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Disease

SPORTS INJURIES

BACKGROUND

"Sports injuries" are injuries that happen when playing sports or exercising. Some are from accidents. Others can result from poor training practices or improper gear. Some people get injured when they are not in proper condition. Not warming up or stretching enough before you play or exercise can also lead to injuries.

The most common sports injuries are:

  • Sprains and strains.
  • Knee injuries.
  • Swollen muscles.
  • Achilles tendon injuries.
  • Pain along the shin bone.

DISEASE OCCURRENCE IN POPULATION:

In the U.S., about 30 million children and teens participate in some form of organized sports, and more than 3.5 million injured each year. Almost one-third of all injuries incurred in childhood are sports-related injuries. By far, the most common injuries are sprains and strains.

RISK FACTORS:

Risk Factors are divided into following categories:

  • Biological factors are internal; they represent the physical and physiological characteristics of individual participants and include such elements as physical condition, age, and existing muscular imbalances.
  • Psychological factors represent internal mental characteristics of individual participants, including mood state, life stress, and risk taking.
  • Physical factors encompass the external physical environments surrounding participation; environments precipitating injury occurrence might include things such as uneven surfaces, slippery conditions, and unsafe equipment.
  • Sociocultural factors represent external sociocultural influences such as the quality and rigor of officiating, the quality and style of coaching, and the social pressure to play when one is hurt or fatigued.

These risk factors influence sport injuries through their effects on participant exposures to potentially injurious situations, behavioural choices made, and hazards encountered.

SIGN AND SYMPTOMS:

Common signs of sports Injuries are:

PAIN: Tenderness of a joint can help indicate the source of pain after an injury. Aspects of pain including the location of tenderness, the depth of pain, and the type of pain experienced can help your doctor determine the possible cause of your pain and injury. In the very early stages after injury, you may not notice swelling or any restriction in your ability to move. Tenderness when pressure is applied, however, can be an important indicator that a serious injury has occurred.

SWELLING: Swelling is a sign of inflammation, your body's effort to respond to injury and initiate the healing response of the immune system. While swelling is not necessarily a bad thing, it can cause discomfort. There are a few types of swelling, which can tip your doctor off as to what injury you may have:

  • Effusion: Swelling within a joint
  • Oedema: Swelling in the soft tissues
  • Hematoma: Swelling due to bleeding into the soft tissue

Limiting swelling allows your body to progress healing to the next stages of the response to injury.

STIFFNESS: The ability to move is a good sign of the severity of injury of a joint.

While pain can be difficult to quantify, the mobility of a joint, or lack of, is typically very clear. It is easy to compare the mobility of the uninjured extremity to the joint of concern. Joints that lack full mobility should generally be rested until motion is restored before resuming sports activity.

INSTABILITY: An unstable joint feels loose or like it wants to buckle or give out. This is often a sign of a ligament injury, as the injured joint is not adequately supported after it has been damaged.

Less Common Signs of Sports Injuries

WEAKNESS: Pain that limits the strength of the injured area can be due to weakness. However, weakness can also signify structural damage to a muscle or tendon that prevents the normal function of the extremity. Inability to lift your arm or walk because of weakness should be evaluated by a medical professional.

NUMBNESS AND TINGLING: Numbness or tingling is a sign of nerve irritation or injury. Sometimes nerves are directly damaged, other times a nerve can be irritated by surrounding swelling or inflammation.

DIAGNOSTIC TEST:

Diagnosis should include a thorough history and physical examination. History should focus on the mechanism of injury, physical stresses of the activity, past injuries, timing of pain onset, and extent and duration of pain before, during, and after activity. Patients should be asked about exposure to quinolone antibiotics, which can predispose to tendon rupture. Diagnostic testing (e.g., x-rays, ultrasonography, CT, MRI, bone scans, electromyography) and referral to a specialist may be required.

TREATMENT OPTIONS:

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) your doctor may suggest that you take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin or ibuprofen. These drugs reduce swelling and pain. You can buy them at a drug store. Another common drug is acetaminophen. It may relieve pain, but it will not reduce swelling.
  • Immobilization Immobilization is a common treatment for sports injuries. It keeps the injured area from moving and prevents more damage. Slings, splints, casts, and leg immobilizers are used to immobilize sports injuries.
  • Surgery In some cases, surgery is needed to fix sports injuries. Surgery can fix torn tendons and ligaments or put broken bones back in place. Most sports injuries don't need surgery.
  • Rehabilitation (Exercise): Rehabilitation is a key part of treatment. It involves exercises that step by step get the injured area back to normal. Moving the injured area helps it to heal. The sooner this is done, the better. Exercises start by gently moving the injured body part through a range of motions. The next step is to stretch. After a while, weights may be used to strengthen the injured area. As injury heals, scar tissue forms. After a while, the scar tissue shrinks. This shrinking brings the injured tissues back together. When this happens, the injured area becomes tight or stiff. This is when you are at greatest risk of injuring the area again. You should stretch the muscles every day. You should always stretch as a warmup before you play or exercise. Don't play your sport until you are sure you can stretch the injured area without pain, swelling, or stiffness. When you start playing again, start slowly. Build up step by step to full speed.
  • Rest: Although it is good to start moving the injured area as soon as possible, you must also take time to rest after an injury. All injuries need time to heal; proper rest helps the process. Your doctor can guide you on the proper balance between rest and rehabilitation.
  • Other Therapies: Other therapies include mild electrical currents (electrostimulation), cold packs (cryotherapy), coolant creams / sprays (like menthol), heat packs (thermotherapy), sound waves (ultrasound), and massage.

PRECAUTIONS:

These tips can help you avoid sports injuries:

  • Don't bend your knees more than half way when doing knee bends.
  • Don't twist your knees when you stretch. Keep your feet as flat as you can.
  • When jumping, land with your knees bent.
  • Do warmup exercises before you play any sports.
  • Always stretch before you play or exercise.
  • Don't overdo it.
  • Cool down after hard sports or workouts.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly, are stable, and absorb shock.
  • Use the softest exercise surface you can find; don't run on asphalt or concrete.
  • Run on flat surfaces.

FOR CHILDREN:

  • Be in proper condition to play the sport.
  • Get a physical exam before you start playing sports.
  • Follow the rules of the game.
  • Wear gear that protects, fits well, and is right for the sport.
  • Know how to use athletic gear.
  • Don't play when you are very tired or in pain.
  • Always warm up before you play.
  • Always cool down after you play.

REFERENCES:

  • hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/pediatrics/sports_injury_statistics_90,p02787/
  • humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/recognize­the­factors­that­contribute­to­sport­injury­risk
  • verywell.com/sports-injuries-4013926
  • niams.nih.gov/health_info/sports_injuries/sports_Injuries_ff.pdf
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