invites you to explore its comprehensive list of resources and educational materials designed to help teach you about any musculoskeletal or pain condition you may face or treatment you may undergo.
At Lynx Healthcare, our dedicated staff is committed to providing the most diverse therapeutic options for your sports injury, or any other medical condition, together with state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, to increase your chances of a successful outcome. Use this convenient online contact form to learn more about how Lynx’s specialists can help you.