Physical activity is a necessary part of our lives in order to stay healthy and feel well. However, few things can slow us down more than sports-related injuries. Some are severe enough to interrupt daily life activities. Here are the top five sports-related injuries to watch out for during your next game or match, whether you just enjoy recreational sports or you’re working on becoming the next Serena Williams.
- Dislocations: A dislocation occurs when the bones of a joint are pulled or pushed out of alignment. We commonly treat joints dislocated in the fingers and hands, shoulders, and occasionally elbow, hip, and knee dislocations. These injuries can damage surrounding tissue and are very painful. Most of these require urgent medical attention. Proper muscle conditioning around the joints can help keep them in place and help prevent unnecessary force while playing sports.
Fractures: Fracture is the technical term for a broken bone. Fractures range in severity, from hairline to compound. In addition to causing severe pain, fractures are generally treated as emergency situations and may require surgery.
Shin splints: The result of inflammatory pain in the shins that occur from repeated upward force from the foot to the shin bone. Almost all sports involve running, so most athletes are at risk for encountering shin splint pain. The risk is higher when running on hard surfaces and failing to stretch and warm up properly. Shin splints can usually be avoided by warming up adequately and making sure your feet get enough support.
Knee injuries: Many knee injuries occur from stress caused by repetitive movements (tendonitis, bursitis, etc), but they can also be caused by accidental impact from trips, slips, falls, and collisions. Because of the complex interaction of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones around the knee area, they are particularly prone to injuries and can take a long time to heal completely. Leg muscle conditioning exercises prescribed by a sports medicine expert can help avoid knee injuries and return knees to health after accidental damage.
Sprains, strains, and other soft-tissue injuries: Muscle strain can happen to any muscle in the body. Warming up properly can help prevent strains. Sprains result from the overstretching or tearing of a ligament, usually from some kind of accidental, unnatural movement or impact. Ankle sprains are most common, due to the outside of the ankle lacking stability. Mild sprains can heal relatively quickly with the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation), but severe sprains may require intervention with an orthopedic surgeon.
Have fun playing sports, but be careful! Sports injuries can change your life, usually only temporarily, but occasionally long term. As always, the best medicine is prevention.
Sports medicine specialist Dr. James Talkington can discuss ways to avoid sports-related injuries for your specific sport, as well as treat any injury you may receive.