The musculoskeletal injuries that occur while you’re exercising or playing sports are typically referred to as sports injuries. Injuries of this type affect the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and other soft tissues.
The most common types of orthopedic sports injuries include:
- Achilles tendon injuries
- Fractures (broken bones)
- Knee injuries
- Overuse injuries, such as repetitive stress injuries (RSIs)
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Shin injuries, such as shin splints
- Soft tissue injuries, such as bruises
- Sprains or strains
How Do Sports Injuries Develop?
Traumatic injuries, such as fractures and dislocations, are often the result of accidents, including falls and direct blows to the body. Other sports injuries, particularly those that affect the muscles and tendons, can develop if you don’t warm up properly before sports and exercise.
Chronic injuries, such as repetitive stress injuries, can develop when a motion continually irritates tissue and the body doesn’t get a chance to recover. Injuries of this type can occur in athletes who play the same sport year-round, athletes like pitchers who perform one task multiple times and in employees who work in manufacturing facilities. Acute injuries that do not receive proper medical care can become chronic.
Other causes of sports injuries include not using protective gear or using it incorrectly, as well as poor conditioning, training and form.
Sports Injury Symptoms
Sports injury signs and symptoms vary depending on the type of injury and specific body part affected, but warning signs include:
- A limb that appears deformed or out of place (for a fracture)
- Difficulty moving a limb or putting weight on it
- Pain — Acute injuries tend to cause sharp or severe pain, while pain from chronic injuries can be dull and achy and develop with time.
Sports Injury Treatment
If you experience a sports injury, it’s critical that you stop playing or exercising and get treatment. In many cases, that treatment can be as simple as the RICE method — rest, ice, compression and elevation — and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.
If the injury is more severe, or if you experience numbness, deformity, the inability to bear weight or move the joint, or persistent aches and pains, get medical attention. Your doctor may need to immobilize the injury or may recommend physical therapy. Some sports injuries require surgery in order to repair the damage.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, Medline Plus