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Sports Medicine is a branch of orthopedics that deals with the treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise. This area encompasses the entire body from the neck down. Below are some examples of common injuries as well as the treatment options for them.
Sprains are stretched or torn ligaments. Ligaments are the tissue that connect muscle to bone. Strains are stretched or torn muscles. These are referred to as “pulled” muscles. The most common sprained/strained areas are ankles and wrists, but hamstring, knee, and back strains are common as well. The symptoms typically include pain, swelling, bruising, and stiffness.
Most sprains or strains are treated with RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevations. Depending on severity of the sprain or strain, medication or physical therapy could be ordered.
The Achilles tendon resides at the back of the ankle. During sports activity, this tendon can tear or rupture causing sudden and severe pain. An Achilles tendon injury is often debilitating and makes walking very difficult.
Depending on the severity of the injury, RICE is often the first line of defense. More severe injuries may require surgery and can take months to heal completely. Physical therapy, including stretching and strength building exercises, may also be recommended by your doctor.
Dislocations happen when a bone is forced out of its socket at a joint. Swelling and weakness frequently occur.
Medical attention is needed promptly to put the joint back in place. After that, rest, ice, and immobilization may be recommended. Over the counter medication can help with lingering pain.
The rotator cuff is comprised of four separate pieces of muscle which work together to allow the shoulder to move in all directions. A rotator cuff injury occurs when one or more of these muscles is torn or strained. A tear in any of the muscles can weaken the entire rotator cuff.
Depending on severity of the injury, home remedies may help, including rest, ice, and over the counter medication.
If conservative treatment does not work, or if the rotator cuff has undergone a complete tear, surgery may be necessary.
There are two menisci in the knee that act as a cushion between the femur and tibia. Meniscus tears are common in athletes but can affect anyone. They can happen from a fall, a knee twisting injury, or from degeneration over time, as seen in older people. Symptoms can include popping, pain, stiffness, swelling, or the knee “giving way.”
Treatment will either be RICE which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, anti-inflammatory medications, bracing, or surgery. Surgical options include meniscus repair or partial meniscectomy (removal).
The ACL is in the center of the knee. It connects the femur to the tibia and is responsible for stability of the knee. ACL tears tend to happen when a person is either suddenly slowing down and changing directions, pivoting with a foot firmly planted on the ground, awkwardly landing from a jump, or having a direct impact to the knee. Symptoms include a pop or popping sensation, severe pain, rapid swelling, limited range of motion, or instability, such as the knee “giving way.”
Severity and level of activity will determine the treatment required for recovery. As always RICE is very important. Physical therapy will strengthen the knee and help restore the ability to do everyday activities. ACL reconstruction surgery is common for athletes who want to continue their sports, especially if it requires jumping, cutting or pivoting.
Shin splints are pains felt down the front and/or back of the lower legs, usually brought on by running on hard surfaces like paved roads and treadmills. Gymnastics and similar sports may also lead to this painful but minor condition.
Rest, ice, and OTC pain medicine are the cornerstones of treatment for shin splints.
Tennis elbow is most often brought about by repetitive motion in the elbow joint, which can cause inflammation in the tendon. Golfers, tennis players, and other athletes using repetitive motions are most at risk for this particular injury.
After a diagnosis of tennis elbow, the patient should avoid repetitive motion and rest the arm until the pain improves. OTC pain medicine and steroid injections can also be helpful.
If you notice any of the following, please seek immediate medical attention: