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How do you know it’s time to see a sports medicine doctor?

Medically Reviewed by Brian S. Kern, MD | November 2, 2021

No, you don’t have to see a sports medicine doctor for every sprain or bruise, but there certainly are plenty of injuries that need expert care. If you don’t seek professional help for them, they will only get worse with time.

Our main goal at the Orthopaedic Institute of Western Kentucky (OIWK) Sports Medicine Center is to help you stay active. So, we want to examine any injuries that could limit your exercise long-term. Here’s what to look for when deciding to make an appointment. 


A Possible Fracture or Torn Ligament

These injuries often need medical help to heal correctly. The bone may feel or look differently, and you could experience some swelling. You may also hear a loud pop or crack when you try to use the injured body part, followed by an immediate spike of pain. Schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you ever think you have a fracture. 



Bruises aren’t a cause for concern, but if an area of your body starts to bruise and swell soon after an injury, then you may need to see a sports medicine doctor.

Watch out for numbness, increased pain, and loss of function. The bruise could also grow or refuse to heal, remaining the same color and firmness for several days. These could be signs of a hematoma, a collection of blood that gets trapped under your skin after major trauma. It requires professional care.


A Limb that Can’t Hold Weight

We all know what it feels like to twist an ankle and feel a sharp prick of pain. Sometimes, that pain fades quickly, and you can walk again after a bit of rest. Other times, it doesn’t fade at all. So, rest for a while, and if you still can’t put weight on a limb, schedule an appointment with an OIWK sports medicine doctor.

Pain after RICE

Many minor injuries can be treated with RICE—rest, ice, compression, and elevation. So, if this method doesn’t relieve pain after a week, you may have suffered a severe trauma and should seek medical care.

Worsening Pain

Increasing pain is never a good sign. If your sports injury keeps getting worse over time—and especially if it interferes with your daily activities—then you need to see a sports medicine doctor.

If you notice any of these signs, please contact our sports medicine center at (270) 442-9461. Our physicians will make sure you get the care you need to live a life you love. Schedule your appointment today.