Unfortunately, injuries happen whether it’s from intense activity or your normal daily routine. It’s extremely common and a part of life! The next steps following an injury are very important and too often I hear patients say “I wish I had gotten help sooner.”
This blog post is going to discuss what to do after an injury and when you should seek medical care.
Injuries are normal and expected at some point throughout life, whether it’s from playing sports, yard work, sleeping in an odd position or even tying your shoes! These situations are normal; it’s the next step after the injury that impacts your future.
Some injuries come and go without any need for medical care, others need attention right away and some are so inconsistent it’s hard to know what to do!
When do I need medical care immediately?
Let’s start off with severe injuries. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms seek medical care right away:
- Suspect a bone fracture, tear (muscle/ligament/tendon) or joint dislocation
- Numbness/tingling into extremity
- Significant swelling and inability to bear weight through extremity
- Severe pain 8/10 or higher
- Feeling of instability in a joint or extremity “giving out”
- Changes in bowel/bladder function
- Unexplainable weakness or sensation loss
- Loss of consciousness
- In car accident, significant fall or traumatic event
What if it’s not a serious injury?
If you’re not experiencing any of these severe symptoms, your injury is most likely a moderate to minor musculoskeletal impairment.
Following these steps will help you determine what is the best course of action:
- 1. Stop activity that is provoking or increasing symptoms.
- Take several rest days
- It’s crucial not to make your injury worse, allowing your body the time needed to heal.
- Continue activity that doesn’t increase symptoms.
- If you have a UE injury continue non provoking LE activities, or vice versa
- If your symptoms are improving after several rest days, slowly start to return to prior activity at a modified amount.
- Decrease intensity of activity to monitor if your body can handle it without increased symptoms.
- If symptoms stay below 3/10 then continue with activity and slow progressions back to prior activity.
- If symptoms continue for a week without improvement seek medical care for evaluation.
- If symptoms are not improving as quickly as you would like or plateauing in improvement after 2 weeks seek medical care for evaluation.
What medical provider do I see?
The health care system can be confusing and challenging to navigate. Knowing what provider to see at the start of care can significantly decrease the cost and speed of care.
If your injury involves the musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles, joint) a physical therapist is a great provider to start your care with. Did you know private health insurances allow you to see physical therapists without a referral from a physician via direct access? Save time, money, receive care faster and get back to your normal life sooner!