Serie English for PTA: Sports Injuries

© Halfpoint / Getty Images / iStoc


von Jane Funke und Hannelore Gießen

Exercising is good but sometimes injury can stop one doing sports. Accidents, bad training habits, or poor gear are often the cause. Some people get hurt because they are not in shape.


S prains and strains are the most common injuries. A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament , a tissue that connects bones at a joint. Falling, twisting, or getting hit can all cause a sprain. Ankle and wrist sprains are frequent. They can be mild or severe, depending on how the ligament is damaged, whether it is stretched or torn. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and being unable to move the joint.

Muscles and Ligaments

A sprain is injury to a ligament while a strain refers to a muscular injury. A strain occurs when you pull or tear muscle tissue by overstretching it. Mild strains can be caused by repetitive motion. Typically, acute strains happen in a single movement. In sports, acute strains are most likely to occur when you are running, jumping or lifting, or also when you change directionquick- ly. It is more common to strain a muscle in cold weather. Symptoms are sudden pain followed by immediate limited range of motion to the affected area. In severe cases, you may also see bruising and swelling.

Bruises and Swelling

A contusion, commonly known as a bruise, is a type of haematoma in which capillaries and sometimes venules are damaged. This is a common occurrence during sports‘ activities. Blood then seeps into the surrounding interstitial tissues. If bruises do not blanch when pressed, capillaries, subcutaneous tissue, muscle or bone may be involved. Bruises should not be confused with other similar-looking lesions. Certain blood disorders, such as petechiae found especially in the elderly, will produce multiple bruises without any external cause of injury .

First Aid: RICE

Treatment often begins with the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) in order to relieve pain, re- duce swelling and to speed up healing.

  • The injured area should no longer be used as complete rest for one or two days will make a big difference to over- all recovery. It could even be that the affected area will need to rest for a longer period of time. Damage to legs, knees, or ankles may involve the use of crutches so that no weight is put onto the injured body part.
  • Applying ice to the injury will help reduce pain and swelling. Ice should be placed on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes every four hours. Crushed ice is best for ice packs because it can be manipulated more easily to cover the injury. It should not, however, be placed directly onto the skin.
  • Applying pressure to the injury will also help with swelling and provide additional support. An elastic medical-grade bandage works best. The bandage should be tightly wrapped but not so tight that it cuts off circulation to the area.
  • Raising the affected area is also beneficial. Firstly, it will ensure that the injury is being properly rested. Secondly, it will help reduce swelling. The correct way to elevate is to make sure that the injured area is in a higher position than the heart.

Further Diagnosis and Treatment

Other possible treatment includes administering pain relievers , keeping the injured area still, rehabilitation, and in some cases surgery.

If an injury causes extreme swelling, bruising, or an obvious deformity, a doctor should be contacted. Bruising may get worse in the days following the injury. If, however, pain is still severe or if neither swelling nor pain have improved within a few days, consultation with a doctor will be necessary.

















Prellung, Bluterguss


Venole, kleine Vene

to seep


to blanch

hier: weiß werden

petechiae pl.

Petechien, punktförmige Hautblutung



to wrap


pain reliever




ruptured cruciate ligament



hier: dumpf









PTA: Good afternoon, are you being served?

Customer: No, not yet. I’d like some advice before making a purchase .

How can I help?

Well, my husband is a hobby footballer and in the last few years he’s had to have surgery on both his knees.

What kind of surgery?

To repair meniscus and ruptured cruciate ligaments .

I see.

That’s not the problem though. It’s my fifteen year old son. He’s taken up football too and I’d like to avoid the same thing happening. He’s already been injured a few times and I’m never sure what to do. Some say heat is good and others insist on ice. I’ve heard that applying the wrong one can delay recovery. Can you tell me what’s best?

The basic rule is ice for acute injuries and heat for chronic ones.

How do I tell the difference?

An acute injury is one that has happened within the last forty-eight to seventy-two hours, probably due to collision or a fall. There is usually severe pain, redness and swelling. The skin may feel warm too. Chronic injuries develop over a longer period of time. The pain is often dull and it can come and go. These injuries result from overuse or from an acute injury that hasn’t healed properly.

Okay and you say ice is only used for a new injury?

For injuries where there is swelling. Ice is a vasoconstrictor. It causes the blood vessels to close and limits internal bleeding. The sooner it is applied, the more likely there will be a speedy recovery. It can also be used for chronic injury but only after activity, never before. Never use heat if there are signs of inflammation. It will only make matters worse.

So when should I use heat?

Heat is a vasodilator, so it opens the blood vessels and stimulates the flow of blood to the affected area. This makes the connective tissue more elastic. It relaxes the muscles and prevents spasms. It’s good for stiff sore muscles before exercising. As you probably know, not warming up or stretching enough can also lead to injuries.

What is the best way to apply heat and ice?

In order to avoid burns or frostbite , neither heat nor ice should be placed directly onto the skin. A damp washcloth or towel is best. Don’t heat or ice for longer than fifteen to twenty minutes. If ice stays on too long, it can damage nerves and critical tissues. If half an hour after ice treatment and resting it’s still not possible to place any weight onto the injured area, you need to seek professional help.

Do you have heat and ice packs here in the pharmacy?

Yes, I can show you some reusable gel bags that can be used for both hot and cold compresses. We also stock several other products that you may find useful. I’d be happy to show you.

Yes, please. That would be great.

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