Sports injuries are the most commonly reported injuries that occur during sports or exercise. Any part of the body can be injured; however the term generally refers to injuries involving the musculoskeletal system, which is the muscles, bones, and associated tissues (i.e. cartilage.)
Causes of Sports Injuries
Sports injuries can be a result of the following:
- Poor training practices
- Improper equipment
- Lack of conditioning
- Insufficient warm-up and stretching
Types of Sports Injuries
- Sprain – stretch or tear of a ligament (connective tissue joining bones), caused by trauma such as a fall or blow to the body, that knocks a joint out of position. Sprains can range from stretching to complete tears. Most vulnerable joints are ankles, knees, and wrists.
Sprain symptoms: tenderness, pain, bruising, inflammation, swelling, inability to move, joint looseness, laxity, or instability.
- Strain – twist, pull, or tear of a muscle or tendon (connective tissue from muscle to bone), caused by overstretching or over contraction. Strains can be mild to severe, which if not treated professionally can cause damage and loss of function.
Strain symptoms: pain, muscle spasm, loss of strength.
- Knee injury – most commonly injured joint, which can range from mild to severe. Some less severe knee problems are runner’s knee (pain close to or under knee cap), iliotibial band syndrome (pain on outer side of knee), and tendinitis (degeneration within a tendon).
- Achilles tendon injuries – stretch, tear, or irritation to the tendon connecting the calf muscle to the back of the heel. These can be very sudden, and extremely painful.
- Fractures – A break in the bone. There are two types of fractures.
Acute fractures are quick one time injuries to the bone. These can be simple (clean breaks with little damage to the surrounding tissue) or compound (a break in where the bone pieces the skin.) Acute fractures tend to be emergencies.
Stress fractures occur from repeated stress to the bone over time. They typically occur in the feet and legs from sports that require repetitive impact such as gymnastics or track and field. The most common symptom is pain that worsens with weight bearing activity accompanied by tenderness and swelling.
- Dislocations – When two bones that form a joint become separated. Contact sports, high impact sports, and sports resulting in excessive stretching or falling cause the majority of dislocations. This is an emergency situation requiring medical treatment.
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