If you experience a sports injury, your first step is to take yourself out of the activity. While you may be tempted to play through pain, doing so can actually put you at risk of further injury in many cases.
Before seeking medical care from sports medicine specialists, you can try basic at-home care, including RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. You may also find relief using over-the-counter pain medications or anti-inflammatories.
A sports medicine specialist may recommend that you try physical therapy first to alleviate discomfort and treat any underlying issues. If physical therapy isn’t effective by itself, more invasive therapies may be recommended.
Healing following a sports injury doesn’t happen overnight. It may take many weeks of treatment or multiple types of treatment before the affected body part is healed and able to resume normal function.
It’s important to listen to the recommendations of your sports medicine specialist and follow through on the full duration of treatment. Depending on the type of injury you have, this may include time in physical therapy regaining abilities, along with the use of a brace or some other type of supportive device.
While you may want to return to normal activity quickly, this may actually cause a setback in recovery, so taking it slowly is advised.
Once your treatment is complete, such as after a surgical procedure, your sports medicine specialist will provide you with detailed recommendations to continue your recovery.
This will typically include at least one follow-up visit, during which your doctor will gauge whether your injury has fully healed and if you can be released to return to activities. Your final visit and care recommendations will likely also include some guidance about how to prevent injuries in the future.
To ensure you fully heal from injury and prevent injury recurrence, be sure to carefully follow any recommendations your doctor provides.