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Dealing with Sports Injuries

Prevention First

Worried about sports injuries? Don't sweat it. Think of avoiding injury as just another part of playing by the rules — only this rulebook is the one that keeps you from getting hurt. That's because the best way to deal with sports injuries is to prevent them. Prevention includes knowing the rules of the game you're playing, using the proper equipment, and playing it safe.

But you've practiced with your team, played it safe on the field, and still sustained an injury. Don't worry, it's not the end of the world — just the beginning of a healing process. Read on to find out what this process is and how you can deal with a sports injury.

What Are Sports Injuries?

Sports injuries are injuries that typically occur while participating in organized sports, competitions, training sessions, or organized fitness activities. These injuries may occur in teens for a variety of reasons, including improper training, lack of appropriate footwear or safety equipment, and rapid growth during puberty.

There are two general types. The first type is an acute traumatic injury. Acute traumatic injuries usually involve a single blow from a single application of force — like getting a cross-body block in football.

Acute traumatic injuries include:

  • a fracture — a crack, break, or shattering of a bone
  • a bruise, known medically as a contusion — caused by a direct blow, which may cause swelling and bleeding in muscles and other body tissues
  • a strain — a stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon, the tough and narrow end of a muscle that connects it to a bone
  • a sprain — a stretch or tear of a ligament, the tissue that supports and strengthens joints by connecting bones and cartilage
  • an abrasion — a scrape
  • a laceration — a cut in the skin that is usually deep enough to require stitches

The second type of sports injury is an overuse or chronic injury. Chronic injuries are those that happen over a period of time. Chronic injuries are usually the result of repetitive training, such as running, overhand throwing, or serving a ball in tennis.

These include:

  • stress fractures — tiny cracks in the bone's surface often caused by repetitive overloading (such as in the feet of a basketball player who is continuously jumping on the court)
  • tendinitis — inflammation of the tendon caused by repetitive stretching
  • epiphysitis or apophysitis — growth plate overload injuries such as Osgood-schlatter disease.

Often overuse injuries seem less important than acute injuries. You may be tempted to ignore that aching in your wrist or that soreness in your knees, but always remember that just because an injury isn't dramatic doesn't mean it's unimportant or will go away on its own. If left untreated, a chronic injury will probably get worse over time.

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