Sports-Related Injuries

Any healthy lifestyle should include some form of exercise but participating in sports and exercising can sometimes lead to injuries. Accidents, incorrect training, failure to stretch properly and inappropriate gear can all lead to different types of injuries.

Those most at risk for injury are:

  • People who have been inactive for a long period of time
  • People who fail to stretch or warm-up before exercise 
  • People who participate in contact sports or action sports, such as snowboarding or mountain biking
  • Excessive activity without adequate time for recovery

The sports medicine program at Banner Health is here to support all levels of athletes. We focus on providing comprehensive treatments using the latest techniques to get you back in the game.

What Are the Most Common Types of Sports Injuries? 

Sports injuries can vary greatly and depending on severity, can lead to many different symptoms and complications. Common sports injuries include:

Ligament Injuries or Sprains – A stretch, twist or tear in a ligament, the pieces of tissue that connect bones. Common ligament injuries include the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), Ulnar collateral ligament of the elbow (UCL or Tommy John injury) and ankle sprains. Learn more about ligament injuries.

Strains – A stretch, twist or tear in a tendon or area of muscle, a strong, fibrous tissue that connects muscles to bones. Common strains include mild ankle sprains or pulled muscle.

Soft tissue injuries – A trauma or damage inflicted on a muscle, ligament or tendon. Learn more about soft tissue injuries

Knee injuries – Can include sprains, strains, bursitis, dislocations, fracture, meniscus tears, ligament tears and overuse injuries.

Swollen and sore muscles – Swelling and soreness can be the result of impact or strain and can also happen after new exercise and muscle growth.

Achilles tendon rupture or tear – This large lower leg tendon can be damaged or torn if stretched beyond its capacity.

Dislocations – An injury to a joint where a bone is dislodged from its socket and leads to pain, swelling and immobility of the affected area.

Fractures – A slight crack or even completely broken bone, usually as the result of a high force impact or stress to the bone.

Rotator cuff injuries – Damage or a tear to the group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint that connects to the humerus (upper arm bone).

How Are Sports-Related Injuries Treated?

Mild sports injuries can be treated with the R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). This coupled with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), can help to relieve swelling and reduce pain. 

Using a splint, brace or sling can sometimes help a particular area of the body to rest until the pain subsides. They can also help to straighten a part of the shoulder or arm to allow for the area to heal correctly.

If your sports-related injury is causing any of the following conditions, seek medical care immediately. A prompt evaluation by a sports medicine specialist can help diagnose your condition and start you on your road to recovery.

  • Severe pain or swelling
  • Body part deformities
  • Any strange sounds like crunching or popping
  • Severe weakness or immobility in the affected area
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting or passing out

How Can Sports-Related Injuries be Prevented?

Generally, maintaining proper technique, using proper equipment, adhering to a healthy rest schedule and stretching before and after exercise can help prevent injuries.

Accidents do happen though so it is best practice to use proper protection like helmets, knee and elbow pads, gloves and possibly body armor for extreme sports that present a higher probability of danger.

For some sports, it is recommended to exercise regularly to prevent possible injury. This is especially true for sports that use repetitive motion (such as tennis or running). Developing a healthy strength and conditioning program can also help prevent soreness or injury.

Learn more about sports injury prevention.