Sports Medicine

Sports Medicine Injuries

Sports injuries occur when playing indoor or outdoor sports or while exercising. Sports injuries can result from accidents, inadequate training, improper use of protective devices, or insufficient stretching or warm-up exercises. The most common sports injuries are sprains and strains, fractures, and dislocations.

The most common treatment recommended for injury is rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE).

  • Rest: Avoid activities that may cause injury
  • Ice: Ice packs can be applied to the injured area which will help to diminish swelling and pain. Ice should be applied over a towel to the affected area for 15-20 minutes four times a day for several days. Never place ice directly over the skin
  • Compression: Compression of the injured area helps to reduce swelling. Elastic wraps, air casts, and splints can accomplish this
  • Elevation: Elevate the injured part above heart level to reduce swelling and pain.

Ways to prevent sports related injuries include:

  • Follow an exercise program to strengthen the muscles
  • Gradually increase your exercise level and avoid overdoing the exercise
  • Ensure that you wear properly-fitted protective gear such as elbow guards, eye gear, facemasks, mouthguards, and pads, comfortable clothes, and athletic shoes before playing any sports activity which will help to reduce the chances of injury
  • Make sure that you follow warm up and cool down exercises before and after sports activity. Exercises will help to stretch the muscles, increase flexibility, and reduce soft tissue injuries
  • Avoid exercising immediately after eating a large meal
  • Maintain a healthy diet which will nourish the muscles
  • Avoid playing when you are injured or tired. Take a break for sometime after playing
  • Learn all the rules of the game you are participating in
  • Ensure that you are physically fit to play the sport

Common Sports Injury Questions:

What is the difference between sprain and strain?

A sprain involves the muscles or tendons (tissues that attach muscle to bone).  A strain involves the ligaments (the tissue that attaches bone to bone).  Strains can be graded by the severity of the injury from grade 1 being mild to grade 3 being fully torn and resulting in joint instability.

How long do sprains take to heal?

This depends on the severity. Mild injuries (Grade 1) can take 1-3 weeks to return to normal with rest, ice, compression, and elevation.  Moderate injuries can take 4-8 weeks to improve and may require more rest and occasionally some physical therapy or a splint.  Severe sprains may take 3-6 months and, in some cases, require surgery depending on how unstable the joint is from the severe sprain.

How is a sprain diagnosed?

Dr Faucett will listen to how you injured yourself and where your description of the pain is.  Using a physical exam to evaluate all of the tissues in the affected area, Dr. Faucett will be able to determine which tissue is injured and its severity.  Often x-rays will be performed to determine if any injury to the bone has occurred as these can also occur with severe strains and some sprains.

Common sports injuries include:

Ankle Injuries

Ankle injuries include the injuries in the leg below the knee and they are common while playing sports such as football, hockey, skating and in athletes. Treatment for some of these conditions may be orthotics, braces, physical therapy, injections or surgery. Common sports injuries include sprains and strains, ankle fractures, and Achilles tendinitis.

Hip Injuries

Hip strains, hamstring injuries and gluteal injuries are the most common soft tissue injury around the hip. More severe injuries such as fractures of the femur bone, labral tear and hip dislocation are also possible injuries affecting the hip. The hip joint bears more weight and is more susceptible for injuries while playing sports. Hip injuries require immediate medical intervention to avoid further complications. Rehabilitation programs and physical therapy is often recommended following the medical intervention where you need to perform certain exercises to strengthen the muscles and improve the movements.

Knee Injuries

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a major stabilizing ligament in the knee which may tear from a twisting or tackling injury towards the knee while playing sports. The ACL has poor ability to heal and may cause instability. Other common sports injuries in the knee are cartilage damage and meniscal tears. Knee injuries of sports may require surgical intervention that can be performed using open surgical or minimally invasive technique. Your surgeon will recommend you for physical therapy to strengthen your muscles, improve elasticity and improve the movements of the bones and joints.

Shoulder Injuries

Common shoulder Injuries include shoulder sprain but also can be more severe to include clavicle (collarbone) fractures, shoulder separations (acromioclavicular or AC Joint) or dislocation of the ball and socket part of the shoulder (glenohumeral joint).  Soft tissues can be injured such as the rotator cuff tendon, labrum and biceps tendon.  If the injured person cannot move the shoulder or it appears deformed, then emergent care is necessary to evaluate for a dislocation or broken bone.  Early treatment with ice and rest with a sling can help but orthopaedic care should be sought to help guide your recovery to get you back to being active quicker and avoid complications in the future.

Elbow Injuries

The elbow is a hinged joint.  It is commonly injured in sports when it is hyper extended or overly twisted.  Common acute elbow injuries include radial head and neck fractures, strains, and muscle injuries such as a triceps tear or biceps tear.  Chronic injuries of the elbow can occur from overuse such as tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) or golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis).  In baseball, pitches elbows can become injured from overuse and cause damage to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) which sometime needs surgical intervention to heal.

Foot Injuries

Foot injuries are often sprains but can also be as serious as broken bones.  Turf toe is when the great toe is hyper-flexed.  Lisfranc injuries are fractures and ligament tears of the forefoot from too much force going through the foot when it is planted.  Stress fracture of the cuboid bone, and 5th metatarsal are also common overuse injuries of the foot in sports medicine.  In many cases treatment with rest immobilization with a boot or splint and physical therapy to rehabilitate the foot are all that is needed.  In some severe cases or in the case of the Lisfranc injury surgery is required.

Hand Injuries

Common hand injuries in sports include dislocations and fractures of the finger joints and wrist.  Tendon injuries can occur such as mallet finger, intersection syndrome, and De Quervain’s syndrome.  When the finger or wrist is deformed emergent care should be sought.  For more chronic injuries seeking the care of a hand surgeon can be helpful.

Neck Injuries

Neck sprains are common in contact sports such as basketball, soccer, football, hockey, and lacrosse.  These injuries occur from being hit and causing sudden change of direction or from impact with the ground.  It is very important that neck injuries be evaluated by a trained medical professional particularly if there are any symptoms traveling down the arms.  This could be a sign of a severe neck or nerve injury.

Back Injuries

The back is commonly injured in daily life and sports.  The strong muscles that keep our posture can be strained and cause pain with muscles spasms and stiffness. This is often called “throwing out your back”  Dr. Faucett recommends using the Robin McKenzie method to treat these back injuries.

For more severe injuries using non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen, advil, or alleve).  Heat can also help these injuries.  For severe pain and muscle spasms, patients should seek care from Dr. Faucett to see if other medications such as muscle relaxants and physical therapy are required to recover.

At a Glance

Dr. Scott Faucett

  • Internationally Recognized Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Voted Washingtonian Top Doctor
  • Ivy League Educated & Fellowship-Trained
  • Learn more

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