What Happens When You Leave a Sports Injury Untreated?

ortho doctor treating the neck

Sports injury is quite common in athletes and players, however, if left untreated, there could be potential complications down the road. Whether you play sports for a hobby, to stay fit, or as a professional athlete, your body is always at risk for an injury. It is always important to get any sports injury diagnosed immediately as even an uneventful injury could develop occult conditions underneath and can lead to serious damage in the future.

Let’s see what potential complications you might have when a sports injury is left untreated:

Occult fracture

Athletes, who do repetitive activities like running, marching, and throwing, their actions cause small tiny cracks in the bone. These normally heal on their own with proper rest and time, but when you continue with these types of sports activities, they may develop into a series of occult fractures. When this happens, the usual treatment regimen is rest with splinting or casting. In severe cases, you may require surgeries such as open reduction and internal fixation with plates, screws, or pins.

Damage To Ligament or Tendon

When a ligament or tendon injury is left untreated, even walking becomes painful. You may develop arthritis, which is lifelong. There is a risk of scar tissue formation and without proper treatment, you may experience stiff joints, limited range of motion, and disability.

Myositis Ossification

This occurs as a result of not treating a contusion injury properly. Bone spurs start to develop within the muscles as a result of severe contusion. Conservative therapies such as rest, immobilization, and therapy are recommended first, but in severe cases, surgery is performed to remove the abnormal bone growth.

Damage to Nerve

Repeated injury to the nerve and leaving it untreated can lead to nerve entrapment and compression of the nerve. These result in a neurological condition with symptoms of increased pain, limited range of motion, numbness, tingling, decreased sensation, and muscle atrophy. Depending on the severity, conservative or surgical management is recommended. The longer you leave a nerve-related disease untreated, the more damage the nerve sustains.


Any kind of open injury can lead to a risk of infection when not treated properly. The wound must be properly cleaned and dressed regularly. Conditions that develop from an open injury are:

Necrotizing fasciitis


Many sports injuries can be noticed immediately due to pain and/or swelling, but injuries due to overuse can only be noticed after long periods of time. If you think you have sustained a minor sports injury, then stop the sports activity that caused the injury and follow the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation).

The ones mentioned above are merely a part of a larger and more complex problem and getting it diagnosed with a sports medicine specialist is recommended to rule out the pathology for better care and management.

Carolina Regional Orthopaedics

Carolina Regional Orthopaedics provides the most effective, modern, and innovative techniques in both Orthopedic Surgery and Pain Management using proven methodologies in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of all conditions affecting the spine, upper extremities, and lower extremities. We specialize in hand and wrist surgery, joint replacements, sports medicine, trauma care, pediatric orthopedics, pain management, wound care, regenerative medicine, physical therapy, imaging services, and EMG testing.