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Sports Medicine

Sports injuries occur when playing indoor or outdoor sports or while exercising. Sports injuries can result from accidents, inadequate training, improper use of protective devices, or insufficient stretching or warm-up exercises. The most common sports injuries are sprains and strains, fractures, and dislocations.

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

  • Rest: Avoid activities that may cause injury
  • Ice: Ice packs can be applied to the injured area which will help to diminish swelling and pain. Ice should be applied over a towel to the affected area for 15-20 minutes four times a day for several days. Never place ice directly over the skin
  • Compression: Compression of the injured area helps to reduce swelling. Elastic wraps, air casts, and splints can accomplish this
  • Elevation: Elevate the injured part above heart level to reduce swelling and pain.

Some of the measures that are followed to prevent sports related injuries include:

  • Follow an exercise program to strengthen the muscles
  • Gradually increase your exercise level and avoid overdoing the exercise
  • Ensure that you wear properly-fitted protective gear such as elbow guards, eye gear, facemasks, mouth guards, and pads, comfortable clothes, and athletic shoes before playing any sports activity which will help to reduce the chances of injury
  • Make sure that you follow warm up and cool down exercises before and after sports activity. Exercises will help to stretch the muscles, increase flexibility, and reduce soft tissue injuries
  • Avoid exercising immediately after eating a large meal
  • Maintain a healthy diet which will nourish the muscles
  • Avoid playing when you are injured or tired. Take a break for some time after playing
  • Learn all the rules of the game you are participating in
  • Ensure that you are physically fit to play the sport

Some of the common sports injuries include:

Knee Injuries

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is major stabilizing ligament in the knee which may tear with over use of knee for playing sports. The ACL has poor ability to heal and may cause instability. Other common sports injuries in knee are cartilage damage and meniscal tear. Knee injuries of sports may require surgical intervention that can be performed using open surgical or minimally invasive technique. Your surgeon will recommend you for physical therapy to strengthen your muscles, improve elasticity and improve the movements of the bones and joints.

Hip Injuries

Fractures of the femur bone, labral tear and hip dislocation are some of the common sports injuries affecting the hip. Hip joint bears more weight and is more susceptible for injuries while playing sports. Hip injuries require immediate medical intervention to avoid further complications. Rehabilitation programs and physical therapy is often recommended following the medical intervention where you need to perform certain exercises to strengthen the muscles and improve the movements.

Achilles Tendon Repair

The Achilles tendon is located at the end of the ankle. It connects the heel bone to the muscles of the calf. You use it all day long when you move including walking, running, and jumping. Over time, this tendon can become weak or it can be damaged due to an injury. Many athletes experience this type of injury due to the movements such as pivoting and jumping. They may land wrong on it. Sports including basketball and tennis can increase the risk of this type of damage.

When the Achilles tendon has been injured, you aren’t going to be able to ignore it. There will be a great deal of pain and stiffness at the back of your heel. You will feel the pain when you walk and when you move your foot. It can be hard to stand correctly when you walk due to this pain and discomfort.


See your doctor as soon as possible if you have pain in this area. They will look at your medical history and examine the hell. They may squeeze on areas of the foot, heel, and calf so you can tell them where it hurts. If the injury is severe, they will be able to tell by looking and touching the area that the Achilles tendon has ruptured.

Initial Treatment

The initial treatment for Achilles tendon repair is going to be non-surgical. You may be asked to wear a special brace to offer support and reduce pressure on the area. Medicine can be given to reduce pain and inflammation. You may be asked to take part in physical therapy as well as exercises at home. Such treatment can give you more flexibility and it can help you to get stronger. If this type of treatment isn’t enough, you may need to have surgery.

Surgical Procedure

If surgery is necessary for Achilles tendon repair, the area is opened up with the patient under anesthesia. The torn tendons are sutured together. You will need to avoid strenuous movement for several weeks so it can repair. You will be asked to take part in exercises that make it stronger and reduce the risk of future problems with the Achilles heel.

Surgical Management of Fractures

The word “Fracture” implies to broken bone. A bone may get fractured completely or partially and it is caused commonly from trauma due to fall, motor vehicle accident or sports. Thinning of the bone due to osteoporosis in the elderly can cause the bone to break easily. Overuse injuries are common cause of stress fractures in athletes.

Surgical Therapy

Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF)

This is a surgical procedure in which the fracture site is adequately exposed and reduction of fracture is done. Internal fixation is done with devices such as Kirschner wires, plates and screws, and intramedullary nails.

External fixation

External fixation is a procedure in which the fracture stabilization is done at a distance from the site of fracture. It helps to maintain bone length and alignment without casting.

External fixation is performed in the following conditions:

  • Open fractures with soft-tissue involvement
  • Burns and soft tissue injuries
  • Pelvic fractures
  • Comminuted and unstable fractures
  • Fractures having bony deficits
  • Limb-lengthening procedures
  • Fractures with infection or nonunion


Fractures may take several weeks to months to heal completely. You should limit your activities even after the removal of cast or brace so that the bone become solid enough to bear the stress. Rehabilitation program involves exercises and gradual increase in activity levels until the process of healing is complete.

Sports Medicine Topics

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

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