1. Joint Pain
Joint pain, particularly in the joints of the knee, ankle, elbow and wrist, should never be ignored. Because these joints are not covered by muscle, there is rarely a muscular origin. Joint pain that lasts more than 48 hours requires a physician diagnosis.
2. Tenderness At A Specific Point
If you can elicit pain at a specific point in a bone, muscle or joint, by pressing your finger into it, you may have a significant injury. If the same spot on the other side of the body does not produce the same pain, you should probably see a physician.
Swelling is usually quite obvious, and can be seen, but occasionally you may feel swollen without outward signs. Swelling is always a sign of a sports injury and should never be ignored. Often, swelling within a joint will cause pain, stiffness or may produce a clicking sound as the tendons snap over one another because they have been pushed into a new position due to swelling.
4. Reduced Range Of Motion
If swelling isn't obvious, you can usually find it by checking for a reduced range of motion in a joint. If there is significant swelling within a joint, you will lose range of motion; the limb will only go so far in each direction. Again, compare one side of the body with the other to identify major differences. If there are any, you have an injury that needs attention.
5. Comparative Weakness
Comparing one side to the other for weakness is often hard to do, but can be a good clue to identify significant injury. One way to tell is to left the same weight with the right and left side and look at the result. Often therapists will test comparative weakness manually or with special equipment.
6. Numbness and Tingling
Never ignore numbness or tingling. Often related to nerve compression, these warning signs may indicate serious injury and should always be seen by a physician.
What If I Have One Of These?
If you recognize any of the above warning signs of injury the goal is to prevent further damage. Don't let the problem get any worse and don't let the swelling continue. Look for an obvious cause of the injury such as poorly fitting equipment or a missed step while sprinting. If you can locate the source of the injury, you can begin to remedy the situation. If you have any of the above warning signs, do not continue your activity. Begin treatment immediately.
The first treatment indicated for any acute injury is reducing any swelling. Swelling causes pain and loss of motion, which in turn will limit use of the muscles. If you don't use the muscles, they will weaken, and shorten and resist repair. The primary treatment for acute sports injury is R.I.C.E. : Rest, ice, compression and elevation. Rest in this case simply means to stop the activity that caused the injury.
Compression for an acute injury is the most important immediate treatment. Wrapping the injured body part with an ACE bandage can keep swelling to a minimum.
Never apply heat to an injury. Heat will increase circulation and increases swelling.
Immediate Treatment For Injury
As a recap, here is what you should do immediately when you sustain a sports injury:
Stop the activity immediately.
2. Wrap the injured part in a compression bandage.
3. Apply ice to the injured part (use a bag of crushed ice or a bag of frozen vegetables) for no more than 15 minutes at a time. Let the area warm completely before applying ice again, in order to prevent frostbite.
4. Elevate the injured part to reduce swelling.
5. Get to a physician for a proper diagnosis of any serious injury.