Treatment of Sports Injuries: Your 2021 Guide to Getting Back in The Game

Treating sports injury

According to recent data from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) roughly 8.6 million sports injuries occur each year. If your injury represents one of these statistics, you’re probably wondering what your treatment options might be. In this guide, Spine Technology and Rehabilitation in Fort Wayne Indiana is pleased to provide you with some basic guidelines. Guidelines which promise to ensure that you understand enough about proper treatment of sports injuries to be your own best advocate.

In this guide you will learn:

When should I seek medical attention for a sports injury?

Many common, acute sports injuries can initially be addressed by applying the PRICE method. Specifically:

Steps 3, 4, and 5 are combined to decrease swelling and inflammation.

You should seek medical attention if:

What should my doctor know about my sport in order to properly treat my sports injury?

Your doctor should at least know enough about your sport to establish the proper diagnosis or cause of your symptoms.  Each sport has its own unique demands upon our body’s structural integrity. One key to evaluating a given sports injury lies in understanding the sport and the sport specific mechanics that causes the injury. Consider that the biomechanics of your sport inform the physician which areas of the body undergo the greatest stress concentration with each activity, as well as what the potential pitfalls are with faulty mechanics or movement patterns. In other words your doctors, trainers and physical therapists need to be familiar with the sports related mechanics and required movement patterns, in order to really understand your injury. That knowledge helps your team to provide you with the best possible treatment outcome, as well as to boost your performance and avoid re-injury. In addition to performance and prevention factors, sports medicine addresses other vital sports-specific issues such as scheduling demands, recovery time, equipment and nutritional requirements.

What does a sport specific evaluation entail?

Assessment of sports injuries begins with a careful history and physical. Historically the sports medicine team document training routines, the nature and frequency of events and competitions. Lifestyle is also an important consideration. For example, is the athlete consuming enough nutrient dense food to compensate for the intense demands, build-up of toxins and microtrauma imposed by their sport? Do they enjoy enough restorative sleep and stress relieving activities to properly heal? What is their warm-up ritual before workouts, events and competitions? Proper warm-up routines may enhance blood flow and aid flexibility. Our blood and cardiovascular system is literally our life force, delivering oxygen and nutrients, while removing harmful waste and toxins. Consequently, activities which promote blood flow can both help prevent and treat injuries. What type of cross training are they involved in? Could improper cross training mechanics be implicated as an injury mechanism?

A comprehensive physical examination must include a thorough analysis of general and sport specific movement patterns. For example, any gait deviation (faulty walking mechanics) is generally magnified by sports participation. Are there deficiencies in the athlete’s sport mechanics? Case in point: a golfer, pitcher or boxer who doesn’t engage their hip musculature in proper sequence, is not only losing power but is susceptible to injury. Our spine mechanics warrant special attention because it is serves as the primary loadbearing axis of our body, as well as the locomotive engine. Consequently, if the spine is not functioning properly not only is it vulnerable, but it renders the arms and legs prone to injury. Keeping the spine strong and flexible in bending both front to back and side to side, as well as in rotation, is critical for peak sports performance and mitigating the risk of injury.

What kind of treatment should I expect from my sports medicine doctor?

Consider that a delay in diagnosis may often unnecessarily prolong treatment and recovery time, leading to a suboptimal outcome. Goal oriented sports medicine is focused on rapidly establishing a diagnosis to allow the best possible treatment results including resolution of pain, optimizing function and preventing reinjury. This combination ensures the quickest and safest return to play.

You should expect your sport medicine physician and healthcare team to:

What are the some of most common types of sports injuries?

Let’s take a look at some well-known athletic injuries and share some treatment advice.

Are people in my sport prone to certain types of injuries?

Yes. The innate movement patterns of your sport determine which areas of your body are most prone to injury. That’s one of the reasons why it helps for your doctor to know the basics of what your sport involves. Let’s take a look at a few examples of the role various sports activities play in determining which areas are most vulnerable:

Again, your doctors, trainers and physical therapists need to be familiar with the sports related mechanisms of injury in order to understand how to approach and treat them.

What factors drive treatment decisions?

Treatment options may range from conservative (e.g. splints, meds and rehab) to minimally invasive procedures (e.g. image-guided injections or arthroscopic surgery), as well as major surgical interventions. Treatment decisions will be based on the injury type/location, severity, demands of a given sport, the options available, potential risks associated with a proposed procedure, recovery protocols and lifestyle choices. Whatever treatment options are ultimately chosen, understanding the sport specific biomechanics is paramount for prescribing a rehabilitation protocol geared toward long-term success. Once the body is injured it becomes imperative to address performance mechanics to prevent further stress concentration at the injury site. A good sports medicine team understands that each sport has its own nuances. In other words, they don’t simply see your injury as another sprain, strain or broken bone. They place your injury and treatment protocol in the overall context of the individual needs of your sport and lifestyle. Spine Technology and Rehabilitation in Fort Wayne, Indiana applies all of the factors referenced in this blog when evaluating sports injuries. Contact our office today to learn more or set up an evaluation.

Dr. Joseph Fortin, DO Dr. Joseph Fortin is the Medical Director at Spine Technology and Rehabilitation and a Clinical Professor at Indiana University School of Medicine.

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