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Sports Injuries: When to See a Doctor

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It is often difficult to determine if a sports injury is bad enough to go to the doctor. Did you sprain or strain something, or could it be a broken bone? So, how do you know?

First, you should have an understanding of the three main types of sports injuries: sprains, strains and fractures.

  1. A sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments. The most common place to get a sprain is your ankle, but you can also sprain your wrist, knee or other joint.
  2. A strain is a stretching or tearing of a muscle or tendon. A tendon is a tissue connecting muscle to bone. Common places to get strains include your back and your thigh.
  3. A fracture is a broken bone. It can be a complete or partial break. Common fractures seen in sports injuries include collarbone, arm and foot.

If you have a minor strain or sprain, you may experience pain, swelling, bruising and limited motion. These types of injuries may be successfully treated at home, but you should seek medical attention if the area is still severely painful after 3-4 days or if you have decreased strength or range of motion after 1-2 weeks.

There are some injuries that require immediate medical attention. If you can’t bear weight on the injured area, hear something pop, show signs of a concussion or have a severe injury such as a dislocation, go to the ER or seek a sports medicine specialist immediately. Sports medicine specialized physicians are trained to help you maximize your function and minimize time away from sports.

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