Thursday, October 18, 2012
Top 10 Sports Injuries
The most common sports-related injuries primarily are overuse injuries. Certain types of injuries plague sports participants. Most of them, however, are minor. Knowing the early signs and what to do can help prevent them from becoming nagging problems.
1) Muscle Pull
Muscle Pull Treatment
The universally held treatment for a muscle pull or tear is to apply ice and rest until the pain and swelling subside. The ice relaxes the muscle and helps relieve any spasm. Ice should be applied for about 20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off, as much as possible for a few days. The dull ache of a muscle pull usually disappears within a few days.
As soon as tolerable, begin gently stretching the muscle. A pulled muscle may go into spasm as a reaction to being overstretched. If the muscle fibers are not gradually re-lengthened, the muscle will pull again with return to activity because it will have healed in a shortened state. In general, you can return to action when the injured body part can be stretched without pain as far as the healthy one on the other side of the body. That may take a week for a calf muscle or more than a month for a hamstring pull.
2) Neck Pain
Neck Pain Treatment
The proper treatment for neck stiffness is to apply ice for 20 minutes at a time and gently stretch the neck. Sit in a chair and hold onto the seat with the hand on the painful side of your neck. Bend your trunk and head to the opposite side. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Or gently drop your chin to your chest and move the chin in a semicircle from shoulder to shoulder five times. The same exercises can strengthen the neck and prevent pain.
Severe pain may require prescription medication, such as a muscle relaxant or anti-inflammatory agents, and physical therapy. Pain radiating down the arm and into the hand may be due to a pinched or stretched nerve, and should be seen by a doctor immediately.
3) Shoulder Impingement
Shoulder Impingement Treatment
Many doctors overlook the true problem with a shoulder impingement. They treat the tendinitis with anti-inflammatory agents or corticosteroid injections. But the anti-inflammatories soon wear off, and the next time the shoulder is used, the tendon is impinged again. The pain recurs, requiring another injection or more anti-inflammatories.
If shoulder pain lasts for more than a day or two after practicing the serve or hitting a bucket of balls, a program of range-of-motion exercises can help strengthen the rotator cuff muscles. Strengthening these muscles will help hold your shoulder firmly in place, then the head will not slip out of the socket and the tendons will no longer become inflamed or irritated. Physical therapy, ultrasound, moist heat and electrical muscle stimulation followed by rehabilitative exercises are also recommended. If the shoulder exercises do not help ease the pain, or there is numbness or tingling in your hand, consult a doctor.
4) Lower Back Strain
Lower Back Strain Treatment
Fortunately, most simple backaches go away within a few weeks, with or without treatment. After about a week, start a workout that strengthens the lower back, hamstring and abdominal muscles to help support the back to prevent any back pain from recurring.
When back muscles go into spasm, the excruciating pain may be disabling. Rest for a few days and take medication such as aspirin or other anti-inflammatory agents. Ice the back for 20 minutes at a time for as long as the pain persists.
Physical therapy may also be necessary if these symptoms do not quiet down in about 10 days. This includes ice, then heat, electrical stimulation of muscles, stretching and deep-finger massage. This should be followed by exercises to strengthen the back and abdominals. These same exercises can also help head off future back pains.
5) Tennis Elbow
Tennis Elbow Treatment
Tennis elbow is cured with lessons more than medicine. Tennis players need to learn how to move the feet to put the body in position to hit with full body weight behind the ball. This takes the stress off the elbow. Golfers with chronic elbow problems should also consider taking a lesson to smooth out any swing problems.
Cortisone injections, once the standard treatment, may reduce the inflammation around the elbow and ease the pain, but they do not address the cause of the problem, which is over-stressing the forearm tendon. Exercises can help improve forearm strength. These exercises include wrist curls, flexing the wrist forward while holding a light dumbbell at the side with the palm facing forward, and reverse wrist curls, the same exercise with the palm facing backward. Squeezing a soft rubber ball until the hand is fatigued also strengthens the forearm muscles.
6) Runner's Knee
Runner's Knee Treatment
Treatment involves strengthening the quadriceps muscle, which hooks into the kneecap and helps align it into the center of the groove. Isometric exercises are recommended to begin strengthening the quadriceps by contracting and relaxing the muscle. Strengthening progresses to less than full range-of-motion leg extensions. Do not attempt full leg extensions with the knee bent because this will cause the kneecap to rub more and worsen the symptoms.
Treatment also includes stretching the quadriceps, and soft tissue massage to work on the center of the quadriceps. Work from the upper part of the thigh towards the knee, stroking downward. This helps stretch muscle fibers and alleviates the muscle contraction, which is pulling the kneecap up. A large dose of aspirin, two plain or buffered aspirin pills four times a day until the knee improves, also may help reduce inflammation within the kneecap cartilage.
7) Shin Splints
Shin Splints Treatment
The key element of treatment is an arch support to prop up the foot and prevent excessive pronation and pull on the tendon. Many people do well with a simple commercial arch support. This usually solves the problem almost immediately. Others who have a more serious problem may need an orthotic device to control the pronation.
To help prevent shin splints, start exercising slowly to warm up the leg muscles, wear athletic shoes with good support and run on a softer surface, for example, changing from asphalt to grass every few runs.
8) Ankle Sprain
Ankle Sprain Treatment
The tried-and-true treatment for an any ankle sprain is RICE: Rest, Ice, Elevation and Compression. The goal is to limit internal bleeding and cut down on swelling.
As soon as tolerable, begin range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. These can help overcome stiffness and restore mobility. To do this, sit in a chair and cross the affected leg over the other leg at the knee. Using the big toe as a pointer, trace the capital letters of the alphabet from A to Z. Hold the big toe rigid so all the motion comes from the ankle. Repeat this exercise hourly, if possible. The letters will be very small at first but they will increase in size as range of motion improves. A good strengthening exercise is light kicking in a pool with a kick board or swim fin to create resistance.
Balance training is an important part of rehabilitation. Practice balancing on one foot with the arms extended to the sides without swaying, first with the eyes open, then eyes closed.
9) Achilles Tendinitis
Achilles Tendinitis Treatment
The treatment is to minimize physical activity until it feels better and to ice the tendon several times a day during this time. Anti-inflammatory agents help to relieve swelling and pain. Stretch the tendon as well by doing toe raises--stand on your toes for 10 seconds and then put your heels flat on the floor. Work up to doing three sets easily, then raise up on one foot at a time.
When the tendon has healed, do heel drops. Stand with your forefeet on a raised surface, such as the edge of a step. Let your heels down below the level of the surface so that the back of the calf is stretched. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat until the calf is fatigued.
Runners who simply slough off Achilles tendinitis can develop an acute avulsion where the Achilles tendon pulls right off the bone. This is a medical emergency and requires surgical reattachment within 24 hours.
10) Arch Pain
Arch Pain Treatment
The treatment is to put an arch support under the foot immediately to prevent the arch from collapsing and the plantar fascia from stretching. Also, put an arch support in your slippers and wear them as soon as you rise. Even a few steps barefoot without support can stretch the plantar fascia. Arch supports usually relieve pain within a few days.
To head off arch pain, begin an exercise routine slowly, take off any excess weight and wear arch supports in your athletic shoes.
Arch pain commonly smolders for months because people do not take the proper precautions. Continuing to do weight-bearing exercises will perpetuate the pain. While the foot is recovering, swim or do water workouts. Or work the upper body only. Some people are able to use a stationary bicycle by placing only the front part of the foot on the pedals.