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Common Sports Injuries: How to Treat them and When to Seek Help

Sports injuries are on the rise. As more children and teenagers participate in organized sports activities, the number of issues and challenges they face rises, whether it’s a bruise from a poorly aimed pass or a muscle strain from overexerting while running hurdles.

And, sports injuries can occur other places and times besides game day. Research shows that many more injuries occur during practice than during games, and that most parents don’t enforce safety procedures as rigorously at practice.

Sports injuries can also occur during other fun outdoor activities, like hiking, biking, jogging or even using the motorized scooters that continue to gain popularity in urban areas. And, sports injuries can affect people of all ages, regardless of their experience or level of fitness.

What Causes a Sports Injury?

Sports injuries can be caused by physical contact with another participant, but they don’t have to be. A good number of sports injuries occur from overuse or overextension of the athlete’s body. The major causes of sports injuries include:

  • Impact – When you run into something, all your force is multiplied by its force and rebounds on you. Impact can occur if you slide into a base, crash into a gym wall or a tree, or even collide with another player/participant. Impact-related injuries can run the gamut from bruises and soreness to lacerations and concussions.
  • Poor technique – Many sporting activities are repetitive, which means the wrong movement over time can create wear, tear and soreness. injuries from poor technique can include muscle aches, sprains and strains. As an example, lifting weights improperly can put undue stress on the wrong muscles and cause a strain. Using an incorrect backhand technique in tennis can create or exacerbate tendinitis.
  • Overuse – Overuse injuries can be more subtle because they build up over time. Repetitive motions create overuse injuries like shin splints or runner’s knee (running), swimmer’s shoulder or tennis elbow.
  • Improper warm-up – Many sports injuries occur because your body isn’t sufficiently prepared to take on a high level of physical activity. These injuries can occur because you haven’t stretched properly or because you need additional nutrition or hydration.

What are some of the most common sports injuries?

While there are literally hundreds of ways athletes can become injured, from crashing into the outfield wall to improperly dismounting from a gymnastics routine, most injuries fall into these major categories.

  • Sprains – A sprain typically occurs around a joint and affects connective tissue. Sprains are acute injuries that are the result of trauma or sudden movements. For example, you may develop a sprain from falling on uneven surfaces or from pivoting quickly and overstretching a ligament.
  • Strains – A strain affects your muscles and/or tendons. It can be acute, or it can be gradual and caused by overuse.
  • Contusions – Contusion is a fancy word that means a bruise. It’s the pooling of blood under the skin once that a blood vessel or capillary bursts. While many contusions are fairly benign, very serious ones can cause swelling or calcium deposits to form. A bruise or blunt trauma to the head or face is always an issue for concern.
  • Lacerations – Lacerations are cuts or skin abrasions. They can result from trauma and can be minor, like a small scrape, or major, requiring multiple stitches. Even the smallest lacerations can be complicated by bacteria infecting the open wound.
  • Minor fractures – While it can be easy to detect and take seriously the pain caused by a major fracture, a minor fracture can share similarities with a bad bruise. Minor fractures are caused by trauma and impact to the body; they can be more common in elderly people participating in athletic pursuits because their bones are more brittle.
  • Dehydration – Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough water to function as it needs. Dehydration can occur frequently with athletes of all types, but is especially common among those who participate in outdoor sports as the additional heat and sun exposure can exacerbate the loss of fluids.

How Do I Treat a Sports Injury?

Many sports injuries share similarities in their symptoms. For example, a strain and a sprain may look very similar. And, a serious sprain can sometimes share similarities with a minor fracture.

For other injuries, like lacerations, you may feel unsure whether you should treat them on your own and wait for them to heal or whether you should see a doctor about putting in a stitch or two.

To ensure you receive the best possible treatment and heal the fastest, a visit to the urgent care makes sense. The doctors can advise you on how to best treat your current injury, as well as offer precautions that can help you avoid injuries in the future.

Urgent care medical professionals who assist you may provide some of the following treatment options/recommendations:

  • For suspected sprains and strains, follow the RICE treatment. Rest and keep your weight off the injured body part; apply ice to reduce or alleviate swelling; compress the injury to reduce swelling (but not so tightly that you restrict blood flow); and elevate the injured area above the level of your heart.
  • An x-ray can help with diagnosing whether a bruise is just a bruise or whether the injury that caused it might have also created a minor fracture that requires more serious treatment.
  • A laceration may require stitches/sutures, and your urgent care medical professional can complete that process, as well as assisting you with ensuring your wound is properly cleaned to prevent the spread of bacteria.
  • If you believe you may be dehydrated, consume water and liquids containing electrolytes. Get out of the sun/heat so you can reduce the possibility of further dehydration or more serious conditions like heat stroke. Urgent care providers may also be able to help with additional rehydration techniques such as IV fluids.
  • Even if you’re not suffering from an acute injury, athletes (particularly youth athletes) can benefit from the convenient sports physicals available at Prime Urgent Care locations.

Sports and athletic pursuits can add a lot of enjoyment to life and can help keep you healthy and in good condition throughout your life.

If you’re injured in the course of physical activity, rest is almost always a good restorative measure. However, consulting with a medical professional at your nearest Prime Urgent Care can also be extremely valuable to alleviate pain and lessen the duration of symptoms.

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