If you’ve injured yourself playing sport, you’ll undoubtedly be keen to get back on your feet and competing again as quickly as possible. That’s why it’s important to seek specialist medical attention.
Common sports injuries
Common sporting injuries include:
- Sprains – these are ligaments that have become overstretched or torn.
- Strains – these are muscles or tendons that have become overstretched or torn.
- Fractures – these are broken bones.
- Dislocations – these occur when a bone is forced out of its socket. They are particularly common in the shoulder.
- Knee injuries – these can include torn muscles and damaged ligaments.
- Rotator cuff injuries – these are the muscles in the shoulder that give it a full range of movement.
- Achilles tendon rupture – this is a tear or break in the Achilles tendon causing sudden, severe pain.
- Shin splints – this is inflammation of the muscles and soft tissue around the shinbone.
- Tennis elbow – this is a painful condition caused by overuse of the elbow.
The first step after any type of sports-related injury is to get an accurate diagnosis. Not only does this give you a clear picture of what is going on, but it is vital for developing an effective treatment plan. Following a physical examination and discussion of your symptoms you may be referred for an X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan or MRI.
Treatment of sports injuries
For a minor injury such as a sprain or strain, the RICE method can be very effective. This stands for: rest, ice, compression and elevation. If you use this approach it can reduce pain and swelling in the first 24-36 hours after injury. You can also take pain killers and anti-inflammatories during this time.
However, more serious injuries will require medical treatment. These are likely to be injuries that result in severe pain and swelling, weakness, instability or loss of movement, or those that produce a crunching or popping sound when you use the joint.
The treatment you receive will be determined by the type and severity of the injury you have sustained. For example, you may be offered non-surgical treatments like injections of corticosteroids to reduce pain and inflammation. Or you may require surgery to repair torn ligaments and soft tissues or, in severe cases, to replace damaged joints with a prosthetic implant (for example, in the case of hip fractures or damage to the knee joint).
If you are prone to injuries or want to reach your potential more quickly, you may want to attend the Beacon Hospital’s Sports Medicine Programme. This high performance sports lab provides physiological performance testing and can tailor a training plan for you based on your individual physiological performance.
Rehabilitation following sports injuries
Rehabilitation is an important part of treatment for moderate to severe sporting injuries as it helps you to regain full strength, movement and flexibility. A rehabilitation regime helps to promote recovery, maximise your performance levels and prevent future injuries by increasing your strength and endurance. If you overlook it, your recovery may be slower and you may continue to experience some stiffness or restriction of movement.
You will normally begin rehabilitation as soon as any inflammation has subsided. A physiotherapist will recommend a programme of exercises and stretches targeting the affected area. These are designed to build muscle power and endurance. It is also important to stretch the muscles to increase flexibility and build strength.
Your orthopaedic surgeon will discuss the optimum rehabilitation programme with you prior to your treatment. It is essential to follow the recommended exercises to ensure you make a full and rapid recovery.