Sports Injuries may occur during any sport, affecting any part of the body. They should be treated by a Physiotherapist experienced with treating Sports Injuries, as timely rehabilitation is critical to avoid a breakdown of the injury during the return to sport. Our staff at Saanich Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of the full range of sport related injuries.
CAUSES OF SPORTS INJURIES
During training, our body adapts to the increased load of the activity by thickening and strengthening tissues to cope with the increased strains. If a tissue such as a muscle, ligament or even bone is heavily or repeatedly loaded, for example when sprinting or rolling an ankle but has not had enough training to allow it to cope with these loads, it will tear. An example would be the office worker who plays football at the weekend but has not trained during the week.
Our body adapts to the increased load of training by thickening and strengthening tissues to cope with the increased strains. If a tissue such as a muscle, ligament or even bone is heavily or repeatedly loaded without enough time to recover and heal, it will break down and tear and bones may develop stress fractures. Over-training and over-use occurs in repetitive sports such as swimming, distance running and over zealous training in any other sport.
During an impact, there is generally a crush effect which breaks the structures at the point of pressure. Skin, muscles, blood vessels and even nerves and bones may be bruised or broken, resulting in minor injuries through to cases requiring hospitalisation. Some joint injuries will produce instant swelling and acute pain. These injuries are common in soccer, football, basketball and hockey.
All our tissues are elastic to a degree and when properly trained are strong and resilient. When there is a sudden acceleration or deceleration which stresses tissues to a load greater than they can cope with, they will pull apart causing a sprain or tear. Most tears are partial tears, known as strains but some tissues will completely tear and we call this a rupture.
Over-load injuries often occur playing soccer, tennis, and athletics and are due to:-
inadequate warm up
inappropriate training or conditioning
faulty biomechanics such as weakness, muscle flexibility and joint stiffness
previous and now chronic injury
The Physiotherapist will identify and correct any factors which have contributed to the development of the injury.
SYMPTOMS OF SPORTS INJURIES
The symptoms are different depending on the type of injury and which tissue is damaged. There may be stiffness and ache in a gradual onset over use injury during training and severe pain with a tear, crush or fracture injury. Generally pain and stiffness is mild initially with slow onset training injuries and acute strong pain occurs with tears and ruptures. The more severe the initial pain, the greater the likelihood severe damage has occurred.
DIAGNOSIS OF SPORTS INJURIES
If there is pain or other abnormal feeling during or soon after training or sport, this is likely to be a sport related injury. The diagnosis of the structure damaged and the choice of treatment will need to be made by a Physiotherapist. A thorough examination is sufficient to diagnose most problems and other investigations such as x-rays, ultrasound, CT or MRI scans will be arranged if extra information is required.
SPORTS INJURIES TREATMENT
Sports injuries heal best when treatment has begun as soon as practical following injury. The sports person must immediately stop the sport and avoid any movement which produces the pain.
In the case of sudden onset pain, the RICE protocol should commence. This is:-
From aggravating movements to reduce further bleeding and injury.
Real ice wrapped in a wet towel and applied to the injury for thirty minutes.
Arms and Legs may be bandaged to reduce swelling but not during sleep.
Arms and Legs may be elevated to an angle of 45 degrees to drain swelling.
Physiotherapists can help you with advice regarding:
The injury diagnosis
Anti-inflammatories and pain killers
Direct Sports Physiotherapy Treatment
Soft tissue treatment
Exercises to regain strength, movement
Physiotherapy Management of Return to Sport
Correction of biomechanical anomalies
Provision of orthotics and footwear advice
Providing a return to sport plan
Management may require the use of a sling, crutches or a walking stick to reduce the load on the tissues. As the injury begins healing the Physiotherapist will advise a graduated return to exercise without an increase in symptoms. Depending on which tissues are injured there will be stretches, strengthening and mobility exercises to return full function and reduce the chance of the injury recurring.
In the event of a severe injury where Physiotherapy is not appropriate, the patient will be referred directly to a doctor and on to the appropriate specialist for further investigation and treatment. In the event surgery is required, physiotherapy rehabilitation will be arranged afterward.
PROGNOSIS OF SPORTS INJURIES
Sports Injuries recover well with Physiotherapy management. Pain and inflammation relief may take some time depending on the injury, with the goals of achieving painless, full function and a minimal chance of a recurrence in the future.