If you exercise on a regular basis, you have no doubt faced some sort of nagging pain. It could be your sore shoulder after lifting weights. It might be a swollen Achilles tendon or burning IT band after running.
If you don’t think you suffered any structural damage and think you just have inflammation, are there steps you can take to decrease your pain?
Take a few days off.
Avoid the repetitive stresses that caused your shoulder, knee or ankle to ache in the first place. If you want to exercise anyway, try a routine that targets other body parts. If you normally run, switch to swimming or biking. Once your pain resolves, you can work back into your preferred exercise.
Ice after workouts.
Experts are starting to question the use of ice after traumatic injuries like fractures or ligament tears, but it can definitely decrease swelling. Plus it can make that aching bone or joint feel better. Try ice on it for 20 minutes after a workout. Ice it several times throughout the day as well.
Consider anti-inflammatory medications.
Like ice, we are starting to question these medications, like ibuprofen and naproxen, after acute injuries such as fractures, as they could slow healing. Consider trying these medications for a short period of time, and watch for side effects like stomach pain.
Work with a physical therapist.
Physical therapists can evaluate your pain and take steps to get you better. They can strengthen and stretch the injured area and teach you exercises that you can do on your own. Plus they have modalities like ultrasound and dry needling that might help. South Carolina allows direct access to physical therapists without a doctor’s referral. You can work with the therapist for up to 30 days before you need a prescription from a doctor.
See a doctor.
If you aren’t getting better with rest, activity modification, ice and other simple measures, consider going to your doctor or an orthopedic surgeon. You might worry that we will try to talk you into surgery or giving up your activity. But we want to get you back to your sport or exercise. Often we can find a simple underlying cause for your pain and suggest some straightforward options to get you back to what you love to do.
Have you dealt with a nagging pain that made playing your sport or exercise difficult? What did you do about it? Please share your thoughts below!