Did you recently injure a part of your body? Were you helping someone move and “throw out” your back? Playing a pick-up basketball game and roll your ankle? Throw a ball and feel a pop in your shoulder? Hit your head and still have a headache three days later?
Ask yourself a few questions:
1) Can I move the body part? Do I have full range of motion or can I hardly move it all?
2) Is the joint making any noises or getting stuck?
3) Do I have significant swelling and/or bruising?
4) Can I walk four steps putting weight through both legs equally?
5) Do I have a concussion? Are my symptoms getting worse with mental and physical activity?
You may try applying ice to the injured area for 20 minutes three to four times per day and elevating the area if applicable. If pain and swelling decrease, the injury was most likely a mild-moderate sprain (involving a ligament) or strain (muscle pull) and will continue to heal as time progresses. If two weeks pass and you are still experiencing limitations in motion and strength, follow up with your primary care provider or orthopedic surgeon.
As a general guideline, painful popping/locking of a joint or tingling/numbness that radiates down your arm or leg are injuries that should be evaluated within one week. Ice and elevate until you can be seen by a provider. If you have a deformity or are unable to walk then seek prompt evaluation. Don’t brush off signs/symptoms of a concussion – continuing to work and go through life as normal will prolong your symptoms and may lead to more issues down the road. These are basic guidelines; if you feel the injury sustained is severe or the pain is intolerable then do not hesitate to seek medical attention.