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When Should I See a Doctor for a Running Injury?

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Updated March 26, 2013

man talking to doctor Juan Silva
Question: When Should I See a Doctor for a Running Injury?
"I started feeling some knee pain during my run yesterday. How do I know if I need to see a doctor for a running injury?"
Answer: There are different types of running pain and some types of discomfort are safe to run through. For example, if you feel a little tightness in the beginning of a run and it goes away once you're warmed up, it's usually safe to continue running. Or, if you're doing a long run for marathon training, you're most likely going to feel some soreness and discomfort towards the end of the run, similar to what you'll feel in the final miles of your marathon.

But if you're dealing with pain that continues to get worse during your run, or causes you to alter your running gait, then you should stop your run.

Most running injuries respond well to R.I.C.E self-treatment and take about 7-14 days to heal. So you don't need to schedule an appointment with your doctor at the first sign of mild to moderate pain. Give it some rest, ice for the first 24-48 hours, and do cross-training (assuming it's completely pain-free) instead of running for at least a few days.

A doctor or physical therapist can diagnose, treat, and more importantly, help you determine the cause of your injury to prevent a recurrence. Make an appointment if your injury doesn't respond to self-treatment and you don't see any improvement after 7-10 days, or if you have any of the following symptoms:
  • severe pain in a joint or bone
  • pain radiating to another area of the body
  • injury is very painful to the touch
  • significant swelling at the injury site
  • difficulty moving the injured part
  • numbness, tingling or weakness in the injured area

Also see:
What If I Have to Take a Break from Running?
Injury Recovery Tips
The Emotional Side of Running Injuries

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