Common Sports Injuries and How an Osteopath can Help

Playing sport, whether at an elite level, socially, and no matter what talent you may have, brings with it the benefit if movement and health for the body and mind. It is a fantastic way to engage in physical activity that is so important for musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and respiratory health, as well as course for mental health!

Sports and exercise though, sometimes present its own challenges for its participants – in the form of sports injuries!

There are many different types of sports injuries that present to us commonly as osteopaths.

We see patients of all ages, both male and female, from high performance elite athletes, to everyday warriors, and people just moving to stay fit and healthy for general exercise.

The type of sports injuries we see can sometimes relate directly to the sport that is being played, or it can be quite a generalized injury that happens to most people who play sport. For example, football players may come in with hamstring complaints and golf players may come in with back or shoulder complaints – but of course these injuries can happen to anyone of any sporting background.

Common sports injuries can be either acute or chronic.  Acute injuries are ones which occur usually due to a trauma – a fall, a knock or even a sprain or strain. If this injury doesn’t heal after approximately 6 weeks and becomes a more long-standing complaint for over 3 months, it is then called a chronic injury and will take longer to heal.

Acute injury may include, but not be limited to a rolled ankle, a sprained wrist, a torn hamstring or calf muscle, or a strained joint in the back or a tendon issue in the elbow or shoulder.

A chronic injury may include bursitis in the hip or shoulder, tendonitis in the knee or shoulder, patellar tracking or ITB syndrome to name just a few.

Each sports injury has its own common presentations – ie, signs and symptoms of what we would expect to see when the patient presents to us.

We will often diagnose the patient in the treatment room, and sometimes refer off for scans such as Xray, CT, ultrasound or MRI if required, as well as refer back to the GP or a specialist if further medical management is required.

For example, a golfer, a footy player, a swimmer or a runner may all present with a pain in their hip. To determine what is going on we will take a full case history, and do a thorough assessment to diagnose the complaint. Treatment will then take into account what the diagnosis actually is.

The hip can cause pain for several reasons in sport –

  • There can be muscle tightness and spasm in the hip, the leg, the back, the knee, the feet…
  • There can be muscle weakness in the pelvic stabilizing muscles causing poor muscular and mechanical loading which in turn leads to pain in structures of the hip and pelvis
  • There can be tendonitis of the gluteal or adductor muscles
  • There can be bursitis of the hip
  • Conditions such as osteitis pubis, and associated muscle spasm and pain may be present
  • Internal hip joint derangement, wear and tear and arthritis can all lead to pain and muscle spasm, instability and poor mechanical loading in the hip and pelvis
  • Referral from lower back into hip causing pain

Here we Melbourne osteopaths usually base our treatment on findings at the hip, pelvis and surrounding areas, as well as appropriate exercises, stretches, return to sport rehabilitation and program will be prescribe. Use of other tools such as foam rollers, massage balls, use of hot/cold packs, dietary and supplement advice as well as ergonomic assessment and help may also be recommended too.

So the correct diagnosis, with the correct treatment and management plan, including rehabilitation exercises are really important in understanding, managing and helping treat sports injuries and to get you back moving, performing and enjoying your sport!!

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