There’s no question staying active and playing sports is great for your body and mind. But whether you hit the links for a round of golf every week, play rough on the football or soccer field, or anything in between, there’s always a risk for injury.

EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region is a leader in sports medicine in the Raleigh area. The team of board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons specializes in treating sports injuries from minor sprains to severe fractures. Their focus is always on athlete recovery and helping patients Emerge Stronger. Healthier. Better.

Sports Injuries: Not Just for Competitive Athletes

 Multigenerational family plays soccer in the backyard.

Sports injury” refers to any injury associated with athletic activities, regardless of the level of play. In other words, you can sustain a sports injury just playing catch in the backyard with the family as easily as playing on a championship-level team.

Sports injuries typically affect the musculoskeletal system—the parts of your body that provide stability and support movement, including your bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. They can be chronic, caused by ongoing stress or repetitive use, or acute, caused by a sudden fall, blow, or other accident.

Either way, getting prompt treatment by a qualified medical provider as soon as possible is critical to supporting a full recovery and avoiding ongoing pain, mobility challenges, and in some cases, the need for more invasive treatments, including surgery

The Most Common Sports Injuries

Athlete recovery begins with an accurate diagnosis, and EmergeOrtho providers use the most advanced diagnostic techniques, including state-of-the-art imaging to make a precise determination and start an effective treatment plan as soon as possible.

Although every patient is different, sports injuries typically fall into several categories: Sprains and strains, fractures, dislocations, and overuse injuries, including bursitis and tendinitis.

Sprains and strains. The most common sports injuries are sprains and strains. A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament, usually in the ankle, knee, or wrist. Sprains can be minor (first degree) up to severe with a fully torn ligament.

Strains are similar. They affect the muscle or tendon in a joint. Pulling, twisting, or tearing the tissue that connects muscle to the bone can be painful. Like sprains, the injury ranges from minor to a complete tear.

While sprains are caused by trauma—like a blow from an opponent or a fall—strains can be acute or caused by repetitive movements. For instance, people who play golf and tennis can experience strains caused by repetitive arm swinging.

Fractures. Bone fractures, or broken bones, can be acute from a one-time accident like a fall or caused by repeated stress, a condition known as a stress fracture. An acute fracture is typically an emergency, as the force of the blow or fall can cause the bone to break completely or even shatter.

Stress fractures, in contrast, are typically limited to the weight-bearing bones in the lower part of the body. These are more common in sports that require a lot of running or jumping, which puts additional force on those bones.

Growth plate fractures are also common in young or adolescent athletes. Growth plates are areas of cartilage at the end of bones that allow for growth. The cartilage is vulnerable to cracks and breaks from an acute injury or chronic stress.

Dislocation. A dislocation means two bones that come together to form a joint become separated. This is a very painful injury that can also involve stretched or torn ligaments, tendons, or muscles. The most commonly dislocated joints include the shoulder, fingers, elbows, kneecap, and knee.

Overuse injuries. Two of the most common overuse injuries include bursitis and tendinitis. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae, the fluid-filled sacs that provide cushioning between bones and moving parts like skin, muscles, or tendons. When bursae are irritated, they become inflamed and swell, causing pain and swelling.

Tendinitis is an inflammation of a tendon. Performing the same motion over and over can cause inflammation, leading to pain.

Different Sports Injuries, Different Treatments

Sports injuries typically fall into these categories, but the location and extent of the damage determine the official diagnosis.

For example, a rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder vulnerable to sprains, strains, and overuse injuries. Tennis and golfer’s elbow each refer to tendinitis that affects a specific tendon in the joint. Knee injuries can include sprained ligaments, dislocations, and fractures, while the ankle joints are vulnerable to sprains and tendinitis.

Because there are so many possibilities, and so many injuries present with similar symptoms, an athlete’s recovery often depends on seeing a doctor for an exam and diagnosis. Attempting to self-diagnose an injury, even something as seemingly minor as an ankle sprain, can only make the symptoms worse and slow down recovery.

You should always make an appointment to see an orthopedic specialist if you have been injured and:

  • There is a visible deformity or mass in the injured area.
  • You cannot move a joint or limb.
  • You have back or neck pain, especially accompanied by numbness, tingling, or weakness in the limbs.
  • You cannot stand or walk without assistance.
  • Pain does not subside with rest, ice, or after taking over-the-counter pain medicine.
  • Pain disrupts sleep and/or daily activity.
  • Pain worsens over time or with increased activity.
  • Pain, stiffness, swelling, or weakness prevents participating in sports or other activities.

Again, do not ignore or try to play through pain and discomfort. Doing so can be dangerous and set the stage for further—and more severe—injury.

How EmergeOrtho Supports Faster, Stronger Athlete Recovery

EmergeOrtho’s team of sports medicine specialists is committed to supporting athlete recovery from injuries using the least invasive treatments and methods possible. Surgical treatments are always the last resort after more conservative treatments have failed. These may include bracing, casting, medication and injections, physical therapy, and biological medicine, including platelet-rich plasma therapy.

If you and your doctors decide surgery is necessary, EmergeOrtho offers both traditional and minimally-invasive options to support faster recovery. From ligament repairs to reconstructive surgery, our experienced surgeons have the skills and technology necessary to get you back in the game as soon as possible.

Don’t allow a sports injury to sideline you forever. If you’ve been injured, request an appointment with a sports medicine specialist, self-schedule an appointment, or call us anytime at 984.279.3661 with questions.

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