Most sports injuries are due to either injury or overuse of muscles or joints. Most are caused by minor injury involving muscles, ligaments, tendons, or bones, including:
A bruise is an injury to the soft tissue. It is often caused by blunt force such as a kick, fall, or blow. It results in pain, swelling, and discoloration.
A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament. Ligaments are flexible bands of fibrous tissue that connect bones to bones, and bones to cartilage. They also hold together the bones in your joints. Sprains often affect the ankles, knees, or wrists.
A strain is twist, pull or tear of a muscle or tendon, and is often caused by overuse, excessive force, or stretching. A tendon is a tough cord of tissue that connects muscles to bones.
Some examples of strains are:
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis). Lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, is characterized by pain in the back side of the elbow and forearm, along the thumb side when the arm is alongside the body with the thumb turned away. The pain is caused by damage to the tendons that bend the wrist backward away from the palm.
Golfer's or baseball elbow (medial epicondylitis). Medial epicondylitis, also known as golfer's elbow, is characterized by pain from the elbow to the wrist on the palm side of the forearm. The pain is caused by damage to the tendons that bend the wrist toward the palm.
Lumbar strain. A lumbar strain is an injury to the lower back, which results in damaged tendons and muscles that spasm and feel sore. Trauma of great force can injure the tendons and muscles in the lower back. Pushing and pulling sports, such as weight lifting or football, can lead to a lumbar strain. In addition, sports that need sudden twisting of the lower back, such as basketball, baseball, and golf can lead to this injury.
Jumper's knee. Jumper's knee, also known as patellar tendonitis, is a condition characterized by inflammation of the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap to shin bone (tibia). The condition may be caused by overuse of the knee joint, such as frequent jumping on hard surfaces.
Runner's knee. Runner's knee, also known as patellofemoral stress syndrome, is when the patella, or kneecap, does not move well in the groove of the femur (thigh bone). Runner's knee may be caused by a structural defect, or a certain way of walking or running.
Fractures are breaks in the bone that are often caused by a blow or a fall. A fracture can range from a simple hairline fracture (a thin fracture that may not run through the entire bone) to a compound fracture, in which the broken bone protrudes through the skin. Most fractures happen in the arms and legs.
Stress fractures are weak spots or small cracks in the bone caused by continuous overuse. Stress fractures often happen in the foot or leg after training for gymnastics, running, and other sports. The bones in the midfoot (metatarsals) in runners are especially vulnerable to stress fractures.
A dislocation happens when extreme force is put on a joint, allowing the ends of two connected bones to separate. Stress on joint ligaments can lead to dislocation of the joint.
A rehabilitation program for sports injuries is designed to meet your specific needs, depending on the type and severity of the injury. Active involvement of you and your family is vital to the success of the program.
The goal of rehab after a sports injury is to help you return to the highest level of function possible, while improving your overall quality of life--physically, emotionally, and socially.
To help reach these goals, sports injury rehab programs may include the following:
Physical or occupational therapy
Exercise programs to stretch and strengthen the area
Conditioning exercises to help prevent further injury
Heat or cold applications and whirlpool treatments
Applications of braces, splints, or casts to immobilize the area
Use of crutches or wheelchairs
Pain management techniques
Patient and family education
Rehab programs for sports injuries are usually done on an outpatient basis. Many skilled professionals are part of the sports injury rehab team, including any or all of the following:
Sports medicine specialist