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Common Sports Injury Treatments

A List of the Top Sports Injury Treatment Options

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Updated April 01, 2009

If you have a sports injury, the first thing to do is to prevent further damage and allow the injury to heal. Here are some of the most common methods for treating sports injuries.

1. Prevention

The best way to treat any sports injury is prevention. If you train wisely, know injury warning signs and take enough rest between workouts, you are far more likely to avoid injury in the first place.

2. Pay Attention to Pain

If you notice any pain during exercise, you should stop activity and try to identify the cause of the pain. Does pain occur only when you start a workout, during the middle of a long run, or does it show up later in the day? Also pay attention to where exactly the pain occurs. Is it in one specific place or a generalized ache over a large area? Does it travel up or down or radiate to other areas? Understanding your pain can often help you identify the cause, get the right treatment and heal more quickly.

3. Stop Activity - Rest and Recovery

If you experience any of the injury warning signs, such as pain, joint tenderness or nagging aches during exercise stop and rest. Many athletes train despite pain, but muscle and joint pain or soreness is often a warning sign of overtraining. When muscles fatigue, they are far more likely to become injured. Injured muscles, bones, tendons ligaments take a long time to heal, and once they are injured, are prone to re-injury.

4. Muscle Soreness Treatment

Delayed onset muscle soreness is a common result of overdoing a new exercise or activity without allowing for a gradually increase in base fitness for the activity. While it's not always avoidable, soreness can be a deterrent to continuing exercise, so treat your muscle soreness quickly.

5. Ice for Acute Sports Injuries

Ice reduces inflammation and relieves pain. When using ice, it's important to follow some safe icing guidelines. Ice the injured muscle or joint for 15 to 20 minutes, two to three times a day.

6. Heat for Chronic Sports Injuries

Heat is not recommended for acute injuries, but is often helpful for chronic injuries or injuries that have no inflammation or swelling. Sore, stiff, nagging muscle or joint pain responds well to heat therapy. Athletes with chronic pain or injuries may use heat therapy before exercise to increase the elasticity of joint connective tissues and to stimulate blood flow. Heat can also help relax tight muscles or muscle spasms. Don't apply heat after exercise. After a workout, ice is the better choice on a chronic injury.

7. Anti-inflammatory Medication

Most soft-tissue injuries are painful because of the swelling and inflammation that occurs after an injury. Pain relief is often the main reason that people turn to over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medications that work by reducing the inflammation that occurs as a result of the injury.

8. Physical Therapy and Rehab Exercises

Physical therapy and rehab is a standard treatment for many sports injuries. PT helps restore function and regain strength after many common sports injuries. A personal exercise or rehab program is generally prescribed by a registered Physical Therapist. In most cases, a patient is referred by their primary physician to a physical therapist for evaluation and exercise instruction. Most patients will perform both stretching and strengthening exercises at home as well as in the clinic.

9. Cortisone Injections

Cortisone is the most common injected steroid because it has a dramatic anti-inflammatory effect on tissues, particularly joint and tendon injuries. Cortisone injections are a common and effective treatment for a variety of sports injuries that result in inflammation and pain, particularly when combined with physical therapy or other rehab programs.

10. Surgery

Surgical treatment for sports injuries is sometimes necessary following a traumatic injury such as a fracture or ligament injury or when other conservative treatments are ineffective. Surgical treatments can be performed either through arthroscopic surgery or open surgery.

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