Sports injuries occur during athletic activities such as playing sport or exercising.
These injuries can result from blunt trauma accidents, poor training techniques, overuse of certain areas of the body, inadequate stretching or warming up beforehand, or due to improper protective gear.
Sports that have high injury rates each year include: American football, rugby, cycling, baseball, softball, soccer, skateboarding, trampolining, in-line / roller skating, snow skiing or snowboarding, ice hockey and sledding or toboggan.
Traumatic or acute injuries are physical wounds or injuries and account for most injuries in contact sports because of their active high collision nature.
The most common traumatic injuries are sprains and strains of ligaments, tendons or muscle often at joints such as ankles, knees, fingers and wrists.
'Contusion' is the medical term for a bruise and is a common traumatic injury usually resulting from a hard 'blow' to the body. Small blood vessels are damaged which causes bleeding within the tissue which is called a 'haematoma'.
Other traumatic injuries include wounds such as abrasions or puncture of the skin, bone fractures and dislocations.
In sports medicine, an acute catastrophic injury is described as a severe trauma injury to the head, spine, or brain.
Concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can leave a patient with temporary memory loss or loss of bodily function. This has become a major issue in sport recently as studies now connect concussion injuries with not just short term issues but also long term medical problems.
Chronic injuries or repetitive stress injuries can happen after playing a certain sport or doing an exercise for long periods of time.
Signs of a chronic injury include pain when playing or exercising, a dull ache during rest, and physical signs of swelling.
Runner's knee (or chondromalacia patellae) is a chronic injury whereby cartilage under the kneecap deteriorates over time causing knee pain.
Tennis elbow is a chronic condition whereby the outer part of the elbow becomes sore and tender as tendons degenerate, most people who get it don't play tennis.
Shin splints are a common chronic injury that affects athletes in activities that involve repetitive running and jumping. Pain occurs on the shins of the leg bones.
Stretching and jogging to warm up are often used to reduce the risk of injury.
Allowing at least one day off a sport per week allows the body to recover.
Wearing the correct protective gear drastically reduces the chances of injury.
Using the correct taught technique for a sport or exercise helps reduce the chance of picking up an injury.
By taking breaks and drinking plenty of water during and after exercise or play fatigue and overheating can be reduced.
If the pain or injury is severe or gets worse call a doctor immediately if one is not present at the sports event.
The acronym RICE is a good method to remember for treatment straight after an injury occurs and for up to 48 hours once back home. RICE means Rest, Ice (use an ice pack for around 20 minutes every few hours), Compression, Elevation.
Compression sportswear and braces are popular with both professional and amateur athletes, they can reduce injury risk and speed up muscle recovery.
Massage or acupuncture have traditionally been used to treat muscle soreness.
Professional athletes today sometimes use hyperbaric chambers to speed up healing. Other new treatments used by pro athletes include: Electro-stimulation to prevent pain impulses and reduce swelling, while cold/cryotherapy such as ice baths straight after a game can reduce inflammation.
Sometimes the only option left is for surgery to fix the injury.