Sports medicine is a division of medicine that deals with physical fitness and the treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise. And no, sports medicine is not just for professional athletes! If you are injured while exercising or playing a sport, we know you want to heal and get back to normal as soon as possible. That’s what sports medicine is for. The following are some conditions and injuries that sports medicine can help you address:
An Achilles tendon tear is a tear or rupture on the tendon on the back of your ankle. It is often caused by activities that involve sprinting or pushing off, like basketball, track, or tennis. Treatment for an Achilles tendon tear typically involves pain relievers, rest, ice, compression, elevation, and perhaps a splint or crutches. If serious, it’s possible that an Achilles tendon tear could require surgery.
Foot pain can result from many different injuries to your feet that you can suffer while exercising or playing sports. Many foot injuries result from overuse. Some common injuries we see with foot pain include plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, neuromas, and heel spurs. The good news is that many foot injuries can be treated with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medications. However, if your foot pain doesn’t go away within a day or two, it’s time to see a doctor.
Almost every athlete will experience ankle pain at some point in their career. Ankle pain can be the result of anything from a sprained ankle (see below for more about sprained ankles) or a complex ankle fracture. Minor ankle pain and injuries can be treated at home with rest, ice, compression and elevation. However, if your ankle pain is preventing you from walking or exercising, visit a doctor right away. It might be serious if your ankle pain was caused by a forceful impact or is accompanied by swelling, bruising, tenderness, or the inability to stand or walk.
Meniscus tears commonly happen to athletes playing sports. The meniscus is the cartilage in your knee that acts as a shock absorber for the knee joint. There are actually two menisci in each knee: one on the inner part of the knee and another on the outer part of the knee. A meniscus tear usually happens during an acute knee twisting injury and is not easy to prevent. However, it is also possible to suffer a degenerative meniscus tear, which can happen over time. The treatment of a meniscus tear is dependent on several factors, including the age of the patient, the timing of the injury, and the patient’s symptoms. Some treatments include icing the area, anti-inflammatory medications, an elastic bandage or knee brace, injections, physical therapy, and sometimes arthroscopic surgery.
A knee sprain is an injury of one or more of the four main ligaments that connect the bones of the upper and lower leg at the knee joint. These are the ACL, PCL, MCL, and the LCL. When one knee ligament suffers a serious sprain, there is a good chance that other parts of the knee are also injured. This is one of the most common injuries we see in athletes. Knee sprains can range from mild to severe, and the treatment will depend on the seriousness of the injury. A mild knee sprain will only require RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), but a severe knee sprain might require surgery.
Ligament tears are a common injury in the sports world. Ligaments are cords of tough but flexible fibrous tissue that connect bones together and support joints. Though ligaments are strong, an awkward twist or stretch can cause a ligament tear, which is the most severe kind of ligament injury. There are ligaments in your thumbs, shoulders, elbows, and knees. Mild ligament injuries can be treated with RICE and physical therapy, but severe ligament tears often need to be fixed with surgery to repair or replace the ligament.
A rotator cuff tear is the partial or full tear of one or multiple of the four muscles that help move your shoulder. Your rotator cuff keeps the long end of the bone of the arm within the shallow socket of your shoulder. Rotator cuff injuries often happen with repetitive use of the arm (commonly seen in pitchers in baseball), but can also occur after suffering trauma, like falling on an outstretched hand. These types of injuries are often treated with anti-inflammatory medication, rest, physical therapy exercises, and sometimes surgery.
Another common sports injury is an ACL tear. An ACL tear happens when there is a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which is one of the main stabilizing ligaments in the knee. It is the ligament that connects the thigh bone to the leg bone. ACL injuries commonly occur when an athlete jumps, pivots, or some other rapid change of direction occurs. Some sports with high ACL injury rates are football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, and skiing. An ACL tear needs to be diagnosed by an orthopaedic sports medicine physician. Some ACL tears can be treated with non-surgical methods, but others will require surgery.
An ankle sprain is one of the most common sports injuries. It is an injury to the ligaments that help keep the ankle stable. If there is a sudden twist or roll to the ankle, the ligaments will tear, resulting in an ankle sprain (and lots of ankle pain.) If you think you might have sprained your ankle, you will need to be examined by a sports medicine physician. Ankle sprains are generally treated with ice, anti-inflammatory medicine, and support like a wrap or ankle brace.
As you’ve probably noticed, several of the sports-related injuries we discussed can require surgery to get you back to your normal self. Arthroscopic surgery is a procedure doctors use to look at, diagnose, and treat problems inside a joint. You may need arthroscopic surgery if you have injured a joint, have inflammation in a joint, or have damaged a joint over time. Arthroscopic surgery is most often performed on the knee, shoulder, elbow, ankle, hip, or wrist. A doctor performs this procedure by inserting pencil-thin instruments through a small cut. The doctor will use an arthroscope, which is a tool that has a camera lens and a light, to see inside the joint. It’s possible that the doctor can fix the issue within your joint during this procedure. This kind of surgery is much less invasive and painful than open surgery.
If you need treatment for any of these conditions, reach out to us today!
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