While soft tissue injuries can occur anywhere and at any time—from simple repetitive tasks at your desk at work to a sprain when stepping out of your car or losing your footing—sports are without a doubt one of the most common causes. However, knowing the most common types of sports-related injuries to watch out for and how to treat them quickly and effectively when they do crop up can help to ensure they don’t slow you down long-term. The following are the five most common types of injuries in sports, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
First up are sprains, a common occurrence that may easily heal with the right treatment but that can be otherwise quite severe. Sprains result from the stretching or tearing of a ligament, which is a fairly strong connective tissue band that connects bones. Responsible for providing additional support to joints and flexibility to our bone structure, much of our ability to walk, run, jump, and move can be attributed to ligaments.
The most vulnerable areas for sprains in sports are the wrists, knees, and ankles. Sudden twists, imbalances, and extreme or sudden tension are all factors contributing to an increased risk of a sprain in sports. The intensity of sprains can vary from grade 1 (mild with a slight overstretching of the ligament) to grade 3 (severe with a tear in a ligament), but all grades of sprains have bruising, swelling, and inflammation in common.
Like sprains, strains can range from mild overstretching to partial or complete tears. Unlike sprains, strains are injuries to muscles and tendons. Muscles are the soft connective tissue responsible for contractions, while tendons are fibrous tissue that attach muscles to bones. Sports-related strains most commonly occur in the foot, leg, or back. Common symptoms of strains include muscle spasm or weakness, swelling, cramping in the muscle, inflammation, and pain.
Strains are often experienced in sports that require more contact, such as football, hockey, and wrestling, as well as sports that require speedy starts, like sprinting, hurdling, or long jump. In comparison, those who participate in gymnastics, rowing, or tennis, among other sports, may experience strains more often concentrated in the hands, wrists, and elbows.
Bruises resulting from direct, repeated impact are called contusions. In the instance a contusion occurs, the impacted muscles and connective tissue are essentially crushed without the skin being broken. Common in contact sports such as boxing, rugby, or hockey, contusions are generally mild and are characterized by pain and pooling of blood under the skin’s surface, usually resulting in a brown, blue, or purple appearance. While most sports-related contusions are of little concern and will heal in due time, if symptoms continue without decline, medical intervention may be needed to ensure the damaged soft tissue fully recovers.
A common injury linked to overuse, tendinitis is characterized by pain and inflammation in the tendon. Generally speaking, overuse injuries result from continuous small stresses placed on a tendon that cause cumulative aggravation, leading to swelling and pain. Jumper’s or runner’s knee, common in soccer and basketball players, runners, and hurdlers, is one common example, while tennis elbow might be the most common, accounting for about seven percent of all sport-related injuries. Golfers, baseball players, and swimmers are also susceptible to tendinitis injuries in the shoulders. In fact, the core symptoms of tendinitis are pain and swelling that may gradually worsen with increased activity. If tendinitis injuries persist, they may develop into tendinosis, a chronic (recurring) soft tissue condition resulting from repetitive trauma on an injury that has not had time to heal.
Bursitis and tendinitis may commonly be confused when judging symptoms alone, so an MRI scan may be required to correctly identify bursitis. This particular sports-related injury occurs in the bursae, which are small, jelly-like pockets that contain fluid and act as cushions between bones and soft tissues to reduce friction. Bursitis occurs when repetitive stress and overuse causes bursa to become inflamed. Pain and swelling are the most commonly experienced symptoms. While bursae are located throughout the body, some areas in which bursitis most commonly occurs for athletes include the heels, knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows.
In all of the above injuries, pain and inflammation can impede recovery. Inflammation directly affects free blood flow to the injured area, restricting the delivery of oxygen and healing nutrients to damaged soft tissue and slowing reparation. Further, chronic pain can limit movement and reduce the likelihood of recovering complete range of motion.
To help speed up recovery and get you back to enjoying your sport of choice faster, consider adding radio frequency-based Venus Heal™ soft tissue injury treatments to your rehabilitation plan. Utilizing synergistic Multi-Polar Radio Frequency (RF) and Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field (PEMF) technologies alongside therapeutic massage, these treatments deliver targeted thermal (heat) energy deep below the skin’s surface to damaged soft tissue. This stimulates the body’s natural soft tissue repair cycle, while releasing tension and relieving pain. The overall result is a reduction in pain (sometimes noticed in as little as one treatment), reduced inflammation, improved local blood circulation, and optimal recovery in range of motion for a faster recovery period and a more successful outcome as compared to more traditional therapies alone. Venus Heal™ treatments may also be paired with a host of other soft tissue treatment technologies for a perfectly customized treatment plan that meets your unique rehabilitation needs.
Interested in learning more about how Venus Heal™ soft tissue injury treatments could help speed up your recovery? Get the details alongside your customized treatment plan from a certified treatment provider near you.