Every athlete’s primary objective is to achieve peak performance and maintain their well-being throughout the sporting season. In the following sections, I will address the sports injuries most commonly encountered in my practice and provide insights into effective prevention techniques. As an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports injuries, my expertise is dedicated to helping you stay injury-free and excel in your chosen sport.
Common Sports Injuries
The most common knee injuries are sprains and strains. These are typically treated with rest, ice, anti-inflammatory, bracing, and therapy if needed. The more severe knee injuries include ACL tears and fractures. If surgery is required, then there is a high likelihood your season is over. Proper treatment will allow you to return to sports safely and in a timely manner.
These include sprains, strains, contusions, dislocations, and fractures. Most shoulder injuries are treated conservatively with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication. The more severe injuries involving dislocations and fractures will need to be addressed in a more urgent manner by a medical professional.
These injuries are typically tendinitis, sprains, fractures and dislocations. Treatment for elbow injuries is similar to knee and shoulder injuries. Overuse syndrome is a common cause of elbow pain which most often is treated with rest and activity modification.
Head injuries are common and can range from minor to severe. A concussion can even be life threatening in the most severe cases. Brain injury can occur in any sport, but it is most prevalent in contact sports. Any signs of headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion, dizziness, loss of balance, ringing in the ears, or vision problems should be checked by the trainer or medical personnel on the field. Playing through a concussion can lead to a more severe injury or prolonged symptoms.
Sports Injury Prevention Techniques
This includes both stretching and light cardio activities (light jog or jumping jacks) to loosen your muscles and elevate your heart rate which will increase blood flow to the muscles. Do not stretch cold muscles. Warm and flexible muscles will increase your performance and decrease your risk of injury. I recommend that you spend at least 10 minutes on your warm-up routine.
Use proper equipment
This is essential, especially in contact sports such as football and soccer. Wearing the proper gear decreases your chance of a severe injury. It is also important that all equipment is in good repair and fits correctly. This includes helmets, pads, mouth guards, face guards, footwear, and protective cups. Check with your coaches and trainers to make sure that you have properly fitted equipment.
Use proper technique
Using proper technique for your particular sport will decrease your risk of injuries. Know the rules for your sport because they are meant to reduce injury, especially in contact sports.
It is important to cool down after your activities. You should spend about 5 to 10 minutes to let your body return to its normal state. It is also a good time to stretch your muscles with light activity, like walking.
Listen to your body
If you experience fatigue, lightheadedness, nausea, headache, or any pain, then you need to be evaluated. Your body is telling you that something is not right, and you need to listen to your body. It is best to get evaluated on the sideline by the trainer or coach. You may be injured, dehydrated, or have sustained a concussion that needs medical care. It is always better to err on the safe side than sustain an injury that can end your season or career.
Dr. David Hoang is an orthopedic surgeon at Foundation Orthopedics in Nashua, New Hampshire. He is a graduate of University of California in San Diego and received his medical degree from the Ohio University, The Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Prior to joining Southern New Hampshire Health in 2012, Dr. Hoang has assisted in the care of the San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Spirits, and the San Diego Riptides. He currently serves as the team physician for Amoskeag Rugby, the United States Telemark Ski Team, Nashua World Cup Soccer, the Merrimack High School football team, and as a ringside physician for USA Boxing.