Treating the most common sports injuries
Usually, common sports injuries are mild or moderate — there’s some damage, but everything is still in place. You can treat them at home using the PRICE therapy method described later in this article. But you should expect that some common sports injuries may take months to heal, even with good treatment. If a sprain or strain is severe, however, the entire muscle, tendon, or ligament is torn away, and surgery may be needed.
Here are some specific tips for treating each of the most common sports injuries:
1. Ankle sprain
What it is: Most athletes have experienced a sprained ankle, which typically occurs when the foot turns inward. This turning stretches or tears the ligaments on the outside of the ankle, which are relatively weak.
What you can do: With an ankle sprain, it’s important to exercise to prevent loss of flexibility and strength — and re-injury. You can ask your doctor or physical therapist to help you know what kinds of exercise you should do.
When to see a doctor: It’s important to note where the sprain has occurred. “A ‘high ankle sprain’ is slower to heal and should probably be seen by a doctor to make sure the bones in the lower leg did not separate,” says R. Marvin Royster, MD. Royster is assistant team physician for the Atlanta Braves and an orthopedic surgeon with Peachtree Orthopedic Clinic in Atlanta. One way to recognize a high ankle sprain is that this sprain usually causes tenderness above the ankle.
2. Groin pull
What it is: Pushing off in a side-to-side motion causes strain of the inner thigh muscles, or groin. “Hockey, soccer, football, and baseball are common sports with groin injuries,” says Royster.
What you can do: Compression, ice, and rest will heal most groin injuries. Returning to full activity too quickly can aggravate a groin pull or turn it into a long-term problem.