Chronic vs. Acute Sports Injuries

September 13, 2018

Did you know that sports-related injuries can be categorized into two types, acute or chronic? Chronic injuries can occur from sports with repetitive motions, such as running, cycling or swimming. Acute injuries differ from chronic, as these happen suddenly after a traumatic event, like falling or crashing into another player during sports. Learning how to prevent and treat these injuries can diminish recovery time and keep you active in the sports you love.

Chronic Injuries

Injuries like stress fractures, runner’s knee and shin splints are all examples of chronic injuries that develop over a long period of time. These types of injuries often occur from overuse and are common in endurance sports that require the use of prolonged, repetitive motions. A chronic injury can be related to overdoing certain motions during a sport or using improper technique. Those that experience a chronic injury may feel swelling or pain when participating in physical activities.


Since this injury often occurs as a result of overuse, it’s important to rest properly and never overexert yourself. Remember to always wear proper gear, warm up and cool down before and after your activity.


One of the best ways to manage a chronic injury is through rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. By taking proper care of the affected area, you will be back in the game in no time.

Acute Injury

Cracking a bone, bruising or tearing a muscle are all examples of acute injuries that happen from a traumatic, sudden event. When these injuries occur, immediate, severe pain may arise, as well as swelling or limb weakness. These symptoms usually take place within two weeks of the injury. It is in this phase that the body will resort to inflammation to repair the damaged tissues.


In order to prevent this injury from resurfacing, it is important to work back into your regular routine gradually. Start slowly with some light stretching once the swelling has gone down. Continue to stretch and move within those first few weeks until you are comfortable with normal use and exercise again.


For an acute injury, ice will help to relieve the pain caused by your injury, as well as helping to prevent swelling. It’s also important to elevate your injury above the level of your heart. Be sure to rest, apply ice, compress and elevate your injury within the first 2-3 days. After that, heat packs can be alternated with ice, helping to circulate blood to the injured area.

Whether your injuries are acute or chronic in nature, it is important to listen to your body when participating in sports to prevent major damage and ensure a healthy lifestyle.

This article was adapted from Mount Elizabeth Hospitals Health Plus. Read the full article here.

Contact Campbell Clinic

If you have any questions about chronic and acute sports injuries, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.


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