What is sports medicine?
Sports medicine is a branch of medicine that focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of sports-related injuries. Sports Medicine
Sports injuries can happen suddenly, due to overtraining, not training properly, poor technique, wearing inappropriate clothing, and a lack of fitness, among other causes.
The treatments used allow the person to go back to their normal training routine as soon as possible and in the best conditions.
What’s the difference between traditional orthopaedics and sports traumatology?
Sports traumatology focuses on athletes specifically and injuries arising in sport, considering the athlete’s needs, whereas traditional traumatology treats general locomotive system injuries.
This kind of specialist has in depth knowledge of different types of sports and understands the different situations that the athlete may have. They not only have physical, medical, physiological knowledge of the human body, but they are also able to treat different sports injuries (due to training, seasonal changes, competition expectations, among others), as well as other reasons for injuries.
What are sports injuries?
Competitive and non-competitive sports injuries are injuries that occur in athletic activities or whilst exercising. Whilst some of these happen by chance, others are facilitated by inadequate practice or poor execution in terms of technique, as well as by not using sports equipment correctly.
Sports injuries mainly consist of muscle injuries or joint and ligament injuries:
• Muscle injuries (sprains, pulled muscle, cramps);
• Knee or ankle sprain;
• Back injuries
• Bone fractures;
• Tendon injuries.
The outlook of a sports injury greatly depends on what caused it and its severity. Imaging tests (ultrasound, MRI scan) can rule out structural injuries and help to assess the severity of the injury itself. Furthermore, based on the results, the specialist can estimate how long it will take for you to recover and get back to sports, as well as your risk of getting injured again.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of a sports injury depend on how big and how severe the injury is. They usually are:
• Immediate onset of pain;
• Stiffness of the affected muscle;
• Increased sensitivity of the affected area;
• A feeling of heat emanating from the affected area;
• Decrease in range of motion.
How are they diagnosed?
Sports Medicine Sports injuries, especially muscular ones, can be diagnosed with a physical examination.
The following tests may be prescribed to get further insight on where the injury is and how severe it is:
• X-ray scan;
• Computed tomography (CT) scan;
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan;
• Ultrasound scan;
• Bone density scans.
What causes them?
As an example, the main risk factors for a football injury are:
• Not having exercised enough;
• Muscle fatigue;
• Cold or wet weather;
• Poorly maintained training field;
• Quicker execution and overall rhythm of the game;
• Doing a movement too fast;
• A different or new training technique;
• Stumbling upon another player;
• Playing too fast or too slowly, without having warmed up adequately;
• Inadequate training program;
• Poor execution;
• Eating an unhealthy diet;
• Not resting enough.
How can they be prevented?
The main preventive measures are:
• Ensure you warm-up adequately;
• Eat a healthy diet;
• Stay hydrated;
• Use proper equipment;
• Wear good sportswear and shoes.
How are they treated?
Treatment largely depends on how severe the injury is. It usually consists of physical therapy, surgery, applying ice packs, taking painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications and bed rest.
Which doctor should I talk to?
You should see a specialist in sports medicine, but you may also be treated by physiotherapists and orthopaedic surgeons.
What about sports injuries in the arm?
The arm commonly incur injuries within the sporting environments we see today. It comes as no surprise that collision-type sports, including rugby league and union, boxing and martial arts, are regular referral patterns with arm injuries occurred from sports.
There are many situations where the arm may be susceptible to injury, i.e. in defensive situations, such as holding a ball, or perhaps in offensive situations, when trying to tackle an opponent. The hand and wrist could also be injured by a direct blow from an opponent, a racquet or a ball, in cricket perhaps.
The shoulder, elbow, hand and wrist are a most complex area and transmit a very powerful arm movements, to be executed with precision. Therefore, any dysfunction to the hand and wrist may have serious consequences for the whole of the upper limb function.
When dealing with hand and wrist injuries in sport, it is important to fully assess and evaluate the injury involved. The particular sporting requirements of the individual player must be understood as well as clear and accurate guidance must be given as to the likely outcome of the injury and expected return to play.
It is extremely important that an accurate assessment of the player’s position and specific functional requirements are fully evaluated. This will help the treating clinician to gain an insight into the likely return to function, the likely timings of his/her return and the consequence of a suboptimal outcome.
The management of each individual arm sporting injury should be tailored to meet that individual’s requirements, for an optimal outcome.
Goals of arm sports injury management
– A quick and detailed assessment of the injury.
– A thorough assessment of the player’s functional requirements.
– Appropriate investigations.
– Definitive treatment.
– Programmed sport and player specific rehabilitation to return to optimal function.
– Continued surveillance until complete recovery is achieved.
Sports specific rehabilitation
Sport Specific Rehabilitation is an integral part of a successful recovery. This may be used as a primary treatment for a particular hand and wrist problem or may follow surgical intervention. It is important there is a step-by-step, clear goal-orientated rehabilitation programme designed in conjunction with the treating surgeon and the therapist involved in the rehabilitation.
With all round support, the injured player will understand this step-by-step method, and will achieve full function by achieving the targeted goals along the recovery pathway.
The most common injuries in sports medicine
The most common injuries are:
• Sprained ankle.
• Muscle tears.
• Tendonitis and tendinopathies (tennis elbow, golfers elbow, Achilles tendon rupture).
• Knee injuries (meniscus fracture or damage to the anterior cruciate or posterior cruciate ligament) and cartilage injuries.
• Shoulder injuries (dislocation and tendinopathy), among others.
Sports medicine treatments
The right treatment in sports medicine will always be based on each player’s medical history, which should include family and personal history, injury history, surgical history, and orthopaedic issues.
The information gathered in a sports admission exam will be included, this will assess postural information, the skeletal muscle, joints, ligaments, and physical fitness, risk factors will also be included for any potential injuries according to the sport.
Some of the treatments within this speciality include:
Ultrasound-guided galvanic electrolysis technique, commonly known as USGET, is an innovative medical and physiotherapy technique that enables accurate treatment of injured tendons, muscles, or ligaments, successfully treating sports injuries such as:
• Achilles tendonitis
• Patellar tendonitis
• Epicondylitis (tennis and golfers elbow)
• Rotator cuff tendonitis (supraspinatus)
• Plantar fasciitis
• Iliotibial band syndrome
• Muscle tears (hamstrings, femoral biceps, calf, and soleus among others).
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a highly effective treatment to stimulate scarring, regeneration, and healing damaged tissues, such as:
• Tendon ruptures
• Chronic tendinopathies
• Ligament injuries
• Muscle injuries
• Focal cartilage injury
Hyaluronic acid injections can reduce pain and revive joint function thanks to the treatment’s lubricant, mechanical, and biochemical effect. The most common areas to treat are:
• Knees (joint that most often receives this treatment)