Sports Medicine & Injuries -- June 2, 2008 -- Dr. John Jasko & Dr. J. Bartley McGehee - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Sports Medicine & Injuries -- June 2, 2008 -- Dr. John Jasko & Dr. J. Bartley McGehee

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Sports medicine and injuries

"Sports injuries" are injuries that happen when playing sports or exercising. Some are from accidents. Others can result from poor training practices or improper gear. Some people get injured when they are not in proper condition. Not warming up or stretching enough before you play or exercise can also lead to injuries. The most common sports injuries are:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Knee injuries
  • Swollen muscles
  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Pain along the shin bone
  • Fractures
  • Dislocations.

  

Acute and chronic injuries

There are two kinds of sports injuries: acute and chronic. Acute injuries occur suddenly when playing or exercising. Sprained ankles, strained backs and fractured hands are acute injuries. Signs of an acute injury include:

  • Sudden, severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Not being able to place weight on a leg, knee, ankle or foot
  • An arm, elbow, wrist, hand or finger that is very tender
  • Not being able to move a joint as normal
  • Extreme leg or arm weakness
  • A bone or joint that is visibly out of place.

Chronic injuries happen after you play a sport or exercise for a long time. Signs of a chronic injury include:

  • Pain when you play
  • Pain when you exercise
  • A dull ache when you rest
  • Swelling.

  

What if I get injured?

Never try to "work through" the pain of a sports injury. Stop playing or exercising when you feel pain. Some injuries should be seen by a doctor right away. Others you can treat yourself. Call a doctor when:

  • The injury causes severe pain, swelling or numbness
  • You can't put any weight on the area
  • An old injury hurts or aches
  • An old injury swells
  • The joint doesn't feel normal or feels unstable.

If you don't have any of these signs, it may be safe to treat the injury at home. If the pain or other symptoms get worse, call your doctor. Use the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) method to relieve pain, reduce swelling and speed healing. Follow these four steps right after the injury occurs and do so for at least 48 hours:

  • Rest. Reduce your regular activities. If you've injured your foot, ankle or knee, take weight off of it. A crutch can help. If your right foot or ankle is injured, use the crutch on the left side. If your left foot or ankle is injured, use the crutch on the right side.
  • Ice. Put an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes, four to eight times a day. You can use a cold pack or ice bag. You can also use a plastic bag filled with crushed ice and wrapped in a towel. Take the ice off after 20 minutes to avoid cold injury.
  • Compression. Put even pressure on the injured area to help reduce swelling. You can use an elastic wrap, special boot, air cast or splint. Ask your doctor which one is best for your injury.
  • Elevation. Put the injured area on a pillow at a level above your heart to help reduce swelling.

How Are Sports Injuries Treated?

Treatment often begins with the RICE method. Here are some other things your doctor may do to treat your sports injury.

Anti-inflammatory drugs
Your doctor will suggest that you take a anti-inflammatory drug such as aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen or naproxen sodium. These drugs reduce swelling and pain. You can buy them at a drug store. Another common drug is acetaminophen. It may relieve pain, but it will not reduce swelling.

Immobilization
Immobilization is a common treatment for sports injuries. It keeps the injured area from moving and prevents more damage. Slings, splints, casts and leg immobilizers are used to immobilize sports injuries.

Surgery
In some cases, surgery is needed to fix sports injuries. Surgery can fix torn tendons and ligaments or put broken bones back in place. Most sports injuries don't need surgery.

Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation is a key part of treatment. It involves exercises that return the injured area to normal. Moving the injured area helps it to heal. Exercises start by gently moving the injured body part through a range of motions. The next step is to stretch. After a while, weights may be used to strengthen the injured area.

As injury heals, scar tissue forms. After a while, the scar tissue shrinks. This shrinking brings the injured tissues back together. When this happens, the injured area becomes tight or stiff. This is when you are at greatest risk of injuring the area again. You should stretch the muscles every day. Always stretch before you play or exercise.

Rest
Although it is good to start moving the injured area as soon as possible, you must also take time to rest after an injury. All injuries need time to heal; proper rest helps the process. Your doctor can guide you on the proper balance between rest and rehabilitation.

  

Prevent sports injuries

These tips can help you avoid sports injures.

  • Don't bend your knees more than half way when doing knee bends.
  • Don't twist your knees when you stretch. Keep your feet as flat as you can.
  • When jumping, land with your knees bent.
  • Do warm-up exercises before you play any sport.
  • Always stretch before you play or exercise.
  • Don't overdo it.
  • Cool down after hard sports or workouts.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly, are stable and absorb shock.
  • Use the softest exercise surface you can find; don't run on asphalt or concrete.
  • Run on flat surfaces.

            - National Institutes of Health

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