Posts Tagged ‘sports injuries’

Most Common Women’s Sports Injuries

A woman’s sports injuries are basically the same as a man’s.

But there are some peculiarities due to differences in anatomy and issues related to the menstrual cycle.

Here’s a look at some of the most common overuse sports injuries suffered by women, including stress fracture, runner’s knee, jumper’s knee, tennis elbow, and frozen shoulder, and how to treat them.

Stress Fracture

Women tend to have a higher incidence of stress fractures then men.

Stress fractures occur from repetitive forces.

They are more common in women who do not menstruate compared to those who do.

A woman with osteoporosis or osteopenia (low bone density) will also be at greater risk of stress fracture because of decreased bone density.

Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, dancing and jogging, are particularly valuable in reducing bone loss in middle-aged and postmenopausal women, and may help prevent osteoporosis.

Runner’s Knee

Runner’s knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is characterized by a stable, but painful knee.

This is much more common among women because a woman’s pelvis is wider, making the angle between the thigh and the calf sharper, which is known as an increased Q-angle.

This results in greater force toward the front and inner part of the knee.

The tendency is for the kneecap to pull out of line and rub on the side of its groove, causing knee pain.

Conservative treatment includes physical therapy, core strengthening, stretching of quadriceps and hip external rotator muscles, bracing, and biomechanical analysis and correction.

Jumper’s Knee

Jumper’s knee, or patellar tendinitis, is characterized by pain in the front of the knee.

Pain increases with running and jumping, and the pain symptoms may intensify during the night and upon waking in the morning.

The pain comes from inflammation of the tendons that hook into the upper and lower ends of the kneecap.

The more you train and the higher the intensity of your training, the more you feel the pain.

The first treatment is to rest long enough to get over the acute pain, and to take anti-inflammatory agents to reduce the pain, if necessary.

If pain continues or increases, cortisone injections can help manage the pain and swelling, or surgical treatment may be required.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is an overuse injury to the tendons at the lateral humeral epicondyle, the bands of tissue that connect the arm muscles to the outside aspect of your elbow area.

It is usually associated with lack of forearm strength.

Lateral epicondylitis most often occurs in women between ages 30 and 50.

The tennis backhand stroke, which involves repeated wrist extension against resistance, increases the risk of symptoms at the outside of the elbow.

Conservative treatment should include physical therapy, bracing, and biomechanical analysis and correction of repetitive activity.

In severe cases, surgical treatment may be required.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is seen most often in women between ages 40 and 70.

It is often seen in combination with other shoulder conditions (such as rotator cuff problems) or diabetes mellitus.

The hallmark symptom of frozen shoulder is decreased range of motion and severe shoulder pain.

It often disappears on its own.

Conservative treatment usually involves taking anti-inflammatories to reduce pain and inflammation.

A physical therapist can teach you stretching exercises to help maintain as much mobility in your shoulder as possible.

Relief of symptoms is gradual and recovery takes from 12 to 18 months, on average.

Surgical options for adhesive capsulitis include joint manipulation under anesthesia and capsular release.

Take a Break

Overuse injuries usually require you to suspend activity.

A biomechanical analysis and correction are components to successful recovery and should be performed by sports medicine professionals.

Prevention is also a key component by maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Core training and strength training of both the lower and upper body can maintain muscular strength and endurance, and help to prevent chronic overuse injuries.

Predicting Sports Injuries Before They Happen

Imagine if you could tell when you were about to tear a rotator cuff well before it happened.

That’s what researchers at Washington University in St. Louis hope to be able to do for athletes, and possibly prevent sports injuries.

They have developed algorithms to identify weak spots in tendons, muscles, and bones prone to tearing or breaking.

The technology may one day help pinpoint minor strains and tiny injuries in the body’s tissues long before bigger problems occur.

“Tendons are constantly stretching as muscles pull on them, and bones also bend or compress as we carry out everyday activities,” said senior investigator Stavros Thomopoulos, PhD, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Washington University.

Small cracks or tears can result from these loads and lead to major injuries.

Understanding how these tears and cracks develop over time therefore is important for diagnosing and tracking injuries.”

Visualizing Weak Spots

The researchers have developed a way to visualize and even predict spots where tissues are weakened.

To accomplish this, they stretched tissues and tracked what happened as their shapes changed or became distorted.

The new, more powerful algorithm allowed them to find the places where the tears were beginning to form and to track them as they extended.

They believe the algorithms can be used to measure the pressures and forces that act on the body and cause tissues such as muscles and tendons to crack or tear.

Predicting Rotator Cuff Tears

“If you have a small tear in the rotator cuff, when the tendon stretches, that crack may get bigger,” said Thomopoulos.

Eventually, they hope to predict problems in tendons and muscles as in the rotator cuff.

“If you have a perfectly normal rotator cuff, you can image it in a way to see how the tendon performs moving up and down.

If the tendon is normal, then the strains on it will be normal.

If you have a weak spot in the rotator cuff, the strains in that local area that may be starting to degenerate would probably be higher,” he said.

Those higher strains could predict problems.

This could also help them learn why some surgeries to repair rotator cuff injuries ultimately fail.

Their goal is to increase the odds that the tissue in the shoulder will heal following surgery, and they believe the new algorithms could help them get closer to that goal.

They also want to use the algorithms to prevent additional injuries following surgery to repair knees, shoulders, and other tissues.

So far, they have only used the algorithms in the laboratory on materials, such as plastic wrap, and in animal models.

How soon the new algorithms could be used in patients depends on getting better images of the body’s tissues, they said.

The researchers reported their results online on August 27, 2014 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Young Single-sport Athletes Prone to Injuries

If you want your kids to stay clear of sports injuries, send them out to play.

But don’t sign them up for a club team.

That’s the message from the newest study linking specialized training in young athletes to serious overuse injuries.

Children who spend nearly twice the amount of time in organized sports than in free play, and especially in a single sport, are more likely to become injured.Class AA-A Girls Soccer

“We found a significant relationship between intense training and overuse injuries.

These kids are stressing the same areas of the body without rest while their bodies are still developing,” said lead author Neeru Jayanthi, MD, Medical director of Primary Care Sports Medicine at Loyola University Health System, in an interview.

The new study found that young athletes age 8 to 18 who played more hours per week than their age – for example, an 8-year-old who played more than 8 hours per week – were more likely to be injured.

In addition, those who spend more than twice as much time in organized sports than in free play, whatever their age or sport, were more likely to be injured and have serious overuse injuries.

Typically, these injuries included stress fractures, osteochondral lesions, and low back stress fractures.

Jayanthi presented the results of the study on October 28, 2013, at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting.

The study involved more than 1,200 child and adolescent athletes who came to one of two Chicago hospitals and affiliated clinics for either a sports-related injury or a sports physical.

The injured athletes tended to be slightly older than uninjured athletes, reported a higher average number of hours per week playing organized sports (11.3 vs. 9.4), and higher average hours per week in total sports activity including gym, free play, and organized sports activities (19.7 vs. 17.6).

Parents and coaches need to accept much of the responsibility for putting their children at risk for these overuse injuries, Jayanthi says.

“I believe that much of these injuries are driven by the intensity to improve skills, not just have fun,” he says.

“Kids will play for hours and figure out when enough is enough.

Intense training in a single sport for most of the year teaches skill development, but sets kids up for injury.

Youth sports should be about the kids, not adults.”

The bigger problem is that club teams allow the 10% of elite athletes to stay active, but “the other 90% of kids don’t do much of anything,” says Jayanthi.

“We need to incentivize the others to become more physically active.

We need more, not less, gym classes, and more avenues for free play in the community.”

That means changing the current culture about sports and fitness so there’s a positive, healthy environment for all.

Sports Medicine Guide for the Media, or Anyone

If you want quick, easy-to-understand descriptions of some of the most common sports injuries, from ankle sprains to overuse injuries to rotator cuff tears, check out the new 33-page Sports Medicine Media Guide: An illustrated Resource on the Most Common Injuries and Treatments in Sports.

The new guide is now available online from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Designed as a resource for sports reporters who want to simply and accurately explain common sports injuries, the guide can also help anyone who wants a quick reference to most of the major joint-related sports injuries.

For example, under Ankle Sprains, the guide defines what an ankle sprain is, how it can be treated (the tried-and-true initial step is the RICE formula: Rest, Ice Compression, Elevation), and how to prevent it.

The guide is divided into 20 sections, each focusing on a specific injury and providing information on causes, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as related definitions, statistics, and resources.

Under Statistics in the Ankle Sprain section, the guide notes that about 25,000 ankle sprains occur in the United States every day, making it one of the top 10 sports injuries.

Sections are written by an orthopedic surgeon or other medical professional specializing in the particular injury or condition who offers insight on what to expect in recovery, how to avoid injury, and how to get back into the game.

High-resolution photographs and medical illustrations provide additional detail to further explain the injury.

The guide includes sections on Ankle Sprains, AC Joint injuries, Articular Cartilage Injuries, Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries, Meniscal Tears, Shoulder Impingement, Stress Fractures, Rotator Cuff Tears, Shoulder Instability/Dislocations, SLAP Tears, Throwing Injuries in Children, and Overuse Injuries.

In addition, the guide contains information on such topics as Exercise and the Mature Athlete, Anabolic Steroids, MRSA (Staph) Infections, Heat Illness, Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes, and two very newsy topics, Concussions and Treatment of Tendon/Ligament Disorders with Platelet-Rich Plasma.

The Concussion section ends with the clear recommendation that all athletes who sustain a concussive episode, no matter how minor, undergo an evaluation by a medical physician before returning to play.

The illustrations for Ankle Sprains and ACL Injuries show particularly good detail, while other illustrations are very simple (AC Joint, Articular Cartilage, Meniscus, Shoulder Impingement and Dislocation).

The MRI of a Rotator Cuff Tear looks like a close-up photo of a fish eye, and should have been replaced by a clear illustration.

Also, there are glaring omissions in three of the most commonly injured joints, the neck, back, and elbow.

Overall, the guide is a fine place to find a very short overview of many joint injuries before you go to other websites for more details.

Top Five Winter Sports Injuries: What You Can Do

The latest feature on the Sports Injury Handbooks website is about the top five winter sports injuries, and what you can do about them. Here’s an excerpt:

There you are bombing down a snowy hill or zooming across the ice when BOOM, you hit something, hard. The next thing you know, you’re being carried off on a stretcher. Welcome to the wonderful world of winter sports injuries.

Broken bones due to snowboarding and sledding top the list of common causes for visits to the emergency room (ER) during the winter months. According to the Centers for Disease Control, snowboarding accounts for one quarter of all ER visits, with half of all cases due to broken bones and sprains.

The top five injury-producing winter sports are sledding, hockey, ice skating, snowboarding, and skiing, says Daryl O’Connor, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Here’s his take on the injuries from these sports, and what you can do to prevent them:

– Sledding. More than 700,000 injuries are reported each year in the US due to sledding, says Dr. O’Connor, and more than 30% are head injuries caused by collisions. What You Can Do: Use a sled with some steering capability. If possible, remove any objects on the hill. Never go down a slope head first; using a helmet makes sense.

– Hockey. Lacerations, neck, shoulder, and knee injuries are the most common in hockey. Many of these injuries are caused by contact with another player, the ice, a puck, or a skate blade. What You Can Do: First and foremost, wear a helmet with a face mask. Use a mouthpiece. Make sure the playing surface, the boards, and the goals are in good condition.

– Ice Skating. Injuries to the wrist and the head and neck are most common, often caused by falls. What You Can Do: Wearing a helmet and using wrist guards may decrease the risks of injury. Make sure your skates are sharp and fit properly.

– Snowboarding. Wrist and elbow injuries are caused by falls on outstretched hands, and head injuries from hitting the snow, trees, or objects on the slopes. What You Can Do: Wear a helmet and use gloves with built-in wrist guards. Inspect your equipment to make sure it fits properly and bindings are adjusted properly.

– Skiing. Knees can become injured due to the extreme twisting force propelled by skis. Head, neck, and shoulder injuries can result from falls. What You Can Do: Wearing a helmet cuts your chances of a head injury in half. Check your equipment to ensure it’s in good repair. Follow all posted warning signs and don’t ski out of bounds.

Use the Right Painkillers to Kill Pain

Here are the highlights of this month’s (actually January’s) feature from the Sports Injury Handbook website:

Use the Right Painkillers to Kill Pain

Early, aggressive use of simple over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers can allow you to rehabilitate sports injuries without the risk of addiction to prescription painkillers, such as Vicodin.

OTC painkillers usually are enough to calm the aches and pains of most sports injuries. Three types of painkillers are the most valuable: aspirin, acetaminophen, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents.

Aspirin is the oldest drug. It not only kills pain but also reduces inflammation. The major side effects of aspirin are stomach upset and even bleeding from the lining of the stomach. If you have problems with regular aspirin, use buffered or enteric coated aspirin instead. Aspirin also interferes with blood clotting and should not be used in large doses during contact sports.

Acetaminophen pills, such as Tylenol, have the same painkilling effects as aspirin in most people but do not have as much of an anti-inflammatory effect. They are less irritating to the stomach and have no anti-clotting effect.

Ibuprofen is the active ingredient in non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents. The various OTC preparations are half-strength versions of the prescription medication Motrin. They all have a very strong anti-inflammatory effect and also have pain-relieving properties.

Choose whichever painkiller you like the best. Most often you know from previous experience which drug works well for you. One caveat: do not take aspirin along with anti-inflammatory agents. Since these two are chemically similar, adding one to the other could lead to a toxic reaction. So, for example, if you are taking ibuprofen for sore muscles and you get a headache, take acetaminophen instead of aspirin.

Also, anyone with a history of gastrointestinal problems should not take anti-inflammatory agents, including those sold in drug stores, except under a doctor’s direction. The doctor may prescribe accompanying medication to ameliorate the side effects.

Fitness for Dummies Now in 4th Edition

The classic Fitness for Dummies is now out in the 4th edition with a revamped, 21st-Century version of the book that first appeared in the mid-1990s. As fitness expert co-authors Suzanne Schlosberg and Liz Neporent write, it does indeed cover fitness from all angles, can make you a savvy consumer of fitness products, and tell you stuff you want to know, such as how to measure your strength and fitness level; guidance on setting up a home gym; sample cardio and strength-training programs; and exercises for all ages and life stages.

I met Liz at the American Society of Journalists and Authors Annual Writers’ Conference last Spring in New York, where she spoke about health books. I asked Liz to give me a head’s up on what’s new in this edition of Fitness for Dummies. Here’s what she said:

“We’ve updated the book to reflect all the changes that have happened to fitness — and the world — in the last few years. For example, we cover apps, social media and the Internet extensively for the first time.

We also cover changes in guidelines. For example, the blood pressure guidelines and some nutritional guidelines have changed drastically since the last edition. We also cover kids and seniors in separate chapters for the first time.”

And Liz gave me three tips to pass along:

Tip #1: There is a lot of free stuff on the Internet that can help you get in shape. You can join a Twitter or Facebook group and have a group of like-minded people help inspire your efforts. Or try to become the Foursquare mayor of your gym!

Tip #2: If you have an mp3 player, go to iTunes and download a podcast related to fitness – or just a podcast you are interested in. It’s free. You can learn to speak another language as you workout!

Tip #3: The weight loss and body mass index (BMI) guidelines are different for kids than for adults so be sure to review them carefully.

The book also provides tips on how to avoid common sports injuries. For example, to buy proper footwear, you need to know if you’re flat-footed or pronate (roll your foot to the inside when you step). A Technical Stuff sidebar describes a simple test — wet your foot and then step on a piece of paper — to show how high your arch is. You can also diagnose potential foot problems by looking at the bottom of your athletic shoes. You can find a diagram of telltale signs of foot abnormalities in the foot chapter of Sports Injury Handbook.

Chock-full of easy-to-find information, the new edition of Fitness for Dummies is a great edition to anyone’s fitness bookshelf.