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Sports Injuries

More young & middle aged people enjoy sports than ever before. Athletic participation has increased in grade schools, high schools and community programs. Sports injuries are becoming common in sports persons. Grade school students are less likely to suffer from severe injury because they are smaller and slower than older athletes; when they collide or fall, the forces on their musculo skeletal system are usually not high enough to cause injury. On the other hand, high school athletes are bigger, faster, stronger and capable of delivering tremendous forces in contact sports.

Many sports injuries in young athletes, particularly elbow and knee injuries, are caused by excessive, repetitive stress on immature muscle-bone units. Such repetitive overuse on cause fractures, muscle tears or bone deformity. Fortunately, such injuries are uncommon, and usually prolonged pain is an early warning sign.

Coaches, parents and players should provide protection for the young athlete through proper conditioning, prompt treatment of injuries and rehabilitation programs. Conditioning programs usually strive to make the young athlete “physically fit” by improving muscle strength, endurance, flexibility, and cardio respiratory fitness.

Soft tissue injuries:

Fortunately, major sports-related injuries are rare in young people. About 95% of sports injuries are due to minor trauma involving soft tissues-bruises, muscle pulls, sprains (ligaments), strains (muscles and tendons), and cuts or abrasions. Little sports time is lost from these injuries. Moreover, sports injuries occur more frequently in physical education classes and free-play sports than in organized team sports. Minimal safety precautions and supervision can prevent many injuries.


Almost one-third of all sports injuries are classified as sprains. A "sprain" is a partial or complete tear of a ligament, which is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue that connects the ends of bones and stabilizes the joint. Symptoms include the feeling that a joint is “loose” or unstable; an inability to bear weight because of pain; loss of motion; the sound or feeling of a “pop” or “snap” when the injury occurred, and swelling. Not all sprains produce pain, however.


A "strain" is a partial or complete tear of a muscle or tendon. Muscle tissue is made up of cells that contract and make the body move. A tendon consists of tough connective tissue that attaches muscles to bones.


The most common sports injury, contusions (bruises) rarely cause a student athlete to be sidelined. Bruises result when a blunt injury causes underlying bleeding in a muscle or other soft tissues. Prompt treatment for soft tissue injuries usually consists of rest, applying ice, wrapping with elastic bandages (compression), and elevating the injured arm, hand, leg or foot. This usually limits discomfort and reduces healing time. Proper first aid will minimize swelling and help the physician establish an accurate diagnosis.

Skeletal injuries:

A sudden, violent collision with another player, an accident with sports equipment or a severe fall can cause skeletal injuries in the growing athlete, including fractures.

Fractures constitute a low five to six percent of all sports injuries. Most of these breaks occur in the arms and legs. Rarely are the spine and skull fractured.

More common, however, are "stress fractures" and ligament-bone disruptions that occur because of continuing overuse of a joint. Frequently, initial x-rays do not show any sign of a stress fracture so the athlete is permitted to return to the same activity. Unfortunately, the pain often returns or continues, but the athlete keeps playing. The most frequent places stress fractures occur are the tibia, fibula and foot.

“Little League elbow” can result when a pitcher’s repetitive throwing puts too much pressure on the elbow bone’s growth centers. This painful condition results from over usage of muscles and tendons or from an injury to the cartilage surfaces in the elbow. In the growing athlete’s musculoskeletal system, pain from repetitive motion may appear somewhere besides the actual site of the injury. For instance, a knee ache in a child or adolescent may actually be pain caused by an injury to the hip.

Diagnosis and treatment:

Diagnosis of any sports related injury should be made promptly by orthopaedic surgeons, physicians who specialize in the care of the musculoskeletal system. The physician usually will ask the young athlete how the injury occurred, then follow with questions about the type of pain- whether it is a stabbing pain, a dull ache or throbbing the location of the pain, and the sport in which the athlete was involved.

During the physical examination, the orthopaedic surgeon will ask the athlete to move the affected area to determine whether the motion has been affected. The orthopaedic surgeon will gently touch the area to observe for obvious skeletal abnormalities. X-rays or other radiographic tests may be ordered, depending on the athlete’s condition and the doctor’s need for additional information. Orthopaedic surgeons have been in the forefront of treating musculoskeletal system injuries and have a long tradition of caring for young athletes. In the last two decades, they have analyzed and clarified young athletes psychological needs, conditioning, training, and susceptibility to physical injury. They provide early and comprehensive care of orthopaedic injuries. This can help young athletes heal and return to competition with less chance of repeated injury. Treatment varies according to the patient’s condition, but it may include bed rest, elevation, compression bandages, crutches, cast immobilization or physical therapy.

Surgical treatment may be required in some injuries like sever joint injuries leading to major ligament & meniscal injuries. Here, arthroscopic (key hole) surgery is the gold standard treatment for these sports injuries like arthroscopic meniscectomy, cruciate ligament reconstruction, shoulder stabilization. Some time an open surgery or cast immobilization may be required.



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