Why do so many people wait a long time before seeing a sports medicine doctor? Do you fear of going to the doctor?
Maybe a recreational soccer player sprains her ankle, but she waits a week before going to the doctor despite her inability to put weight on her leg. Maybe a middle-aged jogger continues to run through nagging shin pain that keeps getting worse.
Generally there are several common reasons that active people resist going to the doctor. Understanding these reasons might encourage you to have an injury evaluated sooner rather than later.
First, you might believe that your pain will go away on its own. Giving an injury a few hours, or a few days to see if it goes away spontaneously is rarely a bad idea. And many athletic people understand the common first-line treatments with most musculoskeletal injuries. Apply ice or some sort of cold therapy. Elevate the body part above the level of the heart. Lightly wrap the extremity to compress it and decrease swelling.
If these measures don’t provide relief fairly quickly, it can be a good idea to have your injury assessed.
Next, you may fear hearing that you need surgery. It is completely understandable for you to want to avoid surgery and possibly months of rehab after surgery. Despite what many people think, orthopaedic surgeons generally don’t want to operate on every patient. In sports medicine, while some injuries do ultimately need surgery, most injuries do not. Often simple remedies, such as physical therapy or short-term modifications in activity, can resolve the problem before surgery is needed.
The final, and arguably the most common, reason athletic individuals often don’t want to go to see a sports medicine doctor is that they do not want to be shut down. You don’t want to hear that you have to quit running or that you have to sit out the rest of the soccer season.
One of the goals of sports medicine doctors and surgeons – arguably our main goal – is to get you back to the sports and exercise that you love to do. It might require some treatments like physical therapy. Yes, it might occasionally require arthroscopic surgery to fix structural damage in your knee or shoulder. But our goal is to help you return to what you like to do as quickly and safely as possible.
In summary, if you can’t do what you want to do in your sport or exercise as well as you want to do it, it can be a good idea to see a doctor and have it checked out.