By Dr Suresh Siva Orthopaedic Surgeon
As we all know sports and exercise have many health benefits, but there are associated risks as well. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sports related injuries account for one in five of all accidental injuries treated in hospital emergency departments each year. I therefore explain some of the common sports injuries, how they occur and the best ways to treat and prevent them.
Ankle sprain is very common in sports that require running, jumping and pivoting, like football , hockey and basketball. The ankle becomes painful and swollen. The injury occurs when the ankle twists and the ligaments surrounding the ankle become damaged. The commonest injury is to the Anterior Talo Fibular Ligament (ATFL). Many patients tend to go to TCM practitioners and end up with some foul smelling mixture applied to their ankle, which over some days causes the skin to die and fall off. However, the simple way to treat this condition is to use the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). Anti-inflammatory medications can also reduce the swelling. If the pain and swelling does not improve after a few days make an appointment to see your doctor as you may require X-rays and further management. While there is no absolute way to prevent ankle sprains and injuries, exercises such as ankle lifts can strengthen the muscles around the joint. Wearing proper supporting footwear is also essential in protecting the ankle.
Pain extending down the leg between the knee and the ankle may be a sign of shin splints. This occurs in people who run long distances or people who rarely exercise and then decide to go running without proper warm up. It is caused by inflammation of the muscles surrounding the shinbone. The treatment for this condition is to decrease or stop exercising for a while. Anti-inflammatory gels and creams can also help. The best way to prevent this condition is to do proper warm up before running and to choose shoes that fit well and offer proper support.
Elbow tendinopathy or “Tennis Elbow” refers to pain in the elbow that may extend into the forearm or arm. The elbow may also feel numb, stiff or tingling. This inflammation of the tendon is caused by repeated stress on the forearm muscles which bend and straighten the elbow. These muscles then become inflamed at their attachment and cause these symptoms. The condition is treated with anti inflammatory medications or injections of steroids or stem cells into the affected tendon. If these measures fail surgical release may be performed. The best way to prevent tennis elbow is by taking care to avoid the repetitive motions that caused the injury.
While many sports injuries can be effectively treated at home, you should contact your orthopaedic surgeon if you experience severe pain or discomfort, or if your symptoms persist after home treatment.