Reviewed by: Amy Surdam
While sports provide an excellent outlet for fun and exercise, they come with the potential risk for injury. Whether you participate in basketball, soccer, swimming, running or another sport, you’ve likely experienced your fair share of sprains, scrapes, rips and tears as an athlete.
While you can get immediate care at the ER, treatment costs for even minor injuries can be expensive. In contrast, urgent care centers can provide affordable, timely treatment in case of certain injuries. Learn the most common athletic injuries urgent care centers can treat so you can get back to playing sports in no time.
One of the most common sports injuries we see is muscle strain. Muscle strain can occur by overstretching, twisting or pulling a muscle or tendon harder than it can withstand. While it can be challenging to differentiate muscle strains versus muscle soreness, a few indicators determine whether you should go to urgent care for your symptoms.
When you have muscle soreness, the pain might not hit you until a few days later and can be treated at home with ice packs, massages and rest. Alternatively, the pain from a muscle strain is usually immediate and can last weeks or even months.
You can go to urgent care for a pulled muscle if the pain worsens and you find it challenging to treat at home. Health care providers will alleviate the pain from minor to moderate muscle strains such as groin pulls or hamstring strains. You can also go to urgent care for muscle spasms or an involuntary muscle contraction, often a symptom of a strain.
Like strains, sprains are a common sports injury treated at urgent care centers that involve tearing the muscle, tendon or ligaments. They can have several causes, but most result from a fall or twist to a joint that damages the ligament or the tissue that holds two joints together. Sprains are usually accompanied by symptoms like tenderness, inflammation, pain, swelling and bruising. You can go to urgent care for a sprained ankle, though severe sprains typically require surgical repair from a specialist.
You may have shin splints if you experience aching or throbbing after running or exercising. Shin splints result in inflammation of the muscles and bone tissue around the shin and cause sharp or dull pain in the legs.
If the splints are severe, your legs might hurt even when not walking or running. This type of injury is common among dancers, runners and gymnasts and can result from having flat feet, shoes that fit incorrectly or weak ankles, hips or core muscles.
If you exercise often, there are things you can do to heal from shin splints, such as adequately warming up and cooling down your leg muscles. Urgent care providers can do a medical evaluation and help you ease the symptoms of shin splints.
A concussion is a brain injury that may result in a temporary loss of brain function. While concussions are often caused by a blow to the head, this type of injury is usually only internal. If left untreated, symptoms can worsen and cause migraines, confusion, dizziness and memory loss.
Urgent care providers can diagnose and treat concussions to prevent further damage and aid in the recovery process. Urgent care can also provide necessary treatment for head injuries like bumps, bruises or contusions.
This type of injury occurs when your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) becomes stretched, torn or irritated. These injuries are often sudden and very painful and can cause swelling or instability in the knee. Managing ACL tears appropriately and bracing the tendon at urgent care centers can treat the symptoms and help to prevent ACL rupture or a complete loss of function.
Tennis elbow is characterized by pain to the outside of the elbow from overusing your arm and forearm. The injury is not confined to tennis players and can occur to those who play sports that require repetitive arm or wrist movements, such as basketball, baseball or volleyball. “Golfer’s elbow” is another term associated with this condition, often occurring in someone’s dominant arm.
While you can treat most symptoms of this condition at home through rest, massage and icing, urgent care centers can offer services like X-rays to ensure nothing is broken and suggest physical therapy if you feel that your tennis elbow requires professional treatment.
Also known as jumper’s knee, runner’s knee is caused by trauma in the knee joint. Anyone who overuses this joint can suffer from runner’s knee, and it often occurs from constant blows or falls on the knee. Symptoms might include pain in the joint caused by jumping, squatting, running, climbing, bending or exercising. You might also feel pain when sitting for long periods. If you suffer from this condition, you might also experience cracking or popping sounds in the knee joint.
Dislocation results from two bones separating at the joint, often occurring in high-impact sports like soccer, basketball and football. Unlike minor injuries, dislocations require medical treatment to help them heal. Dislocations might happen in the jaws, knees, shoulders, elbows, ankles or hips. When you go to urgent care for a dislocated knee or shoulder, for instance, providers will reposition the bones and put them into place so they heal correctly.
A fracture is the result of a broken bone. You might experience a partial or complete fracture by falling or suffering a direct hit to your bone. While acute fractures occur when bones break cleanly without causing damage to the surrounding tissue, compound fractures cause the bone to break the skin.
Most urgent care centers will provide treatment to acute fractures, while severe fractures will require treatment in the emergency room. The most common bone breaks typically occur in the wrist, ankle or forearm. Depending on the fracture’s severity, the healing process might require a splint, cast or surgery.
Most common sports injuries are minor and can be treated at your local urgent care. And if an injury does require further treatment, urgent care sports medicine providers can do a complete medical evaluation and direct you to a specialist.
At SouthStar Urgent Care, you’ll find award-winning customer service and a qualified team of medical providers who care. Get treatment for mild to moderate injuries from ACL tears to shin splints, sprained ankles and more so you can return to the activities you love. We also perform sports physicals to ensure you’re ready for a fun and safe season.
To find sports injury treatment near you in Louisiana, browse our locations and check in online today!