Unfortunately, sports injuries come with playing any kind of sport. They bring pain and discomfort, but worst of all, they can take you out of the game. No athlete wants to be sidelined, but it’s best to treat your injury and heal then return to get back into competition form.
Treatment takes time, and you must be willing to be patient while putting in the work necessary for a full recovery. If you maintain your focus and take care to treat your injury as instructed, you can return to competition before you know it.
Many athletes suffer minor sports-related muscle injuries that do not require the service of a doctor or professional trainer. Basic treatment and rehabilitation measures are often recommended to treat such injuries.
AFC Urgent Care Lyndhurst provides treatment for all injuries that are not life-threatening. Our center offers treatment on a walk-in basis, so you will receive the care you need when you need it.
R.I.C.E. is the acronym for REST-ICE- COMPRESSION-ELEVATION and is essentially the formula used to treat minor muscle injury.
- Rest: To begin healing any sports injury, you have to rest the injured area. You don’t want to risk causing worse damage to an already vulnerable and weak muscle. Limit movement to help with a speedy recovery.
- Ice: Applying ice to the affected area within the first 24-48 hours of getting injured can be beneficial. A cold compress can be in the form of bagged crushed ice, an ice pack, or a bag of frozen veggies. Ice is an effective pain reliever, and it can also minimize swelling. Never put ice directly onto the skin to prevent frostbite. Before applying the ice, wrap the area with a thin towel, then let ice stay in place for 15-20 minutes, every 2-3 hours.
- Compress: To reduce swelling and prevent fluid accumulation, an elastic bandage can be firmly wrapped around the injured area. It may also offer some pain relief by helping to immobilize the injured area to a certain degree. Remove and rewrap the bandage if numbness and tingling develop.
- Elevate: The elevation of the injured area above your heart helps to reduce swelling by causing the fluid buildup at the injury site to drain away.
As You Heal
One Day Afterwards
A day after sustaining the injury, pain, and swelling are typically at their worst. You may also experience bruising that appears to be deep purple or black. The best thing to do at this stage is to continue with the R.I.C.E. treatment.
For up to 72 hours after the injury, keep the injured area wrapped and elevated and keep applying ice every couple of hours. Aspirin or ibuprofen could be used to help minimize pain.
Three Days to A Week
Healing begins around the 72 hours mark, and you may experience a minimization in bruising, pain, and swelling. After the swelling has diminished, it’s a good time to alternate heat application with ice every couple of hours to foster proper blood circulation to the injured site and the necessary oxygen and nutrients to aid in the healing.
This is the time to also remove the compression bandage and begin with some gentle stretches focused on the injured area and movement to start loosening and strengthening the muscles.
A Month After
Lingering pain and tenderness could be experienced after a month of getting injured, which should not alarm you. Continue with ice and heat for pain relief and try over-the-counter medicated sports creams, such as Icy Hot or BioFreeze.
Don’t neglect stretching even after the pain and discomfort are gone because it helps to strengthen the muscles and minimize the risk of injuries in the future.
When to See a Doctor
If your sports injury is severe, visit your doctor, and in the worst-case scenario, go to the emergency room. See a doctor if any of the following occurs after getting injured:
- Severe pain and swelling
- Evidence of deformities, like huge lumps
- When the injured area is moved, you hear crunching or popping sounds
- The injured area cannot support any weight
- Joint instability
- Difficulty breathing
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Discoloration or swelling after four weeks
The more proactive you are about treating your sports injury, the quicker you will recover. If you feel your injury is severe or doesn’t respond to RICE treatment, visit your doctor. You can recover from your sports injury quickly if treatment is thorough and effective.