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Strains, Sprains, and Other Sports Injuries: 3 Questions

Expert advice from Edward McFarland, MD, on how to cope with these common sports injuries.

WWhat are the treatments for these different injuries?

With traumatic injuries, if you have bruising or swelling or can’t move something, you of course need to see a health provider to make sure that you didn’t break something.

For overuse injuries, there is a litany of things you can do. We usually recommend relative rest. In other words, you don’t have to completely stop your sport, but you should back off a little bit. Maybe not exercise five days a week but go to three, or maybe don’t exercise for two hours, but for 45 minutes.

You may want to do some cross training, exercising joints other than those that are irritated.

Also, use ice on places that hurt.  Ice, not heat -- the old adage about ice for 24 hours followed by heat is really not believed anymore. Ice is better for pain and swelling and for getting range of motion back. You can ice after any exercise; you can even ice at night in bed. Heat is good for stretching and before exercise, but ice is always better afterward.

You can also take some acetaminophen in a low dose if you are so inclined, but it’s a little trickier if you try to use anti-inflammatories [such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen] because there are lots of side effects associated with them. But if you don’t have trouble with those, then small doses are probably OK.

If you continue to have trouble, then seeking a consultation from a physician might be a good idea.

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Reviewed on April 13, 2010

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