When should an athlete see a physician for a sports-related injury?

Dr. Allen discusses when to see your physician for a sports-related injury. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


When you are in pain from an exercise- or sports-related injury, you may or may not need to professional medical care.

According to the National Institutes of HealthOff Site Icon (NIH), you should see your physician if you have:

  • An area on which you can’t put any weight
  • An injury that causes severe pain, swelling or numbness
  • Pain or achiness form an old injury, this now also has swelling or causes instability

If you are not experiencing these symptoms, you can are most likely fine to treat yourself at home. The NIH recommends following the “RICE” method to ease pain and swelling and help speed healing.

  • Rest – Limit your regular exercise and cut back on your daily routine.
  • Ice – Use an ice pack on the injury for at least 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day. Do not use the ice for more than 20 minutes to avoid frostbite or other injuries from the cold.
  • Compression – Compression by using wraps, special boots, air casts or splints can help keep the area of the injury from swelling.
  • Elevation – Try to keep your injured area elevated above the level of your heart to help reduce swelling.

If after 24 to 48 hours your pain continues, gets worse, or you want a medical opinion about your care, visit your doctor, according to the NIH.

For more information about seeking medical care after a sports-related injury, talk with your physician.

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