Sports Injuries – The Basics
The term sports injury refers to the various kinds of injuries that occur during sports or exercise. Sport injuries normally occur because of:
- Poor training practices
- Improper equipment
- Lack of conditioning
- Insufficient warm-up
A sports injury is a major setback for any athlete, but with a proper treatment and rehabilitation program, it is possible to regain fitness in a shorter span of time.
It helps to understand the basic structure of the tissues that are commonly damaged in sports and exercises. The elements of this structure include:
- Joints and ligaments
- Synovial joints
- Muscle and tendon
Incidence of Sports Injuries
Over 10 million sports injuries are reported in clinics per year in the US. Interestingly, at times athletes and non-athletes share the same nature of injuries.
For instance, lateral medial epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow can be caused by carrying a suitcase, turning a screwdriver or even opening a stuck door, as well.
There are certain areas of the body that are soft targets for sports injuries. Here we list the top 10 areas, along with the main injuries and related disorders:
Foot and Toe Injuries
Turf toe, Bunions, Blisters, Bruised heels, Achilles bursitis, Morton’s syndrome
Sprained ankle, Footballer’s ankle, Peroneal tendon disclocation
Lower leg injuries
Achilles tendonitis, Anterior compartment syndrome, Shin splints, Calf strain, Tight calf muscles
Jumper’s knee, Patella pain syndrome (CMP), Baker’s cyst, Housemaid’s knee
Hamstring strain, Groin strain, Gilmore’s groin, Quadriceps strain
Lower back and Buttock Pain
Piriformis syndrome, Sacroiliac joint pain, Sciatica, Muscle strain, Lumbago
Chest and abdominal injuries
Abdominal strain, Hernia, Breast pain, Rib fracture
Rotator cuff injury, Dislocated shoulder, AC joint injury, Winged scapula, Frozen shoulder
Tennis elbow, Golfer’s elbow, triceps tendon rupture
Wrist bursitis, Carpel tunnel syndrome
Acute and Chronic Injuries
Sports injuries are generally classified in two broad ways, acute and chronic.
Acute injuries are those that occur suddenly during an activity, for instance, sprained ankles, strained back, fractured hand, abrasions and lacerations. The main signs include:
- Sudden, severe pain
- Extreme tenderness in an upper limb
- Extreme limb weakness
- Visible dislocation or break of a bone
Chronic Sports Injuries
Chronic injuries are those that result from overusing a particular area of the body while playing a sport or exercising for a long period. The main signs are:
- Pain while performing an activity
- A dull ache when at rest
Home Care – The RICE approach
The RICE approach is one of the most fundamental forms of self-care for a sports injury. This approach has four elements, namely:
Reduce or stop using the injured area for at least 48 hours.
Put an ice pack on the injured part for 20 minutes at a time.
Compression of the injured part with bandages such as elastic wraps, special boots, air casts and splints helps considerably.
The inured area should be kept above the level of the heart.
Though the RICE approach is a starting point and might help considerably, it often has to be followed up by one or more of the below for adequate relief:
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)