It is important to note that muscle pain is one of the main symptoms of most sports injuries. The pain and injury to the soft tissues of the body such as the tendons, muscles and ligaments are categorized as either acute or chronic injuries depending on the start of the injury.
Most of the soft tissue injuries are painful due to the swelling and inflammation that occurs after the injury was sustained. Pain relief is one reason why many turn to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications that work by minimizing the inflammation that occurs after the injury.
It is vital that you are familiar with the warning signs of a serious injury to determine the ideal treatment. Generally, acute and chronic injuries are managed in the following ways.
When it comes to acute injuries, they are typically triggered by abrupt impact from a collision, twisting movement or fall. Swelling, pain and other indications of trauma can occur right away. The immediate treatment for acute injuries is the RICE method.
The common acute injuries include strains and sprains to the muscles and ligaments. The tears can range from partial to a complete tear that entails surgical repair. Acute injuries have varying degrees of inflammation at the site of injury. Anti-inflammatory medications are used to help reduce the inflammation.
As for chronic soft tissue injuries, they often start as mild, nagging pain that does not seem to go away. Chronic injuries can be managed with rest, physical therapy and over-the-counter NSAIDs. Take note that NSAIDs can provide relief from the pain but will not help with the healing.
Some doctors utilize corticosteroids to manage chronic soft tissue injuries. Localized injections can provide momentary pain relief. On the other hand, long-term use of corticosteroids is not recommended. Many doctors do not use corticosteroids on weight bearing tendons such as the Achilles tendon due to the potential of the tendon to weaken over time. Corticosteroids are commonly used in the upper body.
NSAIDs are not also recommended to be used before or during endurance sports. Based on several studies, it was discovered that there is no actual benefit on the performance after taking ibuprofen. The medications simply mask the pain which increases the risk for injury. In other studies, the use of NSAIDs used is controlled during distance exercises due to the link to increased risk for exertional hyponatremia.
Applying heat or ice on injuries
The treatment for acute sports injuries start with the application of ice. Heat can be useful in easing muscle tension in chronic injuries.
What are over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications?
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are typically used in minimizing inflammation. Other OTC pain medications such as acetaminophen are also beneficial. Take note that NSAIDs are ideally used right after the injury before the swelling starts.