Most Common Sports Injuries

Injuries are possible when playing sports whether you are a professional athlete or are playing for fun. You can avoid common sports injuries by taking precautions like using proper equipment and techniques for each sport.

Hip Flexor Strain

Your hip flexor muscles are on the fronts of your upper thighs. You use these muscles to raise your knee up or flex your leg out and away from your body. If you sit a lot for work, you may have weak hip flexor muscles, leaving you at a greater risk for injury. Sports and activities that lead to hip flexor injuries include:

  • Climbing stairs
  • Sprinting
  • Stopping or starting suddenly
  • Running uphill

Treating a hip flexor injury. If you see bruising on the front of your upper thighs or feel pain, treat the injury as a muscle strain. Take time to rest and ice the area for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day for the first two to three days. After the first three days, you can begin stretching and applying gentle pressure to massage the area and work out the tension. Limit your activity for a couple of weeks to allow the muscles to heal completely.

ACL Injury

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the ligament that provides most of your knee’s stabilization. When you make a sudden change in movement – speeding up or slowing down too quickly – you can strain the ligament. Sometimes movements are severe enough to tear the ligament. This can lead to swelling and a lack of stability.

Treating an ACL injury. Resting and icing the area can treat slight tears. As the tear heals, your stability and strength will increase. It's important to allow the tear to heal completely before returning to your sport. A severe or more complete tear may require surgery, months of rest, and physical therapy for total healing.

Patellofemoral Syndrome

Knee injuries are not limited to tears in muscles and ligaments. An impact on your knee may cause damage to your knee joint and kneecap. You may begin to walk differently in an effort to relieve pressure on the damaged knee. This leads to muscle weakness and additional swelling.

Treating patellofemoral syndrome. Rest with your leg elevated and ice your damaged knee to reduce swelling and increase healing. Prevent future sport injuries by completing exercises that strengthen your thigh and calf muscles to better support your knee. If you pursue physical therapy, a medical professional may prescribe a brace or have you tape the knee to offer additional support.

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Concussion

A concussion is a brain injury caused by an impact to your head strong enough to temporarily affect your brain activity. Concussions can be very serious and require immediate medical attention. Signs of a concussion following head trauma can include:

  • Headache
  • Feeling confused or dizzy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slurring your speech‌
  • Feeling sensitive to bright lights and the sun

Treating head injuries. Resting is important after receiving a concussion diagnosis. Your doctor can determine the severity of your condition and recommend how long you need to take off from your sport. You may need to take your time returning to the same level of activity as before your concussion.

Strained Groin

Your groin muscles are located along the insides of your upper thighs. They help you move your legs together and apart. If you’re not very flexible and make a quick side-to-side movement, you can strain your groin muscles. You can identify strains by tenderness and bruising in the area.

Treating a strained groin. Rest is important for any muscle strain. Ice the area for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day for the first two to three days. After that, you can alternate heating the area and introduce stretches and massage.

Sciatic Nerve Pain

Sometimes sports cause you to pinch a nerve in your back that leads to pain and numbness down your back and legs. Golf and tennis players commonly experience sciatic nerve problems because of the way they twist their torso during games. Sciatic pain often radiates out from the pinched nerve and may tingle or feel numb.

Treating a sciatic nerve injury. Rest on your stomach to alleviate pressure from your back. If your symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, talk to your doctor about additional steps you can take. This may include physical therapy or chiropractic care.

Shoulder and Elbow Injuries

Your shoulders and elbows face the risk of impact injuries and strains from overuse. If you fall while playing a sport, you brace yourself with your arms. This can tear muscles and strain ligaments from the sudden impact and pressure. Participating in sports like golf, baseball, and tennis may cause overuse injuries from repetitive motions.

Treating shoulder and elbow injuries. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine to help with swelling. This speeds up the healing process as you ice the areas and take time to rest. Wearing a brace can help relieve pressure and prevent future injuries from overuse by providing support. You can also participate in more muscle strengthening exercises, warming up, and stretching before and after your games.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 31, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

John Hopkins Medicine: “Sports Injuries.”

Medline Plus: “Knee Injuries and Disorders.

UnityPoint Health: “Top 10 Most Common Sports Injuries.”

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