Pain Management Tips for Sports Injuries
Millions of people play sports as a hobby, profession, or just a way to keep fit or be social. Unfortunately, the occasional sports injury will happen, and you may be left with pain from injuries like pulled muscles, concussions, sprains, or even fractures. Recovery time can differ depending on the injury, and even if it isn’t a serious one, the pain it can cause can get in the way of daily tasks and activities. Plus, if the injury isn’t looked after properly and given a chance to heal fully, it can develop into a long-term injury or cause chronic pain – something everyone wants to avoid.
If you are dealing with an injury and the pain is causing you discomfort or inhibiting you from fully living your everyday life, there are a few tips you can try to manage the pain.
Use RICE therapy
The best at-home remedy for pain from an injury is RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Resting is considered one of the most effective ways to start healing your injury, since it will be weak and vulnerable to other issues or further injuries, especially in the few hours immediately following the incident. Give it a chance to heal by taking a break from moving or working it.
Icing benefits the injury most in the first day or two after becoming injured. Crush some ice into a bag, use a bag of frozen veggies, or grab an ice pack and wrap it in a cloth or towel before placing it on the area of injury for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Icing helps prevent swelling by lowering the amount of blood flow to the area, which will help relieve pain. Make sure to let your skin return to normal temperature after the 20 minutes and before you ice it again.
Compress the injury by firmly wrapping an elastic bandage around the area to minimize swelling, prevent any buildup of fluids, and keep it immobilized. The bandage will also help support the area. Be aware of how tightly it’s wrapped, as it shouldn’t be so tight that it causes tingling or numbness. You don’t want to cut off circulation or add discomfort, so if you feel these sensations, rewrap the bandage slightly looser.
Elevating your injury above your heart or at heart level will help reduce and minimize swelling by allowing any fluid to drain away from the injured area. If the injury is in your hips or buttocks, you can try to lie down and put a pillow under your hips and lower back to help elevate the area.
Use pain medicine
Over-the-counter pain medications like medicated sports creams, acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help alleviate pain and ease your discomfort. Do your best to avoid opioids, even though they are sometimes prescribed as part of a treatment plan to get rid of severe pain when nothing else works. They are highly addictive and can cause side effects like fatigue, lethargy, and nausea, and should only be used under doctor supervision and when absolutely necessary.
Try complementary therapies
Physical therapy can help increase your range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding your injury, as well as your injured muscles once they have been given enough time to rest and recover. This can help reduce pain.
Other alternative therapies could include acupuncture, chiropractic care, or massage therapy, depending on the type and severity of your injury.
Interventional pain management
Interventional pain management is a term used to describe when more advanced steps are necessary to take in order to manage pain signals. One example of interventional pain management is injections. This may include epidural steroid injections or facet joint injections, which work to reduce inflammation and pain over a longer period of time.
At our pain management clinic, we have pain management doctors who are highly experienced and trained in administering these types of injections. If you are still in pain after trying therapy and pain medication, give us a call to schedule your initial consultation with a pain management specialist today!