Any physical activity carries some risk. Even the most careful, elite athletes will suffer an injury at some point in their career. While precautions can reduce dangers during sports, accidents can still happen. Hence, it is crucial to know how to administer first aid treatment.
Here are some tips on how to treat a sports injury to reduce complications and facilitate recovery.
Identify Injury Severity
Most sports injuries involve physical trauma to the bones, joints, or muscles. The most common are contusions, sprains, and muscle strains. Sprains occur when ligaments get over-stretched, while strains affect tendons and muscles. More severe accidents involve fractures, dislocations, or ligament tears.
It is often difficult to determine the type of injury through visual inspection alone. For instance, what looks like a sprained ankle might actually be a fracture. When in doubt, it is best to treat all musculoskeletal injuries seriously by seeing an orthopedic specialist immediately.
While many trauma cases are mild and only require home care, some injuries demand immediate medical care to avoid serious complications. If you sustain a head or a spine injury, for instance, seek treatment right away.
If the injured person shows altered states of consciousness or has memory problems, visit a doctor at once. These may be signs of a traumatic brain injury or a concussion.
Follow the PRICE Method
After assessing the severity of the sports injury, it’s time to provide first aid treatment. You can observe the PRICE method to treat mild conditions and provide first aid while waiting for medical intervention.
Protection and Rest
Stop playing immediately after sustaining an injury during a game, as any further mechanical stress could cause further damage.
To further protect the injury, try to immobilize the affected area as much as possible. Use splints and braces for this purpose. Using crutches will help if you have a leg injury and need to walk.
For most minor injuries, doctors recommend at least two to three days of rest. Doing so allows the body to focus on healing, speeding up the recovery process.
However, remember to do some light stretching once the swelling goes down. Careful and controlled movements can increase blood flow and prevent your joints from seizing up. Mild exercises will also help you maintain your physical conditioning and improve overall recovery.
Within minutes after sustaining an injury, the body starts an inflammatory reaction at the injury site. Blood flow increases, causing swelling and reddening. This process allows the body to start the healing process. It also brings immune cells to the site as a defense against harmful microbes.
Applying ice to the injured area can reduce inflammation and pain. You may use cold packs and ice wrapped with a cloth. Alternatively, you can opt for immersing the affected body part in a chilled bath.
For the best results, apply ice wrapped in a cloth for 15 to 20 minutes at a time with 1 to 2-hour intervals. Note that direct or prolonged contact with ice can cause frostbite. Be attentive during ice application.
Compression and Elevation
Applying compression bandages also helps with swelling and aids in immobilization. As much as possible, use a wrap specifically for injuries. Don’t wrap it too tight that it creates pressure spots—do it just enough to fit snugly.
You can combine compression with elevation for maximum benefits. Positioning your limbs above your heart improves circulation to the rest of the body. It also prevents liquid from accumulating within the injured tissues, decreasing swelling.
Treatment for Sports Injury in Baltimore, MD
Basic first aid for a sports injury makes a big difference, and the sooner you do it, the better. You can reduce pain and prevent further damage by assessing its severity and following the PRICE method.
After the initial treatment, make sure to consult with an experienced orthopedic physician. They can help you identify the next steps and speed up your recovery. If you need care for a sports injury in Maryland, visit Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland.
With several facilities throughout Maryland, Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland provides quick access to comprehensive healthcare. Our sports medicine specialists and physical therapists provide athletes with accurate diagnoses as well as effective treatments and recovery plans.
Learn more by calling us at (410) 644-1880 or by setting up an appointment through our online appointment scheduling form.