Many of the major athletes have quit their legendary careers as a result of sports injuries. Apparently, what these athletes don’t realize is that by neglecting their body’s needs, they also neglect their sports career.
Here are ten major sports injuries and what long-term effect they can have on your life and career.
A sprain is the most common sports injury which occurs as a result of stress to the ligaments or joints. Minor sprains tend to naturally ‘heal’ over time, so it isn’t considered to be a serious injury. However, to ensure proper healing, you’re advised to use a brace. One of the most common issues with sprains is that they are prone to recur in the same place. A sprained ankle can give you an ankle instability. Some extreme cases require prolonged bracing and surgery to repair broken ligaments.
The hamstring is the single large tendon present behind the knee. These strains are caused by rapid acceleration activities, which include activities in which you’re required to pick up speed in a short period. Injuries can be a minor strain to a major rupture. Continuous hamstring injuries can affect your flexibility and mobility. If you continually hurt your hamstrings, you need to take preventive steps to prevent reoccurrence. Professional guidance is needed in this kind of injury which ensures there’s an accurate diagnosis and the damage doesn’t happen again.
It varies from a tiny crack in the bone to serious bruising within the bone. These occur in areas where we subconsciously place pressure on to support our movements like the heels of our feet or our wrists. As per, around 60% of all athletes who have suffered a single stress fracture will later sustain at least one other. Stress fractures which aren’t treated properly can lead to larger stress fractures which are much harder to heal, or where the fracture never heals, which leads to limited movement of the area and constant discomfort.
An anterior cruciate ligament injury refers to over-stretching or tearing of ACL in the knee, which may be a partial or a complete tear. It usually happens in sports that involve jumping, changing direction or sudden stops. Some of these sports are volleyball, gymnastics, basketball, downhill skiing soccer, tennis, football and downhill skiing. To regain strength, treatment may include rest and rehabilitation exercises. Surgeries are done to replace the torn ligament followed by restoration. Apparently, athletes who undergo surgical replacement of the ligament have a high risk of experiencing a second surgery later on. It’s hard to recover the original strength or condition of the ligament due to repeated operations; this makes your chance of repeated injuries high.
It is also known as a kneecap dislocation, and it happens when the kneecap moves from its fixed position. It may reduce or return to its proper place on its own. This injury is common in sports that involve sudden change in direction like tennis and badminton. When you switch direction, there’s an intense amount of stress on the knees. This injury leads to pain, and a temporary inability to walk. However, this injury can turn into permanent if happened repeatedly.
The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that provides a cushion between your thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia). There are two menisci in each knee joint. The menisci tear or get damaged when pressure is applied to the knee joint, or the knee joint is rotated. You hear a popping sound around your knee when a meniscus tear occurs. Other than that you might also experience a popping or slipping sensation. Experiencing this feeling means that a piece of cartilage is blocking the knee joint. A wear and tear on the surface caused due to constant rubbing of the torn meniscus can cause degeneration of the joint, hampering your mobility.
Tennis elbow is an injury caused when there’s an overuse of the elbow. In this injury, there’s an inflammation of the tendons on the outside of the elbow. The tendons that join the forearm muscles become weak from overuse. This leads to tenderness and pain on the outside of the elbow. If the pain doesn’t go away after resting, it could be a case of nerve damage. Sometimes, it may become chronic and last for months and sometimes even years, when left untreated. This happens when the treatment is only to relieve pain and not on correct the muscle damage.
It happens when the force applied is so intense that it displaces your shoulder from its socket. Apart from causing generalized swelling, it also leads to restricted arm movement and loss of shoulder contour until fully recovered. Recurrences are relatively high for such injuries. However, surgical treatment such as arthoscopic stabilisation of the shoulder minimise the chances of a second wound.
Sciatica (Lower back pain)
Sciatica pain originates in the lower back and travels through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg. The pain can be possibly tingling, weakness, or numbness. Some of the symptoms of sciatica require immediate medical intervention. Moreover, its treatment addresses the cause of symptoms rather than just the symptoms because sciatica is usually caused by an underlying medical condition. The pain caused by sciatica can lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back, known as spinal stenosis. Also, spinal cord stenosis may result in body weakness and paralysis.
A broken bone may cause significant bruising, swelling, tenderness around the injured area and bleeding if there has been an open fracture. The pain associated with a broken bone is severe and makes you feel sick, faint and dizzy Repeated fractures at the same spot increases your chance of arthritis in the long run.
Advice for athletes
Despite the severity of their injuries, athletes sometimes push on. At other times we belittle the severity of our injuries and dismiss the seriousness of them. One needs to realize that any injury tends to become worse without proper treatment.
To ensure full recovery, one needs to take sufficient time off. Moreover, seeking the help of a specialist prevents the long-term effects of an injury that may happen if the condition is not taken care of.
While training or participating in a competition, one needs to adopt safe practices. While we can’t control certain injuries, it isn’t entirely impossible to prevent injuries. During your regular training sessions, always set aside days to rest as your muscles need to recover from all the exertion you put them through.
Reviewed by Dr Tan Ken Jin, who is an orthopaedic surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital. She specializes in ankle and foot sports injuries.
The inspiration for this article has been taken from Health Plus Section, a source of credible health information by Mount Elizabeth Hospitals, Singapore.