Fall is a special time of year. The kids are back in school, the leaves start to change color, and it’s the kickoff of many sporting seasons! Whether your little one is in football, soccer, volleyball, or baseball, the possibility of injuries is always on the back of your mind. Some injuries can be walked off, and some require immediate medical attention, but distinguishing between the two can be tricky. Three major types of injuries occur in sports: acute injuries, overuse injuries, and medical illnesses or conditions. Each category carries its own severity and depending on the injury; you might need to call a doctor.
Acute injuries occur suddenly, and you don’t see them coming until it’s too late. Some examples of common acute injuries that occur in sports include:
The symptoms are usually very apparent and easy to recognize. Acute injuries are associated with pain in the area of the injury and often comes on almost instantly. Other symptoms of an acute injury include swelling or bruising, muscle spasms, numbness, and restricted joints. The symptoms of an acute injury will vary depending on the injury and its severity.
You should call a doctor immediately if the acute injury is instantly apparent such as a broken bone. You should also seek medical attention if there is joint swelling or locking, or the person is unable to move, stand, or walk. These symptoms could be signs of something serious and seeking medical attention should be your top priority as these aren’t injuries that can be “walked off.”
As the name implies, overuse injuries occur when one motion such as swinging a bat or throwing a football is repeated endlessly. Overuse injuries that are common in sports include:
While discovering an overuse injury isn’t as sudden and apparent as an acute injury, there are still a few overuse symptoms to look out for as they could be indication of a severe injury. If there is any localized joint pain, tightness, mild swelling, or grinding in joints, this could be a symptom of an injury that requires medical attention. With overuse injuries, the symptoms are only noticeable after rigorous activity such as a hard-fought game. Once the condition gets worse, the signs of the injury will become much more prevalent in day-to-day life, and can even begin to disrupt normal activities.
If the localized pain gets worse after each game and starts to interfere with everyday activities, you should seek medical attention. Also, if there is any general swelling, stiffness or weakness that is bothersome, a doctor should take a look at the injury.
This category of sports injuries is not as mechanically damaging as the previous two; however, these injuries can still be severe and sideline a player from the game. Common medical illnesses related to sports include:
Because the conditions in this category vary so much, there is not one set of symptoms to look out for, but instead, a general rule of thumb: if something seems wrong, or the player feels sick, take them out of the game.
You should seek immediate medical attention if you suspect the player has suffered an injury that could be classified as a medical illness. If a player is having trouble playing the game or needs to be sidelined, check with a medical professional before allowing them to get back in the game. The main take away is that if you suspect there is something wrong, it’s best to consult with a doctor. Not all injuries will be as excruciating as a broken leg but can be become huge problems over time if not treated once symptoms appear. Being diligent in your efforts to keep your players safe can be exhausting, but knowing the warning signs ahead of time will help tremendously.