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If I have a sports injury, how should it be treated?

Doctors of chiropractic most often diagnose sports injuries from the history of the activity that brought on the pain, along with a physical examination. In some cases, X-rays are necessary to rule out a fracture. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound may also be used.

Once diagnosed, the treatment for most types of sports injuries involves:
  • Rest. Generally no more than 48 hours of rest and/or immobilization is needed, depending on the severity of the injury. Mild to moderate sprains and strains should be protected but not immobilized. Your doctor of chiropractic will guide this process, as returning to activity too early, choosing the wrong type of activity or excessive activity can be harmful.
  • Ice or topical cryotherapy agents can help with pain reduction and tissue healing.
  • Compression of the area may reduce the amount of swelling from the injury. Your doctor of chiropractic will determine if this will be beneficial in your case.
  • Elevation of the injured arm or leg above the level of the heart is thought to be helpful in reducing swelling.
  • Pain relievers. Recent research has demonstrated that some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may actually slow the healing process by restricting the body’s natural healing mechanisms, so they should be used sparingly.
  • Joint manipulation. Recent research has shown that, in some cases, joint manipulation can help with pain reduction and speeding recovery. Your doctor of chiropractic will determine if this procedure will be helpful in your case. Further, a comprehensive treatment plan that incorporates soft tissue mobilization and appropriate exercises to reduce further injury risk is important.
  • Fractures require the application of some stabilizing device, such as a cast, after the bone is put back into position. Surgical intervention is rarely required.  

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.