Most frequently, a sport injury presents as a sprain or strain.
A sprain is an injury (partial tear or total rupture) to a ligament; (the tough fibrous tissue that connects bones to other bone).
A strain is an injury (partial tear or total rupture) to either a muscle or a tendon, (the tissue that connects muscles to bones).
Symptoms of sprain/strain are characteristic of sport injuries. They present with pain, swelling, bruising, decreased ability to move the joint, (if the ligament ruptures a ‘popping’ sound may be heard) and difficulty using the affected extremity.
Special imaging tools, such as x-rays or MRI may be useful to determine bony involvement, i.e. bone fracture, ligament tear, respectively.
A sprain/strain can be categorised in to three degrees:
- 1st degree – mild to moderate pain felt on the affected joint with no tears or displacements
- 2nd degree – moderate to severe pain usually with minor fibrous tear and with, or without displacements
- 3rd degree – severe pain (especially during movements) with bony displacements (surgery is required
Strain/Sprain is usually a result of over stretching the tissue involved for a particular movement.
The most commonly, and often seriously, joints involved are the ankle, the knee (especially anterior cruciate ligament, ACL), the fingers, the wrist, the toes.
The most common risk factor are: muscular fatigue, sedentary lifestyle, lack or poor warming-up is probably the most common cause of sprains in athletes.
Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs, (NSAID’s) may help to reduce pain and inflammation which is usually managed as following:
- 1st phase – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, (taping or braces may be useful in immobilizing the joint)
- 2nd phase – rehabilitation
- 3rd phase – Sport Specific Program