In 2021, emergency departments treated 3.2 million people injuries involving sports and recreational equipment, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). The activities most commonly associated with injuries include exercise, cycling and basketball.
Sports injuries can affect bones, muscles, and joints. These injuries may also affect other tissues, such as:
- Ligaments – strong, fibrous tissue that connect two bones to create a joint
- Tendons – flexible tissue that connect muscles to bones to make joints moveable
- Cartilage – connective tissue covers the ends of bones to protect bones and joints
Most Common Sports Injuries
Sprains and strains
A sprain is a torn or twisted ligament. Twisting, falling, or getting hit can cause sprains. Ankle and wrist sprains are common. Symptoms of a sprain includes pain, swelling, bruising, and being unable to move a joint. You may feel the tissue pop or tear when the injury occurs.
A strain is a torn or stretched tendon or muscle. A tendon is a thick band of tissue that connects muscle to bones. Pulling or twisting tendons or muscles can cause a strain. Strains can happen suddenly or develop over time. Symptoms of a strain include muscle spasms, pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the muscle.
The knee is the largest joint in the human body. Made of a complex arrangement of bone, ligaments, cartilage and tendons, the knee joint is also one of the most easily injured. The most common knee injuries include sprains and tears of soft tissue, broken bones, and dislocations. These injuries often affect more than one structure or tissue in the knee.
The most common knee injuries include:
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries – the ACL connects the thighbone to the shinbone to stabilize the knee; often torn during sports that involve jumping, sudden stops, pivoting and changes in direction, such as basketball, tennis, volleyball and soccer
Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injuries – the PCL runs along the back of the knee to connect the thighbone to the tibia and stabilize the knee; injuries to the PCL often occur as the result of a blow to the front of the knee while the knee is bent
Medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL) – situated on each side of the knee, the MCL and LCL control the side-to-side motion of the knee; MCL and LCL injuries typically happen when something pushes the knee sideways
Other sports injuries affecting the knee include tendon tears, fractures, dislocations, and tears of the meniscus, which is rubbery tissue that acts as a shock absorber between the thighbone and shinbone.
Pain and swelling are the most common symptoms of knee injuries. Instability and “locking up” may occur.
Achilles tendon injuries
The Achilles tendon connects the muscles of the calf to the heel bone. Overstretching the Achilles tendon can cause a rupture, which involves tearing and separation of the tendon fibers.
Home care involves rest and anti-inflammatory medications.
Rotator cuff injuries
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that hold the top part of the upper arm bone in the shoulder socket. These muscles keep the shoulder stable and allow the arm to move in any direction.
Rotator cuff injuries are usually due to wear and tear from doing the same arm movements – especially moving the arms above the head – repeatedly. This can cause the tissues in the rotator cuff to break down.
Common rotator cuff injuries include:
- Bursitis – occurs when the muscle and bone of the shoulder rub the bursa, which is a small, fluid-filled sac that cushions the rotator cuff
- Tendonitis – irritation or inflammation of the tendons of the shoulder
- Rotator cuff tears – tears to the tendon may occur from falling on an outstretched arm or lifting a heavy item
Causes of Common Sports Injuries
Accidents, poor training, and the improper use of sports equipment can cause sports injuries. Being out of shape can contribute to sports injuries; skipping the warm up or stretching can also lead to sports injuries.
For more information on the most common sports injuries, consult with the orthopedic doctors at Huntington Orthopedics.