Exercise, especially when beginning a training program, is commonly associated with mild muscle and/or joint soreness. This is to be expected, and should not cause alarm IF only mild –moderate in intensity, occurs after exercise and resolves within 24-36 hours.
Whether you are deep into your training regimen or just starting, RICE is one of the most recommended home treatment methods for a suspected muscle or ligament strain or sprain.
- Rest: Stay off the injured foot or ankle.
- Ice: Apply ice around to the affected area as soon as possible and reapply it for 15-20 minutes every three or four hours for the first 48 hours after injury. (Small bags with frozen peas are reusable and convenient.)
- Compression: Snuggly wrap an elastic bandage (such as an Ace® wrap) around the affected foot or ankle.
- Elevation: Keep your foot or ankle elevated as much as possible to reduce swelling.
If the injury is not responding to RICE therapy, the pain is severe and it returns during your next workout, the problem may be more significant. Other clues may be pain that occurs with other, less stressful exercise regimes (cross training) and pain that simply precludes exercise. Specific injuries such as Achilles tendonitis may require medical expertise. In general, do not try to run through pain of significant nature. Most injuries do not require immediate medical care, but if the pain is severe, a joint is red, inflamed or swollen, or if there is instability of a joint or bone, then immediate evaluation may be helpful. Of course, trauma resulting from falls (for example) and associated with significant pain will need urgent evaluation.
Serious injuries such as fractures of the foot and ankle often can be mistaken as a common sprain. If your condition does not improve after a few days or you begin to experience increased pain, swelling, bruising and difficulty walking, make an appointment to see your doctor.
Dr. Alexander Voljavec is a board-certified physician in Internal Medicine at Internal Medicine Specialists of Roswell. For more information, visit roswellmed.com or call 770-619-5100.