What Are Sports Injuries?
Sports injuries are injuries that occur when playing sports or exercising. Accidents, poor training practices, or improper gear often cause such problems. Some people get injured when they do not warm up or stretch enough before doing strenuous physical activities.
One of the most common sports injuries is a sprain. Sprains are injuries to ligaments, which are the tough bands that connect bones to a joint. Sudden stretching of ligaments past their limits can deform or tear them. A strain injures muscle fibers or tendons, which anchor muscles to bones. Strains are also known as “pulled muscles.” As its name implies, it means over-stretching or overusing a muscle that leads to tears in the muscle fibers or tendons.
The most common sports injuries are:
- Sprains and Strains
- Knee Injuries
- Swollen Muscles
- Achilles Tendon Injuries
- Painful Shins
- Knee Injuries like an ACL Tear
- Tennis Elbow (epicondylitis)
Acute and Chronic Injury
There are two types of sports injuries: acute and chronic.
Acute Injuries happen abruptly when playing or exercising. Sprained ankles, strained backs, and fractured hands are acute injuries. Signs of an acute injury are: sudden, severe pain, swelling, not being able to move a joint as normal, difficulty when placing weight on a leg, knee, ankle, or foot, tender arm, elbow, wrist, hand, or finger, extreme leg or arm weakness and having a bone or joint that is visibly out of place.
Chronic Injuries occur after you play a sport or exercise for quite a long period of time. Signs of a chronic injury often include: pain when you play or exercise, a dull ache when you rest, and swelling.
If you’re not sure how to address the symptoms of acute or chronic sports injuries, it is always best to consult your chiropractor at The Joint …the chiropractic place® NC.
Common Sports Injury Treatments
There are certain treatment options for sports injuries which are common to almost all types of injuries. However, if the injury you have is really severe, you should go to the nearest hospital emergency department as soon as possible. Some sports injuries may need immediate surgical treatment. If your condition does not need immediate medical assistance, but you are still experiencing swelling, numbness or pain and discomfort, you should visit your trusted local NC chiropractor.
There are certain kinds of injuries, such as mild sprains and strains, that can be treated at home initially with a common process. It involves the acronym PRICE, which stands for:
- Protection. Protect the affected area. Use a support to prevent further injury.
- Rest. Avoid exercising or reduce your daily physical activities. Using a walking stick may also help if you find it hard to put weight on your ankle or knee. Give at least 48 hours of rest for the injured area.
- Ice. Apply an ice pack to the affected area for approximately 15-20 minutes every couple of hours. A bag of frozen peas, or similar, might work well. However, don’t forget to wrap the ice pack in a towel so it won’t directly touch your skin and cause an ice burn.
- Compression. Use elastic compression bandages to limit swelling and to restrict movements.
- Elevation. Remember to keep the injured part raised above the level of your heart if possible. Raising the injured limb to a comfortable position can help reduce swelling.
After 48 hours, you can try to move the injured area and remove the compression bandage. At this point, you can use heat and massage to help increase the blood flow to the affected area.
What if PRICE Therapy is NOT Enough?
While PRICE therapy is widely used for sports injuries, it will not be sufficient for serious injuries. Additional treatment may be required such as:
- Pain Relief. The most commonly used painkillers are ibuprofen and paracetamol. These can be used together as ibuprofen is anti-inflammatory, while paracetamol eases pain. However, ibuprofen is not recommended for use if you also have a history of asthma, kidney or liver disease.
- Immobilization. By reducing the movement of the injured body part, you allow the injury to completely rest and heal and prevent further injury. This approach may help reduce pain, swelling and any spasms, while still allowing the blood to flow easily. Common techniques include a neck brace, sling for the shoulder or arm, or a plaster cast for broken bones.
- Cortisone Injections. Severe inflammation may require cortisone injections. This approach uses steroids to reduce swelling and relieve the painful symptoms.
- Surgery. Again for more severe injuries, surgery may be needed to repair torn tissue or broken bones.
Recovery time will always depend on the type of injury you have, and how well you take care of it. It can take a few weeks to a few months to make a full recovery.
Do not take sports injuries lightly. You must not return to your previous level of activities until you are 100% sure the affected body part has fully recovered. However, you should gently start moving the injured area as soon as possible. A local NC chiropractor can help you get back in shape by providing tips to speed up recovery.
Do gentle exercises to help to improve your range of motion. When movement becomes easier, stretching and strengthening workouts can be introduced.
Make sure not to force yourself to do too much too quickly. This might prolong your recovery time. Just gradually increase the amount of exercise you do.
Most of the time, seeking the help of a professional, such as a chiropractor, can help with your recovery. They can design a suitable recovery program for you and provide advice about which exercises you must do and the number of repetitions.
What Can You Do to Prevent Sports Injuries
While accidents may be beyond our control, often times, sports injuries are preventable. Here are some tips:
- Warm up properly before exercising and cool down afterwards.
- Stretch regularly. Exercises make your muscles strong, but they can get tight and short. Stretching routine can help preserve flexibility and reduces the risk of injury.
- Using good gear or equipment is important to avoid injuries. Invest in supportive, well-fitting shoes for instance.
- Employ a good technique. Consult with a professional about how you can improve your mechanics as well as your performance.
- Don’t overdo it. Learn to recognize when you are tired. Muscle fatigue increases your risk of all injuries.
- Fatigue and dehydration impair concentration which could lead to a misstep or fall. Never overuse your body. Give it ample time to rest and recover after workouts.
- Routine chiropractic care can also help you reach your body’s full potential and prevent sports injuries.
To know more about our chiropractors in North Carolina, contact us today.