Acute injuries, such as a sprained ankle, strained back, or fractured hand, occur suddenly during activity. Signs of an acute injury include:
- sudden, severe pain
- inability to place weight on a lower limb
- extreme tenderness in an upper limb
- inability to move a joint through full range of motion
- extreme limb weakness
- visible dislocation / break of a bone
Chronic injuries usually result from overusing one area of the body while playing a sport or exercising over a long period. Signs of a chronic injury include:
- pain when performing activities
- a dull ache when at rest
What Should I Do If I Suffer An Injury?
Whether an injury is acute or chronic, there is never a good reason to try to "work through" the pain of an injury. When you have pain from a particular movement or activity, STOP! Continuing the activity only causes further harm.
Some injuries require prompt medical attention, while others can be self-treated.
When To Seek Medical Treatment
You should call a health professional if:
- the injury causes severe pain, swelling, or numbness
- you can't tolerate weight on the area
- the pain or dull ache of an old injury is accompanied by increased swelling or joint abnormality or instability
If you don't have any of the above symptoms, it's probably safe to treat the injury at home, at least at first. If pain or other symptoms worsen, it's best to check with your doctor.
Source: NIH Publication No. 04-5278