Sports Injuries

Learn more about sports-related pain and the different treatment options available.

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If you’re an active member of a sports team, participate in solo sports or exercise regularly, you may know what it’s like to sustain a sports injury of some kind. You could be at risk of a sports injury if you haven’t been active for some time, skip warming up properly or are participating in contact sports.

People of any age may find themselves with a sports injury at some point in their lives, and it’s important to know how to take care of it if it happens. Learning how to prevent new injuries from happening in the future or exacerbating an existing injury is imperative in continuing to participate in physical activity.

Sport Injuries

Types of sports injuries

There are many kinds of sports injuries that an individual can sustain during a game, competition, or solo sport. Each injury will produce varied symptoms and complications.

The most common types of sports injuries include:

  • Sprains —Overstretched or torn ligaments that hold two bones to each other
  • Strains — Overstretched or torn tendons that connect the muscle to bone
  • Knee injuries — Any kind of soft tissue or bone injury that interferes with the knee
  • Swollen muscles — A natural response to a sports injury around the affected area
  • Achilles rupture — The rupture of the tendon that runs down the back of your ankle
  • Fractures — Also known as broken bones
  • Dislocations —Where a bone is forced out of its socket
  • Rotator cuff injuries — An injury that affects one or more of the four muscles in the shoulder

Symptoms of sports injuries

The symptoms of a sports injury will depend on what kind of injury you have sustained and where you have sustained it. Sports injuries can be classified as acute or chronic.

The symptoms of an acute sports injury may include:

  • Sudden onset of severe pain
  • A joint that is visibly out of place
  • Extreme weakness of a limb
  • A bone that is protruding through the skin
  • Extreme bruising or swelling
  • Not being able to bear weight on a limb
  • Inability to move a joint normally

Symptoms of a chronic or recurring injury may include:

  • Pain in the injured area which recurs when you play sport or participate in physical activity
  • A dull ache and swelling in an injured area, even at rest.

Traditional treatments for sports injuries

Treatments for injuries will vary depending on where the injury is and the severity of the pain. If there is a visibly broken bone or dislocation, it is important that you seek the advice of a healthcare professional immediately, or present to hospital. Minor injuries that result in mild pain can mostly be treated with over-the-counter pain medications if required, and sometimes require the advice of a healthcare professional who may prescribe other medications.

For most minor sports injuries in the first 12 – 36 hours, the RICE method may also be of benefit:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

You should seek always seek medical attention if you experience any serious symptoms, including:

  • Severe swelling
  • Unbearable pain
  • Popping or crunching sounds
  • Visible bumps, lumps, or other deformities
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness or fever

Medicinal Cannabis and sports injuries

If you’ve exhausted other treatment options and haven’t experienced any relief or improvement, it might be worth chatting to your doctor to see whether medicinal cannabis could be suitable for you.

We spoke to two members of our Sports Advisory board Lauren Jackson, 3x WNBA champion and Jenn Morris, Olympic gold medallist, about their involvement with Levin Health, the impact of sport in their lives and the injuries they’ve sustained throughout the years.

Sports Injuries FAQ

What are the most common types of sports injuries?

We all know that exercise is a great way to keep fit and stay healthy and playing sports with a team or on your own can be lots of fun! Injuries can happen during exercise and have the potential to cause lasting damage if not treated properly. Common injuries are commonly caused by insufficient warm up, lack of stretching, inadequate of strength or flexibility in a joint, poor training practices, improper gear, or even existing injuries.
Some of the most common sports injuries can include:
●        Sprains and strains
●        Dislocations
●        Swollen muscles and joints
●        Knee injuries
●        Rotator cuff injuries
●        Shinbone pain
●        Achilles tendon injuries
●        Broken bones
●        Dislocations
●        Concussion
In many cases, minor injuries may be alleviated over-the-counter medications and the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). You should always seek the advice of your doctor for any sports injury that causes severe pain or symptoms.

How do you prevent sports injuries?

The most effective way to treat a sports injury is to not get one in the first place, which  means you need to play an active role in preventing injury! Thankfully, there are several ways you can do this.
Understanding that all sports carry a level risk is important, and being able to match the right sport with your abilities is crucial. It is also important to remember that high-contact sports carry a greater risk of injury than those with lower-contact.
Some ways that you may be able to prevent sports injuries:
●        Taking time off when you need to, one rest day a week is a good start
●        Wear and use the right gear during a game or competition e.g., a mouth guard, protective gear, and helmets
●        Keep your muscles strong through conditioning practices
●        Increase your flexibility
●        Take breaks during the game or competition
●        Play safe and follow the rules – they are there to help protect players!
●        Adopt proper technique
●        Avoid heat illness and stay hydrated during the game
●        Don’t play when you are already injured or feel pain

How to recover from sports injuries?

Depending on the severity and the type of injury you have, it can potentially take several months to recover to a level where you’re not feeling any pain. Returning to your previous physical activity should only happen once you’ve made a full recovery, as your body will still be vulnerable to recurring injury. Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional for serious injuries.
During recovery, it is usually important to start moving the injured body part as soon as possible. Gentle exercise is usually prescribed to help improve the range of movement and may ultimately help improve pain, flexibility and strength. Your doctor, physiotherapist or another medical professional can provide you with a timeline for your recovery and give you exercises that aim to help build strength and flexibility in the affected area. Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, meditation, yoga or clinical Pilates may be beneficial and may be combined with traditional sports injury medications and treatments.

Where do I seek help when having a sports injury?

There are many different types of sports injuries and seeking the right level of assistance could be the difference between a short or long recovery timeline. A severe injury might require the urgent attention of a healthcare professional or emergency department at the hospital, or a minor injury could potentially be managed at home with the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method.
If you have a severe injury and you require medication for relief from pain, swelling and bruising, you should consult your local pharmacist or doctor for advice. Over-the-counter medications like paracetamol and ibuprofen may help with mild pain and inflammation caused by a sports injury.
Some healthcare professionals and practitioners that may be able to help with your sports injury treatment include:
●        General practitioner
●        Myotherapist
●        Physiotherapist
●        Chiropractor
●        Sports medicine clinician
●        Hospital emergency department
●        Osteopath
●        In an emergency, call 000

How do athletes cope with sports injuries?

There’s no doubt that during an athlete’s career it is likely they will experience some kind of sports injury, whether it be something easily overcome or a little more challenging for their mental and physical state. When an athlete sustains an injury, the impact can be very different to someone who plays sport casually.

When it comes to practical treatment and pain management for an athlete, treatment is similar to a casual sportsperson, however, they often have rapid access to sports injury specialists. This rapid access to recovery resources, treatment and pain medicine often means that timeline for an athletes’ recovery can be relatively short depending on the severity of the injury. 

Only where an athlete has had the correct physical and psychological training, may they be able to find the mental strength during a sports injury to continue to train. Athletes are naturally highly competitive in nature, so dealing with an injury that causes breaks in competition can be psychologically challenging. 

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