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Sports injuries,orthopaedics

Sports injuries – How do we treat them?

Unlike earlier days, where only education was given prominence, nowadays, sports have gained equal importance. They keep the participants physically active, promote a healthy lifestyle, and reduce the risk of obesity resulting from inactivity.

However, it leads to quite a few injuries as well. Getting injured while participating in any physical activity is natural – no one is immune to injuries. With so much active participation at all school levels, sports injuries are also quite common in children.

Dancers and gym-goers use their bodies to perform in their chosen activities of dance and exercises. Just like sportspeople, they are also not immune to the challenges that are a part of sports injuries.

Common causes of sports injuries

The most common causes of sports injuries are:

  • Lack of good quality sporting gear
  • Improper warming-up activities
  • Sudden increase in the intensity of exercise
  • Neglecting pain and continuing activities despite the discomfort

Everyone’s physical structure is different – there may be one or two weak points in every individual that are more prone to injuries.

Being unaware of these physical limitations can cause injuries that might restrict sports activities and cause pain and discomfort.

Sports injuries and their treatment options

Sports injuries can be broadly classified into minor and major injuries. The differentiation is done based on the severity and complexity of the injury. The most common first aid for minor injuries is by using the RICE technique, i.e. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Minor sports injuries

1. Ankle sprain

A sprained ankle occurs when the ankle twists or rolls awkwardly. This awkward movement can tear or stretch the ligaments holding the ankle together and cause pain and discomfort.

Most sprained ankles cause tears on the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.

Treatment

The best treatment for a sprained ankle is keeping the ankle compressed in the first 24 hours. The elevation should keep the ankle above the heart level to help in reducing swelling.

Ice packs should be applied to the affected area intermittently. Slowly after 24 hours, mild pressure can be applied on the ankle. Rest and correct care are the only way to heal up from a sprained ankle and resume normal activities.

2. Groin pull

A groin pull injury is the result of too much pressure on the muscles of the groin and thigh. This type of injury is typical in sports activities which require a lot of jumping and running like football and hockey.

A groin pull causes pain and tenderness to the inside of the thigh, along with pain on movement of the knee. The severity of this type of injury depends on the level of strain put on the groin muscles.

Treatment

The best cure for a groin pull is to rest and to apply ice packs. The groin muscles heal once all the pain and swelling reduces. To rule out other problems, doctors take X-rays along with a physical examination of the injured area.

Depending on the results of the X-ray, doctors may prescribe painkillers.

3. Hamstring strain

Hamstrings are a group of three muscles that run along your thigh. A hamstring strain happens when one or more of these muscles is overloaded with pressure.

Too much pull on these muscles and they start to tear. Even the slightest pain is cause for alarm. The more severe the hamstring pull, the harder it becomes to walk or even stand.

Treatment

Similar to groin pulls and ankles sprains, hamstring strains heal on their own given enough time. Patients should avoid putting weight on the injured leg. Applying ice packs reduces swelling and decreases pain.

The affected area should be compressed with a bandage to allow for faster healing. A very severe injury requires surgery to fix the muscles internally.

The best way to prevent hamstring strains in future is to do strengthening exercises and stretching.

Major sports injuries

1. ACL

ACL stands for the anterior cruciate ligament. The ACL injury acts as a connecting muscle between the thighs and the shin. It is one of the vital ligaments that secure the knee joints. An ACL injury occurs when a sudden jarring movement to the knee pops it out of the joint.

The injury causes swelling at the knee and makes it difficult to stand or walk.

Treatment

Imaging tests like X-rays and MRIs give a proper look into the severity of the injury. Unfortunately, most ACL injuries require surgery to regain full function of the knees – especially so for young athletes.

Even after surgery, the patients need physiotherapy as specific exercises help in restoring knee functions and adding strength to the leg muscles.

2. Broken bones

Broken bones or fractures are quite common in those pursuing any sport. However, the severity depends on the way the bones were broken. Due to the repetitive nature of movements, stress fractures that cause a slight break in the bone are quite common in players.

Severe fractures also occur due to a sudden and forceful push against bones while participating in sports.

Treatment

A stress fracture usually requires six to eight weeks to heal completely. The affected area is compressed and iced to reduce swelling. A severe fracture involving broken bones, either wholly or partially, requires surgery to align the bones back together.

As bones take between six to twelve weeks to heal completely, the physician will check the patient periodically to assess healing after surgery. Depending on how fast the bones heal, physiotherapy exercises are done to strengthen the bones.

3. Chronic sports injuries

These injuries are a result of constant, repetitive, and prolonged use of muscles as in sports like running, cycling, and swimming. Stress fractures, runner’s knee, and tennis elbow are also chronic injuries.

The major cause of these chronic injuries is the lack of proper training given to athletes.

Treatment

As chronic injuries are subtle and develop over time, patients must report even the slightest discomfort and pain to the doctors for evaluation.

Along with resting the affected area, most chronic injuries can be alleviated with the use of medication accompanied by physiotherapy.

Preventive measures

Sports injuries are unavoidable. However, you can reduce the occurrence of injury with a few preventive measures.

The foremost thing to do to reduce the occurrence of sports injuries is to invest in good quality sporting gear.

The second thing to do is to develop a correct fitness regime that focuses on core exercises and stretching all the relevant muscles.

Sportspeople, gym-goers, and even dancers will benefit immensely with guidance from trainers who excel at providing support. Sports therapy is a compulsory part of an athlete’s fitness regime that seeks to reduce the impact of sports injuries.

Therapy also involves rehabilitation of the players to resume their normal activities as soon as possible.

Bottom line

It is impossible to survive in this competitive arena without going through some injury. The best way to combat sports injuries is by acknowledging the directives given by the trainers and orthopedic doctors, and conditioning your body to sustain the injuries without reducing your athletic talent.

 
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