What are sports injuries?
Competitive and non-competitive sports injuries are injuries that occur in athletic activities or whilst exercising. Whilst some of these happen by chance, others are facilitated by inadequate practice or poor execution in terms of technique, as well as by not using sports equipment correctly.
Sports injuries mainly consist of muscle injuries or joint and ligament injuries:
- Muscle injuries (sprains, pulled muscle, cramps);
- Knee or ankle sprain;
- Back injuries
- Bone fractures;
- Tendon injuries.
The outlook of a sports injury greatly depends on what caused it and its severity. Imaging tests (ultrasound, MRI scan) can rule out structural injuries and help to assess the severity of the injury itself. Furthermore, based on the results, the specialist can estimate how long it will take for you to recover and get back to sports, as well as your risk of getting injured again.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of a sports injury depend on how big and how severe the injury is. They usually are:
- Immediate onset of pain;
- Stiffness of the affected muscle;
- Increased sensitivity of the affected area;
- A feeling of heat emanating from the affected area;
- Decrease in range of motion.
How are they diagnosed?
Sports injuries, especially muscular ones, can be diagnosed with a physical examination.
The following tests may be prescribed to get further insight on where the injury is and how severe it is:
- X-ray scan;
- Computed tomography (CT) scan;
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan;
- Ultrasound scan;
- Bone density scans.
What causes them?
As an example, the main risk factors for a football injury are:
- Not having exercised enough;
- Muscle fatigue;
- Cold or wet weather;
- Poorly maintained training field;
- Quicker execution and overall rhythm of the game;
- Doing a movement too fast;
- A different or new training technique;
- Stumbling upon another player;
- Playing too fast or too slowly, without having warmed up adequately;
- Inadequate training program;
- Poor execution;
- Eating an unhealthy diet;
- Not resting enough.
How can they be prevented?
The main preventive measures are:
- Ensure you warm-up adequately;
- Eat a healthy diet;
- Stay hydrated;
- Use proper equipment;
- Wear good sportswear and shoes.
How are they treated?
Treatment largely depends on how severe the injury is. It usually consists of physical therapy, surgery, applying ice packs, taking painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications and bed rest.
Which doctor should I talk to?
You should see a specialist in sports medicine, but you may also be treated by physiotherapists and orthopaedic surgeons, depending on your treatment plan and injury.