A sports injury is an injury that occurs when you are playing sports or exercising.
If you have a sports injury you may have a variety of symptoms in the affected area immediately or several hours after exercising. These include: pain, tenderness, bruising, swelling and, restricted movement or stiffness.
You can injure almost any part of your body, including your bones, muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments.
The most common types of sport injuries include: sprains, strains, tendon injuries, fractures and dislocations. Areas most affected are your ankles, knees and wrists.
What causes sports injuries?
Sports injuries are caused by:
- Accidents – falls or blows
- Using the wrong equipment or technique
- An inadequate warm-up before exercising
- Pushing yourself too hard - performing exercise or partaking in a sport that is beyond your current level of strength or fitness ability.
A sports injury can be either acute or chronic.
An acute injury is one that occurs suddenly when playing or exercising such as a sprained ankle, a sprained back or a fracture.
A chronic injury happens after playing sport or exercising for a long period of time such as overuse of a limb or joint.
What do you do if you have a sports injury?
If you feel pain whilst exercising you should stop whether it’s an acute or chronic injury. Continuing to exercise when you have a sports injury can cause more damage and a slower recovery.
For minor injuries you can usually look after yourself at home using rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) together with over the counter painkillers. You may want to seek medical investigation or advice if your symptoms don't get better over time or to check the severity of your injury.
You should seek immediate medical care if you have sustained a severe injury and display any of the following symptoms:
- A broken, deformed or dislocated joint or bone
- An inability to put any weight or pressure on the affected area
- Extreme pain that is getting progressively worse
- Paralysis, tingling or numbness
- Confusion or disorientation
- Irregular breathing or pulse
- Noticeably pale
What does a sport injury treatment involve?
Your sports injury treatment will be based on the extent and type of your injury. You should see your doctor if your pain persists or if it is severe. What you may think is a straightforward sprain may actually be a fractured bone.
Your GP may refer you for specialist treatment and support for your sports injury.
For rapid sports injury medical care, you can self-refer for private treatment. Your sports injury care at Clifton Park Hospital will start with a direct appointment with a member of our experienced physiotherapy team or one of our skilled orthopaedic surgeons.
Physio aims to rehabilitate the site of your injury, often using specific exercises to promote strength and flexibility. It is frequently used for sprains of muscles, ligaments and joints and may be recommended after a sports injury operation to help your rehabilitation.
If you have a serious sports injury you may require a surgical procedure. Surgery for sports injuries is often performed to realign misplaced bones, fix broken or fractured bones or to repair torn ligaments.
Sport injury aftercare and recovery
Your doctor or physiotherapist will advise you on your aftercare and recovery based on your individual sports injury.
Some sports injuries will recover within a few weeks, others take months to make a full recovery.
Your recovery from a sports injury should be gradual. Initially you will focus on moving the injured part using gentle exercises to increase your range of motion and to stretch and strengthen it. You can steadily increase your level of activity. This will assist your injured body part to regain normal function again.
You should avoid pain and not return to your previous exercise or sport until you have regained your full range of motion and strength in the affected area. If you try to play before your injury is fully healed you could cause further damage and delay your recovery. You can maintain your fitness level through other activities that don’t involve that part of your body.
If you have had a sports injury surgery you will need to follow specific instructions from your surgeon regarding your aftercare and recovery. Our physiotherapists are available to help you on your recovery and offer specific advice and exercises for your rehabilitation.
How do you prevent sport injury?
Sports injuries cannot be entirely prevented but you can reduce your risk of injury by:
- Warming up your muscles and joints properly before exercise. This will involve a balance of light exercise and stretching for ten to 15 minutes.
- Cooling down for five to ten minutes through gentle exercise to bring your heart rate to normal and prevent muscle stiffness.
- Not pushing yourself beyond your current fitness level. Your sport or exercise should challenge you but you should acknowledge pain as your body’s way of telling you to stop. If you are new to an activity then you should start off slowly and gradually build up your stamina and strength.
- Using the right equipment. This includes wearing recommended protective equipment such as shin guards for football, a gum shield for rugby and, protective head gear for batting in cricket. You should also wear the right footwear for your chosen activity to provide specific support for your foot and ankle and prevent twisting and injury.
- Ensure you know the correct techniques for your chosen activity. This can prevent overuse injuries and also help you to work the right muscles and tendons. Qualified coaches can offer this assistance.
- Allow time to rest between exercise sessions as your muscles need to rest and recover.
- Keep hydrated by ensuring you drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.
Sport injury treatment with Clifton Park Hospital
Sports injuries are painful and debilitating whether you are a professional or an occasional athlete.
At Clifton Park Hospital we have a comprehensive sports injury team of physiotherapists and orthopaedic surgeons to give you all the support you need to get back on the go and enjoying to the sports you love.
Our experts will guide you through the diagnostic process, any recommended treatment and rehabilitation specifically tailored to your individual needs.