Warning signs of a serious injury By Sheree DiBiase, PT Lake City Physical Therapy
Oftentimes with acute injuries, like a fall, it is easy to know that the injury is serious. However, other times, it may be more difficult to identify whether an injury is something to worry about or not. How do you know when that constant irritation might be a signal of something worse? Certain symptoms may indicate that other, more serious, problems are present, and it is important that you understand the warning signs and when to seek professional help. As we find ourselves engaging in more activities during the summer months, which can increase our chances of injury, here are some important signs and symptoms, whether you are an athlete or outdoor enthusiast, to watch for:
Pain. If you have persistent pain that is not really going away with rest. If you have pain when you touch an area whether it is muscle, joint or bone, it could be serious. If you have pain that is getting worse instead of better, then you need to see your health-care provider.
Swelling. If you have a great deal of swelling in an area, and the swelling does not subside with ice, elevation, compression and rest. If the swelling increases with joint movements and activity, then this is a signal for you to have it assessed.
Loss of Motion at a Joint. If a joint feels stiff, like it doesn’t want to move, has a sharp, throbbing pain when you try to use it, and it lasts more than 48 hours, you need to see your medical doctor.
Weakness. Muscles and joints that feel like they want to “give way” when you try to use them is a sure sign that something is not right with either the muscles, joints or both. You should be symmetrical on both arms and legs. If one side can do the motion and the other side is unable to do it, then something is wrong and needs to be looked at by a professional.
Numbness and Tingling. If you ever have any numbness and tingling associated with any injury, this is a sign that a nerve has be compromised. This needs to be assessed by you MD. Numbness and tingling is not normal and needs to be dealt with quickly as not to damage the nerve.
Loss of Mobility. Any loss of mobility, whether in muscles or other soft tissue, is a signal something is not right. An old scar from surgery may be too tight, and when you started training or becoming more active it hurt and made other tissue painful.
Loss of Balance. Any unusual, unexplained loss of balance during your daily activities or training needs to be discussed with your doctor if it does not subside. You should be able to stand on one leg for three minutes if you train regularly.
Many of us, whether athletes or not, sometimes tend to push our bodies too hard and do not listen to the warning signs that our body is talking to us about. That back pain that happens every day on our drive to work; that shoulder that is so stiff you can’t put your arm behind your back; and that foot that swells every day after standing at work. Many times, more serious issues can be avoided if we just listen and decide to be proactive. Start with the easy care first like rest, ice, compression and elevation. If the body does not respond, then seek the attention of your physical therapist. They are movement specialists; it’s what they do every day. They can screen you and help to determine if you have a more serious injury.
If multiple symptoms listed above are affecting you, and you are unable to participate in your daily life, gym or sports, please call to schedule an appointment with your MD. You want to quickly resolve issues before they cause more problems.