When to Seek a Specialist for a Sports Injury - Suffolk Foot and Ankle

When to Seek a Specialist for a Sports Injury

When to Seek a Specialist for a Sports Injury

Staying physically fit is important for health and overall wellbeing at every age.  Children and teens often suffer from sports-related injuries. But, adults who are physically active and involved in sports leagues often suffer from injuries as well. Sometimes, more subtle injuries will heal in time, but those same subtle injuries may lead to further issues down the road if left untreated.

But, how do you know if you should see a specialist when the pain is more severe or doesn’t seem to go away? If you are sore after a long run or a day of flag football with friends, you can likely treat your injury at home.  But, if your injury is more severe or doesn’t improve within a couple of days, you may need to seek further treatment.

A few tips will help you determine whether your sports injury requires simple rest, or if you need to check in with a doctor. 

Treating Minor Sports Injuries at Home

If you are certain your injury is simply due to overexertion, you can certainly try treating it yourself before seeing a doctor. Taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can help ease the pain. Then, follow the “RICE” method:

  •         REST – Take a few days off and give your body time to heal.
  •         ICE – Use cold packs to reduce swelling.
  •         COMPRESS – Wrap the sore area with an elastic bandage to reduce swelling and provide extra stability.
  •         ELEVATE – Prop up your injured foot or leg on a pillow to reduce and ease swelling.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Often, when we experience a sports-related injury, we are hesitant to call a doctor, assuming it will go away in time, or because we fear that we will be unable to participate in something we enjoy. Still, ignoring the problem doesn’t solve it, and worse, ignoring it can cause further damage and a much longer recovery period.  

If you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s important to call a doctor right away to seek further treatment and avoid long-term damage:

  •         Increased swelling
  •         Numbness or Tingling
  •         Pain when you bear weight on the injured area
  •         Shooting pain that radiates
  •         Recurrent pain that may improve, but comes back
  •         Pain that continues after a few days to a week of rest

Who Should I See for Help with a Sports-Related Injury?

A first step may be to reach out to your primary care provider, but doctors who specialize in sports medicine are trained and may be better able to treat your injuries more quickly and efficiently, getting you back in the game sooner.