Sports Injuries and the Long-Term Effects of Unresolved Pain

Athletes and sports enthusiasts are among the most resilient people in the world. After all, if you’re hoping to push your body to peak performance, you’re likely to follow a common mantra: “no pain, no gain.”

Unfortunately, ignoring certain types of bone, muscle, and joint pain now can lead to more serious problems down the line. Sports injuries are not something you should ignore, even if you believe you can “push through the pain.”

At our pain clinic in Utah, we see many patients whose untreated injuries have led them to more pain or even restricted mobility. Before you jump right back into your favorite exercises, here’s what to know about the common effects of unresolved pain.

Effects of Muscle Sprains

Muscle sprains are known as “self-limiting” injuries, meaning that most patients will recover without the use of medicine or intervention.

However, this does not always mean that you should not have a medical professional look at a sprained muscle, whether the injury is minor or major. Many athletes don’t give sprains the attention they deserve, viewing them as little more than a reason to take a brief break from practice, or as a condition they can work through.

This isn’t always the case. As any specialist in pain care will tell you, it’s important to wear a fitted brace during your healing journey, to engage in safe movements during your recovery, and to watch for signs of instability.

In some cases, getting a sprain in one area of the body makes you more likely to experience a sprain in the same area in the future. This is especially true of problematic areas like the hamstrings and ankles, which tend to see repeated injuries after the first. Some sprains can even impair your flexibility and mobility in the long term.

Proper attention and pain management, as well as safe exercises, can help minimize the risk of a repeat injury.

Effects of Stress Fractures

Stress fractures occur when we experience a tiny crack in one of our bones. In athletes, these fractures are most likely to occur in weight-bearing areas such as the wrists or heels. Like muscle sprains, stress fractures don’t always get the attention they deserve, especially from patients who think with relief that they’ve managed to avoid a fully broken bone.

However, there are a few reasons you should rest your injury and seek help from Utah pain specialists if you’ve suffered a fracture.

First, stress fractures that are not addressed with care can worsen, becoming larger fractures that grow harder and harder to heal. These fractures can cause long-term discomfort and limit a patient’s mobility.

Second, even if the injury heals, the existence of an initial stress fracture makes a repeat injury in the same place more likely.

Third, studies show that around 60% of all athletes who experience a stress fracture will later experience at least one more. This can be the result of poor exercise preparation, incorrect equipment, poor form, misaligned body structures, and more. Often, a Utah pain relief clinic can help you identify and address a root cause, pointing you toward non-invasive solutions that may help minimize your future risk of injury.

Last, repeated injuries to the same bone can increase your risk of future arthritis. Though this is more likely to occur with a full fracture rather than a stress fracture, it’s a good idea to work with a team that can help address both your immediate pain and any future pain from arthritis.

Effects of Common Sports Injuries

In addition to the major issues above, it’s worth noting that a few common sports injuries can have long-lasting results when left untreated. Here are some of the risks associated with these injuries:

Knee Injuries

The knee is one of the least stable joints in the body, making it vulnerable to injury. As with fractures and sprains, you’re likely to see a recurrence of the most common knee injuries, such as ACL injuries or dislocated kneecaps. These injuries can weaken the knee, limiting your mobility and requiring chronic knee pain treatment.

Back Injuries

Back pain isn’t limited to the sedentary workforce, and many sports-related injuries involve the lower back. Though many athletes have the urge to push through the pain, unresolved back pain can lead to a narrowing of the space between your vertebrae, causing further pain and compression of the spinal cord. This can lead to long-term chronic pain.

Arm Injuries

Poor form and repeated stress can cause a multitude of arm injuries, but the most common are shoulder dislocations and tennis elbow. Like the injuries above, these can lead to chronic joint pain and repeated injuries if left untreated, and tennis elbow can even result in chronic nerve damage.

Effects of Chronic Pain

Last, but certainly not least, it’s worth noting that chronic pain itself has an effect on our health.

Mounting evidence shows that lasting pain can be psychologically taxing. When pain seems to never go away, it can affect our mood and cause anxiety, stress, and even depression. Worse, long-term pain has an effect on our heart health, sleep, and overall quality of life.

However, it’s worth remembering that “chronic” does not have to mean “forever.”

When it comes to pain management, Utah patients can choose to work with experienced professionals who can help them recover from pain related to sports injuries. If you’ve been dealing with an untreated condition, you don’t have to suffer through this pain alone.

Treat Sports Injuries With Care

Whether you’re hoping to get back to your favorite hobby or you’re trying not to let down your teammates, you owe it to yourself to slow down and get the help you need. Taking care of minor sports injuries now can help you avoid serious pain and limited mobility in the future. Your body will thank you for it!

As you work to address sports-related or chronic pain, don’t forget that our team is here to help. Acousana therapy is a modern, non-invasive approach that can help eliminate pain, muscle soreness, and more. Reach out to us to learn about the conditions we treat, or make an appointment today!

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