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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are the main symptoms or signs of a sports injury?

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    I am a specialist sports physiotherapist with a sub-speciality in adolescents in sport (as awarded bu the Australian College of Physiotherapists in 2007). In addition … View Profile

    There are many signs and symptoms of a sports injury and these vary depending on the type of injury (acute traumatic or overuse), the body region affected (eg shoulder vs ankle) and the pathology involved (eg tendinopathy vs muscle tear). 

    In the acute traumatic situation it is usually fairly clear that you have been injured because it will be a very specific event eg you side-step a player, your knee givesway you hear a loud pop and it really hurts.  Sometimes however, even in the acute traumatic situation you can still be unclear if you have really injured yourself - for example often you give yourself a little scare when you roll your ankle, but then you get back up and play on or you play a contact sport and you expect lots of bumps and bruises so you think nothing of your corked thigh.  In these situations it is best to see what happens over the next few minutes/hours/days, you may notice signs and symptoms such as pain, swelling, bruising, loss of range of movement, weakness/instabilty and/or loss of normal function (eg. you can't walk properly or you can't get the speed you usually have).

    In the case of the overuse injury, the signs and symptoms can be a little more subtle and can include pain, stiffness, tightness, weakness, the need to warm up an area to decrease pain, swelling, inability to perform at your optium, alteration in your technique and so forth.  Sometimes you might not notice these subtle changes but your coach might notice changes in technique, ability to train a drop in performance.  If you keep a training diary (which is highly recommended) you may be able to pick up subtle changes your self.  The most common complaint that people present to sports medicine clinics who have an over use injury is pain, but often people will train/complete through pain until the pain is really affecting they ability to train and perform so it is pain and dysfunction together that usually alerts people that something is wrong.  It is, of course, far better to seek assistance before this stage.

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