Exercise training and sports strengthens your body and joints in various ways. Unfortunately, injuries are all too common. Often, these injuries occur when engaging in recreational sporting activities or becomes overzealous in a particular exercise regimen.
The more commonly injured regions of the body are the feet and ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, and spine.
Strain or Sprain Injuries
The most commonly injured structures are the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, although fractures sometimes occur. Tendons attach muscles to bones and are primarily injured in repetitive movements. Ligaments attach one bone to another and are injured primarily be acute overstretching or tearing.
An acute twisting or overstretching can lead to tears of muscles and tendons, called “strains.” Tears of ligaments result in “sprains.”
In mild injuries, just a few fibers are frayed or stretched. Severe injuries, where there is a tear all the way through the full thickness of the tendon or ligament, are often considered unstable injuries and may require surgical intervention.
In those who overtrain or work too hard, overuse of a particular joint or joints in the body can result in pain and dysfunction. These injuries are called “overuse syndromes” or “repetitive injuries.” A common overuse injury is tendinitis. In this condition, the tendon becomes inflamed from repetitive use. It is a lingering aggravating condition that is difficult to manage without the help of a healthcare professional. In the shoulder, the rotator cuff muscles become inflamed, resulting in rotator cuff tendinitis or syndrome. Tennis elbow is another form of tendinitis that occurs along the outside of the elbow and is given it’s name because it most commonly occurs in tennis players due to the back-hand swing. In golfer’s elbow, the tendons on the inside of the elbow are affected.
Some athletes may develop a stress fracture. This might occur in a runner who rapidly increases the amount of mileage while training for a race or dancer who suddenly increases their practice time. Stress fractures also occur in athletes who overdo it from the start, rather than gradually progress to longer times or distances.
Shin splints are an overuse injury caused by microfractures or tearing on the front surface of the shin bone. Although other athletes can be affected, this is most often seen in runners.
Sports injuries are diagnosed from the history of activity or mechanism of injury that brought on the pain, along with a physical examination. X-rays. MRI, and/or Ultrasound may be necessary to rule out more serious injury or complicating factors.
Treatment protocol involves following the R.I.C.E. acronym:
Generally, 48 hours of rest and/or immobilization is needed, depending on the severity of the injury. Most of the time, the sooner the person starts modified exercises after an injury, the more quickly the recovery. Except in cases of fracture, usually long-term immobilization can be harmful to recovery. Your doctor of chiropractic will guide this process. Timely avoidance and proper return to activity is crucial to a successful recovery.
Ice (or heat)
Ice can be helpful with pain and inflammation reduction and tissue healing (usually the first 24 to 72 hrs. after injury). Heat may be used if no acute inflammation is present.
Compression of the area may reduce the amount of swelling from the injury. Your doctor of chiropractic will determine if this will be beneficial in your case.
Elevation of the injured arm or leg above the level of the heart is thought to be helpful in reducing swelling.
Research has demonstrated that sometimes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may actually slow the healing process by restricting the body’s natural healing mechanisms and may cause other complications, so they should be used sparingly.
Recent research has shown us that, in some cases, joint manipulation can be helpful with pain reduction and more rapid recovery. Your doctor of chiropractic will determine if this procedure will be helpful in your case.
In many cases, sports injuries can be prevented. Proper modes of conditioning, stretching, warm-up and cool-down procedures, as well as appropriate safety equipment, can substantially reduce injuries. Understanding proper lifting and training techniques can go a long way toward preventing injuries.
Sufficient water intake is also an important preventive measure.