Sports injuries

Injuries can be a major issue for people participating in sports and exercise, contact sports such as football, rugby basketball and netball can result in injury to the knee, shoulder, ankle or other body parts though tackles and direct blows and twisting injury. The most common contact sports injuries are ankle ligament injuries, knee injuries including anterior cruciate and meniscal injuries. Other common injuries are hamstrings tears and shoulder dislocation.

Non contact sports can also lead to injuries. Sports that involve a lot of twisting and turning such as tennis, badminton, gymnastics and volley ball can also result in ankle ligament injuries and significant knee injuries.

Running injuries and pain from running is common and can be severe enough to stop people from running. Pain is often caused from a change in footwear, intensity (pace or distance) or frequency of running. Maintaining a balance between endurance exercise and strength training helps to prevent overuse injuries. Often an period of targeted strengthening with a specialist physiotherapist is necessary to overcome these conditions. The common conditions seen in runners are heel pain from Achilles tendinopathy, pain at the front of the knee from patella tendinopathy or anterior knee pain and pain in the lower leg. More information on running problems can be found here.

Tendinopathy can usually be treated with strengthening and targeted physiotherapy over the course of around 6 to 12 weeks but occasionally advanced treatments such as shock wave treatment are needed. Rarely surgery is required to cure the problem but this is usually reserved for cases that have failed to respond to any other treatments.

Anterior knee pain is common in runners and people who participate in jumping sports. Normally strengthening exercise to the thigh muscles and or hip muscles with targeted physiotherapy will improve anterior knee pain but occasionally this may be due to a small area of wear in the knee cap bearing surface or a irritating fold of tissue such as a plica which require key hole surgery to correct.

Medial plica

Stress fracture of tibia

Pain in the lower leg felt during or after exercise can be due to several different causes. The most common is DOMS which is caused by strenuous activity and is a normal response to increased activity and training. Other more serious causes of lower leg pain are shin splints, exertional compartment syndrome and stress fracture.

Shin splints usually come on after a change in training regime and can be treated with physiotherapy, strengthening and occasionally a change in footwear.

Exertional compartment syndrome is caused by swelling of the muscle within its tight fascia on activity, it can be very disabling and may require a surgical release of the fascia to cure.

Stress fractures are a serious complication of running and normally require a period of rest, occasionally protected weight bearing and rarely surgical stabilisation. A specialist sports physio or sports surgeon/medic can normally make the diagnosis between these conditions on close questioning, examination and using diagnostic tests such as x-rays, bone scans and pressure readings.