The Most Common Injuries in Sports

female runner holding her ankle

Identifying Common Injuries

Football and hockey seasons are upon us, and baseball is wrapping up. With each of these sports and other sports, there are always many common and frequent sports injuries. What are the types of injury in sports and what is the most common sports injury? Are there any really unusual sports injuries, or ones unusual in the way the injury occurred?

Here, we list seven of the most common sports injuries: 

  • Strains: The most common and the most usually-seen sports-related injury. When you play sports, you’re using many different muscles and tendons, and that constant moving of parts makes them susceptible to pulling and stretching of them farther than they were meant to be moved. Some common areas that are strained are the groin, hamstrings, and quads. 
  • Sprains: Common with ligaments, tissue that connects the bones to each other. When ligaments are turned wrong, they pull away from the bone or tear apart. The ankle is the most common and frequent sprain. Other sprains that are popular as well are the elbow, knee, and wrist. One of the most unusual sports injuries regarding a sprain was baseball player Sammy Sosa sneezing and spraining a back ligament. Yes, you can sneeze that hard!
  • Knee Injuries: The knee is a very complicated part of the body. This joint endures a lot of impacts constantly and during the majority of sports, it endures a lot of wear and tear.  Injuries often include sprains and strains, but because the knee is injured so often, it has its own classification. A common knee sports injury is the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), along with cartilage tears, dislocated knees, and fractured knees. 
  • Fractures: Any contact sport or impact sport can leave the human body susceptible to bone fractures, especially the arms, feet, and legs. These are painful sports injuries that can take weeks of being immobile in order for the fracture to heal. Some fractures require surgery, which lengthens the healing time.  Fractures happen from unusual sports injuries too, and not just on the field!  Blake Griffin’s hand was broken when he punched a team employee. Another unusual sports injury was when Geno Smith’s jaw was broken by the fist of a teammate. The injuries aren’t unusual, it’s just how they happened that was an attention-grab for the media. 
  • Tennis Elbow: No, you don’t have to be a tennis player to get tennis elbow. In fact, golfers often suffer from tennis elbow too because they strain the same ligaments over and over. Tennis elbow is the result of overusing muscles in a repetitive motion. 
  • Plantar Fasciitis and Shin Splints: These are two different types of sports injuries but are caused by the same activity: repetition of overusing the feet and legs with poor support. Plantar fasciitis is when a tendon is inflamed in the arch of the foot. Shin splints are a muscle inflammation in the lower leg. 
  • Back Injury and Back Pain: The back and the spine are under constant stress without sports. The stress accumulates and inflames the back muscles and vertebrae, causing disc injuries and lower and upper back pain.  A sudden jarring impact can cause acute back injury – even crossing the street can cause back injury, as happened with Brent Mayne, the MLB catcher. He suffered back spasms after looking both ways as he crossed a street. Talk about unusual sports injuries! 

Can a sports injury cause brain damage?

Absolutely, especially in younger children and teens whose brains aren’t fully developed yet. In fact, brain damage and concussions are in the top 10 sports injuries, and not just in football. It is because of the brain damage and injuries suffered in all sports with the younger children and teens that sports injury prevention is especially important.

A sports-related TBI (traumatic brain injury) is a serious matter and can often lead to permanent paralysis, or even death. A sports injury resulting in a TBI is typically the result of a hard impact or physical contact with either another player or a stationary object. The sports where TBI is most likely to happen are: 

  • Auto Racing
  • Boxing
  • Cycling
  • Equestrian
  • Gridiron Football
  • Field Hockey
  • Ice Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Martial Arts
  • Roller Blading
  • Rugby
  • Skateboarding
  • Skiing 
  • Snowboarding
  • Soccer
  • Wrestling

What are the signs and symptoms of sports injury?

Not every accidental or intentional hit will result in a sports injury. And then there are times that paralysis or death can result from a sports accident or injury like happened with Dale Earnhardt. As a professional race car driver, he had been in accidents with other cars, even hitting the wall in what looked as if it may have had a deadly outcome, but he walked away. The one wall hit he had that looked like he should have walked away from might be one of NASCAR’S most unusual sports injuries on record. 

Other unusual sports injuries that resulted in death would include professional Bull Rider Lane Frost, or the career-ending broken leg in which Lawrence Taylor tackled him. It left Theismann with a fractured fibula and tibia, leading to insufficient bone growth, resulting in one leg being shorter than the other. If not one of the most unusual sports injuries, it is definitely one of the most disturbing seen on national television.

Next to obvious injuries, other indicators that can be used when asking “How do you diagnose a sports injury?” are: 

  • Sudden pain and severity
  • Swelling
  • Can’t put weight on an ankle, foot, leg, or knee
  • A tender arm, elbow, finger, hand, or wrist
  • Inability to move a joint
  • Extreme weakness in an arm or leg
  • A bone or joint out of place

What are the criteria for a sports injury?

The criteria for basic sports injuries or unusual sports injuries are basically the same: using heat and ice. Proper usage of these two is necessary in order to get the maximum benefit. 

  • Ice will decrease the blood flow, lower the tissue temperature, and ease inflammation, pain, and swelling. It should not be used more than 15 minutes at a time every three to four hours for the first 24 to 48 hours.  
  • Heat increases blood flow and tissue temperature while decreasing pain. Heat is recommended before exercising as a warm-up routine. A chronic injury can benefit from heat before any stretching is started, but should not be applied to an acute injury right away. Heat should not be applied to any sports injury that causes redness, swelling, or warmth of the skin. 
woman in sportswear having knee problems

And Last At Bat 

When an athlete (or non-athlete) suffers a sports injury, where to go for a sports injury can depend on the immediate severity. For a broken bone or bleeding that can’t be stopped, go straight to an emergency room or urgent care. Once the injury is contained and supported at the emergency level, you’ll need to follow up with an orthopedic doctor that specializes in sports injuries. Got any more questions about sports injuries? Experiencing unusual sports injuries in Chambersburg, PA for yourself? Reach out to our team at __PHONE__ to start the healing process.