Sports injuries are common; they can happen to anyone, regardless of age or skill level. While sports injuries are preventable and it’s always best to know how to prevent them, there is no such thing as a foolproof preventive strategy.
The most common sports injuries include sprains, strains, tendonitis, and fractures affecting the shoulder, knee, arm, leg, and ankle. These injuries may not be completely preventable, but there are appropriate measures you can take in the event that you sustain one.
Let’s talk about how you can prepare for common sports injuries and where to seek effective sports injury treatment in Central Maryland.
Sprains occur when your ligaments are stretched beyond their capacity. Sprains commonly affect the ligaments in the ankle and knee. The R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method— typically in conjunction with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories—is the mainstay of treatment for uncomplicated cases of sprains.
Rest should take at least 72 hours, during which ice should be applied to the area: twenty minutes each time, every two hours. Compression and elevation will help reduce blood flow and prevent swelling. Keep the affected leg elevated, ideally above the level of the heart. Avoid exercising for a few days after the injury.
If you notice severe pain and swelling, restricted range of motion, or a popping sensation, consult a sports medicine specialist right away. Your doctor will order an X-ray to ascertain the severity of the sprain (whether it’s a grade I, II, or III) and prescribe treatment based on the results of the evaluation.
A strain, while often referred to as a pulled muscle, is an injury either to a muscle or a tendon. Strains commonly affect the muscles in the back and the hamstrings.
Similar to sprains, strains are also basically treated using the R.I.C.E. method and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. However, in cases of severe strains (which involve loss of muscle function, severe pain, and very limited movement), it also pays to see a sports medicine specialist.
Like sprains, strains are categorized into three grades, based on the extent of the muscle fiber damage. Your sports medicine doctor will devise a treatment plan, depending on the location of your strain and which grade it is. Severe strains require proper immobilization and physical therapy program.
Your bones may be very strong, but they are not invulnerable to fractures, which can result from a direct blow to the body, falls, or body-to-body collisions.
First aid for a fracture depends on the severity of the injury. If there is no open wound and no bone is piercing the skin, you can just immobilize the area by applying a splint and keeping it in a neutral position. Icing the area helps with pain and swelling.
If you’re unsure about how to properly immobilize the fractured area or determine whether it’s a fracture in the first place, see a sports medicine specialist, who can help you with both. You may think it’s just a sprain, but it may very well be a fracture. Fractures usually need diagnostic imaging tests both to rule out other types of injury and to determine their severity.
If there is severe pain, deformity, bleeding, bone piercing through the skin, go to the emergency room. First aid for bleeding involves applying a clean piece of cloth or bandage on the area to stop it, while you’re waiting to receive medical intervention.
Tendonitis occurs when your tendons get inflamed or injured, as a result of overusing them, poor body mechanics, or lack of conditioning. This type of injury commonly affects the tendons in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
The R.I.C.E. method is also applicable to tendonitis, and it’s usually enough, as long as the injury is not accompanied by severe pain. However, if symptoms do not improve or when the injury is accompanied by limited mobility and severe pain, it’s also wise to see a sports medicine specialist, who can perform a comprehensive assessment so as to rule out other types of sports injuries that have similar symptoms.
In cases of severe tendinitis (which may lead to a tendon rupture), your sports medicine specialist may recommend surgery to prevent serious complications.
Sports Injury Treatment in Central Maryland
If you sustained a sports injury and are looking for effective treatment, see one of our sports medicine specialists here at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland (OACM). We provide innovative nonsurgical and surgical treatment options for the full range of sports injuries as well as on-site physical therapy services, so you can achieve a quick, successful recovery.
To make an appointment with one of our sports medicine doctors from OACM, call (410) 644-1880 or use our online request form.