Treating Sports Injuries

Mar 13, 2024

Treating Sports Injuries

The term sports injury can be a little misleading. It is not only sportspersons who suffer from them. Anyone who suffers an injury during the course of physical activity may be suffering from one. Factory workers get tennis elbows, gardeners develop tendonitis and house painters often suffer from shoulder injuries. If you are a professional athlete, you will have specialized trainers, physiotherapists and other caregivers to protect you from these injuries and to help you recover if one does occur. However, if someone who is a not professional sportsperson gets a sports injury, it is important to know some basic facts about it.

Risk Factors for Sports Injuries

Sports injuries are more likely to happen if:

  • You are out of shape and strain your body
  • You exercise without warming up and cooling down
  • You do not wear protective equipment
  • You participate in contact sports
  • You make sudden body movements that stress joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons
  • You are recovering from other medical conditions

Diagnosing Sports Injuries

Diagnosing a sports injury begins with a physical examination and the patient providing information on how the injury occurred. The symptoms will also be evaluated. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, the doctor may also ask for imaging tests to be done. CT scan, x-ray, MRI and ultrasound can all provide pictures of the injury that will allow the doctor to understand the nature of the problem in detail. Once the diagnosis is complete, a treatment plan will be formulated.

Also Read: First Aid for Seniors – Special Precautions and Needs


Because the severity and nature of sports injuries vary greatly, so also do the treatment procedures. In many cases, minor injuries heal themselves with home care. Minor injuries can often be treated at home using the RICE treatment. This means:

R- Rest: Do not use the injured limb or area of the body for a few days.

I – Ice: Place ice packs on the injured area intermittently (for 20 minutes at a time) to reduce pain and swelling.

C – Compression: Wrap the injured area in a support bandage to provide support and bring down swelling. The bandage should fit firmly, but not be so tight that blood circulation is affected.

E – Elevation: As far as possible, keep the injured limb/area of the body in an elevated position, i.e., above the level of the heart. In the case of leg or arm injuries, lie down and place the limb on a few pillows.

Over-the-counter medication including NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can control pain. Do not continue taking these medications for longer than the period indicated on the product label.

However, if the injury is more serious or if home treatment does not produce results within a reasonable time, medical advice should be sought. Doctors specializing in orthopedics and sports injuries will diagnose the condition and decide on the treatment protocols to be followed. These could include:

  • The use of a cast, sling, splint and other devices to immobilize the affected body part.
  • The use of prescription medications.
  • Pain and swelling relieving injections.
  • Surgery to repair the damage, if the injury involves fractures or muscle, ligament or cartilage damage.
  • Physical therapy to heal body parts and strengthen them so as to reduce the risk of recurrence.
  • Any other course of treatment that the doctors think necessary.

A multispecialty hospital where all the required diagnostic and treatment facilities are available is the best option.

When to See a Doctor

If the injury appears to be severe or is very painful, visit a doctor without delay. Go for emergency care in case of the following:

  • Massive swelling or unbearable pain.
  • Lumps, bumps and other deformities are visible in the injured area.
  • When you hear a popping, cracking or crunching sound during movement which may or may not be accompanied by pain.
  • Weakness or inability to put weight on or move the injured limb or area of the body.
  • Instability or dizziness.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Inability to focus or even a short spell of unconsciousness.

Also Read: How to Plan For Recovering At Home after Surgery

Reducing the Risk

Because sports injuries are directly related to physical activities, there is no way to be sure of avoiding them. Even something as normal as throwing a ball to a child or picking up a dropped book could cause an injury. That does not mean that you should sit in a corner and not move. There is a lot that you can do to minimize the risk while allowing yourself the enjoyment of sports and other activities.

  • Be sure that you are fit enough for the sport or activity you want to indulge in.
  • Try to avoid sports where physical contact in the form of tackles or collisions is involved.
  • Do not limit yourself to only one sport or activity. This may result in other parts of the body being weaker and more susceptible to injury than others.
  • When it comes to training for sporting events, ensure that it includes cardiovascular exercise and strength and flexibility training besides whatever preparation the particular sport requires.
  • Learn the proper techniques required for the physical activity and use them.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after the activity.
  • When starting a new sport or activity, start slowly and progress gradually.
  • Always wear the required protective equipment and ensure that it is in good condition.

If you have suffered a sports injury, you need to know when and how to treat it yourself, and when to get professional medical help if self-care does not work or if the injury is a serious one. Because of the wide causes and nature of sports injuries, a large multispecialty hospital is the place to go to for diagnosis and treatment. This is where you will find a full range of medical specialties and highly qualified specialists to accurately diagnose the problem and prescribe the most effective course of treatment. These injuries may require multiple treatment protocols and having them all available at one place not only makes recovery more convenient, it also helps to make it as rapid as possible.

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