No matter who you are or where you grew up, there are certain memories we all share. One of the most common of these is when we would be out playing with a friend or sibling, and tragedy strikes: someone hits their head, draws blood, or falls out of something. You probably remember the feeling of assessing the injury, and trying to stem the flow of tears before an adult comes running.
These days, we are the adults, and while we may not be worried about getting in trouble, the panic still remains. Only the worry now is that you need to make the right decision, and judge whether any injuries sustained are serious enough to go to the doctor, or just something that can be walked off. So, how can you tell when you need to seek help?
Soreness vs. Pain
It goes without saying that pain is to be expected as a part of any injury, especially in the immediate aftermath. If the pain is unbearable from the beginning, then it is always best to visit a doctor. But in many cases, we are teetering on the cusp between bearable and unbearable, and often choose to tough it out, hoping it will improve with time.
While many injuries do heal over time, understanding the distinction between soreness and pain can help you identify which injuries need rest, and which need professional help. Soreness refers to a dull ache, or tender feeling when the area is touched. But the level of discomfort felt will drop when a sore muscle is moved, while one that is painful will grow even more so. And while soreness may be felt throughout the day, pain will be much more obvious, and will make it difficult to do things like concentrate or sleep.
Using an ankle injury as an example, you would expect to have difficulty putting weight on your ankle straight after hurting it, but generally you should be able to do so within a few minutes, even if it still hurts a bit. But if some time has passed and you still find it impossible to put weight on the area without buckling or recoiling in pain, then it is likely an indication that the injury is more serious than you expected.
Another key indicator is your ability to move the affected area after an injury is sustained. Again, it is normal for the area to feel tender, in which case you may not want to move it. But if it is so painful that you can’t bring yourself to move it, that is a bad sign. Similarly, if the area is too stiff or excessively swollen to be moved, it suggests there is significant underlying damage that needs to be examined by a professional.
Whether it’s because you’re unsure of how much damage has been done, unwilling to spend money, or just trying to look tough, there are lots of reasons people decide not to visit a doctor when they want to. But a serious injury will only get worse if left unaddressed, which will ultimately cost more to treat, with less effective results. It is understandable that people don’t want to run to the doctor for every little thing, but when it comes to your health, if you’re unsure, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.