Hurt vs Injured? What is the difference?


Everyone active will ask themselves this one day:  Am I injured or am I hurt? Can I push through, or should I stop and seek medical attention?

This is a common question after you tweak something or land wrong while exercising or even while just doing everyday things.

Understanding the difference between hurt and injured is very important for long term recovery and to avoid the risk of re-injury. 

Distinguishing factors of an injury include: 

  • Loss of function:

There are things that you avoid or are unable to do because of the injury. Whereas most of the time when people are just hurt, they are able to function around that a little bit more seamlessly.

  • Time: 

Sudden or acute symptoms that can clearly be related to a triggering or inciting event should be considered an injury and medical professional treatment sought promptly. Even in the context of an overuse type of injury, usually people are able to point to a pattern or a change in pattern that has sort of led to the development of that overuse injury.

Listening to your body is important – have the symptoms changed over days or weeks? Are your symptoms there all the time / chronic? Are the symptoms getting better, have they completely plateaued, or are they getting worse?

Pain getting worse or just plateaued is another indicator that an injury has occurred, and medical attention should be sought.

  • Change in the tissue:

Swelling, redness, inflammation, bruising. These often indicate that the tissue has been damaged and correct management should be put in place to insure a correct recovery. 

To summarise there is a level of ache and pain where you can push through, but if your body tells you to stop or take a break don’t ignore it

If you want to know more, don’t hesitate to get in contact, details on my website, come and see me in Noosaville and we can work together on getting you in top form!


Ref: Rebecca Dutton, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedics & Rehabilitation at The University of New Mexico and one of the doctors for UNM Lobo athletics.