A Sports Injury can be;
- A sudden injury – which is the result of a sudden impact or an awkward movement
- An overuse injury – which develops over time as a result of overusing certain parts of the body or poor technique
Osteopaths are able to diagnose and treat all types of sports related injuries whether you are an elite professional, an enthusiastic amateur, a gym worshipper or simply someone who likes to keep fit. As we are all aware, playing sports and taking part in regular exercise is good for our health, but can sometimes result in injuries, whether it is from an accident, poor training practice, use of improper equipment or insufficient warm up and stretching.
What is the Difference Between Acute and Chronic Injuries?
Regardless of the specific structure affected, sports injuries can generally be classified in one of two ways: acute or chronic.
Acute injuries, such as a sprained ankle, strained back, or fractured hand, occur suddenly during activity. Signs of an acute injury include the following:
- Sudden, severe pain
- Inability to place weight on a lower limb
- Extreme tenderness in an upper limb
- Inability to move a joint through its full range of motion
- Extreme limb weakness
- Visible dislocation or break of a bone.
Chronic injuries usually result from overusing one area of the body while playing a sport or exercising over a long period. The following are signs of a chronic injury:
- Pain when performing an activity
- A dull ache when at rest
What happens when the body is injured?
From the moment a bone breaks or a ligament tears, your body goes to work to repair the damage. Here’s what happens at each stage of the healing process:
At the moment of injury: Chemicals are released from damaged cells, triggering a process called inflammation. Blood vessels at the injury site become dilated; blood flow increases to carry nutrients to the site of tissue damage.
Within hours of injury: White blood cells (leukocytes) travel down the bloodstream to the injury site where they begin to tear down and remove damaged tissue, allowing other specialized cells to start developing scar tissue.
Within days of injury: Scar tissue is formed on the skin or inside the body. The amount of scarring may be proportional to the amount of swelling, inflammation, or bleeding within. In the next few weeks, the damaged area will regain a great deal of strength as scar tissue continues to form.
Within a month of injury: Scar tissue may start to shrink, bringing damaged, torn, or separated tissues back together. However, it may be several months or more before the injury is completely healed.
What to do if you have an injury?
- Stop exercising if you feel pain, regardless of whether your sports injury happened suddenly or you’ve had the pain for a while. Continuing to exercise while you’re injured may cause further damage and slow your recovery time.
- Pain, swelling and restricted limb movements, straight after a sports injury are all fairly common symptoms for which RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) is often advised.
Rest. Reduce regular exercise or activities of daily living as needed. If you cannot put weight on an ankle or knee, crutches may help. If you use a cane or one crutch for an ankle injury, use it on the uninjured side to help you lean away and relieve weight on the injured ankle.
Ice. Apply an ice pack to the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day. A cold pack, ice bag, or plastic bag filled with crushed ice and wrapped in a towel can be used. To avoid cold injury and frostbite, do not apply the ice for more than 20 minutes. (Note: Do not use heat immediately after an injury. This tends to increase internal bleeding or swelling. Heat can be used later on to relieve muscle tension and promote relaxation.)
Compression. Compression of the injured area may help reduce swelling. Compression can be achieved with elastic wraps, special boots, air casts, and splints. Ask your health care provider for advice on which one to use.
Elevation. If possible, keep the injured ankle, knee, elbow, or wrist elevated on a pillow, above the level of the heart, to help decrease swelling. Follow these four steps immediately after injury and continue for at least 48 hours.
Treating sports injuries
Sports injuries will require specialist advice and treatment to evaluate the extent of damage to the;
- Ligaments, (thick bands of tissue that connect one bone to another)
- Tendons, (tough, rubbery cords that link muscles to bones)
- Cartilage, (tough, flexible tissue that covers the surface of joints and allows bones to slide over one another)
At Stanmore Osteopaths once you have received treatment and recovered from your injury you will be advised about when to return back to physical activity, guided about specific exercises, informed about how to prevent injury and be given stretches to ensure that a repeat episode does not occur.