All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. The famous saying for centuries has been encouraging us to be more active and play. Any kind of play comes with its share of risks and injuries. Any sport or activity involves stretching the body to its physical limits. When proper care and precautions are not taken injuries are likely to occur.
Most sport injuries are caused by both internal and external factors. Some of these factors are listed below:
- Internal factors are factors that are in our control. These are usually some items we tend to overlook and later have to pay the price for. Any person needs to assess internal factors before performing a sports routine. Nutrition, Age, Weight and fitness levels are some of the points to be evaluated before committing to an activity. More detailed analysis may include evaluation of flexibility and joint strength as well as the correct posture. When these internal factors are taken care of injuries can be prevented and risks associated with them can be mitigated.
- Certain external or environmental factors also cause sports injuries. These may include incorrect coaching methods, inappropriate sporting gear, faulty equipment and improper safety checks. Such injuries can have a long term effect on the body and can sometimes prove to be fatal. Although external factors are beyond one’s control, required precautions must be taken. All information about equipment and techniques should be assessed before arriving at any decisions.
The most common sport injuries and risks associated with them are mentioned below:
- Sprain and Strain
A sprain is usually caused by stretching or tearing of ligaments. These cause harm to the muscle fibers and common symptoms include swelling, pain and inability to move the joint. Most common areas for a sprain are ankle and wrist. A strain is caused by a stretched or torn tendon. Most common areas include back and hamstring muscles. Symptoms are swelling, spasms and pain. Both these injuries may cause a person to be out of action for days. The best treatment for both is rest, ice and compression. The doctor may also give pain relieving medication or suggest physical therapy.
A dislocation refers to a condition where the ends of bones are moved out of position. These can be very painful and severe. Common symptoms are swelling and the dislocation can also be seen to the naked eye. Most common areas are ankles, knees, hip, shoulder and elbows. A dislocation is often caused by a fall or a sudden blow. It needs immediate medical attention. It is strongly recommended to not move the area until medical personnel arrives. Treatment may include repositioning the joint with a splint or a sling. Rest and rehabilitation for around a couple of weeks is recommended for this condition.
A fracture is a result of broken bones. They mainly happen in case of falls and accidents. Symptoms include severe pain, numbness, deformity and tingling sensation. In some cases overstress and low density bones can also cause a fracture. Medical attention is required immediately in such a condition. Treatment is decided after an x ray of the affected area. The bones can be fixed using a cast or splint. Severe cases may also require a surgery involving use of a plate and screws to put the bone back into place. Rest of a couple of months may be advised followed by physical therapy.
- Knee injuries
Knee injuries are the most serious form of sport injuries and can take a long time to recover. Most knee injuries are related to knee ligaments. Ligaments are tissues that inter connect the bones of our body. Knee ligaments can be of classified into:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the thigh bone to the shin bone and is the most common ligament that gets injured.
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) links the thigh bone to the shin bone on the back side of the leg.
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) connects the thigh bone to the fibula, the lower leg on the front side of the knee.
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL) links the thigh bone to the shin bone on the inner part of the knee.
Knee ligament injuries can cause intense pain and swelling. The patient may be unable to move the joint and may feel the joint becoming loose or flimsy. Immediate medical attention should be sought in such cases. The doctor would immediately recommend an x ray to determine the extent of the tear. In certain cases the doctor may also need to drain blood from the swollen part of the knee before commencing any treatment. Treatment will depend on the extent of the injury and can be any of the following:
- Rest and Ice your knee. Avoid any kind of movement of strain to the knee. Apply ice packs regularly every couple of hours for 30 minutes for 3 to 4 days.
- Compress the knee using straps, bandages to reduce the swelling. You can also wear a knee brace to avoid sudden movement.
- Keep the knees in raised position using a pillow while sitting or lying down.
- Take prescribed medication
- Severe cases require surgery to reconstruct the torn ligament.
- Take recommended physical therapy regularly.
To avoid knee ligament injuries always warm up before your sports routine. You can also practice regular stretching and strengthening before an intense workout.
Recovery period may be long. It is recommended to avoid any physical activity unless you can fully bend knees without pain and it does not cause pain during walking, jogging or light exercise. Continuous activity after any serious injury may tear the ligaments and then knee ligament surgery will be the only option left to treat the injury.
- Groin Pull
Strain to the inner thigh muscles can cause a groin pull. Rest, Ice and compression are recommended for treating a groin pull. Avoiding proper rest and treatment may cause the condition to become more severe.
- Shin Injuries
Pain in the front area of the lower legs can lead to shin injuries. They are most commonly caused by running. If ignored for long the condition may worsen and cause a fracture. Take enough rest, apply ice and compress the area for a quick recovery.