Ouch. That Hurts!
Posted 10/6/2017 by UHBlog
Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts get bumps and bruises and aches and pains along the way – and, to a certain degree, that’s to be expected. But if two weeks have passed and the ankle you twisted on your morning run is still smarting, it’s probably time to see a doctor.
“Most people tend to know their bodies well,” says sports medicine specialist Robert Flannery, MD. “If you can’t do things you’re used to being able to do comfortably, you should probably see (a health professional) before something minor turns into something major. If pain persists beyond two weeks, a nagging pain can turn into something chronic.”
Certainly, if you suspect you’ve broken a bone, dislocated a joint, have an open wound that may require stitches, are having trouble walking, or are experiencing pain that’s keeping you up at night, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Otherwise, Dr. Flannery suggests trying these at-home treatments first:
- Ice and heat: Ice is usually preferred for the first two or three days following an injury because it helps control swelling. After that, heat is recommended to promote blood flow. Whether using ice or heat, be mindful of the temperature because extremes in either direction can cause dermal burns.
- Over-the-counter remedies: OTC pain relievers are effective for acute aches, but they don’t cure deeper injuries.
“Sometimes, they can mask an underlying problem,” Dr. Flannery says. “Aspirin or ibuprofen may make something feel better, but it doesn’t mean the underlying issue is being addressed.”
- Wrapping: Applying pressure on and stabilizing a joint or muscle with gauze wrapping or medical tape may reduce swelling initially. But if swelling continues beyond two days, seek medical attention.
If pain persists or worsens or you can’t resume your normal activity after two weeks (or two days for swelling), your injury may require more than a home remedy. You can start with your primary care physician, who is equipped to take care of minor aches and pains and can refer you to the proper specialist if your condition warrants it. Or, if your insurance plan allows it, schedule an appointment with a sports medicine specialist, who is experienced in dealing with injuries sustained from running, jumping, pitching, swinging a golf club, and other athletic pursuits.
“Of course, the best thing to do for aches and pains is to prevent them in the first place,” Dr. Flannery says.
- Warming up/stretching before exercising
- Cooling down afterward to keep your body’s systems balanced
- Staying hydrated: water is fine for most athletes before, during and after a workout or training session. But if you’re training for more than two hours, reach for eight ounces of chocolate milk or a sports recovery drink that contains protein after your cool-down.
- Eating a balanced diet
Robert Flannery, MD is a sports medicine specialist at University Hospitals and a medical team physician for the Cleveland Browns. You can request an appointment with Dr. Flannery or any other doctor online.