The treatment a sport’s injury requires in order to recover is dependent on its severity and the body part affected. Injuries which don’t require medical treatment can be treated at home using PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation) therapy. However, more severe injuries may necessitate more intensive therapies. It’s a good idea to try home treatments first, but if after 48 hours your symptoms are worse, then it’s time to speak to your GP and discuss additional treatment options. Some of the most common are listed below.
Your GP may prescribe painkillers such as paracetamol to make you more comfortable. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, may also be prescribed to reduce pain and swelling.
Immobilising injured body parts helps to prevent further damage by reducing movement. It can also lessen pain, muscle swelling and muscle spasms.
A sling can be fashioned by you to keep your arm or shoulder still until you’ve received medical advice. A doctor may choose to fit a plastic or fibreglass splint or cast to protect and immobilise injured bones and soft tissue.
After a knee injury or knee surgery, doctors might advise using a leg immobiliser constructed from foam rubber to fix the position of the limb and prevent it from bending.
Where severe or persistent inflammation occurs, you may be advised to have a corticosteroid injection. The drug will be injected through a fine needle into the affected area. This is usually mixed with an anaesthetic to reduce discomfort from the injection.
Doses are usually administered every three to six months. Although the pain is likely to improve significantly or disappear altogether over the next weeks to months, some find the pain relief is minimal or short-lived. Other people see no improvement or worsening of symptoms.
The injection carries a small risk of infection and side effects, and discomfort may be felt at the site for around 48 hours.
Physiotherapy may be recommended. The technique uses massage, manipulation and special exercises to improve the range of motion and return the injured area to its normal functionality. The aim is to strengthen the muscles in the affected body part.
The evidence to suggest the helpfulness or otherwise of massage is mixed, but some sports therapists and coaches believe that it may speed up the recovery process. Supporters of massage suggest that it encourages the flow of blood into the affected body part, allowing the nutrients in the blood to repair the damaged tissue, and that it increases flexibility in the injured part. It is not recommended for those suffering from soft-tissue injuries such as torn ligaments, and could in fact make the injury worse.
Heat Treatment and Ultrasound Therapy
The idea of heat and ultrasound therapy works in the same way as massage, by stimulating blood flow to the affected area. Again, the evidence for its success is not conclusive, although ultrasound seems to speed up the healing process of fractured bones, and heat treatment can relieve pain.
Very severe injuries may require corrective surgery, such as badly broken bones or torn knee ligaments. More information on these procedures can be found on the NHS website.
An important part of treating sports injuries is rehabilitation. A rehabilitation programme should be designed by a physiotherapist or a sports injury specialist like Black Swan Osteopathy. The aim is to restore the injured body part to normal functionality by gradually introducing it to movement and exercise. Most sport’s injuries benefit from the affected part being moved as soon as possible to aid the recovery process. Gentle exercises help to restore the range of movement. Stretching and strengthening exercises can be introduced once movement becomes easier and pain decreases.
During this process, avoid trying to do too much too quickly. A good way of starting is to do frequent repetitions of a few simple exercises before gradually increasing the amount. Painful activities should be avoided, and you should not think of returning to your sport until your pain has disappeared completely and the injured area has returned to full strength and flexibility.