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Sport and physical exercise can sometimes cause injuries as a result of over-stretching, inadequate warm-up preparation, pushing beyond physical limits, lack of technique or using inadequate equipment.
Sports injuries can be acute or chronic. Acute injuries typically occur due to sudden impact or awkward movement. Chronic injuries develop slowly due to repetitive use of the same joints and muscles.
Common sports injuries include:
Some injuries are sport specific. The main ones are listed below:
Athletics – runners frequently experience muscle sprains to the legs and lower back. Achilles tendon ruptures, hamstring and calf tendon tears are also common. Athletes who perform throwing actions (such as shot-putters) suffer with injuries to the upper half of the body. Jumping events can result in stress related injuries to the lower limbs.
Cricket – damage knee ligaments and cartilage is common among cricketers. Shoulder and spinal injuries can occur to bowlers while batsmen can suffer head injuries.
Gymnastics – due to contortion of the body, gymnasts are prone to injuries caused by hyper-extension. Injuries to the spine and lower limbs are also common due to high-impact landings.
Racquet sports – injuries such as tennis elbow are common due to repetitive movements of the elbow joint. Badminton, tennis and squash players are also prone to strains of the lower and upper body. Cuts, bruises and fractures can also occur from falling on hard surfaces.
A sports injury can occur on any part of the body and therefore the symptoms will vary depending on the type of injury. The common sports injuries are listed below.
Ligament sprain – a ligament is the strong tissue around the joint that connects one bone to the other. The ligament can be stretched, twisted or torn resulting in pain, inflammation, bruising and restricted movement.
Muscle/tendon strains – muscle fibres can become stretched or torn as can tendons (the narrow tissue that connects muscle to bone). Symptoms of a strain include pain, muscle spasm and muscle weakness.
Tennis elbow – muscles and tendons in the forearm and elbow joint can be stretched by overuse resulting in swelling around the outer edge of the elbow, tenderness and pain.
Tendonitis – a common injury caused by straining or tearing the tendon. Symptoms include inflammation, restricted movement, change in position/appearance of the affected limb.
Blisters – these are fluid filled swellings on the skin caused by friction. The fluid collects under the skin layer to prevent further damage of the tissue underneath.
Shin splints – inflammation and tiny fractures along the bone causes pain, throbbing and tenderness along the inside of the shin.
Runner's knee – a common knee injury which develops as the cartilage in the knee wears away resulting in swelling and pain behind, or to the side of, the knee cap. Runner's knee can also cause a grating sensation.
Head injuries – a sudden blow to the head, particularly common in contact sports, can cause a loss of consciousness, dizziness, confusion, nausea and vomiting. Permanent brain damage can occur if blows to the head are severe or repetitive (such as in boxing).
Minor sports injuries can be self-diagnosed and treated at home. However, more serious injuries will require medical intervention. If the injury is to the head or neck then seek emergency medical attention.
For injuries to the muscles, tendons and ligaments, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible to prevent any long-term damage. To diagnose your injury, you may be referred for diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRI/CT scans or ultrasound.