Musculoskeletal/Sports Injuries

Injuries commonly occur in physical sports. That’s why, if you are an athlete, it is smart to know the signs and symptoms of sports injuries.

More than eight million Americans are injured as a result of sports, exercise, and other types of physical activity each year. Roughly 30% of injuries among children occur while participating in sports. Approximately 42% of cases occur in the lower body and 30% of them in the upper extremities. Those who suffer a sports-related injury should promptly seek medical attention.


The symptoms of a sports injury can vary depending on the type of injury. The most common injuries people experience due to sports are strains and sprains. The following symptoms are common signs of a sports-related injury.

    • Joint inflammation
    • Tenderness
    • Swelling
    • Bruising
    • Pain in a specific muscle or around a joint
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Which Sports Cause the Most Injuries?

Sports injuries most commonly occur during sports that require or involve a lot of movement and bodily contact. According to surveys, these sports are most prone to cause injury.

  • Basketball
  • Baseball and softball
  • Football
  • Ice hockey
  • Bicycling
  • Roller skating
  • Skateboarding
  • Skiing or snowboarding
  • Soccer


Many athletes experience sports injury. However, there are factors that increase the risk for injury. Some of the main causes of sports injuries include over training, impact, overuse, poor technique and improper warm-up.

Overtraining increases an athlete’s risk for sports injury. Insufficient rest coupled with high intensity training can strain the muscles and cause injury. In addition, overuse can also cause a strain. Consistently repeating the same action using the same muscle, joint or tissue lead to injury as well. A few common overuse injuries are patellar tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, impingement syndrome, golfer’s knee and tennis elbow.

Players are often injured participating in high impact sports such as boxing, rugby and football. A quick direction change, twisting and slamming into the ground or another person can damage your joints, tissues and muscles. Common impact injuries include dislocated joints, tendon and ligament damage, spinal injury, muscle pain, bruises and cuts.

Failure to warm up before a game or practice may result in strained muscles or other minor injuries. Warming up is necessary to prepare the joints and muscles for the activities ahead. Participating in physical activity or sports while using bad form or poor technique can also increase your risk for sports-related injuries.

Common Types of Sports Injuries

Golfers Elbow

Pain and inflammation in the elbow may be the result of medial epicondylitis, which is more commonly known as “golfers elbow.” Pain from golfers elbow is typically located inside the elbow and can extend into the forearm. Although they are both related to tendinitis, this is a separate condition from “tennis elbow.” Golfers elbow is not exclusively an injury related to golf. It sometimes appears among baseball players and bowlers. 

Numbness and tingling that extends as far as the hand or wrist is common with golfers elbow. This condition is typically caused by repetitive motions that create stress. The key to recovery is rest. Many individuals benefit from wearing a brace. Surgery is rarely needed and is most common among those who do not respond to several months of treatment.  

Tennis Elbow

When swollen tendons in the arm cause pain in the outer elbow, the problem is often “tennis elbow.” It most commonly occurs among those who perform repetitive actions that involve gripping and twisting. Those with moderate to severe tennis elbow may require physical therapy. This may include exercises that strengthen and increase the flexibility of the forearm muscles. 

Burner or Stinger

Minor injuries that occur in the neck and shoulders are called “burners” or “stingers.” This is due to a sudden stinging or burning pain that occurs and extends down the arms. Those suffering from a burner may initially fear that they have a serious neck-related injury.

This condition is most commonly seen in athletes who play contact sports such as football or wrestling. Burners are often the result of bruising or stretching within the nerves. The three most common ways that they occur include:

  • Pressure or force that pushes the shoulder and the head in opposite directions at the same time
  • The head suddenly swings in one direction and pinches the nerves
  • A blow directly to the collarbone 
Hamstring Injuries

The hamstring muscles are located on the back of the thigh. Hamstring injuries tend to occur among those participating in sports that involve running with sudden stops such as football, soccer, and basketball. After a hamstring injury occurs, the individual will likely feel sharp pain in the muscles and may feel sensations including “tearing” or “popping.” 

Less severe hamstring injuries are typically treated with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers. If you are having difficulty walking, visit a doctor immediately.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)

The ACL and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) are bands of tissue located within the knee. The ligaments are used to link the femur and tibia together. More than 250,000 Americans suffer from ACL and PCL injuries each year. The ACL and PCL are critical for stabilizing the knee and can require surgery. 


A concussion is a brain injury that results from forceful impact to the head or body. They occur when the brain is moved or shaken within the skull. Concussions are common in sports such as hockey, football, and soccer. Concussions are a common car crash injury as well.

Those who suspect they have a concussion should promptly seek medical attention. Many researchers believe that people who suffer multiple concussions are at significant risk for long-term brain damage. Some of the signs of a concussion include dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, and memory loss.

Shin Splints

The tibia is a bone located in the shins that can become inflamed. Shin splints are a type of “overuse injury” that is common among runners. The recovery process is aided by rest, ice, stretching, and anti-inflammatory medications.

Groin Strain

A groin strain occurs when the muscles located at the top of the thighs are torn. Groin strains may cause significant pain when raising the knee or moving the legs. It is best to avoid strenuous activity for several weeks to recover. Physical therapy is often effective in regaining a full range of motion. 

Rotator Cuff

The shoulder contains critical muscles and ligaments that gradually weaken as we age. They can become damaged when overused or from a traumatic event. The rotator cuff muscles are largely used to stabilize the movement of the shoulder. The shoulder contains a “ball-socket” joint that allows the arm to move properly. 

Damage to this region is often diagnosed through imaging tests such as x-rays. Some treatment options include steroid injections, physical therapy and surgery.


Many athletes involved in cycling or tennis experience sciatica. It can be caused by damage to a disc or the nerves in the back. Sciatica is known for pain and numbness in the back that also runs through the legs. Many describe the pain as radiating. 


The specific treatment for a sports injury depends on the affected part of the body and the severity of the injury. However, there are some treatments that can aid in the healing and recovery process for many injuries. They include the following:

  • Rest and reduce physical activity. This helps reduce the pain and muscle swelling and promote faster recovery.
  • Protect the injured part of the body, for instance, with a support.
  • Apply an ice pack to the injured area.
  • Use elastic compression bandages for the swelling.
  • Elevate the injured part of the body to reduce swelling.
  • Take painkillers to reduce inflammation and pain.

If your injury is severe, you may need certain procedures and treatments to heal properly. You may need surgery, an injection or physiotherapy.

The RICE Method

A simple way to remember the best practices for treating injuries is the “RICE” method. This abbreviation stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. When you are injured, your body needs time to properly recover. Elevating the injured area, applying ice, using compression and resting can aid in the recovery process.

Sports Injury Professionals

Various medical and rehabilitation specialists treat sports-related injuries. Those who require surgical treatment may receive care from an orthopedic surgeon. One type of physician that may be involved is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist (physiatrist). Many physicians also specialize in the realm of sports medicine. They may be board-certified in emergency medicine, internal medicine or physical medicine and rehabilitation and have completed additional training in sports medicine. 

Many of those with significant sprains and strains may undergo a therapy regimen. These professionals may include physical or occupational therapists, athletic trainers, and others. Others may be involved in conducting x-rays or other diagnostic imaging such as radiology technicians. 

Resuming Activity

Those who have moderate to severe injuries that are returning to competitive athletic activity should confirm the following:

  • You should not be experiencing pain or weakness and should have regained proper range of motion.
  • Imaging tests such as MRIs and x-rays should confirm that there are no signs of damage.
  • Those who have not competed for a significant length of time should be properly reconditioned.
  • The participant should recognize improvements in technique and/or equipment that can be employed to prevent future injuries.
  • Confirm with your doctor that you can resume physical activity.

Medical Provider for Sports-Related Injuries in Arizona

Those who have suffered a sports injury should seek treatment from a provider that specifically focuses on this area of medical practice. At the Arizona Pain and Spine Institute, we specialize in the comprehensive treatment of pain. Contact our office today at (480) 986-7246 for an appointment. 

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The specific treatments for sports injury depend on the affected part of the body and the severity of the injury. However, there are basic and general treatments that help in the healing and recovery process. They include the following:

  • Resting and reducing physical activity. This helps reduce the pain and muscle swelling and promote faster recovery.
  • Protecting the injured part of the body, for instance, with a support.
  • Applying an ice pack on the injured area.
  • Using elastic compression bandages for the swelling.
  • Elevating the injured part of the body to reduce swelling.
  • Taking painkillers such as paracetamol and meds for the inflammation.

If the injury is severe, you may need to undergo certain procedures and treatments. Usually, the sports injury doctor will require you to undergo a specific surgery, injection or physiotherapy.

Injuries can cause pain and other symptoms. When it comes to pain, let AZ Pain and Spine handle. We offer pain management solutions for various kinds of sports-related injuries.

Make your recovery from sports injury faster and more efficient with help from specialists and professionals. Contact Arizona Pain and Spine Institute today to schedule an appointment.