May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. It’s a wonderful time to reinforce the importance of exercise and fitness. Regular physical activity can prevent several chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. In addition to encouraging physical activity, May is a good time to reinforce the importance of preventing injury during exercise and sports.
If you or your child participates in any athletic sport, chances are high you have already experienced injuries. To prevent and treat injuries, athletes can benefit from working with sports medicine experts. These professionals can help educate them about physical risks and promote healthy healing if an injury occurs. Without proper treatment and healing time, injuries can progressively worsen. If your sport injures you, be sure to seek the least invasive methods of treatment. Surgery can prolong healing time and cause unnecessary risks.
Common Athletics Injuries
Injuries vary across different sports but commonly affect the same body parts. Running, arm movements and muscle strains can occur in any sport. The degree of injury will determine recuperation time and treatment method.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a major ligament in the knees. Football and lacrosse players often suffer ACL injuries due to frequent pivoting and maneuvering. Collisions that happen when the knee twists often occur in during games. ACL injuries can result in tears or strains to the ligament. Surgery is often unnecessary unless the ACL is torn completely through.
Collisions and falls during athletics can lead to concussions. Symptoms include vomiting, confusion, slurred speech, and severe headaches. Current treatment options for concussions include rest and inactivity. Children or adults suffering multiple concussions should consider stopping the sport to avoid permanent brain injury. Before returning to sports, athletes with a concussion must receive medical clearance.
Runners, soccer players, and other field athletes often suffer from shin splints, which causes pain from small tears in the muscle surrounding the bones. Inflammation can also be present, compounding the problem. Poor stretching, overpronation, and inadequate shoe support often cause shin splints. Treatment includes rest, stretching, and topical creams. Athletes with shin splints are at higher risk for developing the same injury in the future.
Groin muscles are in the upper inner thigh. Twisting or overexertion when kicking or jumping often causes injuries. Groin injuries can also occur during running due to improper stretching. Pain in the groin can be mild to severe, depending on the type of injury. Treatment includes inactivity, icing, elevation, and anti-inflammatories. If the injury is severe, physical therapy may be necessary.
Hamstring injuries are common in athletes of all sports. The hamstring muscles are located on the back side of the leg. Injury to a hamstring can include a strain or tear. Improper stretching or overextending leg muscles can result in hamstring injury. Treatment includes rest and ice for minor injuries. Torn hamstrings may need surgical repair.
Running, basketball, soccer, and volleyball are the most common sports for player ankle sprains. The injury typically occurs when athletes’ ankles twist excessively. Athletes suffering from a strain often have swelling and bruising at the injury site. Treatment for sprains includes rest, icing, and elevation of injury. Ankle sprain recovery varies greatly, from two weeks to 12 weeks after initial injury.
Tennis elbow doesn’t occur only in tennis players. Golfers are also prone to the injury, as they often overuse medial and lateral muscles are overused. Arm tendons become inflamed, requiring rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication. Topical treatments are also available to reduce swelling. Tennis elbow will require a few weeks of recovery time.
Effective Treatment for Athletic Injuries
When injuries occur, physicians recommend the least-invasive treatments possible. Prescription medications, topical creams, and injections often ensure the smallest chance for side effects. Athletes who opt for surgery to heal injuries often have longer recovery times and more long-lasting effects than those who do not undergo surgery. Long-term use of aspirin, acetaminophen, and other over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and painkillers comes with a number of dangerous side effects. However, medical providers can order precisely formulated medications to avoid allergies and medication interactions. Custom medication dosing, available from compounding pharmacists, often ensures the best results. Before you consider surgery, research options for a personalized plan of care.