Sports injuries occur when playing indoor or outdoor sports or while exercising. They 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
- Ankle Sprain
- Shin Splints
- Groin Pull
- Hamstring Strain
- ACL Tears
- Patellofemoral Syndrome
- Tennis Elbow
- Golfer’s Elbow
- Rotator Cuff Tears
Sprains and strains are injuries affecting the muscles and ligaments. A sprain is an injury or tear of one or more ligaments that commonly occurs at the wrist, knee, ankle or thumb. A strain is an injury or tear to the muscle. Strains occur commonly in the back and legs.
A bone fracture is a medical condition in which a bone is cracked or broken. It is a break in the continuity of the bone. While many fractures are the result of high force impact or stress, bone fracture can also occur because of certain medical conditions that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis. Some of the common fractures include:
- Ankle Fractures
- Foot Fracture
- Heel Fractures
- Lisfranc (Midfoot) Fracture
- Stress Fractures of the Foot and Ankle
- Talus Fractures
- Toe and Forefoot Fractures
- Hip Fractures
- Pelvis Fractures
- Fractures of the Proximal Tibia
- Pediatric Thighbone (Femur) Fracture
- Thighbone (Femur) Fracture
- Shinbone Fractures
- Broken Arm
- Broken Collarbone
- Elbow Fractures in Children
- Forearm Fractures in Children
- Fracture of the Shoulder Blade (Scapula)
- Olecranon (Elbow) Fractures
- Radial Head Fractures
- Cervical Fracture
- Fracture of the Thoracic and Lumbar Spine
The bones in children are prone to a unique injury known as a growth plate fracture. The growth plate, which is made of cartilage (flexible tissue) is present at the ends of the bones in children and helps in the determination of length and shape of the mature bone. The healing of fractures in children is quicker than that in adults. Thus, if a fracture is suspected in a child, it is necessary to seek immediate medical attention for proper alignment of the bones.
The common pediatric fractures include:
- Pediatric Thighbone (Femur) Fracture
- Elbow Fractures in Children
- Forearm Fractures in Children
Other common pediatric sports overuse injures include:
Little Leaguer’s Elbow
Little league elbow also called as medial apophysitis, is an overuse condition that occurs when there is overstress or injury to the inside portion of the elbow. It is commonly seen in children involved in sports activities that require repetitive throwing such as baseball.
Children make use of the elbow joint repetitively to throw the baseball which creates stress on the muscles and ligaments that are attached to the inner side of the elbow. The growth plate present at the bone ends become inflamed or in severe case it may break from the upper arm. One of the risk factor which causes this disease is misguided training regime.
The most common symptoms include elbow pain, tenderness, swelling on the inner side of the elbow, restricted motion, and locking of elbow joint. Pain is increased upon pressing the inner side of the elbow.
Your doctor will perform physical examination of your child’s elbow. Further your doctor may also request for an X-ray which shows the break in the growth plate.
Immediately following an injury and before being evaluated by a doctor, you should initiate the PRICE method of treatment.
- Protection: The purpose of protection is to avoid further injury. You can protect the injury by applying bandage, aluminum splint, protective tape, or braces.
- Rest: Rest the elbow as more damage could result from putting pressure on the injured area. If the injury is not treated it can lead to complications such as ligament tear, cartilage injury, and growth disturbance.
- Ice: Applying ice packs to the injured area 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: Wrapping the elbow with an elastic bandage which will help to minimize the swelling and support the elbow.
- Elevation: Ensure that your child elevates the elbow above heart level will also reduce swelling and pain.
The treatment options include non-surgical and surgical treatment. The conservative or the non-surgical options include
- Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will be prescribed to provide relief from pain and inflammation.
- After the pain has subsided, your doctor may suggest initiation of rehabilitation program which includes strengthening and stretching exercises to develop strength and muscle control.
Surgical treatment may be required in severe cases if there is a break in the bone. Surgery is done in girls above 12 years and boys above 14 years. Surgical method involves removal of loose fragments of the bone, bone grafting, and reattachment of ligament back to the bone.
Some of the measures to prevent little leaguer’s elbow include reduction in number of pitches a child throws. Before starting with the activity, your child should perform warm up exercises.
Little League Shoulder
Little league shoulder is an injury to the growth plate of the upper arm bone in the shoulder joint of children. It is caused due to overuse from pitching or throwing, especially in children between the ages of 10 to 15 years. This condition is mostly seen in baseball pitchers, but children in other sports who use improper throwing action are also at risk.
Symptoms associated with this condition include:
- Pain in the shoulder while playing
- Swelling of the shoulder joint
- Reduced speed and control while throwing
- Difficulty in lifting the arm
Little league shoulder is diagnosed with the help of your child’s symptoms, medical history and physical examination of the shoulder. Your doctor may also suggest a shoulder X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.
Little league shoulder is best treated by resting the shoulder until the injury heals. Your doctor may recommend exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles or physical therapy during this time.
Injuries, diseases and strain can lead to inflammation and pain in the joints. Some of the common joints where you would experience pain include:
- Neck Pain
- Low Back Pain
- Foot Pain
- Hip Pain
- Knee Pain
- Hand Pain
- Shoulder Pain
- Elbow Pain
The term arthritis literally means inflammation of a joint, but is generally used to describe any condition in which there is damage to the cartilage. Inflammation is the body's natural response to injury. The warning signs that inflammation presents are redness, swelling, heat and pain.
Spine trauma is damage to the spine caused from a sudden traumatic injury caused by an accidental fall or any other physical injury.
Causes of Neck/Back Pain
The most common cause of neck pain is injury to the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments or nerves) or repetitive motion that causes wear and tear. Traumatic accidents or falls and contact sports can cause severe neck injuries causing pain in the neck. Neck pain can also come from infections, tumors or congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae. Common conditions producing neck pain include:
- Disc herniation: Disc herniation is the bulging or rupture of the soft fibrous tissue, discs, cushioning the vertebrae. The condition can be caused by the normal aging or by traumatic injury to the spine. It results in painful, burning, tingling or numbing sensations in the neck.
- Spondylosis: Spondylosis refers to abnormal degeneration of the cartilage and bones in the neck region. The condition results in neck/back pain radiating to arms or legs and back stiffness that gets worse over time.
- Spinal stenosis: Spinal stenosis refers to narrowing of the spinal canal that protects the spinal cord and its branching nerves. The condition causes back pain radiating to arms and legs.
- Degenerative disc disease: Degenerative disc disease refers to gradual deterioration of the disc between the vertebrae and is caused due to aging. As people age, intervertebral discs lose their flexibility, elasticity and shock absorbing characteristics, resulting in neck pain.
Diagnosis of Neck/Back Pain
Diagnosis of neck pain is made with a physical examination and other imaging techniques including electromyography (EMG), X-ray, MRI scan, CT scan, blood tests and bone density assessment.
Treatment Options for Neck/Back Pain
Treatment options include rest, ice application and elevation of the injured area, use of a soft neck collar and neck immobilization using a splint, cast or sling. Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics and muscle relaxants may be prescribed to reduce the pain and inflammation. Certain stretching and strengthening exercises may be recommended to strengthen the neck muscles. If conservative treatment fails to relieve symptoms surgical intervention may be required
Orthopedic injuries occur quite commonly at the work place and can often be debilitating. They may affect any part of the body and may be caused by repetitive movements. Common work-related injuries include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common, painful, progressive work-related injury that is caused by compression of the median nerve at the wrist area.
- Neck injuries that may occur due to falls or auto accidents
- Shoulder pain due to rotator cuff injury which is a very common cause of pain and disability in the US. It may occur due to overhead lifting activity.
- Wrist Pain due to falling on an outstretched arm or carrying heavy objects
- Back Injuries that may result in permanent damage to the spinal cord. Knee Injuries such as ligament tears, meniscal tears, or bone dislocations
Pain is the body’s natural response to injury or disease. It is an alert that there is something wrong in your body. Pain that continues for a long period of time – 3 to 6 months – is called chronic pain. A combination of physical therapy, counselling and relaxation therapy are usually suggested to treat chronic pain.