Preparing for Your Non-Operative Sports Injury Treatment
Fortunately, there are many possible roads to recovery for sports injuries that don’t involve surgery. And if you’re on one of those roads, whether you’re an elite basketball or baseball player, or just an occasional jogger, you should familiarize yourself with the preparation guidelines before your treatment starts. Taking the right steps in advance will help you get back to your active lifestyle as soon as possible.
At a specialized facility such as MidAmerica Orthopaedics, you’ll have access to the appropriate diagnostics, as well as specialists who can recommend the best plan for your injury. Be sure to follow their guidelines and take any necessary steps in preparation of your treatment.
Preparing for Non-Surgical Treatments
Tendonitis, tennis elbow, rotator cuff tears, concussions, meniscus tears, and shin splints are just a few examples of the injuries incurred on courts, fields, and ski slopes that are treated at MidAmerica, often without surgery. Some happen in an instant; others develop gradually, over time.
Your orthopaedic physician might recommend a treatment plan might consisting of several different components, each with its own preparation guidelines. As a general rule, patients should first follow the PRICE method: protect, rest, ice, compress, and elevate. Doing so will reduce pain and swelling and remind you to be as cautious as possible so your injury doesn’t worsen.
Many sports injuries are caused by overuse, poor technique, or weakness in the muscles surrounding the joints. An orthopaedic specialist will often recommend a month or more of physical therapy (PT) to rebuild your strength and flexibility. Be sure your therapist has accessed your X-rays, MRIs, or other diagnostics related to your injury before your first session.
Take these important steps to prepare for a PT appointment:
- Dress in comfortable clothing and shoes. Your assessment may require you to stand, walk, or perform simple movements or exercises.
- Take detailed notes ahead of time about which movements cause pain or other symptoms. They will help your therapist tailor a treatment plan that is as specific to your needs as possible.
- Bring a list of any medications.
- Prepare to discuss goals such as playing tennis or running again. Your therapist will target those goals as part of your treatment.
Corticosteroid injections are sometimes used to target the treatment to the injured area. This can help reduce pain-causing inflammation. Your orthopaedic specialist may recommend injections alone or in addition to PT.
For a week prior to an injection, avoid taking all medications containing aspirin. You will likely be advised against taking blood thinners, certain supplements, and anything else that could potentially interfere with the treatment.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy is a non-invasive treatment for back pain and other ailments caused by an athletic lifestyle. The therapy involves injecting you with parts of your own blood to help your body heal.
Before a PRP therapy session, your physician will discuss with you how to prepare. Typical guidelines include these steps:
- It is important not to take aspirin, anti-inflammatories such as Advil, or corticosteroids for at least several days beforehand, as they can interfere with the injections.
- Discontinue any blood-thinning herbs, supplements, or vitamins for 1–2 weeks before your session. Your doctor will provide more details on substances to avoid during treatments.
- If you take any form of steroids, discuss a discontinuation plan with your physician. This will likely begin at least several weeks before your first session, so failure to do so could delay your treatment.
- On the morning of a PRP session, have a full, healthy breakfast that includes plenty of water.
Your doctor might recommend multiple sessions, with several weeks apart. Be sure to follow all recommended guidelines between sessions to get the most benefits out of them.
Medication and Communication
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin are often prescribed to reduce inflammation and manage pain. Write down any questions you have about medication in advance. Will it treat the injury or just the symptoms? Are there any dietary restrictions to follow while taking them? Should you finish the prescription?
You’ll get the most out of your visits with medical professionals if you arrive at every appointment fully prepared to discuss your condition. It can help to keep a journal of your symptoms so you know precisely when they occur, what movements cause them, and when the treatment is working.
Before you embark on your treatment plan, know that the healing process has already begun. The specialists at our Sports Medicine Clinic can prescribe a range of non-surgical treatments that will guide you toward a faster, more efficient recovery.