Sports injuries refer to a range of orthopedic conditions that commonly affect athletes. The repetitive motions utilized by many sports activities put participants at a higher risk of injuring the associated joints and bones. At Rockville Centre Pain Management & Rehabilitation we specialize in treating a wide range of sports injuries, including:
Ankle sprain refers to the stretching or tearing of one or more ligaments, the tough fibrous bands responsible for keeping the ankle bones in place. They can occur as a sport injury, or as a result of an accident. Twisting, rolling and turning the feet are the movements known for causing ankle sprains. Symptoms of ankle sprains may include pain, swelling, stiffness and bruising. The occurrence of ankle sprains can be minimized with the help of adequate footwear and exercising caution on uneven surfaces.
Shin splints are a condition that is typically associated with exercise. It is characterized by pain along or just behind the shins. Pain occurs about two-thirds of the way down the leg below the knee, spans several inches, and tends to worsen with activity. This discomfort results from inflammation of the thin layer of tissue covering the tibia, as well as from the bone itself and two of the muscles that attach to it. Shin splints are common in people that begin training after a period of inactivity. Proper footwear while exercising can minimize the occurrence of shin splints.
ACL tear is one of the most common knee injuries. The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), along with three other ligaments, connects the femur to the tibia. Individuals who play sports that are likely to damage the knee - such as football, basketball, soccer or skiing - are at greatest risk for injuring their ACL. Only about 30 percent of ACL injuries result from direct contact with another player or object. The rest occur when the athlete decelerates while cutting, pivoting or sidestepping; lands awkwardly; or plays recklessly. Symptoms of an ACL injury may include pain, swelling, and instability immediately after the injury, followed hours later by heightened pain and swelling, limited motion, and an inability to walk comfortably. To minimize the occurrence of an ACL tear, it is important to stay fit year-round.
Tennis Elbow occurs as a result of overuse and most commonly affects tennis players. This condition affects the lateral epicondyle, the area where the tendons of the forearms connect with the bony outer portion of the elbow. The symptoms of tennis elbow may include forearm weakness, pain when the wrist is extended, and pain that spreads from the outside of the elbow into the forearm and wrist. There are certain elbow and wrist muscle exercises that can be done to minimize the occurrence of tennis elbow. Proper training is also helpful in preventing tennis elbow.
Whiplash (CAD Syndrome)
Whiplash is a common neck condition that occurs as a result of a sudden backwards-forwards motion of the head, often associated with car accidents. This type of injury can stretch the muscles and ligaments as the neck moves out of its normal range of motion. Women are more likely to experience whiplash than men, presumably because men's necks are usually stronger.
Causes of Whiplash
In addition to resulting from vehicular accidents, most commonly rear-end collisions, whiplash can occur from injuries suffered during:
- Roller coaster rides
- Contact sports
- Physical abuse
Any activity in which the neck area is moved suddenly or violently may result in whiplash. Being punched or tackled puts an individual at risk for the injury, as does being shaken. One of the injuries suffered in shaken baby syndrome is whiplash.
Symptoms of Whiplash
Patients with whiplash usually develop some symptoms within 24 hours of the injury. It is not unusual, however, for other symptoms to appear, or for symptoms to worsen, weeks after the original injury. Physical injuries after whiplash may include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Headaches, especially at the base of skull
- Blurred vision
- Ringing or buzzing in the ears
A wide range of cognitive or emotional symptoms may also result from whiplash. These include:
- Concentration difficulties
- Memory problems
- Sleep disturbances
- Depression, anxiety, irritability
Because whiplash may occur with other serious injuries, such as disc or ligament injury, or concussion, it is important for patients to report severe or worsening symptoms to their physicians, particularly if their pain spreads to their shoulders or arms, if they experience weakness, numbness or tingling in their arms, or if moving the head becomes painful.
Treatment of Whiplash
Most patients recover from whiplash injuries within 4 to 6 weeks through the help of conservative treatments, such as applying ice to the area and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. More severe cases of whiplash may require corticosteroid injections or the use of a cervical collar for several hours during the day to immobilize the neck. It is important to wear a cervical collar for limited periods of time and only under medical guidance. Patients with whiplash should be carefully evaluated by their physicians before engaging in any physical therapy for the condition. While gentle massage, chiropractic care, electrical stimulation or ultrasound can provide significant relief, exercise, even mild exercise, may be contraindicated if the patient has also suffered a concussion.