We Americans do love our sports – and not just as spectators, but as active participants. Whether it’s football, baseball, softball, soccer, swimming, golf – you name it – we’re a very athletic breed. Which also means we’re prone to sports injuries.
In fact, according to Stop Sports Injuries, an organization comprised of numerous orthopedic associations, high school athletes alone account for some two million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations per year. Imagine the actual number if you included professional athletes and adult enthusiasts.
It only stands to reason that vigorous physical activity and contact sports will lead to injury. Here are the most common sports injuries to expect, and avoid.
Due to its complex structure and weight-bearing capacity, the knee is the most commonly injured joint. Knee injuries range from less severe but painful (runner’s knee, tendonitis), to severe (anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). Knee injuries can be caused by a blow to or twist of the knee; improper landing after a jump; or from running too hard, too much, or without a proper warmup.
If you are feeling pain along the tibia or shin bone, the large bone in the front of the lower leg and you are a runner or play court sports, there is a good chance you have developed shin splints. Common causes for shin splints include: overuse of the lower leg; improper stretching, warm-up, or exercise technique; overtraining; running or jumping on hard surfaces; and running in shoes that don’t provide enough cushioning or support.
Achilles Tendon Tear
Overstretching, tearing, or irritating the tendon connecting the calf muscle to the back of the heel could very well mean you have strained or torn your Achilles tendon. Achilles tendon injuries are common in everyday athletes who don’t exercise regularly or stretch properly before an activity. Among elite athletes, most Achilles injuries occur in quick-acceleration, jumping sports like football and basketball.
Sprains and Strains
Sprains occur when a ligament is stretched or torn, usually in the ankle, knee, or wrist; or from trauma resulting from a fall or blow to the body that knocks a joint out of position or ruptures a ligament. Strains are twists, pulls, or tears of muscles or tendons and usually result from a non-contact injury that occurs from over-stretching or over-contraction.
This refers to when two bones that form a joint become separated. Most dislocations are the result of excessive stretching or falling, especially during contact sports such as football and basketball. The joints most likely to be dislocated are those in the shoulders and hands.
A fracture can occur as the result of a quick, one-time injury to a bone (an acute fracture) or from repeated stress over time (a stress fracture). An acute fracture can be a clean break with little or no damage to surrounding tissue or a compound fracture in which the bones pierce the skin. Either way, an acute fracture is considered an emergency. Stress fractures are common in sports that rely on repetitive impact (gymnastics, tennis, track and field) and occur mostly in the feet and legs. That’s because running and jumping forces two to three times an athlete’s body weight on the lower limbs.
Concussions are caused by blows to the head. While most think of concussions as the result of aggressive contact sports like football and rugby, any sport where the head is at risk of being hit or hitting the floor can result in a concussion. Concussions can also occur as a result of the upper body and head being shaken violently, such as if you participate in motocross or skiing. Some concussions are so traumatic that they cause you to lose consciousness, but most do not. In fact, it’s possible to sustain a concussion without even realizing it.
Sports injuries are more likely to occur if you play too much and too hard, or if you don’t properly train and warm up or wear improper equipment (or none at all). However, many sports injuries can be prevented provided you take the proper precautions.
Luckily, most sports injuries can be treated effectively at Patient Care Now Urgent Care in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania. Owned and operated by board-certified emergency medicine providers, we pride ourselves in providing a seamless medical experience to our patients, including those with sports injuries. Call us at (267) 202-6433 for all your urgent care needs, or use our easy-to-use online check-in form now.