This is a narrower extension of my previous question on injuries based on further some of the further discussion around this question on a specific injury received during sparring, and the content of the FAQ, which states that injury prevention is on topic, but that:

General injury treatment or medical advice

Is regarded as being off topic. This indicates to me that general injury treatment is off topic, but that there may be domains specific to martial arts that are allowable here. The goal here is to figure out where the line needs to be drawn for right now.

Some similar questions:

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There is a question about avoiding a toe injury which the asker had previously posted on Fitness.SE. I left a comment, and depending on the outcome of this discussion, I can migrate and merge either way if the user has any input on it. –  Matt Chan Apr 5 '12 at 14:02

3 Answers 3

This will always be a tricky area to adjudicate whether something is on topic or not. I think you need to ask the questions:

  • Was the injury caused specifically by martial arts training?
  • Does the injury need to be accommodated or managed during martial arts training?
  • Does the question relate to the arts but the answer is obvious and generic?

There will always be a number of injuries that while they do occur in normal life and sports practice they are certainly quite common in the martial arts, i.e. hyper extended elbow, kicked sternums, jammed toe joints, etc. There is a high likelihood that members here have suffered these before and will have good advice on treatment and management of the injury. While some of the answers for these injury questions may be a lot vaguer than what you would find to programming questions on Stack Overflow, they can still be good answers.

Personally where I would draw the line is answering questions about pulled hamstrings or twisted ankles, because these injuries are so generic and the overarching answer has to be "stay off it, get physiotherapy if it persists". There is nothing specific to the martial arts that needs to be addressed with these questions.

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The concern that I have with questions regarding injury is that I do not want to provide an "anything goes" outlet for people looking for medical advice. Since there wasn't much input on the original meta question, I decided to add my perspective in the proposed faq (which also didn't receive a lot of feedback either) based on my experience with the Fitness.SE site.

I closed the question that David mentioned, but have reopened it pending the outcome of this meta discussion. I'll let the community come to a consensus here and figure out whether it is on-topic or off-topic for this site. I also invited that user to participate in this discussion, and hopefully he will.

For questions regarding treatment of martial arts injuries, a simple guideline could be:

  1. Consider all possible evidence to determine whether the injury is directly related to martial arts. Explain what happened and how.
  2. If the injury is a correlation, there is lack of evidence, or the answer is "see a doctor", then the question probably does not belong on this site.
  3. When asking your injury question, provide as much detailed information as possible and prove that engaging in martial arts directly caused the injury.
  4. Let community can decide whether the question sufficiently fits within the site's scope or not. If the question is off-topic, flag it or cast a close vote.
  5. If the question is considered to be on-topic, the answer appropriately at your own discretion. Provide the best answer based on what is in the question.

The first three steps are fall under the responsibility of the asker. The last two items are the burden of the community. Questions should not be answered if the asker has made generic presumptions about an injury.

I would draw the line similar to what was discussed about general fitness and similar to what @slugster has stated. Show that the injury has a direct relationship to martial arts. If it trends away from that, then it does not belong here.

If that guideline is sufficient for a majority of the questions that come up, then maybe we can decide the end result of marginal questions on a case-by-case basis.

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So if I receive a kick to the beans during sparring training, now one of the boys is swollen and black. Is there any other answer than, "Get thee to a doctor now!"? The answer to most medically-inclined questions is "See a doctor", which is completely not constructive. If however the asker says they've visited the doc and cleared returning to training, but still have pain and want advice on how to deal with training with pain, this might be useful. –  stslavik Apr 5 '12 at 15:54
    
I'll requote what Robert Cartiaino has said before which I linked in my other answer: It sounds trite to constantly hear "Talk to your doctor", but sometimes, it is the only advice. –  Matt Chan Apr 5 '12 at 15:57
    
Indeed it may be. So why not head it off at the pass and mark questions as not constructive until such time as they've consulted a doctor? –  stslavik Apr 5 '12 at 16:39
    
@stslavik That is a good and sound idea. I'm in agreement with that. I'll amend my answer to include that. –  Matt Chan Apr 5 '12 at 17:00

To me, it seems there's a few opposing forces here we need to balance between.

  1. When it comes to specific classes of injury, how to prevent them, how to treat them, and how to handle them in the context of martial arts we are going to be the ones capable of providing the best answers. While our answers are going to involve a fair bit of repetition (e.g., RICE), there's also going to be some nuance and personal experience can be quite valuable. Especially in the matter of "avoiding reinjury" and similar questions. We also learn to recognize that an injury is more likely or less likely to be serious.
  2. We deal with these matters all of the time, and honestly many of us rarely see a doctor over injuries sustained unless they are fairly serious. Muscle strains, stubbed toes, black eyes, nose bleeds, things that leave us limping for a few days, etc. We frequently will tell others to visit a doctor–partially for liability reasons, partially due to being conservative in the face of a lack of information–in situations we would never dream of doing the same thing ourselves.
  3. There are topics in the class of "things that can happen to you in martial arts" that we cannot provide even substantively interesting answers for, where the nature of the problem is such that prompt medical attention is absolutely necessary to even determine what it might be, or where the nature of the problem is sufficiently orthogonal to the fact that this a martial art site that it becomes the "Programmer's Favorite Soft Drink" problem.

Looking at these three points, it seems unreasonable to me to ask that people have seen a doctor before asking about treatment (or pain management, injury management, etc). Not to mention the difficulty of auditing that if they don't ask the question directly or state it in the question. On the other hand, it may be FAQ worthy to say that "should I see a doctor?" is a) off topic b) should always answered "yes" for the purposes of this site.

The question, to me, is how to properly put parameters around (1). There will always be edge cases, but it should be possible to vaguely outline the area. For this I broadly agree with @slugster: Was the injury specifically the result of martial arts training? Is it incredibly generic or is it the sort of thing we would be able to provide specific feedback on? Does it need to be managed somehow during training?

So based on that, kicked in the sternum - tips on healing, time frame? any lingering danger? would be fine if we stopped at the first question mark. Even though the answers should probably start with "see a doctor," there is a lot more that can be said on this topic since we see that sort of injury pattern with some regularity. The latter part, however, about lingering damage we both can't and shouldn't answer independent of a doctor's analysis.

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"honestly many of us rarely see a doctor over injuries sustained unless they are fairly serious" The problem with this statement is that we have no background from which to determine what injuries are serious. A concussion can kill someone, but still most of us rarely see a doctor for it. It's not unreasonable to ask that the user see a doctor first (or at least claim they have) before asking for other home remedies or personal experience with the injury. –  stslavik Apr 6 '12 at 17:31
    
For a concussion I'd agree. It's easy to come up with scenarios like that. "I have a head injury and am wondering if I should go to the emergency room…" should always have the reply "why are you online?" But I'd argue that even most cases aren't going to be that cut and dry. E.g., my wrist is aching due to a pain compliance technique, or I am limping the day after sparring thanks to a shin kick to the leg. I should be able to ask about management around that without saying "and I've been to a doctor and gotten an x-ray." –  David H. Clements Apr 6 '12 at 17:40
    
And a shin kick can lead to a cracked tibia; wrist locks can tear ligaments in the wrist or fracture the carpal bones. At least saying, "I went to the doctor and he said XYZ" (whether it's true or not) limits the liability of the site and the answerers. You're not as anonymous on the inter-webs as you think. –  stslavik Apr 6 '12 at 17:45
    
Could be, and if I had absolutely free medical care with no coinsurance and the ability to take an infinite amount of time off work I might spend more time in the doctor's office. But limping one day, a little better the next, and walking normally the day after? Not going to worry about it, and not going to tell someone that "omg-you-must-go-see-a-doctor-yesterday" if their question is of the form "what can I do about the pain in my leg after sparring? it goes away in a couple of days, but makes it hard to practice." It becomes quickly counterproductive to rush to the hospital for each bruise –  David H. Clements Apr 6 '12 at 18:25
    
I also don't view the requirement or even the statement as either practical nor, from a legal standpoint, sufficiently indemnifying that requiring it would actually get us anywhere, especially if we are willing to talk about anything vaguely related to injuries. Anonymity isn't relevant. If that's a needed requirement, it is up to SE's lawyers to figure that out. –  David H. Clements Apr 6 '12 at 18:27
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I like to keep in mind that excrement rolls downhill and I'm at the bottom. My concerns are simple: the more work the asker does beforehand, the better an answer he'll get. Sure, most injuries heal themselves; if the answers are simply "RICE" or "See a doctor" then the question has no merit to begin with. Either we address that now, or we deal in a landslide of low quality posts about minor injuries. If you want to discuss further, we should move to chat. –  stslavik Apr 6 '12 at 18:41

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