Active Care: Common Sports Injuries and Treatments
Staying active over time can result in a higher quality of life as we age, but physical activity—whether sports, recreation or occupational tasks—can sometimes lead to injury.
The goal in sports medicine is to prevent and treat such injuries, and the fellowship-trained and board-certified doctors of the Crozer-Keystone Health System—which encompasses the HealthplexÒ Sports Medicine Institute and Premier Orthopedics, rely on the latest advances in their field to help people of all ages maintain wellness, increase fitness and maximize athletic performance.
Many activity-related injuries can be treated non-operatively. Crozer-Keystone’s specialists in sports medicine and orthopedics are well-versed in treating such conditions, including the following:
Musculoskeletal Pain and Injury
Most active people experience musculoskeletal pain or injury at some point in their lives. This can be caused by any number of conditions affecting the joints, muscles, tendons and bones—including tendonitis, rotator cuff injuries, knee bursitis or carpal tunnel syndrome, among many others. The pain can be related to one-time acute injuries or chronic overuse injuries. It’s important to call a doctor immediately if the injury causes severe pain, swelling or numbness, if a joint or limb cannot support weight, or if a joint doesn’t feel stable.
Crozer-Keystone’s sports medicine specialists are trained to diagnose and treat pain of the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder, head and neck, upper and lower back, pelvis, hips, leg, knee, ankle and foot. Diagnosis involves exploring a patient’s medical history; evaluating pain, strength and motion; and using X-rays and other imaging tests to view the affected areas. Treatment usually requires rest, ice, compression and elevation to relieve pain, reduce swelling and speed healing. Doctors may also suggest pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or injections, applying a splint or brace, or rehabilitation exercises.
Sprains of Ligaments/Strains of Muscle
A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament that can happen during a fall, unusual twisting or a sudden impact during an activity. Symptoms include pain, swelling and difficulty moving the joint—there may also be a “pop” or sensation of tearing when the injury occurs. A strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon that is caused either suddenly or over time, usually from playing sports or overuse during daily activities. Strain symptoms include pain, muscle spasms, swelling and trouble moving the affected area.
Crozer-Keystone specialists will diagnose the source of pain based on a physical examination and the circumstances of the injury. For all types of injury, Crozer-Keystone’s doctors will recommend rest, ice, wearing a bandage or device to compress the area, medications to manage the pain, and, usually, physical therapy.
Stable Fracture Care Management
“Fracture” is the term for a broken or cracked bone, and a fracture can be complete or partial. Fractures generally occur when there is a high impact or a trauma to the bone, such as a collision with a piece of equipment, a fall, or a forceful or unnatural movement. The symptoms of a fracture are an out-of-place or misshapen limb or joint; swelling, bruising or bleeding; intense pain; numbness and tingling; and limited mobility or inability to move the affected limb. Fractures require immediate emergency medical care.
Doctors at Crozer-Keystone will use an X-ray to assess the injury. Treatment starts with setting the bone back in place and immobilizing the fractured bone with a cast or splint. Fractures usually take four to six weeks to heal, and once the cast or splint is removed, some physical rehabilitation is usually necessary to continue to heal the bone and begin to rebuild muscle.
Stress Fracture Diagnosis and Management
Stress fractures are overuse injuries that occur when muscles become fatigued and can no longer absorb added shock—typically when the intensity or amount of exercise is increased too rapidly, or an athlete or active adult is working with unfamiliar equipment or playing on an unfamiliar surface. The pressure causes a tiny crack to appear in the bone, most often the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot. Though stress fractures affect people of all ages, they tend to happen more frequently to women and those who participate in sports such as tennis, track and field, gymnastics and basketball. The primary symptom of a stress fracture is pain that feels more intense with activity but subsides during rest.
Crozer-Keystone's specialists can diagnose stress fractures by evaluating a patient’s risk factors and using X-rays, CT scans and MRIs. Managing stress fractures requires rest for at least six to eight weeks, avoiding re-injury and sometimes applying shoe inserts or braces.
Arthritis occurs when the smooth cartilage covering the ends of bones wears away over time—in many cases by repetitive motion. Symptoms of arthritis include dull, aching pain aggravated by physical activity; an inability to bend or straighten the affected joint; and a feeling of weakness or a “buckling” sensation. Crozer-Keystone specialists recommend rest and anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen or acetominophen) or corticosteroids as a first step in treating arthritis. Other treatments include physical therapy to increase range of motion, using an assistive device such as a brace or cane, and applying heat, ice, bandages or liniments to minimize pain and inflammation.
Other Specialized Procedures
The valuable sports medicine resources at Crozer-Keystone also include a full range of procedures and treatments, including sports physicals, marathon medicine, cycling medicine, sports concussion management with ImPACT testing, ultrasound-guided injections and tenotomy, prolotherapy, steroid injections, custom foot orthotic evaluation and prescription, video gait analysis, bicycle fitting, chonic exertional compartment testing, VO2 max testing and osteopathic manipulation therapy.
For sports or activity-related injuries that demand surgical care, such as musculoskeletal pain or arthritis that does not respond to non-operative treatment or fractures that require fixation devices or other surgery, the specialists of Crozer-Keystone Health System and Premier Orthopedics—Delaware County’s largest network of orthopedic specialists—will provide the most current, state-of-the-art treatment and procedures available. Crozer-Keystone’s surgeons are well-versed in the latest innovations, including minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery and other techniques to heal pain, reduce discomfort and quickly return patients to the activities they love.
If you experience any of the above symptoms or would like to talk to a specialist about treatment options, call 1-877-CK-MOTION (1-877-256-6846) for a prompt appointment with one of Crozer-Keystone’s sports medicine or orthopedic specialists, or visit us online at http://sportsmed.crozer.org. Find more information about the Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedic Partnership.