While most people will go see a doctor after any type of sports injury is incurred, there are some that do not require a doctor to treat, and still others need to be treated in the meantime until you can get to a doctor to help the recovery process get started. Quick treatment often means the difference between a 3-month recovery and a 2-month recovery so it is very important to start treating the injury right away.
The most common injuries that are suffered are acute injuries. The best way to treat these is to use R.I.C.E. initially then determine if seeing a doctor is necessary. R.I.C.E. is an acronym that is short for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. The purpose of each step is different with rest being essential to allow the healing to begin while helping to prevent further injury to the area from occurring. Ice is vital because it can help stop swelling in the injured area, which can help when it comes to diagnosing the injury. Compression is important because it helps to reduce swelling even further as well as provides support for the injury. Elevation is necessary because it reduces the flow of blood to the injured area and allows the force of gravity to pull blood away, thus reducing bruising, swelling and pain.
Proper treatment using R.I.C.E. is to first take a piece of cloth such as a town and wrap it around the injury this helps to protect the skin from irritation. Next, you want to apply an ice pack or cold compress directly over the injured area. Using an elastic bandage or even a support bandage to hold the ice in place carefully wrap the injured area snugly, be careful not to wrap too tightly you are not trying to cut off the blood supply, just hold the ice in place. You should apply ice for approximately 15 minutes every three hours during the day to continue treating.
In the event that you cannot decide if seeing a doctor is necessary, use these rules of thumb to assist you.
- If you see any bone, muscle, cartilage or ligaments then an emergency trip to the doctor is absolutely necessary.
- If the pain from the injured area seems to be spreading to other areas of the body.
- If you have a very large amount of swelling in the injured area that following R.I.C.E. is not helping.
- If you cannot move the injured area at all.
- If you cannot feel the injured area, or if it tingles or feels very weak and fragile.
- If your injury has not improved after three weeks of rest.
- If your injured area has developed a rash, fever, pus, or if it feels hot to the touch.
Finally, if you have any doubts about being able to treat the injury yourself then seeing a doctor is as essential as if one of the previous conditions mentioned was visible. You should always seek help from a doctor in the even that you are unsure how to treat the injury. You are not bugging your doctor; rather you are ensuring that you are treated safely and quickly
If ever in doubt, seeing your doctor is advisable to receive the best possible care. If your doctor is unavailable, and the injury is serious, go to the emergency room and see medical help there. Never leave a serious injury without seeking medical help as the condition can worsen causing the need for serious treatment even potentially surgery to become necessary.