Sports Injuries

Joint Pain

Sports Injuries

Sports injuries can happen to even the most experienced of athletes and can be caused by: an accident, failure to warm up properly before exercising, failure to stretch and warm down after exercising, using inappropriate equipment or poor technique and pushing yourself too hard. Almost any part of the body can be injured in a sports injury, including connective tissues (tendons and ligaments), bones and joints. Knees and ankles are particularly prone to sports injuries. Symptoms may not be noticeable until several hours after the injury, but can also be felt immediately and include: pain, bruising, swelling and restricted movement or tenderness. Minor injuries can usually be cared for at home with rest, elevation and application of heat or cold to relieve swelling. However, if you are at all concerned by symptoms of a sports injury, call Ahmeys to make an appointment and speak to an expert.

Symptoms and signs of a sports injury can include:

  • Pain, either immediate or a few hours after an injury
  • Tenderness
  • Reddened skin
  • Bruising
  • Restricted movement or stiffness in the affected area
  • Numbness or pins and needles in the affected area
  • The affected area looking visibly misshapen or out of place
  • Inability to move affected area or joint at all
  • Inability to put any weight on the affected area or joint
  • Skin that is noticeably cool or hot to the touch

When to see an expert at Ahmeys

If you are experiencing the symptoms above, your symptoms are getting worse, have not gone away within a few weeks or months, have not gone away with home treatment and self-care or have begun to affect your mobility and day to day life, we recommend that you call Ahmeys to book an appointment. One of our experts can check your symptoms and conduct tests to confirm a diagnosis and rule out any other problems. Call Ahmeys to make an appointment if:

  • Your symptoms don’t improve within a few days or weeks
  • If it is very difficult to move your affected joint or area
  • If the pain started as a result of a moderate injury, fall or another type of accident
  • Pain is accompanied by unexplained weight loss
  • Your joint locks, clicks painfully or gives way
  • If you think you may have ruptured or torn a tendon
  • If your pain is stopping you from doing your normal activities

When to seek emergency care

In some cases, a sports injury can cause more serious injuries and require an operation to align misplaced bones, repair or remove torn ligaments or damaged tissue and fix broken bones. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, we encourage you to seek immediate emergency help:

  • Your sports injury is causing new bladder or bowel problems
  • Your sports injury is accompanied by a high temperature and signs of infection (redness, swelling and heat around the area)
  • Your sports injury was serious, for example: a serious fall or blow
  • Your limb or affected area is badly bruised, misshapen or bleeding
  • You are not able to move your joint or bear any weight on it
  • You have a weakness or numbness in both legs that is severe or getting worse
  • If you have numbness under or around your genitals or anus
  • If your joint is visibly out of place and you think it may be dislocated
  • If you have had a severe head injury (failure to seek immediate attention after a brain injury can result in serious brain damage, paralysis and even death)

Causes

The most common sports injury is a sprain to ligaments. Physical activity can suddenly stretch the ligaments past their limits and tear them. Strains (injuries to muscle fibres or tendons) are also very common and often referred to as ‘pulled muscles’. Strains can be caused by over-stretching or overusing a certain muscle. The most common sports injuries are:

  • Sprained ankle
  • Groin pull
  • Hamstring strain
  • Shin splints (pain resulting from stress on the shinbone and connective tissues)
  • ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear, which is a knee injury that is the result of the ligament that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone getting torn
  • Patellofemoral syndrome, another knee injury, which results from the repetitive movement of your kneecap against your thigh bone
  • Tennis elbow (epicondylitis), which is pain and inflammation focused on the outside of your arm, where your forearm meets your elbow, caused by tearing of tendons due to a repetitive arm action

Sports injuries are usually caused by the following:

  • Incorrect fitness coaching or techniques, for instance using dangerous weight lifting techniques and causing strain to your muscles
  • Failure to warm up or cool down before and after exercise
  • Pushing your body beyond its fitness level
  • Not wearing the right footwear or protective gear, for example, playing football without shin guards

Diagnosis

If you are concerned about your sports injury, call Ahmeys to book an appointment with one of our experts to discuss your symptoms and potential treatments. An expert at Ahmeys will review your symptoms and potentially perform the following diagnosistic tests:

  • A physical exam to check for fluid around the joints, red or warm joints
  • A physical exam to test the range of motion of the affected joints or area
  • Physical examination of your back and assessment of your ability to stand, sit, walk and lift your legs
  • Assessments to determine where the pain comes from, how much you can move, your range of motion before the pain stops you and whether you have muscle spasms
  • Internal and external rotation of the joint to detect pain-aggravating positions and palpating (touching) over inflamed areas to detect tenderness
  • Conduct or refer you to a hospital for imaging scans such as MRI, X-Ray and CT scans to produce an image of your cartilage and bones

Treatment

The treatment for your injury is completely dependent on what type of injury you have been diagnosed with, the part of the body that has been affected and the severity of the injury.

Treatment for minor injuries

Most sprains and strains can be treated with rest, cold or heat packs and painkillers. Chafed skin can be treated with topical creams. The standard treatment you are likely to be recommended by one of our experts for mild sprains and strains is referred to as PRICE and stands for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.

  • Protection: protect the affected area from further damage, for example by using a support or brace
  • Rest: reduce your daily physical activity and avoid exercising. Use a walking stick or crutches to avoid putting weight on a damaged ankle or knee and consider using a sling for an injured arm or shoulder
  • Ice: Apply an ice pack (wrapped in a thin towel to prevent burning the skin) or a bag of frozen peas to the affected area for a maximum of 20 minutes every two to three hours
  • Compression: use elastic compression bandages during the day to limit swelling. Bandages should be tight enough to support, but not enough to interfere with circulation
  • Elevation: keep the injured body part raised above the level of your heart whenever possible as this may help to reduce swelling

Medication

  • Over the counter (OTC) pain relievers: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, to help control pain and reduce inflammation
  • Menthol or capsaicin creams: to apply topically to the affected area and block the pain signals from your joints

Treatment for moderate injuries

For more moderate injuries, such as dislocated joints that have been reset, immobilisation is recommended. It can sometimes prevent further damage, reduce swelling and prevent or lessen the risk of muscle spasms. Slings, splints and casts may be used to immobilise your shoulders, legs, wrists or arms while they heal. Moderate to severe injuries with long-term health effects may be treated with physiotherapy and more extreme medications to reduce persistent pain and inflammation.

  • Corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): your doctor might prescribe either of these two types of drugs, which suppress your immune system in order to stop it attacking your connective tissues
  • Physiotherapy TherapyPhysiotherapy helps to restore movement and function, can help you to increase your flexibility and strengthen your muscles. Regular physiotherapy can release stiff muscles and soft tissues to reduce pain and use of these techniques can help to prevent pain from coming back

Treatment for severe injuries

In some cases, a sports injury can cause more serious injuries and require an operation to align misplaced bones, repair or remove torn ligaments or damaged tissue and fix broken bones. Severe injuries may require corrective treatment such as: manipulation or surgery to fix bones with wires, plates, rods or screws. Surgery may be required to remove damaged tissue, repair damaged ligaments or replace damaged joints. Surgeries of these natures are specific to the type of serious injury you have and what part of the body you have injured.

How to manage your symptoms

Depending on the type of injury you have, it may take weeks or even months to make a full recovery. Move gently and do not attempt to try and go straight back to the level of physical activity you were doing before the injury. Slowly improve the injured area’s range of movement using gentle exercises to stretch and strengthen your muscles. Talk to an expert at Ahmeys if you are interested in physiotherapy or a personalised injury recovery plan.

  • Protection: protect the affected area from further damage, for example by using a support or brace
  • Rest: reduce your daily physical activity and avoid exercising. Use a walking stick or crutches to avoid putting weight on a damaged ankle or knee and consider using a sling for an injured arm or shoulder
  • Ice: Apply an ice pack (wrapped in a thin towel to prevent burning the skin) or a bag of frozen peas to the affected area for a maximum of 20 minutes every two to three hours
  • Compression: use elastic compression bandages during the day to limit swelling. Bandages should be tight enough to support, but not enough to interfere with circulation
  • Elevation: keep the injured body part raised above the level of your heart whenever possible as this may help to reduce swelling
  • Use stretching techniques provided by one of our experts at Ahmeys or a physiotherapist
  • Take painkillers to reduce pain, but make sure that you follow the recommended dose and that the medication does not conflict with any other medication you are currently taking

Exercise regularly to keep joints flexible, but avoid overexerting yourself or putting too much pressure on your joints. Swimming is a good non-weight bearing activity

Warm up before exercising, stretch afterwards and make sure you to not overexert yourself or do excessive amounts of physical activity

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