Photo by Harlie Raethel on Unsplash
Being active is good for you, and sports can make it fun. But sometimes fun can hurt. Most common injuries can be prevented with a little warming up and stretching. Here are 5 common injuries and how to treat them.
- Ankle Sprain
An ankle sprain occurs when the ankle joint rolls or twists in a way it shouldn’t. This can stretch or even tear the ligaments that hold the joint together. A sprained ankle is usually characterized by pain and swelling. You may experience a limited range of motion as well. The first treatment for a sprained ankle should be ice, rest, and pain relievers. Wrapping the ankle or wearing a brace may help in some cases. An ankle sprain is usually not serious. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to rule out more serious injuries if:
- You are experiencing severe pain, even with medication.
- You can’t walk.
- There is no improvement after 5-7 days.
- Hamstring Strain
A hamstring strain is when you pull or tear the tendon or muscle at the back of the thigh. There are three levels of hamstring strains. Level one is a mild strain, level two is a partial tear and level three is a complete tear. A level one strain will usually result in sudden pain and tenderness at the back of the leg that should subside within a few days. Level two injuries are more painful and may include swelling or bruising. You may even lose some of the strength of the muscle. It may take a few weeks for a partial tear to heal. A level three tear will be very painful as well as swollen and bruised. You may be a popping feeling at the time of the injury and you won’t be able to use your leg at all. A severe tear may months to improve. The initial treatment for a hamstring strain is
- Compression and
If you are concerned about your injury, it doesn’t hurt to see a doctor. Definitely go in if your condition is not improving or worsening.
- Shin Splints
Shin splints are characterized by a dull pain at the front of the lower leg, along the shin bone. Shin splint is a common injury for runners, dancers or people who play sports with a lot of stopping and starting, like basketball, tennis or soccer. Shin splint pain is caused by the swelling of the muscle along the bone. You may be at risk of developing ship splints if:
- You have weak thigh or butt muscles
- You aren’t very flexible
- You haven’t trained properly
- You are running downhill, over uneven ground or on hard surfaces, like cement
- You aren’t wearing good shoes for your activity.
To treat shin splints you will need to take a break from some physical activities to give your legs a rest, usually about two weeks. Keeping your legs elevated, using an ice pack and taking pain medications are also recommended. You may also want to try massing your shins with a foam roller. Contact your doctor if you have severe pain after a fall, your shin feels hot or is swollen or the pain doesn’t go away even when you’re resting.
- Lower Back Pain
There are many possible causes of lower back pain. The muscles of the lower back are commonly strained from running, twist or lifting. Rest and pain relievers should do the trick but call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Pain that is getting worse
- Pain that radiates into your legs
- Any bowel or bladder changes
- Pain that affects your balance
- Pain that lasts more than two months.
If you do have a more serious injury, your doctor will let you know all the possible surgical and non-surgical treatment options.
A concussion is actually a brain injury as a result of hitting your head. Commonly resulting in headaches, sleepiness or ringing ears. You should see a doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms:
- Blacking out
- Poor balance or dizziness
- Confusion or memory loss
- Sleep problems or
- Sensitivity to light.
You should go to the emergency room if, after hitting your head, you have:
- Severe headaches
- Repeated vomiting
- Difficulty using your arms or legs
- Worsening sleepiness or confusion
There is no real cure for concussion. To rest and let your brain heal you should avoid:
- Watching TV
- Video games
- Using headphones
- Using the telephone
Most concussions heal by themselves in about two weeks.
If you are experiencing any of these injuries, give yourself time to heal and then get back out there and have fun.