Gearing up for Fall Sports
Mark Ritter M.D.
Don’t Be Sidelined by Injuries
More than 8 million student athletes participate in fall sports and many of them will be sidelined before the end of the season due to a sports-related injury. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, nearly 1.8 million student athletes will be injured this year.
Heat exhaustion, sprains and strains, and acute injuries are commonly seen in athletes returning to fall sports. After a long summer, kids are less physically prepared to hit the playing field, which can lead to an increase in injuries. A pre-season physical, wearing properly-fitting equipment and recognizing pain early can prevent some of these injuries.
Following are some of the most common injuries faced by athletes that participate in the fall’s most popular sports, including football, basketball and wrestling:
More than 920,000 student athletes are treated for football-related injuries each year – the most of any fall sport. The most common football-related injuries include:
• Strains and sprains: These are the most common injuries in football and usually affect the ankle, knee or wrist. Signs of this type of injury include pain, swelling, bruising and limited ability to move the affected muscle or joint.
• Fractures: Fractures to the wrist, arm and leg account for more than one quarter of all serious football injuries. Bruises, swelling, localized pain and the inability to move the affected area, are all signs of a fracture.
• ACL tears: Indications of a possible ACL tear include hearing a “pop,” instability of the knee, immediate pain and swelling.
• Concussions: If a player experiences a significant “blow” to the head it can be very serious. They should seek immediate medical treatment if they have a headache, nausea or confusion. Loss of consciousness is also possible.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, wrestling ranks fourth in participation but second in the rate of injuries suffered by athletes. In addition to concussions, the most common wrestling-related injuries include:
• Prepatellar Bursitis: Also known as “housekeeper’s knee,” key symptoms include swelling and pain on the top of the kneecap along with limited movement.
• Rotator cuff tendonitis: The wear and tear on the shoulder during wrestling can cause tendonitis, which is an inflammation within the shoulder joint. This can cause pain with movement of the arm, trouble sleeping due to pressure on the shoulder and weakness of the arm when reaching overhead.
Each year, more than 481,000 basketball-related injuries are treated, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Some of the most common basketball injuries seen are:
• Jammed fingers: Blunt impact to the tips of fingers can cause the joints in the fingers to jam, causing pain, bruising and swelling.
• Ankle sprains: Pay attention to tenderness, pain and swelling around the ankle. These symptoms, along with the loss of movement of the ankle, can indicate an ankle sprain.
• Plantar Fasciitis: A sharp pain in the heel of the foot, especially in the morning, is a common symptom of this injury.
As with any time of year, athletes that participate in fall sports must make sure their bodies are properly conditioned before hitting the playing field. If they do experience discomfort or an injury they should seek help from their onsite medical staff and follow up medical care from an experienced orthopedic surgeon.