Pain is a signal that something is wrong in your body. When you experience pain, it's important to stop doing the activity that causes you discomfort. Over-the-counter pain medication can bring temporary relief, and sometimes rest can solve the problem. However, when your pain persists for more than a few days, it's important to seek medical help. Sports medicine doctors can diagnose and treat injuries that occur through athletic pursuits or simple overuse. Here are four things that a sports medicine doctor can do to treat pain:
1. Find out about your history.
Before a sports medicine doctor can accurately diagnose your condition, they first need to learn about the history of your injury. Your doctor will ask when you first began to feel the pain. They will want to know if an injury preceded the pain or if it happened suddenly. Your doctor will also ask questions about your day-to-day activities. Certain activities, such as typing or running, make people more likely to develop overuse injuries in certain areas.
2. Perform simple diagnostic tests.
A sports medicine doctor will perform simple diagnostic tests to pinpoint the cause of your pain. Your doctor may press or tap on certain areas of your injured body part to see if the pressure causes pain. They may ask you to perform a set of motions, with instructions to let them know if anything hurts. These tests can help your sports medicine doctor narrow down the cause of your discomfort. They can help doctors diagnose conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and more.
3. Order x-rays and MRI scans.
If your sports medicine doctor believes you may have fractured a bone, they may order x-rays. X-rays allow doctors to monitor your bone health. Fractures that are invisible to the naked eye will be clearly visible on an x-ray image. If your doctor thinks that you may have suffered a torn ligament, they may order MRI scans as well. MRI scans allow doctors to photograph the soft tissue on the inside of the human body.
4. Prescribe physical therapy.
Acute injuries often need time to heal. Your doctor will suggest that you continue to rest as much as possible. They may suggest that you take NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, to relieve inflammation that can cause pain. Once you have sufficiently healed, your sports medicine doctor may prescribe physical therapy. Physical therapy will help you regain your strength after an injury. Physical therapy is an important technique that can help you stay healthy and prevent you from reinjuring yourself in the future.