Injury Diagnose Tool

Below is our diagnostic tool, which you can use to help you diagnose your musucular problem. Simply click on the area where you are experiencing difficulties, and a list of potential problems and symptons will appear for that particular area.


Pinched nerve

A pinched nerve is caused when a nerve is somehow damaged or injured by direct pressure or compression and is unable to properly conduct its signal. There are many potential causes for a pinched nerve, depending on the location of the nerve. One factor that may cause this is poor ergonomics.

Symptoms include:

  • Tight neck muscles
  • Sharp pain
  • Burning/tingling/numbness in the neck, shoulder or into the arm

Wry neck or Acute Torticollis

A stiff neck associated with muscle spasm, is often caused by sharp movements including whiplash or prolonged episodes of bad posture.

Symptoms include:

  • Lack of movement in the head and neck
  • Tight muscles
  • Sharp pain


Headaches where the pain originates in the cervical spine, neck and upper shoulders are often referred to as a cervicogenic headache. These headaches can be a symptom of whiplash, neck injury or muscle trauma due to poor prolonged posture or severe stress.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain which centers across the forehead/behind the eyes/ up the back of the skull
  • Tight muscles which can extend from the shoulder to the top of the neck


Swimmers’ shoulder

Swimmer's Shoulder, or painful arc/rotator cuff tendonitis (or tendinopathy), is a repetitive stress injury where tendons in the shoulder have been damaged. The biomechanics of the freestyle stroke can cause inflammation of the shoulder tendons during both the pull through and recovery phases of the stroke.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain is felt during the overhead motion of the freestyle stroke
  • Weakness at this point of the stroke is also an indication
  • Weakness may also indicate a tear in the tendon


Is a syndrome which occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles inflamed as they pass through a space underneath the end of the collarbone and head of the humerus. This can result in pain, weakness and loss of movement at the shoulder.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain into the shoulder or arm with overhead activities

Instability (esp. in rugby)

Shoulder instability is a problem that occurs when the structures that surround the shoulder joint do not work to maintain the ball within its socket. If the joint is too loose, is may slide partially out of place. If the joint comes completely out of place, this is called a shoulder dislocation.

Symptoms include:

  • Feeling of shoulder instability when the arm is put into certain extreme ranges

Rotator cuff tears

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles (infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis, teres minor) which are responsible for coordinated movement and stability of the shoulder. Rotator cuff tears are of one or more of these four tendons and can include any type of irritation or damage to the rotator cuff muscles or tendons. These can be caused by sudden injury i.e. falling onto an outstretched arm or long-term degeneration.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain or weakness in the muscles supporting the arm and shoulder
  • Pain when lying on the affected side
  • Pain with overhead actions


Wrist Sprain or Strain can usually occur when someone falls directly onto an outstretched hand or where the wrist is forced to bend beyond its full range of movement. A “sprain” usually involves the ligament whereas a “strain” usually refers to the muscle or tendon.

Symptoms include:

  • Swelling around the wrist
  • Palpable tenderness or redness and bruising
  • Decreased range of movement


Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis occurs when the tendon/muscle fibres that insert at the outer part of the elbow joint are torn or strained. This can occur when there is a repetitive movement of the muscle or where a sudden increased force or burst of movement strains the soft tissues. There can also be damage to this area as a result of a direct hit to the area.

Symptoms include:

  • Palpable tenderness over the outer elbow joint
  • Local swelling
  • Pain in the elbow when extending the wrist and/or elbow


FAI (femoral acetabular impingement) – common in cyclists

FAI is a condition affecting the hip joint in young and middle-aged adults. Impingement occurs when the ball shaped femoral head rubs abnormally or doesn't have full range of motion in the acetabular socket. Damage in the hip joint can occur to the articular cartilage or the labral cartilage (soft tissue bumper of the socket). Treatment options vary from conservative treatment to arthroscopic and open surgery.

Symptoms include:

  • Dull ache around groin, lower back and generally around the hip
  • Limited flexibility
  • Increased pain when in hip flexion


Hip bursitis is a common problem that causes pain over the outer hip region. A bursa is a fluid filled sac that allows smooth motion between two surfaces. When the sac becomes inflamed, each time the tendon has to move over the bone, pain results. As patients with hip bursitis move this tendon with each step, hip bursitis symptoms can be quite painful.

Symptoms include:

  • Tenderness over the bony prominence of the upper/outer thigh
  • Swelling over the bursa

Piriformis syndrome

Piriformis syndrome is a neuromuscular disorder that occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed or otherwise irritated by the piriformis muscle causing pain, tingling and numbness in the buttocks and along the path of the sciatic nerve descending down the lower thigh and into the leg.

Symptoms include:

  • Radiating pain into the buttock, posterior thigh and lower leg
  • Tenderness over sciatic notch
  • Increased pain with prolonged sitting or walking


Anterior Cruciate ligament tear (common in soccer, rugby, skiing)

Injuries of the ACL range from mild such as small tears to severe when the ligament is completely torn. There are many ways the ACL can be torn; the most prevalent is when the knee is bent too much toward the back and when it goes too far to the side. Tears in the anterior cruciate ligament often take place when the knee receives a direct impact from the front while the leg is in a stable position. Torn ACL’s are most often related to high impact sports or when the knee is forced to make sharp changes in movement and during abrupt stops from high speed. Continued athletic activity on a knee with an ACL injury can have devastating consequences, resulting in massive cartilage damage, leading to an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life.

Symptoms include:

  • Hearing a popping sound whilst changing direction
  • Swelling
  • Instability
  • Pain at the back of the knee

Meniscal tears

Tear of a meniscus is a rupturing of one or more of the fibrocartilage strips in the knee called menisci. Can be referred to as "torn cartilage" . Menisci can be torn during innocuous activities such as walking or squatting. They can also be torn by traumatic force encountered in sports or other forms of physical exertion. The traumatic action is most often a twisting movement at the knee while the leg is bent. In older adults, the meniscus can be damaged following prolonged 'wear and tear' called a degenerative tear.

Symptoms include:

  • Inability to fully straighten or bend the knee
  • Clicking
  • Pain going up or down stairs
  • Swelling around knee

Patello-femoral joint issues

Patello-femoral issues relate to the correct ‘fit’ or tracking on the patella within the knee joint. This can be affected by the position and structure of the patella itself, muscle strength or tight tissues.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain in knee which worsens with going up or down stairs or when bent for a prolonged period.

Ankle & Foot

Ligament tear (sprained ankle)

The ligaments of the ankle hold the ankle bones and joint in position, and therefore help to stabilise the ankle joint. They protect the ankle joint from abnormal movements-especially twisting, turning, and rolling of the foot.

A sprained ankle is a common cause of ankle pain. A sprain is stretching and or tearing of ligaments. The most common is an inversion sprain where the ankle turns over so the sole of the foot faces inwards, damaging the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.

The risk of an ankle sprain is greatest during activities that involve explosive side-to-side motion, such as tennis/ basketball/netball.

Symptoms include:

  • Swelling around the ankle
  • Bruising around the ankle (which can extend along the outside of the foot)
  • Pain around entire ankle joint
  • Pain on weightbearing

Syndesmosis (high ankle sprain)

A high ankle sprain is an injury to the large ligaments (called the syndesmosis) above the ankle that join together the two long bones of the lower leg. High ankle sprains commonly occur from a sudden and forceful outward twisting of the foot, which commonly occurs in contact and cutting sports such as soccer, rugby union and rugby league. The ligament can also be an associated injury with more common low ankle sprains, and even ankle fractures. A high ankle sprain causes symptoms similar to other ankle sprains, but patients often complain of pain when the ankle is turned outwards or when the calf is squeezed.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain around the front of the ankle
  • Pain when foot is turned outwards
  • Pain when calf is squeezed

Stress fractures

A stress fracture is generally an overuse injury. It occurs when muscles become fatigued or overloaded and can not absorb the stress and shock and repeated impact. Fatigued muscles transfer that stress to the nearby bone and the result is a small crack or fracture, in the bone.

Symptoms include:

  • High levels of very localised pain
  • Increased pain when doing specific loaded activity


Pain can arise in the back from a number of different causes. There is a complex arrangement of ligaments, muscles, discs, facet joints and nerves all of which could be the cause of your pain. Pain during pregnancy for example can be in due to the overstretching of these soft tissues

This refers to pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the leg and is caused by injury or pressure on the sciatic nerve. Common causes are slipped disc, piriformis (a muscle in the buttock region) syndrome, pelvic fracture or injury, tumour.
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