Sports & Pain

Article featured on WebMDElite athletes walk a thin line. Do they compete through their pain and possibly cause more harm? Their drive often compels them to push through injuries when rest may be the wiser choice. But some strategies and treatments may help.

Consulting a Multidisciplinary Medical Team

Input from sports medicine professionals is important in knowing safe activity levels and in making modifications when you’re hurt. They may include:

  • Orthopedists. They can diagnose musculoskeletal injuries, provide treatment plans, and advise about activities that might worsen your condition.
  • Physical therapists. They make tailored rehab and exercise programs to maintain your strength and mobility without overstressing your injury. They use things like massage, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation to promote healing.
  • Athletic trainers. They can provide on-field acute injury management, like taping, bracing, and padding injuries. They make ongoing assessments of your symptoms during training and competition.
  • Sports psychologists. These mental health experts help you cope mentally and emotionally with injury setbacks. They can also teach you ways to overcome any fear of reinjury or lost motivation.
This team can optimize your treatment and monitor your progress to catch any setbacks before your small pains become severe injuries.Pain and Inflammation Management

Controlling your swelling and pain helps you remain active when you’re injured. Treatment options include:

  • RICE. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation can reduce your inflammation in the first 48 hours after you’re hurt. 
  • Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxers, and analgesics can relieve your pain and allow movement. But they should be used cautiously to avoid masking important symptoms.
  • Cold therapy. Ice baths, cryotherapy chambers, and cold packs constrict your blood vessels and limit your swelling and inflammation.
  • Heat therapy. Heating pads, ultrasound, and warm whirlpools increase your blood flow and reduce your muscle spasms and stiffness.
  • Physiological techniques. Massage, acupuncture, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) can provide natural pain relief.

Gradual Return to Activity

For musculoskeletal injuries, a gradual return to exercise is key. This involves:

  • Range-of-motion exercises to maintain your mobility and prevent scar tissue from forming.
  • Low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, or anti-gravity treadmills to build endurance.
  • Slowly increasing the duration and intensity of training to test your tolerance and avoid overexertion.
  • Sport-specific drills to regain movement patterns before you resume full practices or competition.
  • Listening carefully to your body and cutting back if your pain flares up.
Many injured athletes can continue modified training, rather than stopping altogether. Patience and persistence are required, but playing hurt doesn’t have to hinder your progress.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.