Pain relief from Sports injuries

Sports injuries can vary from sprains and strains, to pulled muscles and torn ligaments and the type of pain relief required will depend on the extent of the injury and where it is on the body. Whether it’s treated at a hospital, or by a sports therapist, pain relief is a big part of recovering from a sports injury.

For milder injuries, such as sprains and strains, it is possible to treat the injury yourself at home, and administer pain relief yourself. This can be through protecting the area with a support bandage, resting up, using ice packs on the area, wearing compression bandages and also elevating the injured limb whenever possible.


What medication can I take for pain relief?

 In terms of medicinal pain relief, over the counter medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can be tried first, or specific pain relief cream for the area which has been affected.

However, sometimes over the counter painkillers won’t do the trick as they are not strong enough, in which case a medical practitioner might prescribe Co-codamol which is a mixture of paracetamol and codeine.

It is commonly used to treat pain and aches after other milder painkillers have proven to be ineffective. The strongest Co-codamol tablets are only available on prescription and you must follow the advice from your doctor.

There can be side effects including feeling sick, feeling drowsy and being constipated. If you are still in pain, never increase or double the dose because taking too much can be harmful and there is also a risk of addiction.

Is Co-codamol suitable for anyone to take?

 There are some health conditions which would make Co-codamol unsuitable for you to take so always tell your doctor about any other conditions you have and any other medication you are taking for anything else.

You should not use Co-codamol if you are under 12 years old, you have breathing problems or a lung condition, you have a head injury, you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you drink alcohol to excess, you experience fits – there are other health conditions which also make Co-codamol unsuitable so always seek medical advice before using it.


Are there non-medication options?

 Other ways to help reduce pain following a sports injury include immobilising the area completely, for example, using splints, slings or casts to prevent further movement of injured arms, shoulders or legs. This can help reduce the risk of further injury and reduce pain.

Depending on the type of injury you have experienced, it may be necessary to seek physiotherapy for the area, once the injury has healed, so that the body can fully recover and regain strength, preventing pain and further injury in the future.

Physiotherapy can involve massage, exercises and manipulation to help increase the motion range and strengthen muscles in the injured part of the body. A programme would need to be created by a qualified physiotherapist. Ensure they also have a DBS check from  a website like


What if I experience a really serious sports injury?

If you have persistent problems with a joint due to sports injury, then it may be that you will need to have corticosteroid injections to try to relieve the pain – this is normally used for severe and long-term inflammation.

Severe sports injuries, such as broken bones, might require surgery to repair, in which case your recovery will almost certainly be accompanied by prescription pain relief such as Co-codamol. Or you might need repair on a torn knee ligament – these types of serious sports injuries will need to be treated in hospital and the consultant will give you the most suitable pain relief for your recovery.

Whether you experience a mild sprain and need to take an over-the-counter medication, or have a more serious injury needing prescription pain relief and physiotherapy, all levels of sports injuries can be treated with the most appropriate pain killer.

If you require corrective surgery for a broken limb or torn ligament, your pain relief requirements might be even higher, in which case your consultant will develop the most appropriate prescription for you.

It is really important to tell the doctor or person treating your injury, about any other health conditions you have and about any other medication you are taking, including over the counter and supplements. This is because these items might interact negatively with the prescription pain relief you are being offered, causing harmful side effects or changing the way your medication actually works.