The Seven Most Common Sports Injuries
What weekend warriors need to know about preventing and treating the seven most common sports injuries
6: Knee injury: Patellofemoral syndrome
What it is: Patellofemoral syndrome can result from the repetitive
movement of your kneecap (patella) against your thigh bone (femur), which can
damage the tissue under the kneecap. Running, volleyball, and basketball
commonly set it off. One knee or both can be affected.
What you can do: Patience is key. Patellofemoral pain can take up to
six weeks to clear up. It's important to continue low-impact exercise during
this time. Working out the quadriceps can also relieve pain.
7. Tennis elbow (epicondylitis)
What it is: Repetitive use of the elbow — for example, during golf or
tennis swings — can irritate or make tiny tears in the elbow's tendons.
Epicondylitis is most common in 30- to 60-year-olds and usually involves the
outside of the elbow.
What you can do: Epicondylitis can usually be cleared up by staying
off the tennis court or golf course until the pain improves.
The PRICE principle for treating common sports injuries
The U.S. Marines say that “pain is weakness leaving your body.” Most of the
rest of us would add, “OK, but can't we hurry it up a little?” The answer is
yes. Using the PRICE method to treat any common sports injury will help get you
back in the game sooner.
First, it’s important to know that swelling is a normal response to these
injuries. Excessive swelling, though, can reduce range of motion and interfere
with healing. You can limit swelling and start healing faster after common
sports injuries by using the PRICE principle:
- P —protect from further injury
For more severe injuries, protect the injured area with a splint, pad, or
- R —restrict activity
Restricting activity will prevent worsening of the injury.
- I —apply ice
Apply ice immediately after a common sports injury. “Ice is the miracle
drug” for sports injuries, says Putukian. “It's an anti-inflammatory, without
many side effects.” Use ice for 20 minutes every one to two hours for the first
48 hours after the injury. Don't use heat during this time — it encourages
swelling and inflammation.
- C —apply compression
Compression with an elastic bandage will help reduce swelling.
- E —elevate the injured area
Elevating the injured area above the heart will also reduce swelling.
Over-the-counter pain relievers usually relieve the pain of common sports
injuries to a tolerable level. If they don't, it's probably time to see a
When to get medical attention for common sports injuries
We know you're tough — but you also need to be smart. If you suspect a
serious injury or if you have any of these signs, see a doctor:
- Deformities in the joint or bone — it looks “crooked,” or moves
- You cannot bear weight or can't use the limb without it “giving way”
- Excessive swelling
- Changes in skin color beyond mild bruising
- It's not getting any better after a few days of PRICE therapy