6 Most Common Sports Injuries
Athletic injuries are an all-too-common side effect of playing just about any sport. Nearly three million emergency room visits annually stem from youth sports alone. And while professional basketball and football injuries get the headlines, cycling and exercise equipment are just as likely to lead to an accident that needs treatment.
If you participate in sports regularly or are thinking about starting, here are the six top injuries you will want to avoid:
1. ACL Injury
If you hear a pop in your knee during football practice or while skiing, you might have torn your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). An ACL injury is a tear or sprain of one of the strong bands of tissue that connects the femur to the tibia. These injuries are most common in sports that involve jumping and landing or sudden stops and changes in direction.
The injured knee will typically swell, feel unstable, and become too painful to bear weight. A mild to moderate injury may heal on its own, but ACL tears often require surgery to provide sufficient stability in the injured knee.
2. Runners Knee
Runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, refers to the dull pain that can form around the front of the knee from repeated running or jumping. The pain isn’t associated with one specific cause but may stem from the overuse or wearing down of the ligaments or tendons of the knee joint. Weak muscles surrounding the knee or improper kneecap alignment can also be the source of runner’s knee.
Possible symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome include a grinding sensation or clicking sound of the kneecap. Your physician may recommend X-rays to evaluate the cartilage in the knee. The pain can usually be treated with cold packs, compression, and taking a break from running. Stretching and strengthening exercises can help prevent the injury from recurring.
3. Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow, or epicondylitis, is a repetitive motion injury caused by inflammation or micro-tearing of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow. The injury leads to pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow and can take some time to heal.
Epicondylitis isn’t necessarily caused on a tennis court. Computer mouse use, driving screws, and other repetitive arm motions can also cause tennis elbow. It can usually be treated by avoiding the activity that caused it until the pain improves. If you got tennis elbow through tennis or golf, easing your way back in while improving your technique can help ensure the injury doesn’t return.
As many as 3.8 million athletes reportedly suffer concussions each year, and from much more than football. Many head injuries are caused by cycling, skateboarding, and skating accidents, as well.
A blow to the head can cause a wide range of symptoms, from blurred vision, headache, and nausea to sleep issues and irritability. Most concussions aren’t serious, but multiple or severe concussions can lead to permanent brain damage. A concussion clinic can be the best option for someone seeking the proper diagnostics and best treatment plan for a head injury.
5. Sprained Ankle
Sprained ankles are extremely common, whether from coming down too hard after jumping to catch a ball, or from twisting your foot on uneven ground. Sprains are injuries to ligaments, the tough, flexible bands that connect the bones in a joint. In sports, a sprained ankle is typically caused by an accidental roll of the ankle while running, which overstretches or tears the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.
Symptoms include bruising, swelling, and tenderness. It’s always a good idea to have your injured ankle examined by a foot and ankle orthopaedic specialist. The treatment may just require staying off of the injured foot, but it will depend on how much damage occurred.
6. Shin Splints
Medial tibial stress syndrome – more commonly known as shin splints – is an overuse problem that causes pain down the front of the lower legs. When runners suddenly intensify or change their training routines, the muscles, tendons, or bone tissue around the shinbone can become inflamed, typically on the inside edge where muscles attach to the bone. Long distance runners are susceptible to shin splints if they’re not sufficiently prepared for a strenuous training program on paved roads.
Treatment Options for Sports Injuries
Many sports injuries can be treated with rest, ice, and elevation. In time, physical therapy can be a great way to strengthen the injured area and restore your normal range of motion. However, a concussion or severe injury should receive immediate medical attention. If a mild injury doesn’t ease up after a couple of days, make an appointment with an orthopaedic physician. Diagnostics may be necessary to determine how serious the injury is and come up with an appropriate treatment plan.
Our team of specialists at MidAmerica Orthopaedics are experts at diagnosing and treating a wide range of sports injuries. To contact our Sports Medicine Clinic in Palos Hills and Mokena locations or learn more about our programs for treating sports injuries, call us at (708) 237-7200.