What to do about your Nagging High School Sports Injury
You still remember it in vivid detail – whether it’s the crunch of the tackle that left you with lingering back pain or the pop in your knee that would change the way you walked for decades to come. There’s no way to go back and un-do old sports-related injuries. But there might be something you can do about the pain you still feel.
Dr. David Leifer, a board certified abdominal and body imaging radiologist practicing at Methodist Center for Diagnostic Imaging in Dallas, points out that advances in technology and medicine offer new ways to quickly, and non-invasively diagnosis old pain. "What we can now do would have been science fiction not long ago," says.
So even if you were told you just have to live with it, there could be new hope for pain relief today.
Don’t Be Shy about Sharing Your Story
Joking that old sports injuries are his “bread and butter,” Dr. Cecil Bailey, an internal medicine doctor with Heritage Medical and Wellness in Cedar Hill, Texas says some patients keep quiet about pain. It’s not until he digs into the patient’s story that he finds an athletic injury decades earlier is still causing pain. That’s why Dr. Bailey says telling your doctor the whole story is so important. “It’s funny. Patients will say, ‘Oh, you know, I’ve had this back pain.’ Well, no! You’ve never, ever told me.” The more you tell your doctor, the more tools they can use to help you.
When is it Time to Ask for Help?
You might find yourself caught in an internal debate when it comes to asking for help with pain. Should I say something or just live with it? While Dr. Leifer says everyone’s pain threshold is different, his approach is minimalistic. “I’d say don’t go looking for a problem if you don’t have one.” But it’s time to get help if:
- Your pain changes
- You have decreased daily function
- Your symptoms start to restrict your life in a meaningful way
For example, you might have nagging back pain, but suddenly that pain starts radiating down your hip into the foot, or your feet start tingling, or you begin to have trouble walking. Dr. Bailey says, “All those things would cue my mind to think: We need to do something more.” The next step might be an MRI to help diagnose the underlying cause of the pain.
Could an Injection Make a Difference?
An MRI may help pinpoint the pain, but finding relief from the pain is not always easy. Dr. Bailey says some of his patients don’t want to take oral pain medication because of the side effects or the way it makes them feel. That’s why his pain management go-to is interventional radiology. Using X-ray guided technology, radiologists can accurately zero in on the source of your pain, Dr. Bailey explains. “They can inject those muscles and those nerves that will block that area and then allow for natural healing to occur.” Whether the injection numbs the nerves or delivers medication to the spot where you need it, relief is possible.
Dr. Bailey says it’s not unusual for pain patients to go from a 10 out of 10 pain rating before an injection to a two or even a zero out of 10 afterwards. “It makes me feel like a rock star that I had something to do with it," he adds. "That’s what we’re here for.”
To learn more about therapeutic pain injection options at CDI and if they're right for you, click here.
About Dr. Leifer
David M. Leifer, M.D. is a board certified abdominal and body imaging radiologist practicing at Methodist Center for Diagnostic Imaging in Texas. Read his full bio here.
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