Don’t let a damaged paw put you on the bench. Here, orthopaedic surgeon Dr Melvin Rosenwasser explains how to stay in the game.
- Typical causes: Cooking, woodworking, broken glass
- First response: Wash the area with soap and water; then apply pressure with a cloth. If the bleeding stops, the cut is near a fingertip, and you can still move and feel the finger, then you probably don’t need a doctor.
- Typical causes: Hammer, car door
- First response: Ice it for 20 minutes an hour, for six to 12 hours. If the pain is throbbing and blood collects under the nail, your doctor may pierce the nail. A drooping fingertip can mean bone or tendon damage.
- Typical causes: Tennis spill, bike crash, SMSing while walking
- First response: Use your water bottle to flush away dirt. When you can, wash the wound with soap, pat it dry and apply an antibiotic ointment. Then cover the area with a breathable material, like gauze.
- Typical causes: Rugby, bicycling
- First response: Try to gently pull your finger straight to minimize pain and reduce the odds of permanent damage. Then apply ice and see a doctor to rule out fracture and make sure the bones are properly set.
- Typical causes: Basketball, rugby
- First response: If you must keep playing, “buddy-tape” it to an adjacent finger. Rest it for 36 hours while icing for 20 minutes every four hours. “It’ll appear swollen for a while after it heals,” says Rosenwasser.
- Typical causes: Punching that a-hole, or a wall
- First response: Elevate and ice it for 20 minutes hourly until pain subsides. If there’s bruising, severe swelling, or pain lasting longer than 24 hours, see a doctor. The “I can move it so it’s not broken” theory? It’s crap, says Rosenwasser.
What’s the one first-aid item every athlete must have? Instant cold compress. It’s not as good as real ice, but the quicker you can elevate and put something cold on an acute injury – contusions, twists and sprains – the less recovery time you’ll need.