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CRESTWOOD – Injuries and sports go hand-in-hand.
The treatment of injuries both minor and major are the key to getting back into the game for athletes of all ages and levels.
“The very first thing you do after an injury, if you do the right thing makes all the difference in the world,” South Oldham High School athletic trainer Kelly Dyke said. “If you use the wrong treatment, it can take a lot of work to correct and that means a lot longer recovery time.”
Dyke and North Oldham trainer Lynn Cook both stress a little education about injuries and their treatment can go a long way for the athletes and in the case of younger athletes, their parents.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is there is swelling and we have to get to the hospital immediately and get an X-ray,” Cook said. “A lot of times that’s not needed.”
There is, of course, a flip side to that coin.
“The swelling on an ankle sprain can look really horrible, but if there’s not an obvious deformity than a trip to the emergency room is not necessary,” Dyke said. “If you do see something that just doesn’t look right outside of the swelling that’s when you seek immediate treatment.”
Dyke and Cook treat athletes at SOHS and NOHS and see everything from common sprains and pulled muscles to more traumatic injuries, like ACL tears and dislocated joints.
They say one problem is the youngest athletes are often called upon to attempt the same things as their older counterparts.
“I am not so sure there is a big difference in the types of injuries we see with the younger kids,” Gary Costelle, the director of the trainers for Baptist hospitals, said. “Probably the biggest thing that frustrates me is too many times they are being to taught to do the same things the high-school age kids do and their bodies are just not capable of doing those same things and it leads to injury when it doesn’t have to.”
Costelle said the best example is Little League baseball pitchers who throw curve balls, causing joint pain and future damage.
All three trainers are proponents of using ice as an initial treatment for sprains and proper stretching before and after workouts as a prevention and treatment.
“If you’ve got an injury or a sprain probably the best thing you can do is get ice on it as quickly as possible,” Cook said.
Dyke said they encounter a lot of misconceptions in the way injuries are treated from home from old school methods like soaking in epsom salts to using heat – which can do more damage than good.
“Ice slows the blood flow and heat speeds it up which can cause more swelling,” Dyke said. “It used to be 24 hours of ice then go to the heat treatment, but I really think using ice the first 72 hours is the best way to go. Using heat feels better but it doesn’t do a lot to take the swelling down which is the goal.”
National athletic trainer’s associations advocate the RICE method – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
• Rest - This protects the injured muscle or tissue and allows the body more time to heal itself. Rest is often the most overlooked especially with the younger athletes.
“We see a lot of overuse injuries like tendonitis and stress fractures in the younger kids because they just have not had enough time to rest from the injury,” Cook said. “A lot of times parents think if they just take a week off it will go away and that’s not enough time which can lead to something serious.”
• Ice – Applying ice immediately after a sprain for 15 minutes, then waiting 15 minutes to re-apply can make all the difference. Ice inhibits the swelling and provide temporary pain relief.
“There are very few minor injuries that ice can’t help,” Dyke said. “Ice can heal most injuries, but after the first 24 hours if something just doesn’t look right or there has been no noticeable reduction in the swelling, then it’s time to see a trainer or a doctor.”
• Compression – Can limit the swelling initially. Using an ACE bandage is the best way and the ice can be applied over this. Make sure the wrap is not too tight which can cause swelling and increase pain.
• Elevate – This reduces swelling, especially with a sprained ankle. Raising the feet above the level of the heart with a pillow while laying down slows swelling.
Dyke and Cook said if a sprain or a muscle pull do not show signs of improvement in a day or two to seek treatment from a medial professional immediately.
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