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Sports Injuries Treatment

Each year, about one person in every 25 will seek medical help for a "sports" injury, but not all of those injuries are sustained while playing sports. Any repetitive physical activity, even walking, can injure muscles and joints.

People who participate in sports are more likely than others of the same age to have muscle and tendon injuries and bone fractures. This certainly doesn't mean you should avoid sports - the health benefits far outweigh the cost in terms of sports injuries.

There are several common sports injuries.

Shin splints - Shin splints have a number of causes and may occur on the outside or the inside of the shin. With anteriolateral shin splints, pain around the front of the shin starts immediately when your heel strikes the ground awkwardly. In posteromedial shin splints, the pain is felt on the inner part of the shins and is worse when you stand on your toes. If you keep running on a regular basis when you have a shin splint, the pain tends to spread toward the knee. Tests are often required to understand the exact nature and cause of shin splints.

Achilles tendinitis - The Achilles tendon (the tough sinew that attaches the calf muscle to the back of the heel bone) is most likely to be damaged if you participate in running or jumping sports. The injured Achilles tendon feels tender when squeezed between the fingers. Pain is usually at its worst in the morning and improves with walking. Vigorous exercise will increase the pain for a bit, then improve it. However, you should never exercise a damaged Achilles tendon without the supervision of a sport medicine physician or therapist, or until it's healed.

Lumbar strain - The standard weightlifter's injury can also occur in sports that involve sudden twisting of the back, such as golf and baseball. Sudden lower back pain appears with twisting or lifting. It may seem fairly minor for an hour or two, but carrying on the exercise will usually bring a sudden deterioration with extreme pain and back spasms.

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Most sports injuries do not require surgery. However, very severe injuries, such as torn connective tissue or badly broken bones, may require corrective surgery.


Rehabilitation is an important part of treating sports injuries. A rehabilitation programme aims to return the injured body part to normal function by gradually introducing it to movement and exercise.

With most sports injuries it helps to mobilise (move) the injured part as soon as possible to help speed up the healing process. Gentle exercises should improve the area’s range of motion. As movement becomes easier and pain decreases, stretching and strengthening exercises can be introduced.

During the rehabilitation process, do not attempt to do too much too quickly. Start by doing frequent repetitions of a few simple exercises before gradually increasing the amount you do. Avoid painful activities and do not return to your sport until you have no pain and full strength and flexibility have returned to the injured area. A health care professional, such as a physiotherapist or sports injury specialist, can help you devise a suitable rehabilitation programme and advise you about which exercises you should do and the number of repetitions.

Other treatments

A number of other treatments may help if you have a sports injury.
  • Physiotherapy: a range of treatments, including manipulation, which improve the range of motion and return the functioning of injured areas to normal.
  • Massage: using the hands to apply pressure to the affected area and encourage blood to flow to the site of the injury to help the healing process.
  • Ultrasound: high-frequency soundwaves penetrate deep into the muscle to stimulate blood flow and speed up recovery.
  • Heat treatment (thermotherapy): use of hot compresses, heat pads and heat lamps to reduce pain and promote blood flow to the injured area. Heat treatment should not be used during the first 48 hours after injury.
  • Cold treatment (cryotherapy): use of ice packs to numb the affected area and reduce inflammation (swelling). Cold treatment is usually only used during the first 48 hours following an injury.
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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
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