There is a common misconception that sports injuries occur solely in athletes at the high school, college and professional levels, but injuries can happen at any age.
In the sports medicine field, we see everyone from professional athletes to kids and weekend warriors. When athletic injuries occur, no matter how minor, sports medicine specialists can often provide treatment early on to prevent more difficult problems down the road.
Overuse injuries, such as shoulder or elbow sprains, are very common and can be a result of repetitive motion.
We see a lot of individuals with relatively minor injuries, such as a sprained ankle or a strained muscle. We often treat these injuries conservatively and help guide patients to return to their desired level of activity safely.
Other common injuries, such as a torn ACL or rotator cuff, as well as acute fractures or dislocations, often require surgical intervention. While surgery may be required for recovery, I want to stress the importance of a preventive approach to treatment.
Participation in year-round sports places all athletes at a higher risk for overuse injuries. I recommend patients take a three-month break from their primary sport each year to focus on cross training. Patients should employ these additional precautions while training:
• Use a variety of workout types in order to prevent overuse
• Increase activity level and intensity at a steady pace
• Always include flexibility and core strength exercises
• Athletes who participate in contact sports are also at an increased risk of suffering an acute injury such as a fracture or dislocation. The proper use of protective equipment is essential to help prevent serious injuries. A training program focused on muscle balance, strength and flexibility can help to decrease the risk of dislocation.
• When injuries do occur, see a sports medicine specialist as soon as possible. It can be difficult for people to know sometimes if an injury is serious or not. If an injury does not improve within a few days, it is best to have it evaluated. We can often help athletes return to full activity quickly and safely while helping to prevent a recurring problem.