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Phoenix Sports Medicine Doctors Share Tips

The severity of a sports injury can run the gamut, from minor bumps and bruises to life threatening head injuries. The Phoenix sports medicine physicians practicing at St. Luke’s Medical Center have seen it all. When in doubt about whether or not an injury requires medical attention, be safe, and call your physician. For less severe sports injuries and circumstances where prompt medical care is unnecessary, follow these guidelines, provided by the Phoenix area sports medicine doctors at St. Luke’s Medical Center. For a sports medicine physician in Phoenix, call 1-877-351-WELL.

What Is R.I.C.E.?

For many of the sports injuries below, you may see a therapy referred to as “R.I.C.E.,” which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. R.I.C.E., along with the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, helps the body do what it does best: self-repair. The Phoenix sports medicine doctors at St. Luke’s Medical Center offer these R.I.C.E. recommendations:

  • Rest the injured body part. That means minimal weight, stress, or use. Absolutely no athletic activity.
  • Ice the injury for no more than 20 minutes once an hour. Use a towel or cloth as a barrier between skin and ice to prevent skin damage.
  • Compress the injury gently. Your sports medicine physician can show you how to wrap and compress the injured joint or muscle.
  • Elevate the injury above heart level to reduce swelling.

Achilles Tendon Injury

The Achilles tendon provides the power to run, walk, and jump. The body’s strongest tendon, it runs the length of the lower leg, from the back of the heel to the calf muscle. This tendon is one of the most commonly injured tendons in the body. In most instances, the Achilles tendon is injured by repetitive use; acute injuries are less common.

The Phoenix sports medicine physicians at St. Luke’s Medical Center have several tools for treating Achilles tendinitis, including stem cell injections and platelet-rich plasma injections. Your sports medicine doctor may also recommend special stretches for pain relief. Basic R.I.C.E is also a standard therapy for Achilles tendinitis. Learn more about Achilles tendon pain.


A fracture is a break in a bone. The severity of a fracture depends on the function of the bone, location of the break, the involvement of surrounding tissue, nerves and blood supply, and the displacement of bone fragments or angulation of the bone at the site of the fracture. Some fractures, such as stable fractures, may require relatively little treatment (though you still need to see your doctor). If you experience a fracture, see your physician immediately. Symptoms of fracture include: pain that worsens over time, tenderness that increases with use and decreases with rest, swelling, and new or easy-to-see deformities.

Your Phoenix sports medicine physician may give you some of the following tips for fracture care:

  • Take it easy. Give the injured bone plenty of time to heal before putting weight or stress on it. Your doctor will let you know when it is safe to return to athletic activities.
  • Use ice packs to alleviate swelling.
  • When your physician does give you a return-to-play clearance, work your way up to your prior performance level slowly. Gradually reintroduce your body to high-impact activities.

Learn more about how Phoenix sports medicine physicians care for fractures at St. Luke’s Medical Center.

Joint Dislocation

Joint dislocation – especially shoulder dislocation – is one of the most common sports injuries. The St. Luke’s Medical Center Sports Medicine team evaluates and treats joint dislocation using a comprehensive approach, drawing upon the resources of physical therapists, orthopaedic surgeons, and other specialists when necessary. Joint dislocations may result in damage to the ligaments and tendons that support the joint. Therapies ranging from physical therapy to PRP injection or surgical repair may be used to stabilize an injured joint.

Symptoms of joint dislocation include: intense pain, inability to move the joint, swelling or discoloration, and visible deformity. If you are exhibiting symptoms of joint dislocation, see your physician immediately. Call 1-877-351-WELL for a sports medicine physician in Phoenix. If you have suffered a joint dislocation, your sports medicine doctor will reset the joint and (if applicable) give you a sling or device to hold the joint in place. R.I.C.E. is recommended. Additional therapies may be available.

Knee Injury

The knee is one of the most commonly injured body parts – for both athletes and non-athletes alike. ACL tears, patellofemoral pain (better known as “runner’s knee”) and patellar tendinitis (“jumper’s knee”) are three especially common types of knee injuries. Symptoms of knee injury can vary. However, you shouldalways see a physician if you experience:

  • Severe knee pain
  • Are unable to move the knee
  • Are limping
  • Hear a popping sound in the knee after an injury
  • Have swelling after a knee injury

For a sports medicine doctor in Phoenix, call 1-877-351-WELL. Knee treatments at St. Luke’s Medical Center vary, from advanced minimally invasive procedures like MAKOplasty® to non-surgical options, such as steroid injections, physical therapy, and immobilization. Learn more about athletic knee pain.

Rotator Cuff Injury

Every year, approximately two million people tear a rotator cuff in the United States. This shoulder injury can be caused by repetition, acute trauma, or by simply lifting an object the wrong way. Symptoms of rotator cuff tear include dull, aching pain deep in the shoulder, arm weakness, difficulty reaching, and sleeplessness due to pain in the affected shoulder.

If you are experiencing similar symptoms, see your doctor. To find a sports medicine physician in Phoenix near you, call 1-877-351-WELL. Approximately half of all patients with a torn rotator cuff get significant pain relief through non-surgical therapies, which may include R.I.C.E., NSAIDs, steroid injections, and physical therapy. For some patients, surgery may be the only option. Learn more about your surgical options for a torn rotator cuff at St. Luke’s Medical Center.

Shin Splints

Shin splints are a type of pain that occurs on the inner part of the shinbone (tibia). Shin splints are typically caused by overworking the muscle and bone in the shins. This type of injury is more likely to occur when you change your exercise habits. For example, running a longer distance or on steeper inclines than your body is used to may cause shin splints. Flat feet, rigid arches, and the wrong kind of footwear can also contribute to this injury.

Common symptoms of shin splints include pain, swelling, and tenderness on the inner edge of the tibia. Pain tends to flare up during and after exercise and goes away with rest. If you are experiencing symptoms similar to those described above, see your physician. (If you do not have a primary care provider, call 1-877-351-WELL for a sports medicine physician in Phoenix.) A sports medicine doctor may be able to suggest behavior modification, an orthotic device or – in severe cases – provide a referral for surgery.

Sprains & Strains

Sprains and strains are some of the most common sports injuries at all levels – from the backyard to the big leagues. A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament; ligaments connect bone to bone. A strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon; tendons connect muscle to bone. Sprains can occur when a ligament is overextended or when a sudden trauma knocks a joint out of place. A strain may occur when a muscle or tendon is overextended or subject to repetitive use.

Symptoms of sprains and strains include bruising, swelling, pain, limited mobility or immobility, and soreness. R.I.C.E. is an essential therapy for many sprains and strains. If the symptoms of the sprain or strain do not improve within a few days, you may wish to see a doctor. The Phoenix sports medicine physicians with St. Luke’s Medical Center recommend patients always see a doctor when any of the following occurs:

  • Severe pain
  • Complete immobility
  • Abnormal joint position
  • Numbness or tingling that lasts after the injury
  • Hand or foot is cool or pale.
  • Popping sound in the ankle at time of sprain

Schedule an Appointment With a Sports Medicine Physician in Phoenix

Need a sports medicine doctor in the Phoenix area? Call 1-877-351-WELL for a sports medicine physician in Phoenix near you.


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