Pain with activity, or even just walking, is the most common symptom of an overuse injury. The pain is localized to the area of the soft tissue or bony injury. It is most severe during the activity, for example running, and subsides, but may not completely resolve, at rest.
Initial treatments include rest from exercise and over the counter anti-inflammatory pain medication. If symptoms do not improve with two weeks of rest and pain medication, medical evaluation is recommended. This may include X-rays of the affected area, to make sure there is not a fracture of the bone.
In general, soft tissue overuse injuries are managed without surgery and heal on their own over time. Stress fractures may also heal on their own but typically require crutches to unload the fracture so the bone can heal.
Acute injuries are caused by high energy contact or twisting injury. Pain and swelling are often immediate and may prevent weight bearing or use of the involved limb. Acute injuries need to be medically evaluated immediately to make sure there is not a broken bone or dislocated joint.
Joint dislocations present an obvious deformity, and inability to move the joint. Shoulder dislocations often can be reduced, or put back into place, on the field, if they don’t reduce on their own. Hip dislocations, however, need to be reduced at a hospital. Joint dislocations are serious injuries that require orthopedic care to monitor the future stability of the joint and the health of the joint cartilage that can be injured at the time of the dislocation.
With any injury, acute or chronic, if you are unsure if your pain is “normal” or not, it is wise to have it evaluated by a medical professional in order to optimize diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately, return to sport.