Sports Injuries with Life Long Consequences 

Many athletes, both professional and recreational, are forced to quit their favourite sports because of sustaining injuries that have more devastating consequences than they could ever have imagined.

But this can happen if injured athletes neglect the needs of their bodies and do not allow the injuries to heal sufficiently.

Here are some injuries that can have a long-term effect on the body, if they are not given the time required to heal fully.


One of the most common sports injuries, sprains are a result of stress to the ligaments or joints and the least severe ones heal over time, on their own.

But for the more serious sprains, you are advised to use a brace for proper healing, and if you do not allow it to heal fully, you are susceptible to new sprains in the same area.


Hamstring Strains

Hamstring injuries are typically caused by rapid acceleration activities where you pick up speed in a short space of time and can range from a minor sprain to a rupture. So if you are sprinting or jumping on a regular basis, you need to take care, to prevent a recurring hamstring problem.

Over time, continuous hamstring pulls can affect your mobility and flexibility. Professional guidance is typically recommended to prevent repeat hamstring injuries.

Stress Fractures

These can range from minor cracks in the bone to severe bruising of the bones and occur in areas where weight has to be borne, such as in our heels or wrists.

If not properly managed, stress fractures can lead to chronic problems where the fracture never heals, thus resulting in permanent discomfort and limited movement of the particular area.

ACL Injuries

This can be a partial or complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee, and is most common in sports that involves sudden stops, jumping or changes in direction such as basketball, football or rugby.

Treatment commonly involves rest and rehabilitation; sometimes the injured athlete undergoes surgery, but in the case of surgery, it may lead to repeated injuries, because the original strength or condition of the ligaments are never fully recovered.

Patella Dislocation

This occurs when the kneecap comes out of its normal position and is common in sports that involve sudden changes in direction, such as tennis and badminton – because an immense amount of pressure is put on the knee when you change direction.

While most athletes who experience this injury are temporarily unable to walk, repeated dislocations can result in being permanently unable to walk.

Meniscus Tear

The meniscus is a cartilage between the thigh and the shin bones.

It can be torn when pressure is put on the knee joint. When this occurs you may hear a popping sound.

Repeated meniscus injuries can result in wear and tear of the cartilage, leading to degeneration of the joint and compromising your mobility.

Tennis Elbow

This is an inflammation of the tendons joining the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow when they are overused.

When left untreated, tennis elbow can become chronic and last for months or years. This is true if treatment focuses on relieving pain and not on correcting the muscle weakness.

Shoulder Dislocation

This is when your shoulder is displaced from its socket. There will be swelling, loss of shoulder contour and restricted arm movement.

Recurrence however, is quite high for shoulder dislocation injuries; to prevent recurrence, seek medical advice early and focus on early surgical treatments.

Lower Back Pain

This is characterised by tingling or numbness in the lower back and travels through the buttock and the large nerve in the back of the leg. This requires immediate medical intervention. If left untreated, this can lead to severe symptoms such as body weakness and paralysis.


Broken bones are commonplace in high intensity sports and can cause swelling, bruising and tenderness around the injured area, as well as bleeding, if the skin is broken. The pain can also leave you feeling faint, dizzy and sick.

Repeated fractures in the same area can lead to arthritis in the future.

How to deal with these injuries?

Take time off from your sport to fully recover, after sustaining an injury. A specialist can advise you on treatment or recovery techniques to prevent the long term effects associated with ill-management of the injury.

This was brought to you by
Dr Tan Ken Jin, an orthopaedic surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.

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