Sports Injuries: When the Gain Stops and the Pain Starts

Torn Calf Muscle

Each year, millions and millions of athletes worldwide will be plagued by sports injuries.

Regardless of whether these athletes are professionals, amateurs aspiring to become a professional, or are just a “weekend warrior” looking to have a bit of fun in their downtime makes no difference. Anyone that participates in sporting events on a regular basis runs the risk of contending with serious sports injuries.

Sadly, many of these injuries could be completely avoided – or at least managed and mitigated – through the use of proper diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, a significant amount of these injuries are ignored outright (or even celebrated through the “sports warrior mentality”), leading to even more significant conditions down the line and often considerable pain and discomfort.

Of course, no small amount of sports injuries fly under the radar as most people believe them to be “gain pains” – training related pain and soreness that is so common when building an athletic body.

Thankfully, there are a number of different things you can do to prepare yourself and present many of these conditions from happening in the first place, and no small amount of things you’ll be able to do to resolve any and all sports injuries you end up fighting through.

Shall we dive right in?

Understanding the difference between a sports injury pain and “gain pains”

It’s absolutely impossible to effectively treat a sports injury until one is properly diagnosed, which means that you need to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms that your pain, your soreness, and your irritation is much more severe and more significant than the pain you have to fight through when building your athletic body.

The first thing that you should be looking for is sudden or severe pain that immediately begins to swell, or any pain that limits your ability to move or interact with the physical realm in ways that you traditionally are able to.

Feeling like something has snapped, something has broken, or something is out of place is an immediate red flag that you are dealing with a serious injury and not just training soreness – and you need to have a professional diagnose these issues just as soon as humanly possible.

You should also be on the lookout for extreme weakness or fatigue, the inability to move your joints as you normally would have been able to come and any long-lasting conditions that you don’t recognize as “normal wear and tear” after training.

Some of the most common sports injuries include…

Though there are literally hundreds and hundreds of different conditions, ailments, or sports injuries that you could be plagued with, there are about seven or eight different extremely common conditions that most athletes are going to have to contend with if they become injured.

These conditions include:

  • Sprained ankles or other ligaments
  • Pulled groin muscles
  • A hamstring strain/tear
  • Shin splints or runners knee
  • Knee injuries (especially ACL/MCL/PCL tears and injuries)
  • Repetitive knee motion injuries (related to the kneecap, most commonly)
  • Tennis elbow
  • Concussion and concussion like symptoms

Many of these injuries can be prevented through proper training protocols, excellent nutrition, and an intelligently designed rest, recovery, and recuperation program – but some of them are “luck of the draw” kinds of issues.

Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of these sports injuries (and many more) can be effectively treated with proper pain control and injury management protocols.

Here’s what to do if you are injured playing sports

The very first thing that you’re going to want to do if you believe that you have been injured playing sports is put yourself through a RICE protocol.

The RICE protocol stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, and is pretty standard fare for all those that are dealing with a sports related injury. This is the kind of approach that you’re going to want to take before you move forward with a serious pain control or pain management program, and is usually something that you are going to be able to establish with your team’s trainer or medical staff (or even on your own, if necessary).

Of course, if the issues continue – or if the injury is more serious and significant – you’re going to want to get looked at by a medical professional for their expert recommendation.

Most of these professionals are going to immediately recommend that you control the pain, at least in the short term, with pain pills of some kind.  Depending on the type of injury and degree of pain, these could be anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen for mild-to moderate pain, or codeine for more serious pain management.  Codeine is also often combined with other painkillers such as paracetamol to cope with sever pains situations.  Effective pain control is essential allowing you to rest, recover, and rehab without having to deal with the debilitating effects of pain.

Then, depending entirely upon the type of the injury that you’re contending with, they’ll begin to recommend a medical solution or training protocol to get you back to better than brand-new.

Some injuries (especially those related to significant tears like the ACL) are going to require surgical intervention, but a significant amount of sports related injuries can be tackled by pain management and pain control clinics or professionals that understand how to rehab athletes appropriately.

Most of the time these experts are going to recommend the judicious use of painkillers in conjunction with a week or more of rest and recovery before moving into an injury specific rehabilitation program. The pain pills (especially if they include codeine which can be addictive) are going to be weaned back as  soon as possible as the program moves forward, until you are running around without any need for these interventions any longer.

Obviously, you’ll need to find a qualified group of professionals to help you properly rehabilitate after a sports injury. Make sure that you look into the kinds of results that a rehabilitation clinic has provided in the past, and certainly pay attention to any inside information you are able to glean from reviews, case studies, or testimonials.

You’ll also want to be sure that the rehabilitation clinic you move forward with understands the role that painkillers and pain pills play in the rehabilitation process, and that they are going to be able to recommend you solutions that get you back on the field as fast as possible without putting your future or your health in jeopardy.

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About Ferland Manuel

Dr, Manuel Ferland is health care specialist,