Sporting Injuries and Pain
Lily Bedford provides an insight into how to manage sporting injuries and the pain to allow the body to recover.
Training for personal fitness and sport is a fulfilling and healthy activity, but like most areas of life, risk is a factor. Sporting injuries can be unpleasant and inconvenient for athletes, from professionals to people who are just looking to have some fun. Injuries like this can occur due to overexertion, such as suddenly starting a high-powered exercise regime, or just through the accidents which can happen to anyone.
An important part of dealing with an injury is understanding and handling the pain, both to allow the body to fix the damage and also to live with the injury while it heals. It can be tempting, especially for committed athletes, to carry on training after they are injured. At times like this it is important to stop and allow the damage the time which it needs to heal and, if the damage is severe, get medical attention. Some injuries can be handled by the athlete but if the pain gets worse and or swelling does not subside, see a physician.
A common way in which athletes can deal with the pain from an injury is to take prescription pain-killers, such as Ibuprofen. This can be a safe and effective way of dealing with discomfort. However, drugs, especially pain-killers, are powerful chemicals and will have specific dosages to ensure that they are used safely. It is very important to obey the proper dosages are obeyed as stated on the packaging and to comply with other relevant instructions (such as not drinking alcohol, for example). Pain-killers can make it so that an athlete can manage the discomfort, but they must remember that the injury is still there even though they feel less pain - taking care not to cause more damage by forgetting that they are injured.
Some athletes may wish not to take drugs or may not be able to due to a condition. Fortunately, there are many options which are available to help them to deal with the discomfort. One of the simplest options of this type is to cool the injury, athletes can do so with an ice pack or with a packet of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. Frequently sporting injuries (such as sprains) involve redness, swelling and inflammation which can be very painful - applying cold will soothe the discomfort and reduce the swelling.
Another useful non-medicinal treatment for pain is exercise. Exercise is known to release endorphins in the brain, which are natural and effective pain-killers. These chemicals are released at times of stress and emergency (among other occasions) and enable people to keep going for longer and deal with their pain. Running is one of the best ways to stimulate this effect. Of course, the athlete must choose a form of exercise which will not affect their injury, either by moving the affected area carefully or by avoiding it. This form of therapy has many other benefits also, such as maintaining fitness and encouraging sleep - exercise is known to help people sleep, and poor sleeping patterns can exacerbate pain and discomfort.
Avoiding Illegal Drugs
Recently there has been a rise in the number of people who fall into using hard drugs to deal with the pain from a sports injury. Some athletes suffer from a particularly serious injury which causes chronic and intense pain, and opiates are sometimes used to quell the discomfort which these athletes feel. Unfortunately, some turn to heroin to deal with the pain of an injury and then become addicted. Heroin is one of the most addictive substances and is associated with numerous direct and indirect health problems: from collapsed veins due to frequent injections to the risks of overdose.
The withdrawal symptoms from heroin are extreme, which is why so many addicts find it impossible to give up. Symptoms include flu-like joint pain, vomiting and bowel problems. Users who wish to give up often find that the anti-addiction drug methadone is useful to them in dealing with these withdrawal symptoms. Methadone treatment centres make this drug available to those who need it. All these complications can be avoided, however, by taking pain-relief advice from qualified physicians only - hard illegal drugs may seem like a quick-fix, but the associated risks are massive.
Dealing with the pain of an injury can be an arduous task, but with sticking power and medical advice athletes can conquer the pain and carry on with their life while their injury heals. Prescription drugs are the most popular way of handling the discomfort, but exercise therapy offers the athlete the chance to have fun while they act against their pain. By keeping cool and getting the best information it is usually possible to alleviate the discomfort without causing further problems to the injury - enabling the individual to get back to their activities as soon as is possible.
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About the Author
Lily Bedford is a freelance writer.
The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic: