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Mendo Lake Family Life

Sports Injuries: 5 Signs to Seek Help

Oct 30, 2007 12:00AM

The time on the clock was down to just a few seconds when the basketball was passed to sixteen year old Jacob. As he leaped into the air and shot at the basket, the cheers of the crowd echoing in the crowded gym masked the thud of his landing, hard, on one foot. Jacob winced, but the adrenaline and excitement let him keep playing, and his coach and parents thought he was fine.

Later, when Jacob’s foot swelled painfully, his parents took him to a doctor, who noted that there was a break. Jacob was surprised, as were his parents and his coach.

Luckily, most sports injuries are minor sprains or pulls of muscles that can be easily treated without a doctor. If you or your child gets injured, consider this to know when you should seek medical attention.

If it’s just a run-of-the-mill minor injury, the acronym RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) will often be enough to ease the pain and swelling and get you back to playing shortly. Follow these four steps right after the injury occurs and do so for at least 48 hours:

  • R—Rest. Reduce your regular activities and keep weight off the injury.
  • I—Ice. Hold an ice pack or bag of ice wrapped in a thin towel to the injury for 20 minutes, then remove.
  • C—Compression. Even pressure, or compression, can help reduce swelling. An example would be an elastic wrap to support an injured ankle.
  • E—Elevation. Resting the injured area on a pillow at a slight angle—higher than your heart—is good for reducing swelling, too.

Call a doctor when:

  1. The injury causes severe pain, swelling, or numbness
  2. You can’t put any weight on the area
  3. An old injury hurts or aches
  4. An old injury swells
  5. The joint doesn’t feel normal or feels unstable.