What Is Sports Medicine?
Sports medicine is the prevention and therapeutic treatment of athletic injuries. Many active people suffer major sports injuries caused by body or object impact during contact sports, poor training practices, or the use of improper gear. Sports injuries can also be caused by exercising without proper pre-routine stretching and warm-ups, and those who are not in shape and take on exercises that strain their muscles and bodies too forcefully may also be at increased risk for a sports injury. Sports medicine can also include injuries and conditions brought on by body stresses in the workplace and other environments.
At All-Star Orthopaedics, Drs. Mark S. Greenberg, Kevin M. Honig, W. Grear Hurt, Bing S. Tsay, and Thomas M. Schott take a special focus on treating sports injuries caused by a variety of factors. Sports injuries do not automatically require surgery, and many conditions can be treated with simple treatment plans, medicine, and physical therapy.
Although surgery is sometimes required for the best possible outcome, our orthopaedic surgeons typically recommend surgery as a last resort. Please contact our practice to schedule a consultation with our sports medicine specialists.
- Sports Injuries
- Sports Medicine Treatment Options
- Injury Prevention Tips
- Diagnosing Sports Injuries
- Finding the Best Sports Doctor
- When to See a Physician
What Are Different Types of Sports Injuries?
Common sports injuries include:
- Knee Injuries
- Shoulder Injuries Muscle Swelling/Injury
- Shin/Calf Injuries
- Hand Injuries
- Bone Breaks/Fractures
- Injuries to the Achilles Tendon
- Workplace-Related Injuries
- Numbness and Tingling
- Nerve Injuries
Running, pivoting, turning, jumping, and other athletic movements can be hard on the knees. Some of the most common knee injuries are fractures, dislocations, ligament and tendon tears, meniscal tears, and concerns caused by wear-and-tear. Many knee injuries can be treated without surgery, but for more severe problems, surgical intervention may be needed. For those with damaged cartilage, our team offers the innovative Carticel® knee cartilage treatment.
We use our arms and shoulders every day to perform tasks big and small. Athletes aren’t the only ones subject to injuries in this area, and millions of people seek treatment for shoulder problems each year. Common injuries affect the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, although the bones can also suffer from acute and chronic damage. Overuse and traumatic injuries can cause serious functional concerns over time and should be evaluated.
Athletes often experience “pulled” or strained muscles, such as in the hamstring. Most muscle injuries like these can be treated without surgery, although a tear of the muscle may require a more aggressive approach. Muscle conditioning and stretching can help reduce the chances of suffering from a muscle strain.
Muscle injuries are very common among athletes when too much force is placed on a particular area of the body. For example, one of the most common muscle injuries occurs in the hamstring – the system of muscles running down the back of the thigh. When the muscles are stretched beyond capacity, pulling and partial or complete tearing can occur. A number of factors can cause you to overload the muscles, including poor conditioning, muscle fatigue, muscle imbalance, and tightness of the muscles. Certain activities can also put you more at risk of muscle injury, including running/sprinting, dancing, and contact sports. Older people and adolescent athletes may also be at a higher risk of muscle injury.
Symptoms of muscle injury include swelling, bruising, and persistent weakness in the area. Treatment for muscle injury depends on severity; however, rest, ice, compression, and elevation are often highly effective at improving the condition. Immobilization and physical therapy often follow to help the muscle heal. Partial and complete muscle tears may require surgery, followed by physical therapy. Many people who have suffered muscle injuries make a full recovery with full function if the proper treatment is administered.
Shin splints, muscle cramps and strains, and Achilles tendonitis are examples of common conditions affecting the calf and shin region. Sudden injury or overuse can lead to pain and swelling in this area, although most concerns can be addressed non-surgically.
Fractures, sprains, nerve injuries, and mallet finger are just a few of the concerns that can occur in the hands. Many types of sports and recreational games involve throwing, catching, or hitting an object, which can easily lead to damage in this area. Depending on the type of injury that has occurred, hand surgery or another treatment method may be recommended.
Essentially any bone in the body can be fractured, but athletes more commonly experience traumatic or acute bone breaks on the hands, wrists, collarbones, ankles, and feet. Repetitive motions, such as long-distance running, can also lead to stress fractures. Breaks need to be treated immediately and the type and severity of the fracture will determine how to treat it.
Joints become dislocated when the connecting surfaces are separated partially or fully. The shoulder, elbow, hip, and knee are some of the most common joints to dislocate during sports. Minor or simple dislocations cause minimal damage and can usually be repaired non-surgically. Severe and complex dislocations, however, may require surgery and more advanced treatment to correct.
Injuries to the Achilles Tendon
The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone and makes it possible to walk, run, and jump. A partial or full tear of this tendon can be extremely debilitating. Both non-surgical and surgical treatments are available, and the right approach is based on the type of injury and how significant it is.
Our orthopaedic surgeons can evaluate your condition and set up a treatment plan designed to provide the best possible improvement.
Whether you work in a factory, an office, the outdoors, or just about any work environment, you may be susceptible to a work-related injury. The doctors at All-Star Orthopaedics are experts at treating a variety of workplace injuries in a range of body areas, including:
Workplace injuries can include sprains and strains caused by lifting heavy objects, injuries caused by impact with objects or other people, and various conditions of the upper extremities brought on by poor office ergonomics or the sheer strain of constant repetitive motion such as typing.
All-Star Orthopaedics can treat a comprehensive array of work-related injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, bursitis, tendonitis, sprains and strains, nerve and muscle injuries, spinal injuries and strains, fractures, and much more.
Numbness and Tingling
Constant numbness and tingling in various parts of the body, particularly the hands, can be caused by sports or work-related injuries that you may not even know you’ve suffered until the symptoms begin. Numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers are very common, and they are typically caused by nerves in the wrist being compressed by structures that surround them. This can happen as the result of repetitive motion and work that requires the excessive use of your hands. Carpal tunnel syndrome is often the diagnosis in cases of hand numbness and tingling; however, there are many factors that can cause the condition, and it can affect other body parts as well. These factors include: remaining in the same position for an extended period of time, lack of blood supply to the area, nerve injury, pressure on spinal nerves, herniated disk, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, stroke, thyroid conditions, migraines, certain medications, vitamin deficiency, and others.
Treatments for numbness and tingling will vary depending on the extent and area of the body where it is being encountered. Wrist splints can be useful in cases of carpal tunnel syndrome; anti-inflammatory medications can also be beneficial in mild cases. Vitamin supplements and physical therapy are also common remedies. Cases of severe numbness and/or tingling, as well as those that have lasted for protracted periods of time, may require surgery.
If you are experiencing numbness and/or tingling in any part of the body, it is important to see a doctor right away to assess the cause and begin treatment.
Nerve injuries can often be caused by cutting, stretching, or an inordinate amount of pressure applied to them. This can ultimately result in muscles failing to work properly and a loss of feeling in the area. Nerve injuries can sometimes heal themselves with the proper care. Physical therapy can keep mobility running through the joints and the muscles working while the nerve heals. In many cases of nerve injury, patients must take extreme care not to further injure the area, as they may not feel pain if the damaged nerves do not alert the brain that something is wrong. Severe cases of nerve injury, such as cut nerves, may require surgery.
Sprains are characterized by a ligament that is stretched or torn. Ligaments, connective tissues between the bone and the joint, can be extremely painful when stressed or injured. Some of the most common sprains occur in the ankles and the knees after a sudden twist, fall, or impact. A sprain can often be felt as a tear or a pop when it happens. Sprains can often cause severe pain and discomfort, bruising and swelling, inability to stand, and a decreased range of motion. Treatment usually involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Some sprains are so severe that crutches may be temporarily required for walking. If RICE and various medications do not help the sprain to improve, exercise and physical therapy may be recommended.
Strains are torn or stretched muscles or tendons (the connective tissue between the muscle and bone). Like sprains, strains can occur suddenly; however, strains can also develop over time. They commonly occur in the back and hamstring, and often affect those who are involved in sports. New exercise programs requiring more body stresses than you are accustomed to can also lead to strains. Strains typically cause pain, inflammation, muscle spasms, cramping, and swelling. Treatment for strains is dependent on how badly the muscles or tendons are injured. Many strains can be easily treated with rest, ice, compression, elevation and/or stretching of the area. Some strains may require physical therapy or immobilization, while more severe cases may necessitate surgery.
How Are Sports-Related Injuries Diagnosed?
A prompt diagnosis of a sports-related injury is important to prevent further damage from occurring. Some sports injuries can occur suddenly, creating instant pain or discomfort, while others may gradually develop over time, only being noticed when they’ve gotten severe. One of the first steps for diagnosing a sports-related injury is a physical examination. Your doctor may try to move the area causing you discomfort to see whether it is moving properly or not. During this exam, you will be asked about how and when you injured the area, which can help them understand what the culprit may be.
In many cases, imaging tests will be conducted to provide a closer look at the injured body area. These tests may include X-ray, MRI, CT, or ultrasound scans, which can all offer an in-depth view of your injury. Based on this imaging, your doctor should be able to diagnose your sports injury. If you have a mild injury, such as a sprain or strain, you will most likely be advised to rest the area and potentially wear a splint. After this initial period, if your injury does not seem to be getting better, a more advanced treatment option may be explored.
What Sports Medicine Treatment Options Are Available?
The best approach to a sports injury is to have it diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible. By correcting or repairing your concern right away, you may be able to see significant improvement without the need for invasive techniques. Sports medicine treatments include many options, and the right one for you will depend on the severity of your injury and how your body responds to the recommended therapy. At our practice, we will suggest the most conservative method suitable to your needs. Treatments include:
- Medication to reduce pain and inflammation
- RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation of the affected area
- Immobilization using a cast, splint, brace, or special shoe
- Physical therapy
- Sports training
- Surgery to address tears, lacerations, fractures, and dislocations
Tips for Preventing Sports Injuries and Work-Related Ailments
Many injuries happen as a result of preventable accidents or situations. You can limit the risk of experiencing a sports injury or work-related ailment by following the tips provided below:
- Keep muscles strong and flexible by following a doctor-approved exercise regimen
- Increase the strenuousness of exercises gradually to limit overdoing it
- Wear the appropriate clothing when participating in sports and athletic activities, and ensure that all gear (helmets, pads, mouthguards, facemasks, shoes, etc.) fits properly
- Wait a reasonable amount of time between eating a heavy meal and exercising
- Follow a healthy diet
- Rest when injured or tired
- Learn and understand all the rules to the games you play
How Can I Find the Best Sports Doctor?
Finding the right sports medicine physician is important for your immediate care and long-term results. Orthopaedic doctors who specialize in sports medicine are typically the professionals you would want to see with any sports injury, as they are well-versed in how to diagnose and treat a wide range of problems related to physical activity.
When seeking a sports doctor, it can be helpful to look for a physician’s credentials and specialties. Choosing a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon who has a special focus in sports medicine means they have undergone extensive training and have the expertise needed to provide high-quality care.
Reading online patient reviews can also help you understand a doctor’s reputation and what to expect should you choose them for your needs. From bedside manner to waiting times, sports doctor reviews and ratings can give you insight on whether a professional may be a good fit for you.
If you ever feel uncomfortable with a doctor or their qualifications, you may want to get a second opinion from another physician. The prevention or treatment of sports injuries can often be a long road for some men and women, which is why it is important that you feel confident in your doctor’s skills and at-ease when in their care.
When to See a Sports Medicine Physician
You’re experiencing pain and/or mobility issues; should you see the family physician or a sports medicine doctor? In many cases, your primary care physician can make a determination about whether you will need to see a specialist for your concern. Generally speaking, a sports medicine physician is the one to contact if you:
Suffer an acute injury from playing sports or exercising—you may notice sudden pain, swelling, weakness, loss of movement, or an anatomical abnormality.
Experience chronic pain during exercise or athletic activities—you may notice pain during play, swelling that increases after you finish playing, or lingering pain or aches following play.
Need orthopaedic surgery—If you experience a sports injury that requires surgery, such as a serious fracture or a tendon or ligament tear, you will need to see a specialist to perform the operation.
Require assistance recovering from a sports injury—Returning to your sport or activity too quickly can lead to poor healing and possible re-injury. It’s important to follow the prescribed recovery plan as outlined by your sports medicine physician.
Want assistance preventing an injury—If you plan to participate in a new sport or exercise, an evaluation to ensure you are physically fit and healthy to join can identify any issues before they occur and provide insight into how to begin as safely as possible.
Please contact All-Star Orthopaedics for more information on sports medicine, or to schedule a consultation with one of our orthopaedic surgeons.