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Sports Injuries

Specialist treatment for sports-related injuries, delivered by experts

Foot specialist helping using foot roller to help with patients foot pain
While sports and regular exercise are hugely beneficial to our health, occasionally injuries occur that require treatment. Most commonly these occur after a collision or other trauma (acute injuries), or as a result of overuse of a certain muscle or joint over a prolonged period of time (chronic injuries).

Sports injuries can affect any part of the body, but are most common in the lower limbs, particularly the knees and ankles. The sooner you receive treatment for an injury, the better.

At Circle Health Group, we have a network of experienced consultants who specialise in the treatment of sporting injuries, offering everything from physiotherapy and rehabilitation to advanced surgery. We will treat your injury, support you through your recovery and, where possible, we'll help you to avoid similar injuries in future.

Call or book online today to arrange a consultation to discuss private sports injury treatment with a consultant of your choice at Circle Health Group.

Anyone can sustain an injury during sports or exercise. Children are at particularly high risk due to their increased activity level and limited awareness of their physical limits.

Other factors that may increase your risk of getting a sports injury include:

  • Age - the older you are the more likely you are to sustain a sports injury. Sports injuries are also more likely to become chronic (long-term) the older you are
  • Not getting early treatment for minor injuries
  • Taking part in sport or exercise after a long period of inactivity
  • Not warming up or cooling down properly
  • Not using the correct equipment, protective clothing, or suitable shoes
  • Participating in contact sports like football, rugby, ice hockey or boxing
  • Pushing yourself too hard
  • Not using the correct technique
  • Overtraining (training too frequently or for too long)
  • Running or jumping on hard surfaces
  • A previous injury
  • Being overweight or obese

Sports injuries can be acute or chronic. An acute injury develops suddenly due to a single event while chronic injuries develop slowly over time.

Symptoms of an acute sports injury may include:

  • Sudden, severe pain at the time of the injury
  • Being unable to weight-bear
  • Difficulty moving the affected part of the body
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Weakness of the affected limb
  • Deformity of the bone or joint

Symptoms of a chronic sports injury may include:

  • Swelling
  • A constant dull ache or an ache after activity
  • Pain during activity


A sprain occurs when there is stretching or tearing of a ligament (the connective tissue that attaches bones to joints). Sprains may involve stretching of the ligament, or a partial or full ligament tear.


Strains result from stretching or tearing muscles or tendons (the connective tissue that attaches muscles to bones).

Bruising (contusions)

Bruises occur when blood vessels under the surface of the skin break causing bleeding under the skin. They appear as discolouration on the skin and may be black, red, purple, or blue, often changing to brown or yellow as they heal.


After an injury, your body sends increased blood and white blood cells to the area to begin the healing process. This is part of your body's natural inflammatory response. Swelling is often accompanied by pain, redness, and heat around the injured area.


A fracture is another word for a broken bone. A fracture may be simple or complex depending on the way the bone has broken, whether it has moved out of position and whether the broken bone has pierced the skin.


A dislocated bone occurs when one of the bones that makes up a joint moves out of position.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury

The ACL is a tough band of tissue in your knee joint that joins your thigh bone to your shin bone. It runs diagonally through the inside of your knee, helping to control the back-and-forth movement of your lower leg and to stabilise your knee joint.

ACL injuries are one of the most common types of knee injuries. They usually occur when playing sport, such as football, rugby, tennis, and squash. They happen if your lower leg extends forward too much, or if your knee and lower leg are twisted.

Achilles tendon rupture

The Achilles tendon is a tendon that runs along the back of your heel. This tendon can break or rupture during sports causing sudden, severe pain and difficulty walking. This type of injury often requires surgery called an Achilles tendon repair.

Rotator cuff injury

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that keep your shoulder in its socket and allows you to move and rotate your arm. Rotator cuff injuries occur when these muscles or tendons are torn. Severe rotator cuff injuries may require surgery.


Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons caused by injury, overuse or wear and tear. Common types of tendonitis include lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), medial epicondylitis (golfers elbow), de Quervain's tenosynovitis and stenosing tenosynovitis (trigger finger).

Sports injuries can be treated in a variety of ways and the right treatment for you will depend on the location and severity of your injury. Minor sports injuries can often be treated at home, but in some cases, you may need further treatment.

Home treatments for sports injuries

Home treatments for sports injuries start with the RICE protocol. RICE stands for:

  • Rest - give your injury time to heal and prevent further injury by resting for the first two to three days. If there is no improvement after this time, make an appointment with a doctor
  • Ice - apply an ice pack such as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel or cloth to the affected area for ten to fifteen minutes several times a day for the first two to three days
  • Compression - wrap the injured area in an elastic bandage firmly, but not so tightly that it restricts blood supply (loosen the bandage if you experience pain, numbness, tingling, coolness or swelling in the area below the bandage)
  • Elevate - keep the affected area elevated on pillows at or above the level of your heart

In addition to RICE therapy, over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help to reduce pain and inflammation.

Physiotherapy for sports injuries

If home treatment isn't effective, physiotherapy is normally the next step in treating sports injuries.

At Circle Health Group our team of physiotherapists are experts in treating a range of sports-related injuries. They will begin by performing a physical assessment to check your range of motion, muscle strength, coordination, and function. Your physiotherapist will then create an individualised treatment plan consisting of a range of hands-on techniques including specific exercises and sports massage.

Steroid injections for sports injuries

If your pain is severe, your consultant may recommend an injection of corticosteroid into the affected joint. Corticosteroid injections are effective in relieving pain in the short term and may be used in combination with physiotherapy to make exercising easier.

Surgery for sports injuries

In cases of severe injury, or when nonsurgical treatments haven't worked, surgery may be necessary. Surgery may be needed to treat fractures, or repair damage to ligaments, tendons, or cartilage.

At Circle Health Group, treatment for sports injuries is typically led by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, a doctor specialising in problems with the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Some of our orthopaedic consultants specialise in sports and exercise medicine. Others will specialise in an area of the body, for example knees or shoulders. And we also have consultants who specialise in trauma and injuries. If you call us, our friendly advisors will guide you to the best consultant for your needs.

At your first appointment, your consultant will ask you about your symptoms and how your injury occurred. They will perform a physical examination and order scans such as an X-ray, CT, MRI or ultrasound to check for damage to your bones or soft tissue. Your consultant will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms, physical examination, and scans.

This appointment is also where we get to know you, discuss your expectations for treatment and encourage you to ask any questions you may have.

At the end of your appointment, your consultant will discuss possible treatment options based on your diagnosis.

Not all sports injuries can be avoided, but there are some things you can do to reduce the risk including:

  • Not playing the same sports all year round
  • Varying the type of exercise you do between cardiovascular exercise, flexibility, and strength training
  • Always using the correct technique when exercising or participating in sports
  • Always warming up and cooling down properly
  • Wearing suitable clothing and using the proper equipment
  • Taking a break when you're tired or feel pain
  • When starting a new sport or exercise, start slowly and build up gradually

We answer some of your most commonly asked questions about sports injuries.

How many sports injuries occur each year?

Between 1 and 1.5 million people attend A&E departments with injuries related to sports and exercise each year in the UK.

Which sport has the most injuries?

Which sport has the most injuries varies according to the data, but one observational study found that football injuries were the most common accounting for 65% of all sports-related injuries over a three-month period. This appears to be due to the fact that football is a contact sport as well as its huge popularity in the UK.

Why is injury prevention important in sports?

Injury prevention is important not only to help you reach your training goals but to prevent minor or repeated injuries from causing long-term damage. Long-term or repeat injuries can be harder to treat and may lead to chronic pain or mobility problems.

At Circle Health Group we have the experience and expertise to ensure the best possible care and outcome for our patients. As a patient with Circle Health Group, you can expect the highest standards of care including:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations that are convenient for you
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Private ensuite rooms as standard
  • A range of delicious healthy meals
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to see a consultant or learn more about treatment for sports injuries, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in March 2023. Next review due March 2026.

  1. Overview: Sports injuries, NHS
  2. Sports Injuries, National Institute of Arthritis and  Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
  3. Sports Injuries, Cleveland Clinic
  4. Sports Injuries Overview  John Hopkins
  5. Review of sports injuries presenting to an accident and emergency department, BMJ Emergency Medicine Journal

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