As an athlete, you know there’s nothing worse than being sidelined by an injury and forced to watch your teammates compete without you, or miss valuable days if you prefer individual sports.
Recovering from an injury is difficult enough without later having to forfeit even more playing time because the pain turned chronic.
Dr. Michael Blackwell at the Center for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Tomball and Shenandoah, Texas, specializes in treating your sports injury and equipping you with the tools you need to avoid chronic pain, which we define as pain that never goes away, or that subsides at times but keeps returning.
What is chronic pain?
Whether you’re driven by a passion for the game or a fierce determination to let nothing get in your way, you might be tempted to keep playing despite the discomfort. Keep in mind, however, that disregarding the pain can mean ignoring serious issues that are causing it.
Pain is chronic when it lasts for at least 3-6 months after an injury. The initial injury hurts because your nerves are firing a series of messages to your brain, letting it know you’ve been injured. In cases of chronic pain, the nerves keep firing long after the initial injury has healed.
It shows up differently in each person, but some common chronic pain symptoms are:
- A dull ache
Living with chronic pain can also have an impact on other areas of your health. It can take a toll on your sleep, appetite, mood, and energy levels.
How do you avoid chronic pain after an injury?
Let’s start with the basics. There are two types of sports injuries: acute and chronic. Acute injuries cause immediate pain and symptoms. Chronic injuries, on the other hand, take a long time to develop and may start out as nothing more than a mild ache.
Common sports injuries like sprains, strains, tears, and dislocations weaken your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints, and can develop into chronically painful conditions.
No matter which kind of injury you have, there are a few important things to do to lessen your chances of suffering through months of pain afterward.
Get treatment early
Your first line of defense against chronic pain after an injury is to get treatment as soon as you feel the symptoms. This can be a difficult decision because it could mean time away from your sport, but it’s nothing compared with how long chronic pain could haunt you.
Early treatment gives your damaged body its best chance at making a full recovery and not bothering you later on.
Get treated properly
From sprains and strains to fractures and dislocations, getting the right treatment is imperative. Without the proper approach, a mildly sprained ankle can turn into an unstable, constantly throbbing problem.
Dr. Blackwell offers a comprehensive list of treatments for a wide variety of injuries, so you can trust that you’re getting the best care possible. He starts conservatively with braces, strapping, hot and cold treatment, activity modification, and physical therapy, but adds other methods to your treatment plan if needed.
Here are the treatments he recommends most often:
- Epidural steroid injections
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Selective nerve root block
- Facet joint injections
- Joint injections
Should your injury be severe, Dr. Blackwell can treat it surgically.
After you’ve been cleared by Dr. Blackwell to return to your sport, it’s important that you do so slowly and safely. Also, make sure to warm up and cool down properly to lessen your susceptibility to reinjury and more lasting pain.
Injuries are almost inevitable in sports, but when you do get hurt, be sure to follow any and all guidelines Dr. Blackwell gives you. The more fully you can recover, the less likely you are to invite chronic pain.
Call our friendly staff in Tomball or Shenandoah, Texas, or book online to schedule an appointment to get started. You can also send a message to Dr. Blackwell and the team here on our website.