Acute vs. Chronic Sports Injuries: What You Need to Know

Whether you are a professional athlete or simply enjoy a casual game with friends, injuries can happen when playing sports. You might be able to shake off a minor injury, like scrapes and bruises. But what do you do when you start experiencing pain or other symptoms? It helps to have a clear understanding of the types of sports injuries to get a better idea of when to see a doctor. Common questions like “what are acute injuries” can help you know what type of injury you are dealing with and what your next steps will be. Here’s what you need to know about acute vs chronic sports injuries and how our team at Affordable Killeen Chiropractic can help.

What Causes Sports Injuries?

While many people associate sports injuries with high-impact sports like football, hockey, or soccer, you can get injured playing all types of sports. Any damage to your musculoskeletal system while playing sports is considered a sports injury and may require medical attention. Sports injuries can occur for a variety of reasons.


Overuse refers to when an athlete repeats the same movements or activities over and over again, which can put strain on muscles, tendons, and joints. Overuse injuries are common in sports like running, swimming, and tennis.

Poor Technique

Athletes who do not use proper technique or form when playing sports can put themselves at greater risk for injury. Poor technique while playing sports can lead to a sudden injury or an injury that may develop over time.

Lack of Conditioning

When playing sports, conditioning the body for the type of activities you will participate in will help prevent injuries. Lack of conditioning with athletes who are not in good physical condition can make you more prone to injuries when your muscles and joints are not properly prepared for the physical demands of a particular sport.

Equipment Problems

Poorly fitting or worn equipment can also result in sports injuries. From blisters to muscle strains to concussions, equipment problems can put you at risk for many different kinds of injuries. Proper maintenance and understanding of how to use sports equipment are vital to keeping you safe while participating in a sport.


A sudden blow, fall, or collision while playing sports can cause an injury. Trauma injuries are more common in high-contact sports like football, hockey, and basketball, though they can also occur in other sports.


Your genetics can also play a role in how likely you are to get injured while playing sports. Some genetic factors can make you predisposed to certain injuries, like weakened muscles or joints.

What Are Acute Sports Injuries?

What Are Acute Sports Injuries

Acute sports injuries occur suddenly and are typically caused by a traumatic event, like a fall or collision. Here are some of the most common types of acute sports injuries:


A sprain refers to an injury that affects a ligament. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to each other. Sprains commonly occur in and around joints like the ankle, knee, and wrist.


A strain refers to an injury that affects a muscle or tendon. Muscles and tendons connect muscles to bones, and damage to these areas commonly occurs in the back, hamstring, and calf muscles.


A fracture is also known as a broken bone. Fractures can occur to any bone in the body, whether due to a sudden blow, twist, or fall. Common fractures in athletes include the wrist, ankle, and collarbone.


A dislocation refers to a joint injury where the bones in a joint are forced out of their normal positioning. Dislocations can occur in any joint, though athletes are more likely to experience dislocations in the shoulders and fingers.


A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury. A sudden impact or blow to the head can cause the brain to get jolted or shaken inside the skull. Concussions can cause a wide range of symptoms and are common in contact sports like football and hockey.

What Are Chronic Sports Injuries?

What Are Chronic Sports Injuries

Chronic sports injuries develop over time, typically due to repeated stress or strain on the body. Some common types of chronic sports injuries include:


Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons that connect muscles to bones. Repetitive motions or stress on the same area can result in tendonitis in and around joints. Athletes commonly experience tendonitis in the shoulder, elbow, and Achilles tendon.

Shin Splints

Shin splints are a type of pain along the shin bone, or front of the lower leg. Shin splints are caused by overuse of the lower leg muscles along the shin. Runners and athletes who participate in high-impact sports are more likely to experience shin splints.

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures refer to small cracks in a bone that develop because of repetitive stress or overuse. Stress fractures are common in areas like the feet and lower legs, especially for athletes who participate in high-impact sports or running.

Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee refers to a type of injury that affects the knee joint. Overuse of the knee can cause inflammation in the joint, and runner’s knee more commonly affects athletes who do a lot of running and jumping.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is a specific type of tendinitis that occurs along the outside of the elbow joint. The tendons of the elbow become inflamed with certain arm movements like tennis strokes, though tennis elbow can affect all types of athletes.

Golfer’s Elbow

Golfer’s elbow is another type of tendinitis in the elbow that primarily affects the inside of the elbow. When these tendons become inflamed, certain movements and activities can result in an overuse injury. Golfer’s elbow commonly affects golfers, hence the name, though it can also affect other athletes.

Factors That Increase the Risk of Sports Injuries

Several factors can increase the risk of both acute and chronic sports injuries.

Inadequate Warm-Up

Failure to warm up properly before playing a sport or exercising can increase the risk of injury. Your muscles and joints need to be properly prepared for physical activity.

Environmental Factors

Extreme temperatures, humidity, and altitude can also impact the risk of a sports injury. In some situations, the body cannot adjust properly to the physical demands of a sport in certain environmental conditions.

Age-Related Changes

Older athletes may be at increased risk for sports injuries due to how aging can impact the musculoskeletal system. As you age, you could experience decreased flexibility and muscle strength, which can affect your playing abilities.

Sport Type

Certain sports have a higher risk of injury than others, including contact sports like football and hockey or sports that involve repetitive movements like running and tennis.

Preventing and Managing Acute and Chronic Sports Injuries

Preventing and managing acute and chronic sports injuries involves a combination of measures, including proper conditioning, warm-ups, training, rest, and recovery. You can also work with a sports injury chiropractor on natural and effective ways to manage or prevent injuries. Visit Affordable Chiropractic in Killeen to get started today and improve your overall health and well-being with chiropractic care.