When playing a sport, there is always the risk of obtaining an injury. Learn about the worst sports injuries that an athlete could get.
Sports injuries are linked to the musculoskeletal system, which includes tendons, muscles, bones and cartilage. The causes of sports injuries can differ from one sport to another. The most common causes of injuries include:
Lack of warm-up: Body muscles should be warmed up prior to any physical activity. Warming up the muscles increases blood circulation and body temperature. Failure to warm-up can lead to injuries when you start training or practicing. Roughly 15 to 30 minutes of warm-up should be sufficient to make sure that you are well warmed-up. This can be done by various exercises such as running, walking, biking or stretching.
Overuse: Overuse of muscles and joints can also lead to sports injuries, particularly to chronic injuries due to repetitive strains. The symptoms of overused muscles include long-lasting pain that continues to get worse over time and swelling around the muscles. It is important to not exert too much force on your muscles without taking a break during your workouts.
Poor training techniques: Some sports injuries can be attributed to poor training techniques. To avoid poor techniques, ensure that you speak with a trainer or coach so that they may help you develop a good training routine.
Impact: Most impact injuries are caused when players collide with each other. The repercussions of impact could be twisted ankles, dislocated joints or torn ligaments. The best way to decrease the chance of an impact injury is to wear proper protective equipment and always “keep your head up” during sports activities.
FIVE OF THE WORST SPORTS INJURIES
Some of the worst injuries include a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), concussion, hamstring injury, fracture and patellar tendon tear.
ACL injuries are prevalent in all sports; however, basketball, soccer and football are the leading sports that can expose you to ACL injuries.
ACL tears can occur if you land wrong or change directions abruptly. The ACL refers to one of the major ligaments that provides stability by holding the knee joint together. One usually experiences swelling and pain around the affected knee and may not be able to walk. A torn ACL is a significant injury that requires evaluation by our orthopedic specialists. To read about the frequently asked questions about ACL reconstruction, click here.
Football and soccer players are more likely to suffer from a concussion than any other sport.
A concussion can be referred to as an injury to the brain. The injury occurs when the brain shifts swiftly within the skull after being hit directly on the head. The injury is traumatic and can lead to memory loss, nausea, loss of consciousness, headache and sensitivity to light and dizziness.
After a concussion has occurred, the player needs to be examined immediately to fully understand the extent of the injury. A concussion should not be taken lightly as it is dangerous to play while the player has not fully recovered. Recovery time differs from one athlete to another depending on the extent of the injury. Players should consult their doctor who can issue clearance before returning to the field.
Hamstring injuries are common for those who play a sport with sudden stopping and starting, such as soccer, football, running and basketball.
Hamstrings are a group of three muscles: the semitendinosus, the semimembranosus and the biceps femoris. The three muscles run from the bottom of the pelvis to the knee joint, helping you bend your knees and extend your hips. Muscle overload is the primary cause of strain to a hamstring muscle. Hamstring injuries can be a simple pull, small tear or a complete tear.
Hamstring strains are graded based on their severity:
- Grade 1 strains are mild and will heal without much intervention.
- Grade 2 strains are partial muscle tears that take longer to heal.
- Grade 3 strains are complete muscle tears. They can take months to heal.
Surgery is usually only needed when the hamstring strain is more severe. If your tendon has completely pulled away from the bone or the muscle is completely torn, then your doctor may discuss surgery.
A fracture occurs when a bone becomes cracked or broken; this can happen to any bone in the body. Many athletes forgo the warning signs such as:
- Experiencing pain in the injured area that gets worse when the area is moved or pressure is applied
- Having difficulty using or moving the injured area
- Showing signs of swelling, bruising, redness or warmth around the injured area
Once you recognize the symptoms, a doctor can determine the type of fracture you have such as:
- Transverse fracture: A fracture at a right angle to the bone’s axis.
- Greenstick fracture: An incomplete fracture in which the bone is bent. This fracture often occurs in children.
- Oblique fracture: A fracture in which the break is at an angle to the bone’s axis.
- Comminuted fracture: A fracture in which the bone fragments into many pieces.
- Impacted fracture: A fracture whose ends are driven into each other. This type is commonly known as a buckle fracture.
A doctor will carefully examine the injured area to determine the extent of the injury. Your doctor will likely use an x-ray to verify the diagnosis. X-rays can show whether a bone is intact or broken and determine the severity of the injury to help guide treatment. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, they can prescribe you the proper treatment to heal your fracture.
Patellar Tendon Tear
Tendons are strong cords of fibrous tissue that attach muscles to bones. The patellar tendon works with the muscles in the front of your thigh to straighten your thigh. You could experience a partial or complete tear.
A partial tear may not completely disrupt the soft tissue.
A complete tear disrupts the soft tissue into two pieces. When the patellar tendon is completely torn, the tendon is separated from the kneecap. Without attachment, you cannot straighten your knee. A complete tear is a disabling injury. It usually requires surgery to regain full knee function. To reattach the tendon, sutures are placed in the tendon and threaded through drill holes in the kneecap. The sutures are tied at the top of the kneecap. Your surgeon will carefully tie the sutures to get the correct tension in the tendon. This will make sure the position of the kneecap matches that of your uninjured kneecap.
HOW TO AVOID SPORTS INJURIES
Most injuries are avoidable if athletes take certain precautionary measures. Even in sports predominated by intensive physical contact, wearing protective gear can significantly minimize the injuries. Prevention methods for sports injuries include:
- Warm-up: Warming up your muscles 15 minutes before you start can strengthen your muscles. You can walk or stretch the muscles to increase blood flow.
- Take breaks: Exercising heavily without breaks will cause chronic or acute injuries. Do not overdo training more than your body muscles can endure. Execute exercises gradually until your fitness improves.
- Proper techniques: Repeatedly using an improper technique can lead to sports injuries. You can consult with an athletic trainer or coach to help you form proper techniques to prevent injuries.
- Drink a lot of water: Dehydrated athletes are deprived of physical and mental fitness. If practicing or playing in hot temperatures, you may need to consume more water. To know how much water you are supposed to drink, athletes can divide their body weight in half and drink at least an ounce per pound of body weight throughout the day.
- Rest: After exercising, ensure that you cool down to let the body remove the waste products that have acquired during the exercises. Resting will lessen stiffness in the muscles.
REHAB FOR SPORT INJURIES
A rehab program for sports injuries is designed to meet your needs, depending on the type and severity of the injury. The goal of rehab after a sports injury is to help you return to the highest level of function possible. To reach these goals, sports injury rehab programs may include:
- Physical therapy
- Activity restrictions
- Conditioning exercises to help prevent further injury
- Exercises to stretch and strengthen the injured area
- Applications of braces, casts or splints to immobilize the injured area
MOUNTAINSTATE ORTHOPEDIC ASSOCIATES | WORST SPORT INJURIES AN ATHLETE COULD GET
If you suspect you may have an injury, MOA would love to help you. Our orthopedic specialists at MOA have been providing orthopedic care to Morgantown and North Central West Virginia since 1977. Our expert doctors know exactly how to treat your sports injuries and get you back on the field or court.
Schedule an appointment with one of our specialists today by calling 304-599-0720.