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What To Do When You Overdo It

Man in pain holding knee

May. 31 2022

Whether you overdo it working in the yard or working out, your body quickly tells you when you've pushed it too far. Justin R. Knight, MD, with Southeastern Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine, has advice on how to care for sprains and strains. 

Q. How to do you tell the difference between muscle soreness and a sprain or strain?
Muscle soreness is typical after intense physical activity, and can potentially persist for several days. A sprain of a ligament or strain of a muscle should be suspected if the pain persists for more than several days and interferes with function. Bruising, significant swelling, or instability around the joint may also indicate something more significant than the usual post-exercise muscle fatigue.

Q. If you experience a sprain or strain, should you treat the pain with ice or heat?

For most sprains or strains, the best initial management is usually rest, ice, compression, and elevation - often abbreviated by the acronym “RICE”.

Q. Does this hold true for sprains or strains of the back as well?
The same principles hold true for back injuries as well. However, one should be mindful of symptoms of numbness, weakness, gait instability, or radiating pain that could indicate a potential neurological issue. 

Q. How should you treat any swelling associated with a strain or sprain?

We go back to "RICE" to treat swelling. Rest, ice, compression with an ACE wrap, and elevation of the affected extremity helps to reduce swelling. A short course of oral anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or naproxen can also be helpful.

Q. When should you seek medical attention for a sprain or strain?

If the pain does not improve within 10-14 days or there are symptoms of instability, locking, or significant weakness with joint movement, one should seek medical attention.

Q. Is there anything you recommend to avoid sports injuries? 

Here's what you can to prevent injury:

  • Maintain an overall healthy diet and weight
  • Stretch prior to physical activity
  • Wear appropriate protective equipment and footwear when playing sport
  • Allow your body to recover after strenuous physical activity  
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Disclaimer: This blog is intended for general understanding and education about Lexington Medical Center. Nothing on the blog should be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Blog visitors with personal health or medical questions should consult their health care provider.