The 5 Most Common Athletic Injuries—and How to Treat Them.
Whether you’re a competitive athlete or weekend warrior, athletic injuries can happen to anyone. In fact, over 8.6 million athletes in the United States injure themselves annually. While sprains and falls account for the majority of injuries, there are many ways you can hurt yourself. Depending on a variety of factors, including the sport or activity, your level of overall athleticism, and whether proper safety precautions are taken, you may find yourself with pain that can range from an ache or sore muscles to the inability to move parts of your body. There are many injuries that can cause such symptoms. Here are the five most common and how to treat them.
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear
This common, but very painful, injury occurs when the ACL—the major tendon located in the middle portion of your knee is completely torn. This is often a risk in such sports such as football, basketball, figure skating, lacrosse, soccer, and gymnastics. Major warning signs are severe pain accompanied by a popping sensation, swelling, and the inability to put pressure on that leg. Typically, more than half of ACL injuries require surgery, with an estimated recovery time of six to nine months. Speak to your orthopedist to determine if your injury is severe enough for surgery.
It is estimated that anywhere from 1.7 to 3 million athletics-related concussions occur every year, with football-related injuries accounting for approximately 300,000 of them. Other activities include hockey, skiing/snowboarding, wrestling, and baseball. This occurs when the force of impact from a bump or blow causes your brain to literally shake in your head, which causes an actual chemical change in your brain. This may be accompanied by headache, loss of consciousness, change in mood, nausea, confusion, and slurred or delayed speech. If you experience any of these symptoms, do not continue your activity. Instead, visit your physician to determine if you’re suffering from a concussion and avoid unnecessary physical exertion.
- Patellofemoral syndrome
The erosion or roughening of the cartilage under your kneecap can cause this painful condition, which is common in those who cycle, row, run, or play football or volleyball. Signs that your cartilage is weakening may be knee pain, inability to squat, jump, bend, or climb stairs without pain, a feeling of knee buckling under weight, and a grinding or popping sensation when walking. Often, this can be treated by rest and proper stretching. However, if your pain does not decrease and you notice sudden swelling or a deformed joint, visit your orthopedist for a full exam.
- Shin splints
Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, occur when the bones, muscles, and tendons surrounding your shinbone become inflamed because they’re overworked by repetitive activity. Most often occurring in athletes who dance, run long distance or track and field events, or play lacrosse, rugby, or tennis, this is marked by pain along your shinbone and mild swelling. This pain only gets worse the more pressure you put on your shin; so treat it with rest, ice, and stretches until the pain subsides. If it doesn’t or your shin feels hot or looks excessively swollen, you may have an unrelated condition that only a doctor can diagnose.
- Tennis elbow
Lateral epicondylitis, commonly referred to as tennis elbow, doesn’t only affect tennis players—it’s particularly common in baseball pitchers, as well as golfers and people who play racquetball. It’s marked by pain or tenderness on the bone that protrudes from the outside of your elbow. Tennis elbow takes a long time to heal once you’ve ceased the activity in question. At your orthopedist’s recommendation, you may require physical therapy, an injection into the damaged tendon—or potentially surgery.
Are you suffering from any of these five common athletics-related injuries, or another one? Contact Orlin & Cohen, Long Island’s leading private orthopedic practice. Immediate appointments are available: Schedule yours now.