Here are basically two types of injuries: Acute injuries and Chronic Injury (overuse injuries). Acute injuries are usually the result of a single, traumatic event (micro-trauma). Common examples include wrist fractures, ankle sprains, shoulder dislocations, and hamstring muscle strain. Chronic Injury is more subtle and usually, occur over time. They are the result of repetitive micro-trauma to the tendons, bones, and joints. Common examples include tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), swimmer’s shoulder (rotator cuff tendinitis and impingement), Little League elbow, runner’s knee, jumper’s knee (infrapatellar tendinitis), Achilles tendinitis and shin splints. In most sports and activities, overuse injuries are the most common and the most challenging to diagnose and treat.
Acute injuries present themselves suddenly and are typically linked with a trauma; for example, tearing a muscle or bruising. Acute injuries can also appear after players crash into one another and take a fall.
Acute injuries are known more commonly as sprains and strains.
A sprain is an injury to a ligament connecting bones – usually caused by overstretching an ankle, knee or wrist.
A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon – commonly due to overstretching and tearing the muscle or tendon.
To tackle acute injuries, the body will utilize inflammation around the problem area to repair the damaged tissues. This results in most of the following symptoms appearing around two weeks after the injury has occurred.
Signs of an acute injury include:
– Sudden, severe pain
– Inability to place weight on a lower limb
– Extreme tenderness in an upper limb
– Inability to move a joint through full range of motion
– Extreme limb weakness
– Visible dislocation/break of a bone
Acute Injury Treatment
PRICE – Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation remains one of the most recommended approaches for the management of an acute injury. The aim is to minimize hemorrhage, swelling, inflammation, cellular metabolism, and pain, to provide the optimum conditions for healing to take place.
Protection – protect the injured area from further injury – using a support bandage if appropriate.
Rest – stop the activity that caused the injury and rest the injured joint or muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injury. Rest helps to begin the healing process as your body works to heal it. The injured part of your body will be weak and vulnerable, therefore, it is imperative to give your body a chance to do its job!
Ice – for the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, apply cooling bandages to improve the healing process. Cooling therapy is usually most effective in the first two days after the injury has been sustained, therefore, highlighting the importance of having Physicool products at the ready! Cooling products work by relieving the pain in the problem area and reducing the swelling.
Compression – compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further. Compression helps to prevent the build-up of fluid in the affected area; just remember, to apply the bandages firmly around the injury but not too tightly that it would be uncomfortable and prevent the normal and necessary blood flow to the area.
Elevation – keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling. Try and relax, as well as keep the injury elevated above the level of your heart. This helps to minimize the swelling as it will encourage the fluid to drain away from the problem area. If raising the injured area above your heart causes difficulties, try to keep it around the same level to help encourage the same process.
A chronic injury commonly results from overusing one body area or from a long-standing condition. These types of injuries are common in many endurance sports such as cycling, running and swimming, but can even present themselves as spending too long on a computer. Because of their nature, they are sometimes referred to as overuse injuries because they occur in body parts that are used a lot whilst playing a sport or by exercising for an extended period of time.
Common chronic injuries include arthritis, tendonitis, tennis elbow, repetitive strain injury (RSI) and runner’s knee. These injuries can be linked to incorrect training techniques, pushing your body too fast or even by over-extending your body in a certain motion during a sporting activity.
Signs of a chronic injury include:
– Tenderness to a limb
– Long-lasting pain
Some injuries require prompt medical treatment, while others can be self-treated. You should seek advice from a health professional if:
– The injury causes severe pain, swelling, or numbness
– You can’t tolerate weight on the area
– The pain or dull ache of an old injury is accompanied by increased swelling or joint abnormality or instability
Chronic Injury Treatment
Chronic injuries happen more frequently than acute injuries in almost every sport; however, because chronic injuries are not as immobilizing and sudden as acute ones, they are often overlooked by the individual.
If you think you may be suffering from a chronic injury, it is crucial that you seek the advice of a healthcare professional, as delays in treatment can lead to a more serious injury. This should particularly be the case if you are suffering from swelling, bruising, discoloration or pain.
Management of chronic injuries include the Rest and Ice; however, many chronic injuries will need the use of medication and physical therapy to be resolved. Always seek the advice of trained medical practitioners.
When it comes to chronic injuries, the most important part of managing a chronic injury is preventing its chances of recurrence. Chronic (i.e. overuse injuries) are often the result of muscle fatigue. During this time, the muscle will tighten and can be subject to damage to the structure, with spasms and shortening in the muscle itself, leaving the muscle weak and susceptible to another injury.
To avoid recurrence of a chronic injury, ensure you wear the right gear and follow warm-up and cool-down procedures both before and after the exercise.