Conservative Treatments For Sports-Related Joint Injuries

Sports medicine physicians are very familiar with treating joint problems related to sports injuries. Throwing a football, golfing, bowling, skiing, and playing baseball can lead to painful joint injuries of the hand, ankle, knee, and hip. While severe joint injuries may require surgical intervention, the following conservative treatment options may work well to alleviate your symptoms and restore optimal function for mild to moderate sports-related joint injuries.

NSAIDs Instead Of Acetaminophen

Whether your joint injury is in your hand or your hip, taking NSAIDs instead of the over-the-counter pain reliever known as acetaminophen may be more effective in managing your symptoms.

Also known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs not only relieve pain but also decrease inflammation, which is often one of the hallmark signs of a sports-related joint injury. Conversely, acetaminophen is not an anti-inflammatory medication, and while it can satisfactorily relieve joint pain associated with your injury, it will not substantially reduce your joint inflammation. 

Joint Splinting

In the acute phases of your sports-related joint injury splinting the joint may help ease pain, prevent re-injury of the affected area, and promote the healing process. Your sports medicine physician can recommend an over-the-counter splinting device or you can ask the pharmacist for recommendations. After your pain has subsided as a result of splinting, removing the splint and gently exercising the affected area can further promote blood flow to the affected area while enhancing the healing process.

Homemade splints such as those made with ice pop frozen treat sticks and tape are discouraged because they may not effectively immobilize the joint correctly and may cause the body part to move unnaturally, resulting in further injury and joint damage.

To augment the healing benefits of splinting, periodically ice the area to further relieve pain and minimize swelling. You may or may not be able to ice the injury while wearing the splint, depending on the type of splint that you have chosen. If the splint totally obstructs the injured joint, gently remove the device and ice the area a few times a day. 

If you experience mild to moderate pain and swelling as a result of a sports-related injury, consider the above interventions. If your symptoms fail to resolve or if you notice joint deformity, make an appointment with a sports medicine physician. When sports-related joint injuries are managed quickly, complications such as chronic pain, bursitis, arthritis, and decreased range of motion may be less likely to occur. 

For more information, contact a local sports medicine doctor.