Sports Injuries

More and more people are involved in sports at some level in the UK which has increased the occurrence of sports injuries.

Sprains and strains are a very common type of injury that affects the muscles and ligaments. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue around joints that connect one bone to another and help to keep the bones together and stable.

A sprain occurs when one or more of your ligaments have been stretched, twisted, or torn, usually as a result of excessive force being applied to a joint. The most common locations for a sprain to occur are the knee; which can occur when a person turns quickly during sports or other physical activities, the ankle; which can occur when walking or running on an uneven surface, the wrist; which can become strained when a person falls onto their hand, or the thumb; which can become strained during intense and repetitive physical activity such as playing a racquet sport. Ankle sprain is the most common type of sprain, accounting for an estimated 1-1.5 million visits to accident and emergency (A&E) departments each year in the UK.

A strain occurs when the muscle fibers stretch or tear. Strains can develop as the result of an accident, or during physical or sporting activities, such as running or playing football. The most common types of strains are hamstring strains, gastrocnemius and soleus (muscles of the calf), quadriceps strains (thigh muscles), and lumbar strains (muscles in the lower back).  
Muscle strains are very common injuries that affect those who play a lot of sport. For example, it is estimated that 90% of professional footballers will experience at least one muscle strain during the course of a football season.

ITBS or Runners Knee is one of the leading causes of lateral knee pain in runners. The illiotibial band is a superficial thickening of tissue on the outside of the knee, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee. The band is crucial to stabilizing the knee during running, moving from behind the femur (thigh bone) to the front. The continual friction in this area may cause inflammation and pain.

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the four major ligaments of the knee. An injury to the ACL can be a debilitating musculoskeletal injury to the knee, seen most often in athletes. Non-contact tears and ruptures are the most common causes of ACL injury. ACL injury more commonly causes knee instability than does injury to other knee ligaments. Injuries of the ACL range from mild, such as small tears, to severe when the ligament is completely torn.

Torn ACLs are most often related to high impact sports or when the knee is forced to make sharp changes in movement and during abrupt stops from high speed. These types of injuries are prevalent in skiing and football. Research has shown that women involved in sports are more likely to have ACL injuries than men. ACL tears can also happen in older individuals through slips and falls and are seen mostly in people over 40 due to wear and tear of the ligaments.