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What are the common sports injuries?

Dr Kaushal Malhan, Director, Orthopaedic Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, explains what the common sports injuries are and how to deal with them.

Greater awareness as regards physical fitness has caused an exponential increase in the number of people engaging in sports. It may be at an amateur level or professional, but this has led to an increased number of people suffering from sports injuries. These are common musculoskeletal injuries and involve the ligaments, muscles, tendons or bone.

Most common sports injuries seen are usually those related to the knee and include:

ANTERIOR CRUCIATE LIGAMENT (ACL) Tears: ACL is an important stabiliser inside the knee joint, and patients will usually suffer a twisting injury followed by a moderate to large swelling in the knee. Patients complain of instability while walking. This can be diagnosed clinically and with an MRI scan. These injuries are treated surgically with keyhole Arthroscopic Surgery as soon as the swelling settles down.

MENISCAL TEARS: It comes second; it may happen along with ACL tears or in isolation. The Meniscus is a piece of semilunar cartilage cushion between the bone surfaces in the knee. Once torn they give continuous pain especially in deep bending of the knee. Arthroscopic keyhole day surgery procedures usually help repair these.

MEDIAL COLLATERAL LIGAMENT (MCL) STRAIN: The MCL ligament lies outside the knee joint running longitudinally, giving stability to the knee on its inner side. It is an extremely important stabiliser. Most strains are mild and can be treated without any bracing or surgery. Sometimes the ligament may rupture and require bracing for three months. Occasionally, if not treated on time, they may require surgical stabilisation.

PATELLOFEMORAL STRAIN: It results in pain when trying to stand from a sitting position or climbing stairs. Usually results from high forces generated between the Patella (knee cap bone) and the thigh bone. These strains are best treated with medication and appropriate exercises. They are often related to abnormal muscle balance in the knee joint.

ANKLE STRAINS: These strains, especially on the outer side, are prevalent with twisting forces on the joint. In most cases, these resolve satisfactorily with medication and exercises. Surgery may rarely be needed to correct chronic instability of the ankle.

HAMSTRING PULL OR OTHER MUSCLE OR TENDON INJURIES: These are seen commonly and present with localised pain in the affected area, rendering the athlete incapable of stretching the affected muscle or tendon to full length. This is usually managed with medicine and Physiotherapy.

SHOULDER DISLOCATIONS: It happens when the shoulder joint comes out of the socket. Occasionally, people present with this happening multiple times. In the acute situation, the joint has to be reduced and rested in a sling. Once healing occurs the shoulder is put through an exercise program. If recurrent, these can be treated with keyhole or open surgery depending on the condition of the tissues.

Besides this, patients, may present with what are called ‘overuse injuries’ like tennis elbow, jumpers knee, Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome, Shin Splints, etc. which are often related to inappropriate training regimes.

Fractures can also occur if one suffers a major injury during sport. While such injuries are seen in both sexes; they, however, tend to present more often in males, probably due to higher participation levels. This scenario is fast changing in our country.

Drink water and maintain hydration
Regular stretching exercises of all muscle groups
Proper clothing to keep warm during training
Warming-up before training or competitive sport
Pace activities correctly and give the body time to adapt rather than progressing to fast
Appropriate protective gear is a must
Supervision by trained personnel
Avoid overtraining and burnout
Maintain regularity

On-site Early Treatment:
Always immobilise the injured part and give it rest. Do not try to deal with fractures and dislocations on the field; transport to a medical facility immediately
Icing and elevation to reduce swelling
Anti-inflammatory medication to be applied locally
For major injuries, avoid giving water or oral medication to the patient, as sometimes urgent surgical procedures may be needed.


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