Sports Injuries

Sport Medicine is a specialty in the field of musculoskeletal medicine that deals with the treatment, prevention and diagnosis of sports-related injuries and exercise. More than 3.5 million sports injuries occur each year in the United States, and almost one-third of all injuries incurred in childhood are sports-related injuries.

Sports injuries include strains and sprains, tendon tears and ruptures, ligament strains and tears, fractures, stingers, disc injury, and assorted joint complaints like Golfer’s elbow. Our sports medicine experts have decades experience in treating professional, collegiate, high school, club and recreational athletes of all ages.

We understand the mentality of athletes who want to perform their best. Call us today to see how we can help you get back in the game.

Common Injuries In Athletes

Meniscal Tears

A meniscus tear is a common injury that occurs in the knees of athletes of all ages.  In fact, tears to the meniscus may also occur in patients who do not participate in sports.

Some of the common symptoms of meniscus tear include:

  • Pain along the sides of the knee
  • Swelling, especially after activity such as walking or running
  • Clicking or catching when bending or straightening the knee
  • A sense of instability, or giving way, with twisting activity

The meniscus acts as a cushion, analogous to the shocks in our cars, to dissipate force and protect the knee during activities such as running, walking, and climbing.  

Tears can occur acutely, such as stepping in a hole or being tackled on the football field, or chronically over time from normal use.

Treatment options range from therapy and rest, to injections, to even minimally invasive surgical repair using the video arthroscope.

As with any other injury, patients with symptoms that last for longer than 1 week should seek care with one of our OrthoEdge knee specialists.

Overhead Sports and Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries and athletics are a common pairing especially in overhead sports such as baseball.  Repetitive overhead stress activities like pitching place significant forces across the shoulder that may result in microtears which over time can culminate in injury.   

The shoulder is a complex machine with the most freedom of motion of any joint in the body.  A series of anatomic structures ranging from bony architecture to muscles, labrum, and capsule, all work in synergy to provide stability, strength, and the ability to throw a ball.  If one of these structures weakens, stress loads are increased in the others, which can eventually cause damage.

Typical symptoms of shoulder injury commonly begin as pain in addition to a sense of popping or instability; however, at times, these symptoms may be as innocuous as loss of motion or even endurance and velocity of pitches.

Some of the most common injuries seen in pitchers involve the rotator cuff, biceps tendon, labrum, and scapula.   Lateral or posterior pain may stem from rotator cuff tendinitis or even tears, and can occur with improper mechanics and strength.   Tendinitis and tears to the biceps tendon or its attachment to the glenoid (SLAP tears), may manifest as sharp, deep anterior to posterior pain and popping.   Increased tightness or laxity and muscle imbalance may lead to Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit (GIRD) and Scapular Rotation Dysfunction (SICK Scapula), as well as instability issues and “dead arm” feeling after throwing.  While these issues can occur in both the adult and adolescent thrower, a unique condition causing pain in the shoulder in the pediatric athlete, involves the shoulder growth plate as a result of improper pitch count monitoring.

The most important way to treat shoulder injuries in the throwing athlete is to prevent their occurrence all together.  Proper strength and stretching programs, pitching mechanics, and pitch counts begin at the individual and team level involving the athlete and coaches.   Whenever symptoms first occur, they are usually assessed by the team trainer.  Most times, they can be corrected at their early onset with a quick return to sport.  Occasionally, they require evaluation by the team doctor to help coordinate a plan for return to pitching.   This should always involve cessation of pitching until appropriate medical evaluation is completed. Most commonly, a physical therapy program coupled with treatment modalities such as anti-inflammatory pain medications, ice, and heat, is all that is necessary to treat the affected athlete.  Occasionally, corticosteroid injections are required to augment the therapy program.   Rarely, surgical intervention is required to fix tears or conditions that have not responded to more conservative management.

In summary, shoulder injuries in throwing athletes are not uncommon, however, they are usually preventable.   A proper supervised program of pre and post activity stretches, in and offseason strengthening, pitching mechanics, and pitch count all play a role in injury prevention.  A team approach involving the athlete, coaching staff, trainers, and team physicians is required to identify at risk athletes, appropriately treat them, and return them to their sport as quickly and safely as possible.

Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability can occur after falls, contact sports such as football, or repetitive overhead sports such as volleyball and tennis.   Occasionally, instability will be atraumatic, and occur with sleep or reaching in certain directions.

Traumatic dislocation can cause damage to the Glenoid labrum which is a ring of collagen tissue that surrounds the shoulder socket, helping to deepen it and provide stability.

Initial treatment of shoulder instability after dislocation will range from immediate reduction on the athletic field to an urgent visit to the emergency room to put the joint back in place.  Those who experience dislocation on a frequent basis can typically put their shoulder back in place on their own and may seek treatment in the doctor’s office.

Long term treatment can range from therapy to strengthen and balance the shoulder to surgery for repair of the torn tissue.  The nature of the dislocation will dictate the recommended treatment, and oftentimes, studies such as x-rays and MRI’s are used to assess the extent of the damage.

Some symptoms of labral tear include:

  • Pain in the shoulder, especially with reaching overhead or behind the back
  • A sense of subluxation, or sliding, of the joint with lifting objects 
  • Clicking or catching with movement or lifting
  • A sense of numbness or tingling down the arm with throwing

As with any other injury, patients with symptoms that last for longer than 1 week should seek care with one of our OrthoEdge shoulder specialists.

Hip Pain in Athletes

Hip pain can affect athletes of all ages, in any sport.  Symptoms may range from pain in the groin, to pain in the side of the hip, or even into the buttocks.  There may be associated catching or popping, and symptoms oftentimes worsen with weight bearing, twisting, laying on one side, or even sitting for too long.  Sometimes, there is a causative injury, but more often, symptoms start without a preceding event and worsen with time and use.

Sources for these symptoms can occur from impingement caused by bone spurs, known as femoroacetabular impingement, with or without a tear to the soft tissue in the hip joint known as the labrum.  Other causes include contusions (hip pointer), stress fractures, sports hernias, or tears to a muscle known as the gluteus medius, or hip abductor, a condition similar to rotator cuff tears in the shoulder.  Rarely, entrapment of nerves that cross the muscles of the hip can cause painful symptoms, but the most common etiology is overuse and chronic irritation leading to a variety of tendinopathies.

Most times, these symptoms will resolve with over-the-counter medication and rest, however, when they linger for greater than a week or so, a trip to the specialist is in order.  Initially, basic studies like x-rays will be taken in the office, and a conservative management program to include therapy, prescription anti-inflammatory pain meds, and even injections will be initiated.  When such programs fail to relieve pain after four-to-six weeks, advanced studies like CT Scans and MRIs may be ordered in advance of arthroscopic intervention.

Hip arthroscopy is an outpatient surgical procedure that allows access to the hip joint and surrounding tissues through a series of two to three small incisions.  Using high definition video, the injured tissue is viewed, and through the use of a series of shavers, burrs, and tissue ablation devices, bone spurs and tendinitis are removed.  Through the use of devices known as suture anchors, labral and tendon tears are repaired.

Arthroscopic surgery is performed by specially trained orthopaedic surgeons to get everyone, athlete or not, back to pain free activity and normal daily life.