Prevent minor injuries from having major impacts with quick referral

Patients who sustain minor injuries may not realize the extent of the damage. Repeated injury or strain of joints without proper rehabilitation can have serious lasting consequences.

Patients who sustain minor injuries may not realize the extent of the damage. If patients’ symptoms are interfering with normal activity, hobbies (including sports) or sleeping, a physician should be consulted to determine the appropriate steps towards recovery.

Referring patients to a sports health specialist can prevent lifelong issues. At Norton Sports Health, providers address injuries with comprehensive rehabilitation plans. Physical therapy can be a helpful tool to identify limitations and address the root of the injury in order to prevent future damage. Norton Sports Health offers same-day appointments, making it easy for patients to be seen and treated.

“Joint pain is an indicator of the body experiencing a high level of external stress,” said Robin G. Curry, M.D., orthopedic and sports medicine specialist with Norton Orthopedic Institute and Norton Sports Health. “Ignoring the pain may have serious effects on mobility in the long term.”

Repeated injury or strain of joints without the appropriate rehabilitation can have lasting consequences. Assess the risk level of injury in order to determine if referral to a Norton Sports Health specialist will be beneficial to your patient.

Ankle symptom guidelines

If your patient reports the following symptoms accompanying their ankle injury, they are at higher risk of long-term damage if their injury is not treated, and they should be referred to a sports health specialist.

  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Fever
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Unable to walk or bear weight
  • Bone misalignment, bleeding or break in the skin
  • Bluish skin tint
  • Numbness, tingling or loss of feeling in the ankle or leg
  • Mild to severe instability
  • Moderate to severe swelling

If your patient reports milder symptoms, they are at lower risk for lasting damage:

  • Mild tenderness or swelling that decreases
  • Slight or no functional loss
  • No instability

Treatment of more mild symptoms include the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method, modified exercise and over-the-counter pain medication. If symptoms worsen, visit a sports health specialist.

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Knee symptom guidelines

If your patient reports the following symptoms they are at higher risk of long-term damage and should be referred to a sports injury specialist.

  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Fever
  • Only able to walk with a limp or unable to walk or bear weight
  • Moderate to severe swelling
  • Either a history of acute/chronic onset injury or a history of traumatic injury, which can include an event that resulted in the twisting, popping or locking of the knee
  • Calf pain, leg swelling, numbness or tingling
  • Some giving way of the knee or instability
  • Taking over-the-counter pain medicine as needed
  • Evidence of infection or inflammation

If your patient reports the following symptoms with their knee injury, they are at lower risk of long-term injury:

  • Mild pain
  • Ability to walk without a limp
  • Minimal swelling
  • No catching, locking or giving way with use
  • No history of traumatic injury
  • No pain medication needed

Less severe symptoms can be managed with the RICE method, modified or low-impact exercise, or ibuprofen or acetaminophen to manage swelling and pain as needed.

Shoulder symptom guidelines

If your patient reports the following symptoms with their shoulder injury, they are at higher risk and should be seen by a sports health specialist:

  • Moderate or severe pain
  • Fever
  • Decreased strength or motion
  • Radiating pain through or down the arm
  • Unable to lift arm overhead
  • Clicking, popping, catching or locking
  • Increased pain at night
  • Instability or dislocation of the shoulder joint
  • Joint effusion

If your patient reports the following symptoms with their shoulder injury, they are at lower risk for damage:

  • Increased pain with overhead activity
  • Minimal clicking, popping or catching
  • No instability or giving way of the shoulder
  • No weakness or loss of motion

Management can include ibuprofen or acetaminophen as needed, ice or heat to address pain, gentle or modified exercise, and decreased overhead and cross body movement.


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