Overview ofSports Injuries
The term “sports injury” refers to the kinds of injuries that most commonly occur during sports or exercise, but they are not limited to athletes. Factory workers get tennis elbow, painters get shoulder injuries, and gardeners develop tendinitis, even though they may not participate in sports. Ultimately, however, “sports injuries” refers to those that occur in active individuals. This health topic focuses on the most common types of sports injuries—those that affect the musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system is the network of muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and other tissues that provides the body with stability and enables movement.
Sports injuries are divided into two broad categories, acute and chronic injuries. Acute injuries happen suddenly, such as when a person falls, receives a blow, or twists a joint, while chronic injuries usually result from overuse of one area of the body and develop gradually over time. Examples of acute injuries are sprains and dislocations, while some common chronic injuries are shin splints and stress fractures.
Treatment for a sports injury depends on the type of injury, but minor ones can usually be treated at home by resting, icing, compressing, and elevating (R-I-C-E) the injured part of the body. For more serious injuries, you will need to see a health care provider, and you may need to be set up for a course of physical therapy for rehabilitation and/or fitted for a cast, splint, or brace. In some cases, you may need surgery. A rehabilitation program that includes exercise and other types of therapy is usually recommended before resuming the sport or activity that caused the injury.
While adverse events do sometimes happen when playing sports or exercising, most physical activity is safe for almost everyone, and the health benefits far outweigh the risks.
Who Gets Sports Injuries?
Anyone can suffer a sports injury, but several factors can increase the risk of sustaining injury.
The risk factors for sports injuries include:
- Not using the correct exercise techniques.
- Overtraining, either by training too often, too frequently, or for too long.
- Changing the intensity of physical activity too quickly.
- Playing the same sport year-round.
- Running or jumping on hard surfaces.
- Wearing shoes that do not have enough support.
- Not wearing the proper equipment.
- Having had a prior injury.
- Having certain anatomical features specific to each joint or poor flexibility.
- Taking certain medications, such as fluoroquinolones, a class of antibiotics linked to tendinitis and tendon rupture.
The type of injury you are most vulnerable to depends on the type of activity you participate in, your age, and your sex.
Sports injuries are broadly categorized into two kinds:
- Acute injuries, which happen suddenly.
- Chronic injuries, which are usually related to overuse and develop gradually over time.
In some cases, wear and tear from overuse injuries can set the stage for acute injuries.
Types of Musculoskeletal Injuries
Injuries to the musculoskeletal system that are common in athletes include fractures, dislocations, sprains, strains, tendinitis, or bursitis. These terms are defined below.
- Bone fracture. A fracture is a break in a bone that occurs from either a quick, one-time injury, known as an acute fracture, or from repeated stress, known as a stress fracture. Growth plate fractures are unique to children who are still growing.
- Acute fractures. A fall, car accident, or blow can cause a fracture, and the severity depends on the force that caused the break. The bone may crack, break all the way through, or shatter. Injuries that break through the skin to the bone, which are known as compound fractures, are especially serious because there is an increased risk of infection. Most acute fractures are emergencies.
- Stress fractures. Stress fractures occur largely in the weight-bearing bones of the lower extremity. These include the femur, tibia and fibula, and foot bones. They are common in sports where there is repetitive impact, primarily running or jumping sports such as gymnastics, tennis, basketball, or track and field. Running creates forces two to three times a person’s body weight on the lower limbs.
- Growth plate fractures. The growth plate is an area of cartilage near the ends of long bones, and they enable the bones to lengthen until children reach their full height. Growth plates are especially vulnerable to injury until they are converted to bone, typically by the time a child reaches the age of 20. Growth plate fractures can result from a single traumatic event, such as a fall or car accident, or from chronic stress and overuse.
- Dislocation. When the two bones that come together to form a joint become separated, the joint is described as dislocated. Contact sports such as football and basketball, as well as high-impact sports and sports that involve significant stretching or falling, cause most dislocations. A dislocated joint typically requires immediate medical treatment, but sometimes the bones move back into place on their own. A dislocation is a painful injury and is most common in shoulders, elbows, fingers, kneecap, and femur-tibia or knee.
- Sprain. Sprains are stretches or tears of ligaments, the bands of connective tissue that join the end of one bone with another. Sprains are caused by trauma such as a fall or blow that knocks a joint out of position. Sprains can range from first degree (minimally stretched ligament) to third degree (a complete tear). Areas of the body most vulnerable to sprains are ankles, knees, and wrists.
- Strain. Astrain is a twist, pull, or tear of a muscle or tendon, a cord of tissue connecting muscle to bone. Athletes who play contact sports can get strains, but they can also happen from repeating the same motion again and again, as in tennis or golf. Like sprains, strains can range from a minor stretch to a partial or complete tear of a muscle or tendon. This is most common in muscle or tendons between two joints.
- Tendinitis. Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon, a flexible band of fibrous tissue that connects muscles to bones. It often affects the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, or ankle. Tendinitis can be caused by a sudden injury, but it usually results from carrying out the same motion over and over. People such as carpenters, gardeners, musicians, and certain types of athletes, such as golfers and tennis players, have a higher risk of tendinitis. Tendons become less flexible as you age, so you are more likely to get tendinitis as you get older.
- Bursitis. Bursitis is inflammation of the bursae (plural of “bursa”), small, fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between a bone and other moving parts, such as muscles, tendons, or skin. Bursitis can be caused by a one-time event like a blow or fall. It can also result from repeating the same motion many times, like throwing a ball, or from prolonged pressure, such as from kneeling on a hard surface or leaning on the elbows. It usually affects the shoulders, elbows, hips, or knees.
Common Sports Injuries
Most sports injuries involve one or more of the types of musculoskeletal injuries described above. The joints are particularly susceptible because a person’s body places significant demands on them. Joints must provide both stability and flexibility, and they are complex structures that include several interconnected parts.
Some of the common injuries experienced by athletes and people who have jobs or hobbies that involve doing a repetitive motion include:
- Shoulder Injuries
- Rotator cuff injury. These are the most common shoulder injuries. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint. Rotator cuff injuries happen when the tendons or bursae near the joint become inflamed from overuse or a sudden injury. They are common in people with jobs that involve overhead motions, like painters, or athletes who repeatedly reach upward, such as tennis players and swimmers.
- Impingement. This happens when the top of the shoulder blade puts pressure on the soft tissues beneath it when the arm is lifted. Tendinitis and bursitis can develop, limiting movement and causing pain. Repeated overhead movements, such as those used by swimmers, increase the risk of impingement.
- Instability. Shoulder instability happens when the round end of the upper arm bone is forced out of its shallow socket, either partially or completely. Once the tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the shoulder become stretched or torn, the shoulder becomes “loose” and dislocations can occur repeatedly.
- Elbow Injuries
- Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis). When you play tennis or other racket sports, the tendons in the elbow can develop small tears and become inflamed, causing pain on the outside of the elbow. Painters, plumbers, carpenters, and others who repetitively use their forearms are also at higher risk of getting tennis elbow.
- Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis). This is a form of tendinitis that causes pain in the inner part of the elbow. Pain may spread to the forearm and wrist. Golfers and others who repeatedly use their wrists or clench their fingers can develop it.
- Little league elbow. This is a growth plate injury to the elbow caused by repetitive throwing in youths. It is most common in pitchers, but any young athlete who throws repeatedly can get it. The pain is in the inner part of the elbow.
- Ulnar collateral ligament injury. Repeated throwing can cause tears to this ligament on the inner part of the elbow, causing pain and decreased throwing effectiveness.
- Knee Injuries
- Runner’s knee. Also called jumper’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome, this condition causes pain or tenderness close to or under the kneecap (patella) at the front of the knee. It is common in runners, but it also affects people who are active in other ways, such as those who hike or cycle.
- Fracture. Fractures can happen in any bone around the knee, but the kneecap (patella) is the most common, usually as a result of an event like a bad fall or a blow to the knee.
- Dislocation. A large impact to the knee can cause the kneecap to be forced from the groove in the thigh bone (femur) and pushed out of alignment, causing the kneecap to slip out of position.
- Torn ligament. When the knee is over-extended or twisted, the ligaments within it can tear. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are especially common in athletes. They often happen when the person changes direction suddenly or lands from a jump.
- Meniscal tear. Meniscal cartilage serves as a shock absorber in the knee. An awkward twist or pivot can cause a tear. They are commonly torn when the knee suffers a sprain or complete tear of the knee ligaments.
- Tendon tear. Tendon tears tend to be more common in middle-aged people who play sports that involve running and jumping. They often happen because of a forceful landing and sometimes from an awkward jump.
- Leg Injuries
- Groin pull. Quick side-to-side motions can strain the muscles of the inner thighs and lead to a groin pull. People who play sports such as hockey, soccer, football, and baseball have a higher risk of groin pulls.
- Hamstring strain. Three muscles run along the back of the thigh and form the hamstring. Activities that involve a lot of running, jumping, and sudden starts and stops place you at risk of a hamstring strain. Basketball, football, and soccer players commonly get them.
- Shin splints. Shin splints refers to the pain caused by inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue along the inside length of the shinbone (tibia), the large bone in the front of the lower leg. The pain is usually on the inner side of the lower leg. Shin splints are primarily seen in runners, particularly those just starting a running program.
- Ankle Injuries
- Ankle sprain. You can sprain your ankle when you roll, twist, or turn your ankle in an awkward way, stretching or tearing the ligaments in the joint. It can happen when you land awkwardly when jumping or pivoting, when walking on an uneven surface, or when someone else lands on your foot. People who play sports in which there is a lot of pivoting, such as volleyball and basketball, are at risk of an ankle sprain.
- Achilles tendinitis. An Achilles tendon injury results from a stretch, tear, or irritation to the tendon connecting the calf muscle to the back of the heel. The Achilles is the largest tendon in the body and you use it when you walk, run, climb stairs, jump, and stand on the tips of your toes. People with Achilles tendinitis usually feel pain and stiffness at the back of the heel, especially in the morning. Achilles tendinitis is usually a chronic condition caused by overuse, but serious cases can lead to a tear that may require surgery.
How do you deal with an injury in a sports game? ›
- Educate Yourself.
- Take Responsibility.
- Stay Committed.
- Use Your Mind.
- Get Support.
- Set the Right Goals.
- Maintain Your Fitness.
- Sprains and strains.
- Knee injuries.
- Swollen muscles.
- Achilles tendon injuries.
- Pain along the shin bone.
- Rotator cuff injuries.
- Fractures (broken bones)
Research has highlighted many psychological factors that are common for athletes to experience once injured: feelings of isolation, anxiety, fear of re-injury, however frustration, depression, anger and tension are highlighted as the highest ranked emotions that athletes encounter when injured.What are the stages of grief after an injury? ›
Persistent, traumatic grief can cause us to cycle (sometimes quickly) through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.What happens when an athlete gets injured? ›
The athletic trainer will evaluate the injury and based upon the evaluation determine what the most appropriate course of care is for that student athlete. Treatment will be based on the athletic trainer's experience and established protocols. In most cases, injuries can be managed by the Athletic Trainer at school.What are the 3 types of injury? ›
Did you know that most athletic injuries can be boiled down into three main categories? Acute, Overuse, and Chronic.What is the #1 injury in sports? ›
1. Strains. Strains are by far the most common of all sports-related injuries simply because we use so many muscles and tendons when we exercise or play. These moving parts are all susceptible to stretching farther than they should, or moving in ways they shouldn't move, leaving them torn, damaged and in pain.What are the 3 factors that can cause injuries in sports? ›
Sports injuries are commonly caused by overuse, direct impact, or the application of force that is greater than the body part can structurally withstand. Common injuries include bruises, sprains, strains, joint injuries and nose bleeds.What are the 10 common sports injuries? ›
- Tennis or Golf Elbow.
- Hamstring Strain. ...
- Sciatica. ...
- Shin Splints. ...
- Groin Pull. ...
- Concussion. ...
- ACL Tear or Strain. The ACL, anterior cruciate ligament, is one of the major stabilizing ligaments of the knee. ...
- Hip Flexor Strain. The hip flexors are muscles found on the upper-front side of your thigh. ...
Psychological responses following injury may include negative emotions, mood disturbances, fear of re-injury, failure-based depression, devastation, reduced confidence, and restlessness(1). These psychological responses can impact an athlete's mental health and recovery.
How does injury affect emotional health? ›
Physical injury and mental health are closely linked. A serious injury or chronic illness can cause mental health problems including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Poor mental health can negatively impact on recovery rates of the physical injury or illness.What are the 7 emotional stages of trauma? ›
The 7 stages of grief
- Shock. ...
- Denial. ...
- Anger. ...
- Bargaining. ...
- Depression. ...
- Acceptance and hope. ...
- Processing grief.
The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression (I think calling it low mood in this case is more appropriate) and acceptance. This grief can sometimes be so overwhelming for my patients that it stops them from doing the things that they need to do to help their injury recover.What are the 5 psychological stages of injury? ›
The model is comprised of five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It is suggested that following injury all athletes regress through each of the five stages in order.What are the most painful sports injuries? ›
FIVE OF THE WORST SPORTS INJURIES. Some of the worst injuries include a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), concussion, hamstring injury, fracture and patellar tendon tear. ACL injuries are prevalent in all sports; however, basketball, soccer and football are the leading sports that can expose you to ACL injuries.Can athletes sue for injuries? ›
Sports injuries are often a common part of participating in athletic activity and often aren't considered to be anyone's fault. However, in some cases, it is possible to sue after getting a sports injury if there was some form of neglect or malicious intentions.Do athletes recover from injuries faster? ›
Ever wonder why athletes seem to recover from injuries faster than most of us? It's because they are usually in excellent physical condition. So when they do have an injury they are able to heal faster. That's why it's important for everyone to incorporate physical activity into their lives.What are the 7 types of injuries? ›
- Animal bites.
- Electrical injuries.
- Fractures (broken bones)
- Sprains and strains.
One well-known injury prevention framework is referred to as the education, engineering and enforcement ('3 E's') approach to injury prevention.What are the 4 classifications of injuries? ›
The main types are primary, secondary, direct, indirect and chronic injury. Occurs directly as a result of a sporting activity. Occurs as a result of an earlier injury, which may have been treated inadequately, if at all.
What sport has the highest injury rate? ›
1. Basketball causes the most injuries. Basketball is a popular sport—more than 26 million youngsters ages 12 to 17 play it—but it causes the most injuries for players of all ages. Roughly 260,000 players were treated for injuries in the United States in 2021.What is the most injured body part in sports? ›
The most common injury is runner's knee. This makes up for 55% of sports injuries and includes a variety of pains in and around the kneecap. Runners are not the only ones affected – swimmers, basketball, volleyball players, and cyclists have knee conditions when overuse causes the knee to get inflamed and irritated.What's the safest sport? ›
Swimming is the safest sport to take part in. Its easy on the joints and can be an aid in recovery after an injury so making it the safest sport in America. A study by researchers at The University of Colorado Denver lead by PhD.What are 2 main reasons common injuries occur? ›
Sports injuries are most commonly caused by poor training methods; structural abnormalities; weakness in muscles, tendons, ligaments; and unsafe exercising environments. The most common cause of injury is poor training. For example, muscles need 48 hours to recover after a workout.What are the 5 leading causes of injury? ›
The top three leading causes of preventable injury-related death – poisoning, motor vehicle, and falls – account for over 86% of all preventable deaths. No other preventable cause of death—including suffocation, drowning, fire and burns, and natural or environmental disasters—accounts for more than 5% of the total.What is the hardest injury to recover from? ›
Serious injuries that are long-term or permanent in nature are considered “catastrophic injuries,” and they are the most difficult to recover fully from. Examples of catastrophic injuries include, but are not limited to, the following: Traumatic brain injuries. Spinal cord injuries.What are the 12 common sports injuries? ›
- Sprains. Overstretching or tearing the ligaments results in a sprain. ...
- Strains. Overstretching or tearing muscles or tendons results in a sprain. ...
- Knee injuries. ...
- Swollen muscles. ...
- Achilles tendon rupture. ...
- Fractures. ...
- Dislocations. ...
- Rotator cuff injury.
A hamstring pull in the back of your upper leg will stop you in your tracks. This injury is marked by sharp, sudden pain and possibly a tearing or popping feeling. Within a few hours your hamstring will be swollen and tender. You may also notice bruising, muscle weakness, and pain when you put weight on your leg.Can you get PTSD from a sports injury? ›
Athletic injuries during participation in sports are common and can qualify as a traumatic event that provokes PTSD symptoms. Among athletes, symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder have been reported as soon as the second day after a traumatic physical injury and occur in 23%–45% of patients following injury.What is the mental side of athletic injuries? ›
Anxiety and Fear Response
In addition to depression, other common psychological responses to injury include anxiety, fear of reinjury, and even posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Why do athletes get depressed when injured? ›
Sports injuries can cause an athlete to become depressed for many reasons. The athlete might associate the injury with a performance failure. Athletes who are not able to physically perform at their expected level often become discouraged and agitated.How do sports injuries affect the brain? ›
Concussions frequently affect athletes in both contact and non-contact sports, and are considered to be diffuse brain injuries that traumatically induce alterations of mental status. A concussion may result from shaking the brain within the skull and, if severe, can cause shearing injuries to nerve fibers and neurons.How injuries affect athletes later in life? ›
Torn cartilage or ligaments on the playing field can increase the likelihood an athlete may experience arthritis later on in life, according to the National Center for Sports Safety. Arthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions your bones wears down, causing the bones to rub against each other.How can sports affect one's health physically mentally and emotionally? ›
Playing sports have great influence not only on physical & mental well-being but also on emotional well-being. When a mind is focused on playing a particular sport then it results in reducing the stress & anxiety level. People who participate in sports have better self-perception than the people who don't play sports.What are the psychological reactions to injury? ›
The psychological response to injury can trigger and/or unmask mental health issues including depression and suicidal ideation, anxiety, disordered eating, and substance use/abuse.How does stress affect injury? ›
The model suggests that the stress response in a potentially stressful situation can influence injury risk due to increased muscle tension and decreased coordination, a lack of focus and increased self-consciousness (Williams and Andersen, 1998; Staufenbiel et al., 2013; Ivarsson et al., 2017).What factors affect injury? ›
- Biological sex.
- Body composition.
- Physical fitness.
- Skill level.
- Psychological factors.
Fawning is a trauma response where a person develops people-pleasing behaviors to avoid conflict and to establish a sense of safety. In other words, the fawn trauma response is a type of coping mechanism that survivors of complex trauma adopt to "appease" their abusers.Is trauma a bond or love? ›
One way to determine whether you're in a healthy relationship or a trauma bond is to focus on how your relationship consistently makes you feel. A healthy relationship makes you feel supported, secure, and confident, while a trauma bond makes you feel fearful, anxious, or put down.What are the five injury classifications? ›
The five types of wounds are abrasion, avulsion, incision, laceration, and puncture. An abrasion is a wound caused by friction when a body scrapes across a rough surface. An avulsion is characterized by a flap. An incision is a cut with clean edges.
What are the five steps to healing? ›
- Stage One: Grief And Denial.
- Stage Two: Anger.
- Stage Three: Bargaining.
- Stage Four: Depression.
- Stage Five: Acceptance.
- Phase I Injury Planning. ...
- Phase II Injury Occurrence. ...
- Phase III Injury Evaluation. ...
- Phase IV Injury Treatment.
- Insomnia or nightmares.
- Being startled easily.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Racing heartbeat.
- Edginess and agitation.
- Aches and pains.
- Muscle tension.
- The Recovery Stage. The first stage of physical rehabilitation is the Recovery Stage. ...
- The Repair Stage. After the healing process has begun, the next step is to start recovering movement and mobility. ...
- The Strength Stage. ...
- The Function Stage.
Athletes who have been injured often follow a five-stage grief response process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance and reorganisation (Hardy & Crace, 1990). These stages do not necessarily occur in the same order, and one can go back and forth between them.How do athletes respond to injury? ›
Psychological responses following injury may include negative emotions, mood disturbances, fear of re-injury, failure-based depression, devastation, reduced confidence, and restlessness(1). These psychological responses can impact an athlete's mental health and recovery.What is the first step in responding to any sports injury? ›
If you suffer a sports injury, try RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) as a first step. The RICE method is recommended by both providers and physical therapists for mild to moderate injuries that require no further medical care. The goal of this method is to reduce swelling and help the injury heal faster.What are the three phases of injury recovery? ›
As it relates to connective tissue repair, the healing process is triphasic including an acute inflammatory phase, a repair phase and a remodeling phase. While these three phases are defined individually they represent a progression over time with a significant degree of overlap.What are three psychological reactions to injuries? ›
The psychological response to injury can trigger and/or unmask mental health issues including depression and suicidal ideation, anxiety, disordered eating, and substance use/abuse.What is the best first method for injury treatment? ›
- Control bleeding. Use a clean towel to apply light pressure to the area until bleeding stops (this may take a few minutes). ...
- Wash your hands well. ...
- Rinse the wound. ...
- Dry the wound. ...
- Replace any skin flaps if possible. ...
- Cover the wound. ...
- Seek help. ...
- Manage pain.
What must be given to an injured person for the first time? ›
First aid is the immediate help given to an injured person to prevent furthering worsening of the condition or promote recovery.How do you help an injured player? ›
- Encourage the athlete to express their feelings related to the injury. ...
- Encourage the athlete to be realistic. ...
- Encourage the athlete to refocus. ...
- Encourage the athlete to maintain a positive attitude. ...
- Encourage the athlete to continue to like an athlete.
If you are injured during a game because of a foul ball or a player kicking the ball too hard then you are responsible for the injury. You cannot file a personal injury claim against the facility because you assume the risk of possibly getting hit during the game.