We've all seen it, either live or on TV – a professional athlete is suddenly struck down by an injury. Trainers immediately rush out to help. The athlete limps off the field, but with such a speedy response team and advanced rehabilitation, the injured athlete is back in no time. Since we don't have access to the personnel and resources that professionals do, knowing what to do when injury does strike is essential to our fast recovery.

Identify your injury, know your response

While you can't predict when a serious injury is going to happen, you can prepare for it. If you are a physically active individual, the last thing you want is to be out of commission because of an injury. So when an injury does strike, your fast recognition and response is key to how quickly you will recover. Below are common injuries and the appropriate care for each:

  • Sprains — Sprains occur after ligaments are stretched beyond their capacity or torn. The familiar rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) method is the most effective immediate response to a sprain. If the pain or swelling does not subside in a few days, a visit to your doctor is recommended.
  • Fractures — If you suspect you may have a broken bone, the worst thing to do is try and “tough it out”. Fractures are serious and immediate medical attention should be sought regardless of the severity.
  • Knee injuries — Knee injuries are usually followed by feelings of instability, buckling and pain. Though knee injuries may not immediately result in pain, walking or running on a torn or partially torn ligament can cause serious damage to your knee cartilage. Therefore, the best course of action is to avoid walking on it and utilize the RICE method until you are able to see your doctor.
  • Dislocation — Arguably one of the most painful injuries one can experience, a joint dislocation is an emergency situation that requires medical treatment. Don't try to move or force a dislocated joint back into place. It can further damage muscles, ligaments or nerves. The best course of action? Icing it until you can get professional help.

Be prepared and be careful!

While many injuries are more along the lines of bumps and bruises, knowing the best response methods to more serious mishaps can be the difference between a fast recovery or an agonizing, time consuming one. The best method of injury prevention for any athlete or physically active individual is to play it safe. This means wearing the appropriate safety equipment and being aware of how you are moving your body.

For more information, call Riverside Community Hospital at (951) 788-3463.

Sources: AAOS.org, NIAMS.NIH.gov, NLM.NIH.gov