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The Difference Between Acute And Chronic Sports Injuries

Dr. Chiam Tut Fu

Medical Director, Consultant Sports Medicine Physician at Thomson Wellth Clinic

MBBS (Singapore), MSS (Sports Medicine), MMed (Occupational Medicine), GD (Occupational Medicine)

Dr. Chiam Tut Fu specialises in the management of musculoskeletal pain due to sports injuries or age-related degenerative and orthopaedic conditions and myofascial causes like trigger points. He also has a special interest in weight management and smoking cessation.

Table of Contents

Sports injuries are extremely common and can occur in people of all ages who are active. Sometimes, even the simplest everyday actions such as running and jumping can result in a sports injury.

According to AsiaOne, 41.4% of these common sports injuries are strains and sprains while 20% belong to fractures and 19% fall under cuts and bruises. While cuts and bruises are easier to treat, strains, sprains and fractures will require prompt medical attention to prevent further damage and to help you get back to being active.

But first, it is also important to understand the difference between acute and chronic sports injuries so you know how to prevent them and the next steps to take when you sustain an injury.

Read on to find out more.

Acute Sports Injuries

An acute sports injury is one that occurs suddenly and is often caused by a fall or trauma to the affected area. For instance, colliding with a fellow player during sports or overstretching while trying to score a goal can result in acute sports injuries like a fracture or muscle tear.

Chronic Sports Injuries

On the other hand, a chronic sports injury is usually a result of repetitive motions that cause overuse in your muscles, tendons, joints or bones. Improper technique, progressing too quickly and overdoing motions during sports like swimming, running and cycling can all contribute to chronic sports injuries.

How to Spot the Difference Between Acute and Chronic Sports Injuries

Body builder back pain

One of the most obvious signs of an acute sports injury is severe pain that comes suddenly, whereas chronic injuries are accompanied by dull aches or pain when performing an activity.

Some examples of acute sports injuries include knee injuries like ACL tears, muscle sprains and strains, a dislocated shoulder and fractures. Symptoms like swelling, tenderness and the inability to put weight on the affected limb are common.

Chronic sports injuries including tennis elbow, trigger finger and runner’s knee tend to be less noticeable from the get-go. Hence, it is important to pay attention to symptoms and seek treatment early at a sports injury clinic in Singapore.

Preventing Acute and Chronic Sports Injuries

  • Prepare your body for exercise

    Warm up, stretch and cool down to condition your muscles, joints and bones and prepare them for exercise. Improving blood flow to your muscles also makes them less likely to tear or twist in a harmful way.

  • Take sufficient breaks

    Resting in between exercises and games allows your body to recuperate and prevent injuries that occur as a result of overuse.

  • Wear the right gear

    Knee guards and ankle braces, for example, have been designed for a reason – to protect your body from injuries. Therefore, wearing the right gear during exercises can help to reduce the chances of injuries, especially when participating in high-impact sports.

  • Use the right techniques

    Different types of exercises and sports require different techniques and doing them wrongly can put you at risk of developing a chronic sports injury. For instance, swimmers who use the wrong techniques may notice shoulder pain that can turn into a rotator cuff tear over time.

Treatments for Acute and Chronic Sports Injuries

Cold and hot ice pack treated on knee

Before you can seek treatment at a sports injury clinic, utilising the RICE method to manage acute sports injuries may be helpful. Rest the injured body part, followed by applying ice to soothe inflammation and prevent swelling. Then, compress the injured area with a bandage and elevate the injured body part above heart level to minimise any swelling.

Chronic sports injuries that result in knee pain and backaches are also treatable and it is recommended that you visit a sports injury clinic early for an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment.

Here at Thomson Wellth Clinic, we offer three effective sports injury treatments that do not require you to undergo surgery. As the treatment needed for each condition differs according to the nature of the injury, we recommend booking a consultation with our sports injury specialist to find out more.

Get in touch with us today!

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