Some of the most common Olympic injuries are overuse injuries. Overuse injuries are any injury in the joint or muscle. This includes stress fractures, tendinitis, and more which are all caused by repetitive trauma. Usually, overuse injuries are caused by technique errors or training errors. To prevent overuse injuries, athletes should use proper form and gear when training or performing. They should also pace themselves when training, and gradually increase their activity levels. To overcome overuse injuries, most doctors suggest taking a break from the activity and rest. This rest allows the body to heal and return to its usual strength, flexibility, and motion.
Concussions are brain injuries and usually occur after there is an impact on the athlete's head. Concussions may lead athletes to become unconscious. Certain impact sports such as boxing and football have an increased risk of getting concussions. Some symptoms athletes may experience include confusion, dizziness, memory problems, headache, nausea, double vision, balance problems, and sensitivity to light. These symptoms can appear immediately or may take hours or even days and weeks to develop. Athletes should seek medical attention from professionals to decide how to proceed. They will advise depending on the situation.
Fractures usually consist of a break in a bone and are very common in Olympic athletes. If this break in the bone potentially punctures the skin, it is considered a compound or open fracture. Some symptoms of a fracture include swelling, bruising, numbness, tenderness, intense pain, deformity, and problems with moving a limb. Athletes should seek immediate medical attention. The best way to tell if the bone is broken or not is to get an x-ray. They might need to wear a splint or cast, and even sometimes the athletes may need surgery. If surgery is required, doctors may put in pins, plates, or screws to help keep the bone in place.
Sprains happen when there is tearing or stretching in the ligaments. Ligaments are the bands of fibrous tissues that help connect two bones at the joints. Some common sprains during the Olympics include ligament ruptures, dislocation, and subluxation. Some symptoms of sprains include pain, bruising, swelling, and limited ability to move that joint. Forms of initial treatment include rest, icing the area, compression, and elevation. Although mild sprains may be treated at home, athletes should go see a doctor if they have pain directly over the bones on that injured joint or feel numbness, or can not bear or move weight on that joint.
Contusions occur when an injured blood vessel or capillary leaks blood into the surrounding area. Contusions can affect both the soft tissue and bones. Contusions on the bones look like discolored spots and may develop a bruise on the bone. Some symptoms of a bone contusion include tenderness, stiffness, swelling, and troubling bending the affected area. Bone bruises may go away on their own depending on the severity of the injury. If necessary, doctors may run an MRI scan.
Contusions on the skin tissue or muscles are usually referred to as bruises. Some characteristics include discolored skin, pain increases when pressure is applied, and sometimes a small bump over the affected area. These can heal by themselves but athletes may rest, ice, compress, and elevate the area.
Contact with stationary objects are very common during the Olympics. This includes being in contact with another athlete, the ground, or even an object. Contact with stationary objects can lead to injuries to all parts of the body including the head, leg, arms, and more. There is no fool-proof way to avoid this as it can take place when the athletes are performing, especially during team sports events. Athletes should seek immediate medical assistance as the severity of the injury is often unknown right away.
Tendon injuries are commonly from the result of overusing them, especially for Olympic athletes who are constantly training. The repetitive motions are more likely to cause damage to a tendon. Some symptoms of tendon injuries include stiffness, pain, and loss of strength in the area. Most tendon injuries may be treated at home by resting, icing the area with a cold pack, taking anti-inflammatory drugs, and partaking in gentle stretches and exercises. If the injury does not get better and the symptoms are still severe, doctors should be consulted as they may suggest an MRI scan or x-ray.
Leg injuries are highly common and can be in the form of fractures, sprains, strains, or dislocations. Fractures are cracks in the bones and some symptoms include pain, swelling bruising, and the leg bending at odd angles. To treat this, athletes should visit doctors so they can perform an x-ray and determine how to best treat it. Sprains are when there's a twist or bend which causes a stretch or tear in the ligament. Some symptoms include pain, bruising, muscle tightness, and swelling. To help treat it, athletes should practice the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compress, and elevate). Strains are when a tear or stretch occurs in the muscles or tendons. They can be treated similarly to a sprain. Lastly, dislocation occurs when the bones are knocked out of the joint, and athletes should seek immediate medical assistance if it occurs.
Elbow injuries may occur especially in the form of elbow tendinitis, which is inflammation of the tendons that attach the bones and muscles. Some other forms of elbow injuries include fractures, sprains, strains, and dislocations. To treat milder forms of elbow injuries, athletes may follow the RICE protocol as that can help the injury get better at home. If conditions do not seem to get better, they should visit a medical professional to receive advice on how to continue.
Muscle strains, tears, and pulls refer to the damage to a specific muscle or the attaching tendons. They can result from immense pressure put on these muscles. Muscle tears can also potentially damage small blood vessels which cause bruising, local bleeding, and pain. Some symptoms of muscle strains include pain at rest, weakness of the muscle, bruising, swelling, redness, and inability to use the muscle. If the strain is not severe enough, athletes can apply ice packs and stretch the muscle at home. They may also take anti-inflammatory drugs to help reduce their pain. If the muscle injury does not heal or the athlete cannot walk, they should seek medical assistance.