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June 11, 2024

From Field to Clinic: Understanding Sports Injuries

Sports have always been an integral part of human culture, fostering teamwork, competition, and physical fitness. However, along with the thrill of athletic pursuits come the risks of injuries, particularly in the realm of orthopaedics.

From professional athletes to weekend warriors, understanding sports-related orthopaedic injuries is crucial for prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation.

Common Types of Injuries in Athletes

Here are common types of injuries in athletes:


A sprain is an injury to a ligament, the fibrous and tough tissue that connects bones at a joint. They commonly occur in the ankles, wrists, and knees.

Sprains can occur when the ligament is stretched beyond its normal range or torn, often due to sudden twisting or impact. Symptoms of a sprain include pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving the affected joint.


A strain is an injury to a tendon or muscle, the tissue that connects muscles to bones. It typically occurs when the muscle is stretched or overloaded beyond its capacity, resulting in tears in the muscle fibres or tendons.

They commonly affect the back, hamstring, quadriceps, or groin muscles. Symptoms of strains include pain, stiffness, swelling, and muscle weakness.


A fracture is a break or cracks in a bone, often caused by trauma or excessive force. Fractures can be of different types, such as stress fractures (resulting from repetitive stress on the bone) and traumatic fractures (due to sudden impact).

Common sites of fractures include the wrist, ankle, collarbone, and shinbone. Symptoms include pain, swelling, deformity, and difficulty moving the affected limb.


The inflammation of a tendon is known as tendonitis, the fibrous tissue that attaches muscles to bones. It usually occurs because of overuse, repetitive motion, or sudden increase in activity.

It is commonly experienced in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles. Symptoms include pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness around the affected tendon.


A dislocation happens when the bones in a joint move out of their normal alignment due to force. It usually occurs due to a sudden impact or twisting. The shoulders, fingers, elbows, and knees are the most common sites of dislocations.

Symptoms include severe pain, swelling, deformity, and loss of joint function.

Causes and Risk Factors

Sports-related injuries can be caused by to:

  • Traumatic Injuries: Traumatic orthopaedic injuries occur as a result of sudden force or impact, such as a fall or collision with another player. Poor technique, inadequate protective gear, and environmental factors can increase the risk of trauma-related injuries.
  • Overuse and Repetitive Stress: Some injuries develop over time due to repetitive motions or excessive strain on specific body parts. Athletes who engage in repetitive activities without adequate rest and recovery are susceptible to overuse injuries such as stress fractures and tendinopathies.
  • Poor Conditioning: Inadequate strength, flexibility, or endurance increases the risk of injuries during physical activity.

Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of occurrence of a sport-related injury:

  • Structural abnormalities, such as flat feet or leg length discrepancies, can predispose individuals to orthopaedic injuries.
  • Weakness or tightness in certain muscle groups can alter biomechanics and increase the risk of injury.
  • Older adults may be more susceptible to fractures due to age-related changes in bone density and muscle strength. Women may be at higher risk of certain orthopaedic injuries, such as ACL tears, due to differences in anatomy and hormonal factors.

Treatment Approaches for Athletes

Sports-related injuries are treated by orthopaedics who have specific knowledge of how to deal with such cases. Treatment options usually include:

RICE Protocol

The RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is a common initial treatment for acute orthopaedic injuries. Rest allows the injured tissues to heal, while ice, compression, and elevation help reduce pain and swelling.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation of orthopaedic injuries. Therapeutic exercises, manual techniques, and modalities such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation aid in restoring strength, flexibility, and function.

Medications and Injections

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to alleviate pain and inflammation. In some cases, corticosteroid injections or viscosupplementation may be recommended to relieve symptoms and improve joint function.

Prevention Strategies

Here are some strategies that a sportsperson can use to prevent a sports-related injury from happening:

  • Proper Conditioning: Implement a comprehensive strength, flexibility, and conditioning programme tailored to the specific demands of the sport or activity.
  • Dynamic Warm-Up: Perform dynamic stretches and mobility exercises before physical activity to prepare the muscles, joints, and connective tissues for movement.
  • Technique Correction: Ensure athletes use proper form and technique during training and competition to minimise stress on the musculoskeletal system and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Gradual Progression: Gradually increase the intensity, duration, and frequency of training to allow the body to adapt and reduce the risk of overuse injuries.
  • Cross-Training: Incorporate a variety of activities and exercises into the training regimen to avoid overuse of specific muscles and reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries.

To Sum Up

From the soccer field to the basketball court, sports-related orthopaedic injuries pose significant challenges for athletes of all levels. By understanding the underlying mechanisms, signs, and treatment options for these injuries, athletes and healthcare professionals can work together to promote safe participation in sports and facilitate timely recovery. With proper prevention strategies and comprehensive care, athletes can return to the field stronger and more resilient than before.

We’ve journeyed from the field to the clinic, exploring the intricate interplay between sports and orthopaedic health. As we continue to push the boundaries of athletic performance, let’s prioritise injury prevention, education, and holistic care to ensure that sports remain a source of joy, camaraderie, and personal growth for generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a sports-related injury?

A sports injury is any injury that occurs during physical activity, sports, or exercise. These injuries can happen to anyone engaged in physical activity, whether they are professional athletes, amateur sports enthusiasts, or individuals participating in recreational activities.

What are common sports injuries?

Sprains, Strains, Fractures & Tendonitis

What are the risk factors for sports injury?

Risk factors for sports-related orthopaedic injuries include:

– Inadequate warm-up
– Overtraining
– Poor technique
– Insufficient rest and recovery

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