From time to time, we pick up injuries, whether it’s during competitive sport, practise sessions, in the gym, walking down the street, down stairs or just getting into your car.

What is useful to know is what kind of injury you have and generally how long it takes to heal, so you can get back to work or playing sport.

In this article, I will explain a number of the most common types of injuries seen in sports, although you don’t have to play sports to get them!


A sprain is a partial or complete tearing of a ligament. Sprains are caused when a joint goes through an excessive range of motion beyond its normal range. Severe sprains often occur with fractures and dislocations and when suspected should be referred for x-ray. As ligaments are relatively avascular (have a poor blood supply), they take more time to heal than muscle. The lack of blood supply makes it more difficult to get nutrients to the site to aid healing and less ability to eliminate waste products. Swelling on a sprain is slower than for a strain. Swelling will take hours to develop where as swelling on a strain would take minutes.

A first-degree tear is a minor tear of the ligament. Mild local pain and tenderness may be felt and minor swelling and muscle spasm may be seen. Function of the joint isn’t too affected. With the correct treatment and care, recovery can take 2-3 weeks.

A second-degree tear is a severe partial tear of ligament fibres. Pain is possible at rest and likely during weight bearing and stress testing.  Considerable swelling and a loss of function are likely. Recovery is likely to be 3-6 weeks.

A third degree tear is a total rupture of the ligament fibres. There will be severe pain, severe loss of joint function, loss of joint stability and muscular spasm. Rapid swelling is also likely around the joint. A possible pop can be heard if the incident is sudden or traumatic. Healing can take 3-4 months or more following surgery.

In the next post, I’ll be looking at ‘Strains’, so stay tuned.