If you are an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, if you play sports, you have probably been injured at some point. Common sports injuries include sprains, strains, muscle swelling, leg cramps, rotator cuff injuries, knee injuries, fractures, and dislocations.
Some sports problems are acute injuries resulting from a sudden event that causes very noticeable symptoms. Others are chronic overuse conditions that may have more subtle symptoms at first or persistent over time.
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Common sports injuries
Sports injuries can be caused by accident, impact, improper exercise, improper equipment, improper physical condition, or improper warm-up and stretching. Muscle sprains and strains, ligament and tendon tears, joint dislocations, broken bones, and head injuries are common.
Although joints are the most vulnerable to sports injuries, any part of the body can be injured on the court or on the field. Here is a more detailed description of common injuries to various parts of the body.
The most common athletic head injury is a concussion , a brain injury caused by a blow to the head, a collision, or a violent shaking. A concussion is considered a traumatic brain injury and affects cognitive function. Repeated concussions can cause long-term problems with memory and executive function. If you suspect that you or your loved one has a concussion, seek medical attention .
The most common shoulder problem is rotator cuff inflammation or tear. However, other conditions, such as frozen shoulder or broken upper lip , can mimic rotator cuff injury symptoms and should be considered possible diagnoses .
Wrist fractures are among the most common bone fractures in athletes. For example, landing on an outstretched arm while falling can result in a wrist fracture that requires treatment .
Compressed fingers can describe many types of sports-related finger injuries . Dislocated finger joints and finger swelling are common, especially in sports like basketball and soccer.
Lumbar sprains are the most common spinal injury in athletes (or non-athletes). The pain is usually deep and intense, making the affected person anxious about the possibility that a more serious structural problem has occurred. While less common spinal problems should be considered, sprains are the most common .
Thighs and groin
Groin sprains or sprains have always been a common diagnosis for hip pain. Many hip problems that were once attributed to muscle sprains, such as a femoral-acetabular kick, or FAI , and lip tears , are becoming more and more understood, but groin sprain injuries remain the most common .
Stretching, stretching, or tearing of the hamstrings, quadriceps, and thigh adductors can occur with a variety of sports. The hamstrings and quadriceps are especially at risk during high-speed activities like track and field, soccer, basketball, and soccer. Injury occurs when a muscle is stretched beyond its limit, tearing the muscle fibers.
Frontal knee pain, also called patellofemoral pain , is an irritation of the cartilage at the bottom of the kneecap that causes pain and grinding around the knee. Exercise therapy is almost always used as a treatment .
Plantar fasciitis irritates the thick, tough tissue that forms the arch of the foot. This plantar fascia tissue can contract and become painful, making it difficult to step on the heel of the foot .
Sports injuries are generally divided into two categories, acute and chronic, and can result from direct impact, stress (applying more force to a joint than it can handle), or overuse .
Acute trauma is the result of an accident or accident that produces noticeable symptoms. For example, slipping, falling, grabbing, or facing a serious injury. While some accidents are just a part of sports, others can be avoided by having the right gear and equipment and playing in a safe environment. For example, playing soccer on wet leaves can lead to slips and falls.
Chronic trauma lasts longer. It can start out as an acute injury that doesn't heal completely or it can be caused by overuse or improper form. Many athletes experience pain that can lead to chronic injuries.
Symptoms of sports injuries can appear quickly at the time of injury or they can appear gradually over several hours or days. When an athlete falls heavily, twists their ankle, or is hit, the typical reaction is to shake off the pain, which can lead to long-term problems.
Symptoms of a chronic or overuse injury tend to develop over time. However, exacerbations of old injuries can be common. Sports injury symptoms include the following.
Pain is the main symptom of a sports injury. This is a signal from the body that something is wrong and can differ depending on the type of injury.
A sports physician should assess the immediate onset of pain due to a persistent acute injury. An example of this is turning the ankle and not being able to lean on it, or colliding with a person or object and not being able to move a hand.
In other cases, the onset of pain is delayed. This is especially common with overuse injuries. Immediately after playing sports, the joint may be slightly sore, but over the course of several hours, the pain continues to intensify. Tenderness when applying pressure to this area can be an important sign of serious injury.
The location of the discomfort, the depth of the pain, and a description of the type of pain you are experiencing can help your doctor determine the possible cause.
Swelling is a sign of inflammation, which is your body's attempt to respond to trauma and initiate a healing response from the immune system. While bloating isn't necessarily a bad thing, it can be uncomfortable.
In the early stages after an injury, you may not notice swelling or any restriction in your ability to move. Swelling often occurs gradually as healing blood and fluid are directed to protect and heal damaged tissue or bones.
What you experience can tell your healthcare provider what type of injury you have. There are several types of edema.
- Effusion : swelling in the joint.
- Edema: swelling of soft tissues.
- Hematoma : Swelling due to soft tissue bleeding.
Although pain can be difficult to quantify, mobility can often be measured by testing range of motion. This is especially true with limb injuries, because you can compare the injured joint with the healthy opposite.
A limited range of motion can clearly indicate the severity of the injury. An initial rest period is generally recommended due to lack of mobility in acute injuries, followed by gentle movements that allow for more exercise. Before resuming sports, consult a sports doctor or physical therapist to evaluate and treat mobility problems.
An unstable joint feels loose or wants to bend or break. This is usually a sign of ligament damage (eg, anterior cruciate ligament tear ) because the injured joint does not receive adequate support after injury .
Trauma that limits strength to the injured area can mean structural damage to a muscle or tendon that interferes with normal function. Failure to lift an arm or walk due to weakness should be evaluated by a healthcare professional, as well as other possible and pertinent causes.
Numbness and tingling
Numbness or tingling is a sign of nerve irritation or injury. Sometimes the nerves are directly damaged; in other cases, the nerve may be irritated by the tumor or surrounding inflammation. A mild tingling sensation is not usually a serious problem, while the inability to feel the injured part of the body is more concerning.
Redness at the injury site can be caused by inflammation, abrasion, allergies, or infection. If you have unexplained redness of the skin, especially if the area is also warm to the touch, you should see a healthcare professional.
Confusion or headache
Even a mild head injury can lead to a concussion, which can lead to cognitive symptoms such as confusion, trouble concentrating, and memory problems, as well as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and irritability.
A concussion can be serious and cannot be ignored. If a blow to the head causes any immediate symptoms or fainting, seek medical attention even if the symptoms disappear.
When to contact a healthcare provider
Sports injuries are common and for most athletes it is neither necessary nor practical to see a doctor for every pain. However, if you have an injury that does not improve with simple treatment steps, or if it worsens despite your best efforts, consult a qualified professional.
Some signs to see your doctor include:
- Difficulty using the injured area (walking, lifting an arm, etc.)
- Inability to lean on a limb
- Limited joint mobility
- Deformation of the injured area
- Bleeding or skin damage
- Signs of infection (fever, chills, sweating)
- Headache, dizziness, confusion, or loss of consciousness after a head injury.
Acute and chronic injuries can be diagnosed by a sports physician or podiatrist, but so can non-medical professionals trained in the diagnosis and treatment of these injuries, such as sports coaches and physical therapists .
You will need to provide your medical history and information about how the injury occurred, as well as undergo a physical exam.
During the physical exam, your healthcare professional will feel the affected area and ask about the degree of pain or tenderness. You will be asked to move the injured area to test your range of motion.
Depending on the suspected injury and the level of pain or disability, your healthcare provider may take X-rays to rule out bone fractures. While some fractures are obvious on the initial X-ray, some fractures (such as a simple wrist fracture or hairy foot fracture) may not be visible until a few days after the injury begins to heal.
Additional imaging tests may be ordered to detect soft tissue damage. They can be ordered during the first visit or after a period of ineffective treatment and include the following.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Commonly Used for diagnostic imaging of muscle and joint injuries, sprains, fractures and head injuries suffered during sports. MRI uses radio waves in a strong magnetic field to examine structures in the musculoskeletal system, including bones, tendons, muscles, ligaments, and nerves.
- Ultrasound: Useful for evaluating tendon damage, with ultrasound, sound waves capture images of superficial soft tissues in real time. During an ultrasound, the radiologist may ask you to move the joint to see how movement affects the tendon.
- Computed Tomography (CT): Computed tomography allows you to examine bones and soft tissues in more detail. This test can detect hair fractures and minor irregularities in complex joints.
The course of your treatment will depend on the location and severity of your injury. The initial treatment for many sports injuries is to fight inflammation and promote healing.
The abbreviation RICE is a useful guide for the immediate treatment of the most acute injuries. When processing RISOM, you will need to do the following :
- Rest: Limit the forces acting on the injured part of the body. This usually means stopping sports and may mean using crutches, slings, or other aids to fully rest in the area.
- Ice – Ice helps control swelling and inflammation and significantly reduces pain. Many acutely injured athletes find that they do not need pain relievers to alleviate discomfort.
- Compression: Compression is done by wrapping the injured part of the body tightly, but not tightly, with a compression bandage. Overtightening can make your symptoms and other problems worse.
- Elevation: Elevating an injured limb can also help reduce swelling and inflammation and in turn reduce pain.
After the initial period, rest should be replaced by protection and optimal exercise. This method is known as POLICE (defense, optimal load, ice, compression and lift). Protecting the injured joint with an assistive device, such as crutches or bandages, while gently moving the joint and gradually transferring weight to the injury, often helps speed healing .
After an initial healing period, your healthcare provider will determine what additional treatment is needed and may refer you to a specialist for your specific injury.
Treatment of sports injuries includes:
- Splint, cast, or brace immobilization
- Pain medicine
- Pain relievers, such as a cortisone shot.
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It can be difficult to swallow a break from your usual (and possibly favorite) activities. But remember, if your sports injury is not treated, it could put you off work for much longer or even prevent you from returning to sports altogether. Listen to your body and seek professional help when you need it.