Sports injuries are no different than those occurring from other activities, but playing sports tends to cause damage to specific areas of the body. Twisting or repetitive movements, as well as impact and trauma, are major causes of sports injuries. These include:
This is an inflammation of a tendon, which is a fibrous material that connects muscle to bone. This often occurs at the elbow in tennis and golf, at the knee in running or jumping, and at the shoulder in baseball pitching. A strained Achilles Tendon, which connects the heel to the back of the leg, is one of the most common tendon injuries in sports. Severe tendon damage, such as a rupture (tear) in a tendon, can cause complete lack of movement and requires surgery, but most cases just need rest, physical therapy, and painkillers.
Ligaments,which attach bone to bone, are commonly damaged in the knees. This is usually caused by knees twisting or being hit from the inside or outside. The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is the most frequently injured ligament. This ligament on the interior of the knee can be stretched or completely torn when the knee is twisted or hyperextended (bent inward instead of outward). When the ACL is damaged, the knee immediately swells.
The extent of the damage determines the treatment. A stretched ACL will produce only minor swelling and will need rest and anti-inflammatory drugs. A partially torn ACL will require additional rest and medication, as well as rehabilitation. If the ACL is completely torn, surgery will be required. Complete separation of the ACL will require extensive rehabilitation before the participant to able to engage in sports activities.
These bone fractures occur from impact or repetitive movements. Common stress fractures occur in the shins of runners, who may run beyond their current training level, or without proper form or equipment. Rest is usually required for this painful, but temporary condition. Stress fractures may also occur in the spine. Participants in contact sports such as football and rugby, as well as sports such as gymnastics and figure skating, may experience these stress fractures because of the pressures placed on their spines.
Pars fractures, which are small cracks in the bones that keep the spinal cord in proper alignment, can cause disks to shift and irritate the spinal cord. This can cause lower back pain and sciatica, which is pain along the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back to the feet. Rest and painkillers are the only remedy for stress fractures.
These and other sports injuries are best treated by a sports medicine clinic, who have the skills and equipment to get athletes back in the game.