Millions of people of all ages regularly engage in numerous organized sports or recreational activities such as long and short distance running, soccer, football, basketball, and golf. Many people are physically active for health purposes; others do it for pleasure or competition. While health benefits are derived from participating in sports and regular exercise, there is always a risk of injury. Anyone can sustain a sports injury, not just athletes. In fact, along with children, people who exercise or participate in sports on a recreational level are more susceptible to injury than those who regularly train. According to a National Health Statistics Report published by the US National Library of Medicine, an average of 8.6 million people suffer sports- and recreation-related injuries each year. The severity of these injuries can range from minor to severe, with some even requiring surgery.
What is a Sports Injury?
A sports injury is a broad term used to describe an injury that occurs while someone is engaged in sports, exercise, or recreational activity. It is usually caused by direct impact, overuse (the most common cause), lack of conditioning, overtraining, inappropriate equipment, or improper form or technique. There are many different types of sports injuries, and roughly 80% of them affect the musculoskeletal system which includes the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. Sometimes these injuries result in a significant decrease in physical activity and a need for medical attention. Doctors frequently use the reduction or absence of activity as a common indicator of the severity of the injury along with other factors, such as the nature of the injury and duration of treatment.
The Difference Between Acute and Chronic Sports Injuries
Sports injuries are classified in two ways: acute and chronic. Acute injuries occur suddenly and may result in severe pain and tenderness, swelling, severe extremity weakness, inability to move the affected body part, an obvious fracture or dislocation, or the inability to bear weight on a limb. Sprained ankles, bone fractures, and pulled muscles are examples of acute injuries.
Chronic injuries typically occur over a long time due to repetition and overuse of muscle groups or joints; structural abnormalities and poor technique are also contributing factors. Signs and symptoms of a chronic injury include a dull aching pain when resting, soreness, pain when participating in physical activity, and swelling. Shin splints, runner’s knee, and tendinitis are examples of chronic injuries. This type of injury happens more frequently with competitive athletes due to the nature of their training and the overuse of specific muscle groups and body parts.