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Sports Injuries – including sprains, strains and bruises

If you do sports or other physically challenging activities, you are likely to experience some form of injury at some point.

These injuries mostly affect your soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments and tendons that may be injured as a result of excessive forces like overstretching or sustaining a direct blow.

When tissues are injured, they go through a healing process. It starts with an inflammatory response that is vital for the tissues to heal well. During the inflammatory phase of healing, injured tissue is removed and it begins to be replaced. The injured area is very sensitive to further injuries because the new tissue is very delicate. So it is important that you give them time to heal. As the healing process evolves, the area gradually becomes more resilient and normal function begins to return. If any injury does not show signs of improving after a few days, please consult your doctor or chartered physiotherapist to get properly assessed and make sure there is no fracture or bone injury.

Causes

Because sport is often the cause of injuries, here are some of the most common sports-related injuries.

A strain occurs when a muscle is overstretched. Whilst a sprain is the forcible wrenching or twisting of a joint with partial or complete rupture of its muscles, but without dislocation. Traditionally a sprain is considered to be more serious than a strain. However, strains can lead to muscle tears as well.

Ankle sprains are common and can take weeks or even months to heal. Symptoms include a swollen and tender ankle. It is important to be aware that injuries to ligaments may cause ankle instability that could lead to foot problems, including osteoarthritis, in later life.

Common in football players, these injuries cause pain in the groin. The hip is fully mobile but there is extreme tenderness in the muscle tendons around the groin. Occasionally pain in this area can be caused by a hernia or it can be pain from an injury elsewhere like the back or the hip.

Bruises, also known as contusions, usually develop after a bump or fall. Small blood vessels rupture or tear under the skin. This causes blood to leak into the tissues under the skin resulting in a blue/black colour. Bruises usually heal within 2 weeks, although bruises on the leg usually take longer to heal than those on the face or arms. If the bruise is still there after 2 weeks consult your doctor.
As said, most bruises will go away on their own. However, severe bruising, pain and swelling that begins within 30 minutes of an injury may indicate a more serious problem, such as a fracture or severe sprain, and may require evaluation by a doctor.

  • Whiplash: Is a neck injury that is caused by a sudden movement of the head forwards, backwards or sidewards – common for snowboarders
  • Tennis elbow: Occurs after strenuous overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm, near the elbow joint – is felt as pain on the outside of the elbow when you grip and pull your hand back
  • Skier’s thumb: Is caused by the thumb getting caught on the ground as you fall and hence straining the ligaments leading to acute pain and swelling at the base of the thumb – common for skiers and snowboarders

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