Sports injury treatment is the first phase in the recovery process. It deals with the initial management of the injury, and sets the stage for successful rehabilitation and return to sports activities. Proper treatment can literally cut weeks off of your total recovery time.
The primary goal of any treatment program should always center around controlling the initial pain, inflammation, and dysfunction caused by the sports injury. Your body goes through specific physiologic processes for healing, and these processes need to be controlled and facilitated for optimal healing.
The most common problems that occur after injury are pain, swelling, loss of mobility, and loss of strength. In addition to the actual tissue damage, we must also worry about controlling swelling and pain. Treatment will vary for different types of injuries, but there are several basic concepts that always apply. Once the initial injury is controlled, then you can progress on to sports injury rehab.
While initial treatment is important and should be done with any sports injury, it is just as important that you get an evaluation and diagnosis of your injury from a licensed healthcare provider. I strongly recommend seeing a physician, athletic trainer, or physical therapist who has experience with sports injuries. The treatments listed below can help with your initial recovery, but it is very important that you know what kind of injury you have so that you can know how best to treat it successfully.
An examination and diagnosis is also important to rule out serious problems such as fractures or ligament ruptures. What may look like an ankle sprain may actually be an ankle fracture - the treatments for these two injuries are very different, and the only way to know for sure what your injury is is to be evaluated by someone who is trained in diagnosis of sports injuries. For the best recovery possible, go see your healthcare provider.
When injury occurs, your body goes through very specific processes to begin healing. The first phase of healing is inflammation, and includes changes at the vascular and cellular level at the injury site. The signs and symptoms of inflammation include swelling, pain, muscular spasm, redness, increased temperature, and dysfunction. Swelling and pain are the most problematic symptoms of inflammation, so most sports injury treatments focus on reducing both.
You are probably already familiar with the most common approach to sports injury treatment - R.I.C.E., which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Each of these steps helps to control inflammation, and to aid in your overall recovery.
In addition to R.I.C.E., other treatments include protecting the injured body part through braces, limiting movements, crutches (for lower extremity injuries), and anti-inflammatory medications. These treatments help to control swelling and pain, and allow the body to go through the specific processes necessary for healing. It is important to remember that there is no way to SPEED UP the healing process. But there are a lot of things that you can do to slow it down. The ultimate goal of sports injury treatment is to facilitate the healing process without slowing it down.