Q. As the mom of three teenage sons, I find myself frequently dealing with sports-related injuries. I have always used a two-day rule: If it still hurts in two days, then I will take you to the doctor. So far, this has worked out well. But is there a better way to know when to seek medical attention for an injury?
A. Sports-related injuries are common. An estimated 2.6 million children ages 9 and younger are seen in emergency departments annually for such injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Sprains and strains are among the most common acute sports-related injuries and can typically be managed at home. Most sprains and strains can be managed at home with the RICE method:
Rest: Do not return to play until pain-free.
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Ice: Apply ice for 15-20 minutes several times a day for the first 48-72 hours.
Compression: Place a light pressure wrap on the affected area.
Elevation: Elevate the affected limb when possible
Reasons to seek prompt medical attention for a sports injury include any of the following:
• Joint swelling.
• Limb deformity.
• Inability to bear weight or walk on the affected leg.
• Numbness or tingling.
• Head or neck injuries.
• Pain that is severe and disrupts sleep or regular daily activities.
Another type of injury comes from overuse. Overuse injuries are related to repetitive motion or impact on a particular part of the body. These injuries can occur because of over-training, inadequate rest between training sessions, improper technique or poor-fitting equipment and shoes.
Children with overuse injuries will have pain that occurs during the activity initially. The treatment for an overuse injury is rest. If the pain persists despite one week of rest or returns when activity is resumed, medical evaluation is needed.