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Anyone who loves sports knows that the games aren’t always safe. As much as I would love to tout only the benefits of sports, there are also many risks associated with sports. Today, we’ll take a look at some common sport-related injuries, their treatment and long-term effects, and ways you can protect yourself or your child while playing.

Concussion

A concussion is an injury to the brain caused by an object hitting the head with force. One concussion may be easy to recover from, but many athletes feel pressured to return to their team before they are physically able. In fact, this is a recurring trend among athletes with any injury. However, concussions are perhaps one of the worst injuries to have, because of the long-term consequences. If an athlete continues to get concussions, they may suffer from impaired motor skills, memory problems, and depression, amongst other symptoms.

If you or someone you know plays sports (particularly, but not exclusively, contact sports), make sure they are educated about the effects of a concussion first. Encourage them to come forward and seek medical help if they believe they have a concussion. Help them adapt to their new lifestyle. And finally, before anyone even gets a concussion, make sure they have proper head protection or at least stay mindful about what is happening around them.

ACL Tear

The ACL is one of the major muscles supporting the knee and leg, so any athlete who tears this muscle will know fairly quickly. Athletes who often pivot incorrectly are at a higher risk of tearing their ACL. Once the ACL is torn, it will become increasingly difficult to walk normally and turn corners. It is crucial that anyone with a torn ACL see a doctor to determine the severity of the tear.

For people with small tears and strains, bed rest and ice are the treatment. A severe tear, however, may require ACL repairment surgery. It also increases the risk for arthritis, although surgery may offset some of the risk. Furthermore, many cases also require extensive physical therapy for several weeks. To avoid tearing the ACL, athletes should stay present and aware at all times. It can also be helpful to practice correct turns to promote muscle memory. Unfortunately, not much else can be done to prevent a torn ACL, as it is an internal injury.

Tennis Elbow

Any athlete who has to grip an object to play is at risk for tennis elbow. In fact, this injury can happen to anyone who has to grip objects frequently. The repetitive action was once said to inflame muscles in the arm, but doctors are now discovering that may not be the case. However, it is known that tennis elbow causes high levels of pain while performing any kind of motion with the arm, wrist, or hand. This, of course, makes it impossible to play sports, as well as perform many other menial tasks.

Once someone has tennis elbow, they are typically told not to use their arm and possibly to ice it. Physiotherapy is common as well, and very severe cases may include surgery. To avoid this injury, doctors suggest strengthening the forearms. People with weaker forearms are more likely to become injured in this way, as their muscles can’t handle the motion. The only other way to prevent it is to avoid repetitive gripping and twisting motions with the arms. It is important to ensure that anyone experiencing these symptoms consult a doctor and take a break from the activity that caused them.

Sports are fun and a great way to stay in shape. However, there is a scary side to sports that comes in the form of the many injuries they produce. Particularly for children or people past their prime, it is important to stay cognizant of your surroundings and the risks you are taking by playing this sport. If you take enough precautions, you will increase your chance of staying safe.