Sports injuries affect all sports people at some point in their life. Sprains, strains, bruises, dislocations, and fractures are all well-known words in the language of sports. Pain is another.
Sports Injuries Defined
Sports injuries can be broadly classified as either traumatic injuries or overuse injuries.
Traumatic injuries account for most injuries in contact sports such as Rugby, Soccer, and American Football because of the dynamic and high collision nature of these sports. These injuries range from bruises and muscle strains, to fractures and head injuries.
A bruise or contusion is damage to small blood vessels which causes bleeding within the tissues. A muscle strain is a small tear of muscle fibres and a ligament sprain is a small tear of ligament tissue. The body’s response to these sports injuries is the same in the initial five day period immediately following the traumatic incident - inflammation.
All of these traumatic injuries cause damage to the cells that make up the soft tissues. The dead and damaged cells release chemicals, which initiate an inflammatory response. Small blood vessels are damaged and opened up, producing bleeding within the tissue. In the body’s normal reaction, a small blood clot is formed in order to stop this bleeding and from this clot special cells (called fibroblasts) begin the healing process by laying down scar tissue.
The inflammatory stage is therefore the first phase of healing. However, too much of an inflammatory response in the early stage can mean that the healing process takes longer and a return to activity is delayed. The sports injury treatments are intended to minimise the inflammatory phase of an injury, so that the overall healing process is accelerated.
Inflammation is characterised by pain, localised swelling, heat, redness and a loss of function. The inflammatory stage typically lasts around 5 days and all treatment during this time is designed to address the cardinal signs of inflammation – pain, swelling, redness, heat and a loss of function.
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