The different kinds of sports injuries and how to treat them

By: Calla Jacobs

With the start of the school year, it also means the beginning of fall sports for many high schools and middle schools in the area. This also tends to lead to an increase of sports injuries, especially in the beginning.

The most common sports injuries include muscle sprains and strains, tears of the ligaments that hold joints together, tears of the tendons that support joints, dislocated joints, and fractured bones.

While sprains and strains are the most common there is a distinct difference between the two. A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament, which is the connective tissue that connects the end of one bone to another. While a strain is a twist, pull or tear or a muscle or tendon, which is a cord of tissue connecting the muscle to the bone.

Some of these injuries can be treated at home, it is important to know when to consult a doctor. You should see a doctor if the injury causes severe pain, swelling or numbness, you can’t bear weight on the area, or the injury is accompanied by increased swelling, joint abnormality, or instability.

Mild injuries can be treated at home using the RICE method:
• Rest: Decrease your amount of physical activity as needed to avoid exacerbating the injury. Don’t try to ‘work through’ the pain as it may cause further harm.
• Ice: Apply an ice pack to the injury for 20 minutes, 4-8 times a day. Do not use heat immediately after an injury; heat will increase internal bleeding and swelling.
• Compression: Compressing the injured area can reduced swelling. You can use elastic wraps, special boots, air casts, and splints.
• Elevation: Elevating the injured area on a pillow above the level of the heart can also help to decrease swelling.

To control the pain, over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin are recommended. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is another medication that may be used to help with pain, however it will not help with inflammation as it is not an NSAID.

If you have any questions about pain medications, you can call us at Four Corners Pharmacy (518-439-8200) or consult with your doctor.

Another common treatment for sports injuries is immobilization. Slings, splints, casts, and leg immobilizers may be used to reduce the movement of the injured site to prevent further injury, reduce pain, swelling and muscle spasm, and enable blood to flow more directly to the site to help begin the healing process.We have a number splints and slings, as well as crutches, in our store and our staff would be happy to help determine which is best.

More severe injuries may require surgery to repair connective tissues or realign bones with compound fractures.

It is best to prevent injuries before they happen by properly warming up and stretching before exercising and not over-doing exercise. We wish everybody luck on their upcoming seasons.

References:
1. Handout on Health: Sports Injuries [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2017 Aug 27]. Available from: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/sports_injuries/default.asp

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