How diagnostics can help aid injury recovery
Christopher Worthington considers when it is appropriate to seek medical advice for an injury.
Injuries of any kind are a serious inconvenience even beyond any pain and discomfort they may cause us. Broken bones or cuts are easily treated with a hospital visit, but what appear to be relatively minor strains or sprains can also leave us not functioning at our best for anything up to months on end, especially if we are not in a position where we can take the time out to rest and recover properly.
Muscle strains are not only the preserve of sportsmen and women. Any one of us can pick up pulls and tears. Everyone is familiar with the dangers of lifting heavy objects without taking care, but repetitive movements can also cause strains if adequate breaks are not taken. You do not even have to be particularly active, a severe bout of coughing can leave you with strained muscles that will hurt long beyond you getting rid of any virus!
It is easy enough to treat minor injuries at home, even grazes and cuts that do not need stitches are unlikely to require a GP or hospital visit. Most muscular strains and sprains recover after a week or so of proper rest, regular doses of NSAIDs like ibuprofen, and application of heat and ice packs. However, if the injury is more severe, or persistent, it could be time to visit a doctor to discuss further treatment.
Sometimes, muscular injuries go beyond a simple pull which recovers in a few days. Muscles can tear, and with that, there can be significant damage to the tissue that may even require surgery to recover. If the area hurts even when at rest, and you are unable to use the affected muscle at all, it is time to seek further advice on how to recover from the injury.
Knowing where to go can be difficult, especially if the injury is causing you to miss work, or makes you unable to go about even the most mundane aspects of your daily life, such as housework or essential shopping. It is unlikely that your GP would be able to get you seen by a specialist as quickly as you might wish, and with more significant injury which might require rehabilitation or surgical repair, this could put you at risk of making a full recovery.
Under those circumstances, you might wish to visit The Wilmslow Hospital, where we can see you more quickly, and at a time that suits you. Although the severity of a muscular injury can usually be determined with a simple physical examination, you also have the reassurance of immediate access to MRI or CT scans if your specialist does think the injury is more serious.
As with all things medical, prevention is better than cure. Once you are well on the way to recovery, ask your practitioner about which stretches and exercises you can do to make sure that you do not end up with another serious injury in the future.
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About the Author
Christopher Worthington is an experienced medical writer who has several years' experience covering sports injury topics. Christopher has as written copy for various hospital's websites and contributed to heath blogs.
The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic: