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Involvement in top sports challenges the body’s physical faculties to the limit. Surpassing these limits may cause sports related injuries. However, these injuries occur among participants of all sports at large. Once a sports related injury has manifested itself, subsequent recovery incorporates a real probability of future relapse.
The expansion of an aging population participating in non-organised sports is likely to produce an increase in the number of patients presenting to the family doctor with sports related injuries and possible relapses.1 To gain a better understanding of the concept of recidivism, a Medline literature search on relapses of sports related injuries in primary care was performed. This general search produced no references, but a sports specific search yielded two publications on relapse in sports related injuries. Sports related injuries are known to recur in equestrian sports2 and in soccer players (strains and sprains).3
Information about the prevalence of recidivism was obtained from a randomised controlled trial conducted to study the care provided by family and sports doctors in 230 patients with non-acute sports related injuries to the lower extremity. This study took place in three northern regions in the Netherlands between September 2000 and May 2002 and involved the participation of 83 family doctors. A non-acute sports related injury was diagnosed as an injury that originated at least two weeks before consultation of the family doctor. Data on all participating patients contained in the primary care data base were scrutinised to determine if these patients consulted the doctor again for a new or other sports related injury in the year after inclusion.
In 7.4%, a new sports related injury prompted patients to revisit their doctor in the year after inclusion. In 4.5% of the cases, the injury was related to the original one but not considered a relapse, which was found to occur in 2.2% of the cases. In this cohort, it was found that relapses of non-acute sports related injuries to the lower extremity do not often occur.