Common Sports Injuries
Playing sports is a fun and healthy activity, but there is a risk of injury. Lack of stretching and warm up, repetitive motion, and accidents on the field can cause damage and pain that put you on the bench. No matter which sport is your favorite, injuries can happen. This head-to-toe guide describes the most common sports injuries and how to fix them so you can get back in the game.
Concussion A concussion is a brain injury from a substantial hit to the head. Contact sports, like football and boxing, can easily lead to a concussion. Falling during a solitary sport, like gymnastics or skiing, can also result in a concussion. Multiple concussions may cause permanent damage to the brain.
If you have a concussion, rest is the best cure. Your brain needs time to heal. It may take two to four weeks for a concussion to resolve. Avoid re-injuring yourself by staying off the field until your doctor has determined it’s safe. If you have a headache from your concussion, over-the-counter acetaminophen is usually enough to help. Once you’re ready to play again, consider wearing a helmet to avoid another concussion.
Shoulder Injury Shoulder sprains, strains, and dislocations are the second most common sports injury. A sprain involves damage to the tissue that connects bones. A strain injures the muscle or the tissue that connects muscle to bone. Both are painful injuries that need time and rest to heal. Applying ice and using anti-inflammatory medications can help with pain and speed healing.
Dislocations are serious injuries that require immediate medical care. When the joints are pulled out of alignment, a doctor will need to realign them. Afterward, you will need to rest and allow your shoulder to heal.
Tennis or Golf Elbow Repetitive motion in sports that require consistent, tight gripping, like tennis and golf, can result in damage to the tendons in the forearm. Tendons connect muscles to bones. Rest and anti-inflammatory medications help tendons heal and ease the pain. The doctor may prescribe a brace to limit further damage. An occupational or physical therapist can teach you to stretch and strengthen the area gently.
Hip Flexor Strain Your hip flexor muscles allow you to move your legs for walking and running and lift your knees toward your body. They are located at the front upper part of your thighs. If you sit a lot during the day and try to play sports without proper stretching and strengthening, you can easily develop hip flexor strain. Resting and using ice for the first 72 hours, then using heat after those first three days, helps the hip flexor muscles to heal. If you are still having pain and limited mobility after two weeks, therapy may be needed to help stretch and strengthen the muscles.
Hamstring Strain/Tear Your hamstring muscles are located at the back of your thighs. Poor stretching can lead to strains and even tearing of the hamstring muscles. Rest and ice help with the pain until you are ready to begin a proper stretching program. Physical therapy and ultrasound may improve healing if you are still in pain after a few weeks.
Patellofemoral Syndrome Over half of all sports injuries are to the knees. Abrupt contact, a fall, or repeated motion may cause the tissue around the kneecap, or patella, to swell. The swelling disrupts the normal movement of the kneecap and causes pain. Rest, ice, and possibly a wrap or brace may be used to heal the area and keep the patella moving properly. Therapy to strengthen the muscles in the legs and around the knee can also help.
ACL Tear Pivoting or changing direction suddenly can tear the ligament that stabilizes the knee. This ligament, known as the Anterior Cruciate Ligament, or ACL, attaches the knee to the leg. ]A tear causes instability and may make walking difficult. A minor tear can heal with rest and ice. A complete tear requires surgery and months of rest and rehabilitation.
Ankle Injuries Ankle injuries are common in many sports. Strains, sprains, and fractures can happen from impact, falls, and repetitive motions. The tendons that support the ankle can swell or tear from many sports-related injuries. Rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications help most minor ankle injuries. Fractures require complete immobilization with a cast. Serious tendon tears may require surgery to fix.
Sports injuries can take you out of the game. Depending on the severity, you will need to rest the injured area for a few days to weeks. The most serious injuries may require surgery and months of rest. Use ice and anti-inflammatory medications to treat minor sports injuries. Therapy can help stretch and strengthen damaged muscles. Contact a doctor if you have a major sports injury or if your pain isn’t improving.