Is The Pain I Am Feeling Due To A Sports Injury?

Do you feel pain in your shins? Does your foot hurt after playing sports? Did you feel dizzy and develop blurry vision after getting hit? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have a sports injury. Sports injuries are those injuries sustained while playing sports such as sprains, pulled muscles, and concussions. Most strains, sprains, and pulled muscles are minor and will heal in time, but sustaining a concussion can be serious.

Concussion

Common Concussion Symptoms

A concussion is when trauma to the head occurs. A concussion is defined as a change in mental status (confusion) that took place with or without a loss of consciousness. Concussions are classified as mild, moderate, and severe. In mild concussions, you did not lose consciousness, you can remember, and you have no blurry vision. In moderate concussions, you did lose consciousness, you cannot remember the hit, and you are not alert but slightly confused. In severe concussions, you have a loss of consciousness over 5 minutes, you have no memory, you have a headache with blurred vision and nausea, and you had a seizure after the hit. Severe type concussions are very dangerous and can cause many problems in the individual throughout the rest of their life. Symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Confusion
  • Amnesia (not remembering the play or the hit)
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Drowsy
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Memory loss
  • Unable to tolerate bright lights
  • Irritability
  • Depression

Who is at Risk for a Concussion?

A concussion is also known as a traumatic head injury or traumatic brain injury. Many people are at risk to develop a concussion with falls being the most common cause in all ages. Infants are at risk for head injuries due to shaken baby syndrome as well as abuse. In children, concussions come from automobile accidents. In teens, concussions develop due to sports injuries. In adults, concussions occur due to a variety of factors including car accidents, falls, and being assaulted. The elderly are also at risk for head injuries, mostly due to falls, but some can be due to caregiver abuse.

What Will My Doctor Ask Me?

Your doctor is going to perform a thorough review with you to determine the extent of your head injury. He/she is going to ask many questions of you and possibly of the person that saw the event occur as you may have lost consciousness. Some of the more common questions you will be asked include:

  • How did the injury occur? Did you lose consciousness?
  • After the injury, did you develop any nausea and vomiting? Headaches? Confusion, drowsiness, or abnormal behavior?
  • Did you have a seizure?
  • Was there any use of drugs or alcohol involved?
  • Did you sustain any neck pain?
  • Were you injured anywhere else?
  • Did you take any medications or try any home remedies after the injury?
  • Have you ever had a prior concussion?

How Do I Treat My Concussion?

Your coach and team doctor will evaluate you on the field at the sporting event if you suffer a hit to the head. They will check your mental status by asking questions that will make you concentrate and use your memory. They will also test your coordination, sensation, and your eyes. If you are not in acute distress, your coach will sit you out and perform testing to determine your response time, motor response, and verbal response. They will also observe how you walk, inspect your head for indentations, and examine your nose and ears for fresh blood.

Tests

Your doctor will order you to undergo a CT scan of your head so he can look at your brain and see if it sustained any real damage. He will observe you and test your memory and response as well.

Treatment

If you have sustained a concussion but do not have any abnormal findings, you can go home. Your family members will be instructed to watch you very carefully for the next forty-eight hours. They will wake you up every 4 hours to make sure that you can be aroused. They will check your eyes, and look for any worsening signs in your condition.

Overuse Injuries

Common Overuse Injury Symptoms

Overuse injuries occur due to improper footwear, malalignment, or poor athletic training or excess sports practice. An overuse injury/sports injury can happen in any extremity or the hips. They are due to repetitive stress and not stretching correctly before exercising. Some of the more common sports injury symptoms include:

  • Achy pain in the shin that is worse with exercise and better with rest
  • Achy knee pain with clicking or popping
  • Knee pain is worse with sitting and activity involving bending of the knee
  • Shooting pain in the calf
  • Swelling
  • Pain with movement
  • Pain with stretching

Who is at Risk for Sports Injuries/Overuse Injuries?

Both males and females who play any sport are at risk for a sports injury. Sports injuries can be due to biological factors such as overtraining, prior injuries, or maturity level as well as physical factors such as equipment, facility hazards, playing surface, and opponent size. Other risk factors that can play into an injury include psychological factors such as stress, beliefs, risk taking, and how the child copes. Lastly, children can be at risk of sports injuries due to coaching quality, rules of the game, and officiating.

What Will My Doctor Ask Me?

Your doctor will ask you questions regarding your sports injury such as:

  • When did the injury occur?
  • How did the injury occur?
  • Have you had prior injuries to this extremity?
  • Where is the pain located? Does the pain wake you up at night?
  • Do your joints hurt?
  • Do you hear any popping or snapping sounds when you walk?
  • What aggravates the pain? What makes it better?
  • Are you taking any medications?

How Do I Treat My Sports Injuries?

The best way to deal with a sports injury is to prevent it. Always stretch before you start to practice and make sure you are hydrated, especially on hot days. If you do develop an injury, make sure to stay off of it. You need to perform the mnemonic RICE which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Make sure you ice the area for twenty minutes at a time to prevent pain and swelling. An ace bandage works well on an extremity to keep the area compressed and stabilized as well as reduces swelling. When you are at home relaxing, make sure to elevate the injured extremity to reduce swelling.

Tests

Your doctor will order an x-ray if he/she believes you have a fracture of the injured area, if you are experiencing swelling of the area, if you suffered a trauma and you are now experiencing pain, or if you have pain that has lasted for more than six weeks.

Treatment

Depending on the injury you sustained, your doctor will recommend you take anti-inflammatory medications such as Motrin or Aleve. He/she will also suggest gentle stretching exercises. If you sustain a serious sports injury, activities such as swimming and biking produce less pain and will help you maintain your conditioning while you are healing.

What Do I Need to Know About Sports Injuries? – Patient Education

  • Athletes that have repeat head injuries can develop permanent brain damage.
  • You need to watch for signs of complications of the concussion over the next two weeks which include: worsening vomiting, severe headaches, inability to walk correctly, or increased drowsiness.
  • RICE the affected extremity
  • Physical therapy is an option for sports injuries that are not healing or have been re-injured. Physical therapy will improve range of motion of the area, improve flexibility, and increase strength of the area

Emergency Warning Signs/When to Follow Up

Call your doctor immediately if any of the following concussion symptoms develop in your child:

  • Vomiting that becomes more frequent and severe
  • Pupils of the eyes that do not react to light or are different sizes
  • Seizures or neck pain
  • Difficulty talking, walking, or seeing straight
  • Worsening headaches

Follow up for sports injuries depends on the severity of the injury and the problem the athlete is experiencing.

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