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A Tennis injury
Tackles like this one in Women's Australian rules football can cause injuries.
Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres suffers an ankle sprain.

Sports injuries are injuries that occur in athletic activities. The term sports injury, in the broadest sense, refers to the kinds of injuries that most commonly occur during sports or exercise. Some sports injuries result from accidents; others are due to poor training practices, improper equipment, lack of conditioning, or insufficient warmup and stretching.[1]

In many cases, these types of injuries are often due to overuse or acute trauma of a part of the body when participating in a certain activity. For example, runner's knee is a painful condition generally associated with running, while tennis elbow is a form of repetitive stress injury at the elbow. Other types of injuries can be caused by a hard contact with something. This can often cause a broken bone or torn ligament or tendon

Injuries are a common occurrence in professional sports and most teams have a staff of Athletic Trainers and close connections to the medical community. Controversy has arisen at times when teams have made decisions that could threaten a players long-term health for short term gain.


Sports injuries can be broadly classified as either traumatic, also called acute, or overuse, also called cumulative trauma, repetitive stress or chronic, injuries.

An acute injury is an injury that occurred recently as a result of a traumatic event.[2] Examples of which include muscle pulls, ligament sprains, fractures, dislocations, concussions and any other high impact or sudden torque injury.

Overuse injuries are the result of repetitive use, stress and trauma to the soft tissues of the body (muscles, tendons, bones and joints) when there is not enough time for proper healing.[3] Chronic injuries can also occur due to poor technique or as a result of a long-standing condition. Examples of which include tennis elbow, tendonitis, shin splints and stress fractures.

Traumatic injuries account for most injuries in contact sports such as Association football, rugby league, rugby union, Australian rules football, Gaelic football and American football because of the dynamic and high collision nature of these sports. These injuries range from bruises and muscle strains, to fractures and head injuries.

A bruise or contusion is damage to small blood vessels which causes bleeding within the tissues. A muscle strain is a small tear of muscle fibers and a ligament sprain is a small tear of ligament tissue. The body’s response to these sports injuries is the same in the initial five day period immediately following the traumatic incident – inflammation.

Signs and symptoms[edit]

Not all injuries present in the same fashion, it isn't uncommon for an injury to prevent with only some of the following signs and symptoms.

Warning signs of serious sports injury. When any of these signs present athletes are generally advised to avoid further activity.

Joint paint: joint pain that lasts more than 48 hours requires a physicians diagnosis. Tenderness of a specific point: a potential sign of injury if pressing on a specific point on a bone, muscle or joint elicits pain, especially if the same spot on the opposite side of the body doesn't elicit the same response. Swelling: nearly all sports injuries cause swelling. Usually accompanied by pain, heat and redness Reduced range of motion. also usually accompanies swelling. Categorized by less than normal full range of motion, the joint, limb, muscle will only go so far in each direction. When swelling isn't obvious, it can usually be found by checking the range of motion in the affected limb. Comparative Weakness: Limb,muscle, etc. weaker than the same body part on opposite side of the body. it's generally hard to gauge comparative weakness, one test to do so is to support at least some body weight on the one body part than the other. Numbness and Tingling: Often related to nerve compression. These feelings should always be brought to the attention of a physician.[4]

While these are general warning signs of an injury each injury category has a set of signs and symptoms associated with it.

Signs of an acute injury include:

   Sudden, severe pain
   Inability to place weight on a lower limb (leg, knee, ankle or foot)
   Extreme tenderness in an upper limb (arm, elbow, wrist, hand or finger)
   Inability to move a joint through full range of motion
   Extreme limb (upper or lower) weakness
   Visible dislocation / break of a bone

Signs of a chronic injury include:

   Pain when performing activities
   A dull ache when at rest



All of these traumatic injuries cause damage to the cells that make up the soft tissues. The dead and damaged cells release chemicals, which initiate an inflammatory response. Small blood vessels are damaged and opened up, producing bleeding within the tissue. In the body’s normal reaction, a small blood clot is formed in order to stop this bleeding and from this clot special cells (called fibroblasts) begin the healing process by laying down scar tissue.

The inflammatory stage is therefore the first phase of healing. However, too much of an inflammatory response in the early stage can mean that the healing process takes longer and a return to activity is delayed. The sports injury treatments are intended to minimize the inflammatory phase of an injury, so that the overall healing process is accelerated. intrinsic and extrinsic factors


A warm-up program has been founded to decrease injuries in association football.[6] Many athletes will partake in HGH Treatment for Athletic Enhancement as a way to prevent injuries.[dubious ]

Injury can be minimalised by doing an effective warm up, this consists of a heart raiser to get your pulse up, followed by sport specific dynamic stretches (stretches whilst moving). To reduce the risk of injury:

Time off. Plan to have at least 1 day off per week from a particular sport to allow the body to recover.

Wear the right gear. Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and/or eyewear. Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will protect them from performing more dangerous or risky activities.

Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises before games and during practice strengthens muscles used in play.

Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises before and after games or practice can increase flexibility.

Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season.

Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.

Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), spearing (football), and body checking (ice hockey) should be enforced.

Stop the activity if there is pain. Avoid heat injury by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing.

Sports-Related Emotional Stress

The pressure to win can cause significant emotional stress for a child. Sadly, many coaches and parents consider winning the most important aspect of sports. Young athletes should be judged on effort, sportsmanship and hard work. They should be rewarded for trying hard and for improving their skills rather than punished or criticized for losing a game or competition.

Using proper equipment is key in preventing injury.[7] The NFL is conducting tests with new helmet designs that could reduce the number of head injuries in the league.[8]

Doctors believe fatigue can be a contributing factor in sports injuries because it is more difficult for the body to protect itself when fatigued. Stopping an activity at the first sign of fatigue can prevent sports related injuries.[9]


Some sports injuries can be treated and managed by using the R.I.C.E. and P.R.I.C.E.S.regimes:

R.I.C.E. is a treatment plan most often associated with soft tissue acute/traumatic injuries. Each letter stand for a different step in the treatment plan. This approach is prescribed by many health professionals for early treatment of acute soft tissue sports injuries, such as a: sprain, strain or bone injury.[10]

R – Rest. Giving tissue adequate time to heal.
I – Ice. Intermittent icing for 1 to 2 days after injury to help prevent/reduce pain and swelling.
C – Compression. Wrapping injury in elastic bandage or wrap.
E – Elevation. Keep elevated above heart level.

P.R.I.C.E.S. is another treatment plan most often associated with soft tissue acute/traumatic injuries. Each letter stand for a different step in the treatment plan.

P – Protect. Stopping activity and protecting area from further damage.
R – Rest. Giving tissue adequate time to heal.
I – Ice. Intermittent icing for 1 to 2 days after injury to help prevent/reduce pain and swelling.
C – Compression. Wrapping injury in elastic bandage or wrap.
E – Elevation. Keep elevated above heart level.
S - Stabilize

While most acute injuries can be treated using R.I.C.E. or P.R.I.C.E.S. a doctor should be called any of the following are experienced:

   Severe pain or if pain persists for more than two weeks in a joint or bone.
   Pain radiates to another area of the body
   Experience 'point tenderness.' That is, pain caused by pressing on a specific area, but pain is not produced at the same point on the other side of the body.
   Any injury to a joint that produces significant swelling. If left untreated, joint injuries can become permanent.
   Immobility the injured part.
   There is persistent numbness, tingling or weakness in the injured area.
   Injury doesn't heal in three weeks.
   Have an infection with pus, red streaks, a fever, or swollen lymph nodes.[11]

There are several other alternative treatment possibilities depending upon injury type and severity.

Cold therapy: R.I.C.E. and P.R.I.C.E.S. are two examples of cold therapies and can be used to treat most acute injuries and some chronic injuries after activity.Ice should only be applied for ten minutes at a time

Heat Therapy: generally used for chronic injuries. Athletes with chronic pain or injuries may use heat therapy before exercise to increase the elasticity of joint connective tissues and to stimulate blood flow.[12] Heat should only be applied for 15-20 minutes at a time Muscle Soreness Treatment: Delayed onset muscle soreness is a common result of overdoing a new exercise or activity without allowing for a gradually increase in base fitness for the activity. Nothing is proven 100 percent effective in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness. There are numerous treatment options: Yoga, over the counter anti-inflammatory medications, gentle stretching, R.I.C.E. and using a foam roller to name a few.[13] Anti-inflammatory Medication: Most soft-tissue injuries are painful because of the swelling and inflammation that occurs after an injury. Pain relief is often the main reason that people turn to over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medications that work by reducing the inflammation that occurs as a result of the injury.[13] Physical Therapy and Rehab Exercises: Physical therapy and rehab is a standard treatment for many sports injuries. PT helps restore function and regain strength after many common sports injuries. A personal exercise or rehab program is generally prescribed by a registered Physical Therapist. In most cases, a patient is referred by their primary physician to a physical therapist for evaluation and exercise instruction. Most patients will perform both stretching and strengthening exercises at home as well as in the clinic.[13]

Cortisone Injections: Cortisone is the most common injected steroid because it has a dramatic anti-inflammatory effect on tissues, particularly joint and tendon injuries. Cortisone injections are a common and effective treatment for a variety of sports injuries that result in inflammation and pain, particularly when combined with physical therapy or other rehab programs.[13] Examples of some injuries treate by cortisone injections include: Tennis Elbow, Golfer's Elbow, Joint pain of varying nature (Osteoarthritis), Bursitis of the shoulder, hip or knee, Frozen shoulder, Plantar fasciitis, Carpal tunnel syndrome, Herniated disc and other back pain, Corticosteroid injections are generally used as a last resort, after anti-inflammatories and physical therapy have been tried without success. Steroid injections may help with chronic, painful inflammation, but unless the underlying cause is determined and treated, injections will provide only temporary relief.[14]

Surgery: Surgical treatment for sports injuries is sometimes necessary following a traumatic injury such as a fracture or ligament injury or when other conservative treatments are ineffective.[13]

The primary inflammatory stage typically lasts around 5 days and all treatment during this time is designed to address the cardinal signs of inflammation – pain, swelling, redness, heat and a loss of function.

Compression sportswear is becoming very popular with both professional and amateur athletes. These garments are thought to both reduce the risk of muscle injury and speed up muscle recovery.

Portable Mild Hyperbaric Chamber 40" diameter

Although not proven some professional athletes use hyperbaric chambers to speed healing. Hines Ward of the Steelers sent his personal hyperbaric chamber,(similar to the one pictured), to his hotel to sleep in believing it would help heal his sprained medial collateral ligament he suffered in their playoff win against the Ravens. Hines went on to play in Super Bowl XLIII.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Category:Injuries Category:Sports medicine