Dr. David Flanigan | Sports Medicine | Columbus OH
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Sports Injury Management

Sports injuries are the injuries occur while playing sports. The most common joints affected in sports injuries include shoulders, knees, ankles, and hips. Check below for some of the common sports injuries treated by Dr. David C. Flanigan.

Achilles Ruptures

Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord present behind the ankle that connects the calf muscles to heel bone. It is used when you walk, run and jump. When the Achilles tendon becomes thin, weak, or if it is not used, it may be susceptible to injury or damage. Achilles tendon rupture occurs most often in middle-aged athlete participating in sports that involve running, pivoting, and jumping. Recreational sports that may cause Achilles rupture include tennis, racquetball, basketball, and badminton.

If Achilles tendon is ruptured you will experience severe pain in the back of your leg, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty to stand on tiptoe and push the leg when walking. A popping or snapping sound is heard when the injury occurs. You may also feel a gap or depression in the tendon, just above heel bone.

Your doctor diagnoses the rupture based on symptoms, history of the injury and physical examination. Your doctor will gently squeeze the calf muscles, if the Achilles tendon is intact, there will be flexion movement of the foot, if it is ruptured, there will be no movement observed.

Achilles tendon rupture is treated using non surgical method or surgical method. Non surgical treatment involves wearing a cast or special brace which is changed after some period of time to bring the tendon back to its normal length. Along with cast or brace, physical therapy may be recommended to improve the strength and flexibility of leg muscles and Achilles tendon. Surgical procedure involves opening the skin and suturing the torn tendon together. Surgery helps to decrease the recurrence of the Achilles tendon in comparison to the non-surgical treatment.

To help prevent an Achilles tendon injury, it is a good practice to perform stretching and warm-up exercises before any participating in any activities. Gradually increase the intensity and length of time of activity. Muscle conditioning may help to strengthen the muscles in the body.


Ankle Fractures

Ankle injuries are the most common sports-related injury.  An ankle fracture is a break in one or more bones that make up the ankle joint. Sometimes ligaments may also be damaged. Ankle fractures are most often caused by motor vehicle accident, rolling or twisting of ankle, and by tripping or falling. People participating in sports such as basketball, football, soccer and skiing are at a high risk of developing ankle fractures.

Common symptoms of an ankle fracture include pain and swelling around the ankle, bruising, tender to touch, inability to walk on the leg, and deformity if the ankle is dislocated.

Following an ankle injury it is important to have the ankle evaluated by your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Diagnosis is made based on the history of injury and physical examination of the ankle. In addition, the surgeon may order X-ray of the ankle to determine the extent of the injury.

Treatment varies with the type and severity of the injury. The common method of treatment of ankle fractures is adequate rest, ice application, leg elevation, and medications to reduce swelling and pain. A short leg cast or a brace may be applied over the fractured ankle to provide support. If there is severe injury, excessive swelling or severe pain, you should seek immediate medical treatment.

Some ankle fractures are treated with a splint, which is placed on the ankle for few days until the swelling subsides. Once the swelling decreases a cast may be placed on the ankle to hold the broken bone in a specific place. Surgery may be needed to realign the bones before placing the splint. During surgery, your doctor may place metal screws, plates, or rods to hold the broken bone intact until the healing happens. In some cases, crutches may be used to prevent the ankle from bearing weight.

It is important to use proper fitting shoes for the particular sports activity to reduce the chances of injury.


Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries most commonly occur in athletes participating in sports such as swimming, tennis, pitching, and weightlifting. The injuries are caused due to the over usage or repetitive motion of the arms.

Shoulder injuries cause pain, stiffness, restricted movements, difficulty in performing routine activities, and popping sensation.

Some of the common shoulder injuries include sprains and strains, dislocations, tendinitis, bursitis, rotator cuff injury, fractures, and arthritis.

  • Sprains and strains: A sprain is stretching or tearing of ligaments (tissues that connect adjacent bones in a joint). It is a common injury and usually occurs when you fall or suddenly twist. A strain is stretching or tearing of muscle or tendon (tissues that connect muscle to bone). It is common in people participating in sports. Strains are usually caused by twisting or pulling of the tendons

  • Dislocations: A shoulder dislocation is an injury that occurs when the ends of the bone is forced out of its position. It is often caused by a fall or direct blow to the joint while playing contact sport

  • Tendinitis: It is a inflammation of a tendon, a tissue that connect muscles to bone. It occurs as a result of injury or overuse

  • Bursitis: It is an inflammation of fluid filled sac called bursa that protects and cushions your joints. Bursitis can be caused by chronic overuse, injury, arthritis, gout, or infection

  • Rotator cuff injury: The rotator cuff consists of tendons and muscles that hold the bones of the shoulder joint together. Rotator cuff muscles allow you to move your arm up and down. Rotator cuff injuries often cause a decreased range of motion

  • Fractures: A fracture is a break in the bone that commonly occurs as a result of injury, such as a fall or a direct blow to the shoulder

  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of shoulder arthritis, characterized by progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the joint

Early treatment is necessary to prevent serious shoulder injuries. The immediate mode of treatment recommended for shoulder injuries is rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). Your doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce the swelling and pain.

Your doctor may recommend certain exercises to strengthen shoulder muscles and to regain shoulder movement.


Ankle Sprains

A sprain is stretching or tearing of ligaments, which connect adjacent bones in a joint and provides stability to the joint. An ankle sprain is a common injury and occurs when you fall or suddenly twist the ankle joint or when you land your foot in an awkward position after a jump. It most commonly occurs when you participate in sports or when you jump or run on a surface that is irregular. Ankle sprains can cause pain, swelling, tenderness, bruising, and stiffness, numbness in the toes, and inability to walk or bear weight on the ankle.

The diagnosis of an ankle sprain is usually made by asking the history of injury and physical examination of the ankle. X-ray of your ankle may be needed to confirm if a fracture is present.

The most common treatment recommended for ankle sprains is rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE).

  • Rest: You should not move or use the injured part to help to reduce pain and prevent further damage. Crutches may be used that help in walking

  • Ice: An ice-pack should be applied over the injured area up to 3 days after the injury. You can use a cold pack or crushed ice wrapped in a towel. Ice packs helps to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Never place ice directly over the skin

  • Compression: Compression of the injured area helps to reduce swelling and bruising. This is usually accomplished by using an elastic wrap for few days to weeks after the injury

  • Elevation: Place the injured part above heart level to reduce swelling. Elevation of an injured leg can be done for about 2 to 3 hours a day

The doctor may also use a brace or splint to reduce motion of the ankle. Anti-inflammatory pain medications may be prescribed to help reduce the pain and control inflammation.

You may need to use an ankle brace or wrap to support and protect your ankle during sports activities. Avoid pivoting and twisting movements for 2 to 3 weeks.

To prevent further sprains or re-injury you may need to wear a semi-rigid ankle brace during exercise, special wraps, and high-top tennis shoes. A program of ankle exercises will also help to prevent re-injury by making the ankles strong and flexible.


Quadriceps Contusions

Quadriceps contusion also called, thigh bruise or charley horse is a contusion (injury that does not break the skin) to the quadriceps muscles. The quadriceps muscles are large group of muscles located in the front of the thigh. They help in extending (straightening) the leg. Quadriceps contusions are common in sports such as football, soccer, and hockey and occur if there is a direct blow to the quadriceps muscles. It may also be caused by overuse or sudden movement of the thigh such as sprinting or jumping.

You may observe pain, swelling, and discoloration in your thigh. In addition to these symptoms you may also have difficulty in bending, lifting, straightening, walking or running.

Sometimes a quadriceps contusion can lead to other difficulties, such as osteomyositis ossificans, a lump that is developed when the blood pools inside an injured quadriceps muscles calcifies or hardens.

The doctor will ask about the history of injury and will examine your thigh to diagnose quad contusions. Following the injury your doctor may recommend the following treatment:

  • Ice: An ice-pack should be applied over leg up to 3 days after the injury. You can use a cold pack or crushed ice wrapped in a towel. Ice packs helps to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Ice should never be placed directly over the skin

  • Compression: Compression of the leg helps to reduce swelling and bruising. This is usually accomplished by using an elastic wrap for few days to weeks after the injury

  • Elevation: Elevate your leg above heart level to reduce swelling

  • Pain medications may be prescribed to reduce the pain

  • Physical therapy may be recommended to strengthen the thigh muscles

You may need to change your sports or activity that may increase pain and worsen the condition. You can return to your sport or activity depending on your recovery. To prevent a thigh bruise further you should wear proper protective equipment and perform warm-up and stretching exercises before participating in any sports activity.


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Check the below links for detailed information:

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

Osteotomies

Cartilage Restoration

Shoulder Surgery

Click on the topics below to find out more from the Orthopaedic connection website of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Sports Medicine Topics

Click on the topics below to find out more from the Orthopaedic connection website of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

David C. Flanigan MD - Sports Medicine, Knee Surgeon
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