If you suffer a running injury, or if you have pain while jogging that keeps you from doing it as much or as well as you would like, how can you know if it is a serious running injury and worth seeing an orthopedic surgeon? This list is far from comprehensive, but here are five signs you have a running injury that might require surgery or at least a lengthy absence from running.
You have pain in a very specific location.
I’m not suggesting that pain is good, but more diffuse pain – your knee or ankle hurts everywhere and not in one specific area – might not be as worrisome as pain that you can point to with one finger. For example, runners with a meniscus tear of the knee usually complain of pain in a very specific spot along the joint line rather than throughout the knee. These runners often hurt along the medial (inside) and posterior (back) side of the knee or along the lateral (outside) and posterior aspect of the knee. Along the same lines, fractures and stress fractures anywhere in the foot, ankle or leg usually cause localized pain on the bone at the site of the fracture.
Your foot/ankle/leg/knee is much more swollen than normal.
It might not be a big deal to have a small amount of fluid present in your knee or ankle, especially after a long workout. On the other hand, significant swelling, especially when it’s painful and slow to go away, could be a sign of a more serious problem.
You can’t walk without limping.
Whether you suffer a traumatic event or developed worsening pain over a few days or weeks, limping can be worrisome. If you cannot walk with a normal gait and have to limp, it could be a sign that you should get it checked out.
Your pain is getting worse as you proceed through the workout.
Sometimes soreness in your foot, ankle, knee or leg can be normal, especially after you do a longer or more strenuous training session. If it stays the same intensity throughout your training, it might not be a big deal. On the other hand, if your pain keeps getting worse and worse as you keep going, it could be a sign that you have a serious running injury.
You really hurt the next day.
If you run one day and wake up the next day with much more pain than you expect, you might have a serious injury. It doesn’t have to be simply pain either. You might have difficulty standing or putting weight on your foot, or you might have stiffness of your knee or ankle. If you are that uncomfortable, you might consider seeing your doctor or an orthopaedic surgeon.
I hope that this list of signs you have a serious running injury is helpful. Again, it is not comprehensive, and it is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If anything, I hope you would consider seeing your doctor sooner after injury if you have any of these complaints.