Sports injuries are a common occurrence, and anyone who actively participates in any form of organized sports or exercise is at risk. There is a wide variety of underlying causes behind most sports injuries, and these range from improper use of equipment and poor technique to insufficient warm-up and overexertion. Thankfully, most sports injuries fall within the realm of sprains and strains, although dislocations and fractures are always a possibility.
Sports Injury Treatment
Patients that are suffering from sports-related injury can benefit significantly from a standard treatment that involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This treatment, also known as RICE, is ideally suited to treat and relieve the pain associated with light sprains and strains.
- Rest: While the patient is recuperating, they must avoid all physical activity that places further stress on the injured area.
- Ice: Cold is highly effective in treating swelling and pain. The patient can apply an ice pack to the damaged area for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Compression: Compression needs to be applied to the affected area as soon as possible after the injury occurs to limit excessive swelling that can delay the healing process and potentially lead to infection. Tightly cover/wrap the wound/injured area with enough room as to not cutoff circulation entirely from the site of the injury.
- Elevation: To further reduce swelling, the injured limb can be elevated above heart level.
Preventing Sports Injuries
Preventive measures should be taken to minimize the risk of sustaining sportsrelated injuries. Some of the most common methods are:
- Keeping muscles strong, flexible and resilient through regular exercise.
- Wearing proper protective gear such as helmets, mouth-guards, pads, and appropriate footwear at all times.
- Performing thorough, warm-up and cool-down, routines before exercising.
- Slotting rest periods in-between moments of intense physical activity.
Common Sports-Related Injuries
Sports that require constant movement and extension of the shoulder joint such as gymnastics, basketball, tennis, and baseball are a significant source of ligament injuries and joint dislocations. Shoulder injuries typically occur because of overextension and overexertion of the joint. While most non-displaced shoulder injuries can be treated and managed by family physicians or chiropractors with conservative/active therapy, more severe injuries such as clavicle fractures and total dislocations are typically repaired surgically.
Foot & Ankle Injuries
Foot and ankle injuries are most commonly seen in athletes that participate in sports such as football, soccer, hockey, basketball and track-and-field. The most common types of sports-related foot and ankle injuries are Achilles Tendinitis, Plantar Fasciitis, Ankle Sprains, and Stress Fractures. Treatment for these types of injuries typically involves physiotherapy, although in severe cases, surgery may be required.
The knee joint is another common site of sports-related injury. For example, the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), will often tear during overextension of the joint. Because of its reduced ability to repair itself, injuries to the ACL are worrisome to many athletes across all sports. Other common knee joint injuries related to sports and physical exercise are Meniscal Tears, Collateral Ligament Tears, Tendonitis of the Knee, and Dislocations. Very often, knee injuries require surgical intervention; thankfully, there is a plethora of strengthening exercises to improve the flexibility, elasticity, and stability of the ligaments that make up the joint.