When should you see a doctor for a sprain or strain?
If after trying RICE (an acronym for “rest, ice, compression, and elevation” of the injured limb) and over-the-counter medications the pain is not controlled or if the injury is thought to be more severe than initially believed, then a visit to a doctor is wise. A doctor’s visit also is important if swelling gradually develops over a large joint, such as a hip, knee, elbow, or wrist.
Sometimes you need the help of hospital equipment and specialists. Seek care immediately in any of the following cases:
- If you are concerned that a bone is broken or a joint is dislocated
- If you have numbness or tingling associated with the injury (This may signify damage to a nerve.)
- If the injured part of the body is cold and discolored (This may be associated with damaged blood vessels and loss of circulation.)
Children present a special situation. Due to growing bones, muscles, and tendons, these structures can react differently to stress. Parents can be rightly concerned about possible broken bones. Remember, even if you can walk on an injured limb or move it, you may still have a broken bone. It just means that the muscles and tendons are working across the joint.
What tests do physicians use to diagnose a sprain or strain?
When visiting the doctor, expect many questions about the accident. The mechanism of injury can give clues as to what stresses were put on the body part and what injuries likely happened. The doctor will perform a thorough physical examination of the injured area. The physician will want to examine the joint above and the joint below an injury to make sure no hidden injuries are missed.
The doctor may need to take X-rays or perform other tests. X-rays only show bones and not the soft tissues, such as the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The physician determines when it is appropriate to order X-rays. Injuries of knees, ankles, and the low back, are often unlikely to warrant X-rays to rule out any broken bones. The physician should discuss the reasons for or against taking X-rays.
Young, Craig C. “Ankle Sprain.” Medscape.com. Dec. 16, 2014. <emedicine.medscape.com/article/1907229-overview>.
For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
Preventing Sports Injuries
Many athletes largely depend on chiropractic care to enhance their physical performance. New research studies have determined that aside from maintaining overall health and wellness, chiropractic can also help prevent sports injuries. Chiropractic is an alternative treatment option utilized by athletes to improve their strength, mobility and flexibility. Spinal adjustments and manual manipulations performed by a chiropractor can also help correct spinal issues, speeding up an athlete’s recovery process to help them return-to-play as soon as possible.
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The information herein on "Receiving Diagnosis for Sprains and Strains" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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