SPORTS INJURIES AND CONDITIONS

LOWER (LUMBAR) BACK PAIN

  • Overview:
  • While back pain is very common, all athletes should seek medical attention immediately. Back pain can present itself in many different forms, including back strain (musculoligamentous strain), spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis, herniated discs, or other causes.
  • CAUSE:
  • Athletes are at a greater risk than most individuals for sustaining lower back pain and injuries. From basketball to tennis and everything in between, sports can place a lot of stress on the spine.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Muscular strains and spondylolysis are two of the most common causes of low back pain. Low back pain is usually easily treated with conservative means, but many athletes minimize the discomfort and continue to play through it. Treatment often includes core strengthening, flexibility, and other exercises.

NECK PAIN

  • Overview:
  • Neck pain can originate from many areas near the neck (such as muscles, tendons, discs, and even nerves). Symptoms include pain and stiffness and potentially referred pain elsewhere if there is also nerve irritation.
  • CAUSE:
  • Neck pain in athletes can be the result of minor sprains, strains or contusions. Neck pain can also be caused by incorrect posture for a prolonged period of time.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and EMG tests may be used to diagnosis and evaluate the cause of neck pain. Treatment may look different depending on the severity of the issue. Some athletes will need to ice the injury and work through physical therapy. Surgery may be required if conservative treatment is not successful within the first two months.

SHOULDER

  • Overview:
  • Clavicle fractures are commonly known as a broken collarbone. These usually occur after a fall onto the shoulder or an outstretched arm.
  • Cause:
  • Clavicle fractures often occur in contact sports, such as football or rugby, after colliding with another player.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Your physician will perform an X-ray to confirm the fracture, and then immobilize the arm in a sling, collar, cuff, or figure-eight bandage. Light exercises can be performed after one to two weeks of complete immobilization. Rehabilitation will focus on mobility exercises and stretches.

SLAP (Superior Labrum, Anterior to Posterior) tear

  • Overview:
  • The labrum is a ring of firm tissue (labrum) that helps keep the arm bone securely in the shoulder socket. Athletes may experience popping or clicking of the shoulder, pain when moving the arm overhead, feelings of weakness or shoulder instability, and aching pain that may not come from a specific point.
  • Cause:
  • Many things can cause SLAP tears: falling onto an outstretched arm or shoulder, lifting heavy objects repeatedly, or doing too many overhead activities, such as throwing a baseball.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Your physician will diagnose SLAP tears by moving the shoulder joint around to understand which movements are causing the pain. MRIs may be used as well. Arthroscopic surgery is necessary to confirm the SLAP tear diagnosis—your doctor may be able to repair the tear at the same time.

Rotator cuff injury

  • Overview:
  • The rotator cuff includes four tendons and muscles in the shoulder joint. Overuse and repeated stress can cause tears in the rotator cuff. Common symptoms include pain in the shoulder and arm, shoulder weakness, and trouble moving the shoulder and arm.
  • Cause:
  • Most athletes who sustain rotator cuff injuries play in sports that involve repeated overhand throwing, such as baseball. These injuries are also common in swimmers, tennis players, and football players.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Treating a rotator cuff tear involves rest and icing. Your doctor may suggest range-of-motion exercises and physical therapy. More serious injuries may require surgery.

Dislocated shoulder

  • Overview:
  • Shoulder dislocations cause the head of the humerus to dislocate out of the back (posterior) or front (anterior) of the joint. The athlete may feel the shoulder pop out of the joint at the moment of impact.
  • Cause:
  • Falling onto an outstretched arm most often causes dislocated shoulders. A sudden blow to the shoulder or extreme rotation may also push the bones out of place. Dislocated shoulders are most common in contact sports, such as hockey and football, and sports in which falling is a possibility, like gymnastics, skiing and volleyball.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Treating a rotator cuff tear involves rest and icing. Your doctor may suggest range-of-motion exercises and physical therapy. More serious injuries may require surgery.

HEAD

In recent years, there has been a surge in the importance of preventing, recognizing, and responding to a concussion, especially in young athletes. It is vital for athletes, coaches and parents alike to know what a concussion is and the steps to treating it.

When there is the possibility of a concussion, always seek the advice of a health professional. That is where the specialists at Bone & Joint Center come in.

We are highly trained in concussion recognition and treatment, ensuring the patient receives proper diagnosis and expert care every step of the way before entering back into their normal activity.

As one of the only ImPACT-certified physicians in West Michigan, Dr. Courtney Erickson-Adams is the regional authority on concussions, and ImPACT is the first and only concussion-specific solution to be granted medical device clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Click here to read the press release.

QUADRICEPS, HAMSTRING AND GROIN STRAINS

  • Overview:
  • When a muscle is stretched beyond its capabilities or is not strong enough to counteract a load, muscle strains (or tears) may occur.
  • Cause:
  • Groin strains are often caused by a lateral movement, while hamstring (back of thigh) and quadriceps (front of thigh) strains may be caused by sudden stops or starts while running.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Your physician will obtain a history of the injury in addition to performing a physical exam. Strength and flexibility testing and an MRI may also assist in diagnosing the injury. Most athletes will require rehabilitation in the form of ice and heat, as well as exercises to regain flexibility and strength levels.

TROCHANTERIC BURSITIS

  • Overview:
  • When the fluid-filled sac (bursa) at the outside of the hip becomes irritated or inflamed, it can cause trochanteric bursitis. Symptoms can include pain on the outside of the hip, thigh or buttock. The pain may worsen while lying on the affected side or during activities.
  • Cause:
  • Often trochanteric bursitis is caused by injury to the hip, overuse, incorrect posture, a previous surgery, or preexisting conditions. Athletes who repeatedly run, jump or squat are at risk of enduring trochanteric bursitis.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Ultrasound, X-ray, MRI or CT scans may be required to diagnose trochanteric bursitis and the severity of the condition. Treatment involves rest from activity until the athlete is symptom-free. Physical therapy will help the athlete regain flexibility and strength. Surgery may be required when other treatments do not help.

HIP LABRAL TEARS

  • Overview:
  • The labrum is the ring of cartilage on the outside rim of the hip joint. It helps securely hold the ball at the top of the femur within the hip socket. Tears occur when the labrum separates from the socket. Many hip labral tears occur without symptoms, but some athletes may experience a locking or catching sensation in the hip joint, pain in the hip or groin or a limited range of motion.
  • Cause:
  • Those who participate in hockey, golf, football, soccer, and ballet are at an especially high risk of developing hip labral tears. A preexisting condition may cause these tears as well.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Your doctor will perform a physical exam by moving the leg in various positions, evaluation for pain and range of motion. Imaging scans, such as an X-ray or MRI may provide a better diagnosis. Treatments include anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and surgery if conservative treatments fail to relieve symptoms.

FEMORAL ACETABULAR IMPINGEMENT (FAI)

  • Overview:
  • FAI occurs when bone spurs develop around the ball of the hip, causing the bones of the hip to fit imperfectly and rub against each other. The joint then becomes damaged, potentially tearing the labrum and resulting in osteoarthritis.
  • Cause:
  • Patients with FAI were typically born with the condition, causing the hipbones to not form properly during childhood. Athletes with FAI may experience the symptoms sooner as they are working the hip joint more forcefully, but FAI is not caused by exercise itself.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • FAI is diagnosed by a physician examination. Your doctor may perform an impingement test, where he or she will bring the patient’s knee up towards the chest and then rotate it inward. If this causes pain, impingement is likely the root of the problem. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans or MRI scans will help diagnose the condition as well. Treatment can be as simple as changing your activity routine, but FAI sometimes requires arthroscopic surgery to repair and clean out any damage to the labrum and cartilage.

IT BAND SYNDROME (ITBS)

  • Overview:
  • The illiotibial band is a ligament that runs along the outside of the thigh, from hip to shin. The IT band helps stabilize and move the knee. When this ligament becomes too tight or inflamed, the athlete may experience pain. Symptoms also include swelling.
  • Cause:
  • Athletes who repeatedly turn their leg inward are at risk for ITBS. This is why the condition most often affects runners. Wearing worn-out shoes or ill-fitted shoes, poor running form, and running too many miles are some ways that can cause ITBS can flare up.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Doctors can easily diagnose ITBS by reviewing patient history and symptoms and performing a physical exam. An MRI may be used to check if inflammation has spread beyond the IT band. Because ITBS is an overuse injury, initial treatment includes the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Physical therapy may be needed to help decrease inflammation and to restore strength, balance, and flexibility to the athlete. Arthroscopy may be used if nonsurgical treatments fail to help.

ACL (ANTERIOR CRUCIATE LIGAMENT) INJURY

  • Overview:
  • The three bones that meet to form the knee (femur, tibia, and patella) are connected by four primary ligaments (two collateral and two cruciate ligaments). Half of ACL injuries also include other damage to surrounding structures, such as cartilage, meniscus, and other ligaments. Symptoms of an ACL injury include pain and swelling, inability to fully move the knee, tenderness, and difficulty walking. Athletes may hear a “popping” sound when the ACL is injured.
  • Cause:
  • Rapidly changing direction, sudden stops or starts, landing from a jump incorrectly, and direct collisions can cause ACL injuries. The athletes most at risk for these injuries are soccer, football, and basketball players.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • A doctor’s exam will include discussing symptoms and patient history and checking the structure of the injured knee. X-rays and MRI scans will help confirm the diagnosis. Nonsurgical treatment may come in the form of bracing and physical therapy. Athletes who require arthroscopic surgery will have their ligament reconstructed with a tissue graft. It may take six months for an athlete to return to activity.

MEDIAL TIBIAL STRESS SYNDROME (SHIN SPLINTS)

  • Overview:
  • Shin splints are one of the most common exercise-related conditions. The injury is an inflammation of the surrounding muscles/tendons/tissue near the tibia. Pain is experienced along the inner part of the tibia where muscles attach to the bone. The pain may be sharp or dull and throbbing, occurring before exercise as well as after.
  • Cause:
  • Changes in frequency, duration, and intensity of exercise can cause shin splints. Runners are at a high risk of suffering shin splints.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Your doctor will examine the lower leg and use additional imaging tests to rule out other shin conditions. Most athletes only require nonsurgical treatment, including rest, medicines, ice, compression, flexibility exercises, and supportive shoes/orthotics.

PATELLOFEMORAL PAIN SYNDROME

  • Overview:
  • Sometimes referred to as “runner’s knee” or “jumper’s knee,” patellofemoral pain syndrome causes pain in the front of the knee as well as around the kneecap. Pain may be experienced by activities that bend the knee, after sitting for an extended period of time, or during a change in activity.
  • Cause:
  • This condition is usually caused by overuse or, in some cases, a misalignment of the knee. Patellofemoral pain syndrome is frequently found in athletes (particularly females and young adults) who engage in vigorous physical activity or training. Those who frequently run, squat, or climb stairs, or even athletes who suddenly change their activities, are at the highest risk of developing this condition.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Your physician will perform a physical exam and also ask more about the type of pain you are having. The doctor may ask you to perform activities such as squatting, jumping or lunging to test the knee strength. Examining the lower leg alignment, position of the patella, knee stability, and strength of hips may also help diagnose the root of the knee pain. X-rays are often used to rule out any additional damage to the structure of the knee. Nonsurgical treatments—including physical therapy and orthotics—are enough to keep most athletes’ condition under control.

TENNIS ELBOW

  • Overview:
  • Tennis elbow (or lateral epicondylitis) is a common overuse injury. Upon repeated motions and stress, tears can develop in the tendons that attach forearm muscles outside of the elbow. Symptoms include pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow.
  • Cause:
  • As the name suggests, this condition is most prevalent in tennis players (especially poor technique of the backhand stroke).
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Tennis elbow often resolves over time, but physical therapy may help the healing process. Surgery is necessary in severe cases.

GOLFER’S ELBOW

  • Overview:
  • This condition affects the forearm muscle’s tendons that attach to the inside of the elbow. Pain, tenderness, weakness, and numbness may be felt at the site as well as through the forearm and wrist.
  • Cause:
  • Many activities aside from golf can contribute to golfer’s elbow including racket sports, throwing sports, and weight training.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • An evaluation and X-ray will be helpful in diagnosing golfer’s elbow. Treatment usually involves rest, ice, and stretching the affected area. In more severe cases, surgery or corticosteroid injections may be necessary.

CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME

  • Overview:
  • Carpal tunnel refers to the inflammation, irritation or damage of the median nerve, which passes through the wrist. This condition can cause pain, numbness, weakness and tingling of the hand.
  • Cause:
  • While a number of activities can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome, it is often found in athletes who place pressure on their wrists (such as gymnasts and cyclists).
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • A physician will perform an evaluation to assess the damage. He or she may suggest changes to the athlete’s activities to lessen impact on the wrist. Treatment usually involves rest and potentially wrist splints. If symptoms persist, surgery may be required.

WRIST SPRAIN

  • Overview:
  • Falling onto an outstretched hand usually causes wrist sprains in athletes. A sprain involves the tearing of a ligament. There are three grades (1 is mild, 2 is moderate, 3 is severe) to determine the severity of the injury.
  • Cause:
  • Wrist sprains are most likely found in sports in which athletes are susceptible to falling, including basketball, soccer, football, hockey, skiing, snowboarding, skating, and gymnastics.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Patients will immediately experience pain, bruising and swelling after sustaining a wrist sprain. The RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) may be used to stabilize the injury for a few days. An X-ray will be required to ensure the wrist is not fractured or broken. Physical therapy will help the athlete return to his or her sport quickly and safely.

ACHILLES TENDINITIS

  • Overview:
  • The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to the heel bone and is vital in running, walking, and jumping. Achilles tendinitis involves the inflammation of the tendon, causing swelling, pain, and irritation. This condition may present itself as Noninsertional (where the fibers in the middle of the tendon begin to break down) or Insertional (occurring where the tendon inserts to the heel bone). Symptoms may include swelling and pain and stiffness along the back of the heel, intensifying after activity.
  • Cause:
  • Achilles tendinitis is caused by repetitive stress to an overuse of the tendon, including a sudden increase in the intensity of activity, tight calf muscles, and bone spurs on the attachment point of the tendon to heel bone. Athletes at highest risk of sustaining this injury include runners, cyclists, football, basketball, and tennis players.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Diagnosis will include a doctor’s examination of the foot and ankle (looking for signs of swelling and thickening of the tendon, tenderness, and bone spurs). Imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans may be used to evaluate the injury and plan surgery, if necessary. Nonsurgical treatment options are successful in most cases of Achilles tendinitis, though the athlete may still have pain for three or more months. The RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation), physical therapy exercises, and orthotics can help heal the injury and strengthen the tendon. Surgical treatment is used to repair the tendon if the pain does not improve after six months of nonsurgical treatment options.

ANKLE SPRAIN

  • Overview:
  • Ankle sprains account for nearly half of all sports-related injuries. This type of injury occurs to one or more ligaments that hold together the anklebones. While ankle sprains can be sustained in medial and high positions, most occur laterally or on the outer ankle. Common symptoms are swelling, pain, bruising, and ankle instability, and some athletes may feel numbness or weakness if a nerve injury is also present.
  • Cause:
  • An inward rolling of the ankle most frequently causes ankle sprains. In sports, this is commonly experienced while running, jumping or pivoting.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • If you think you have sprained your ankle, seek medical attention immediately. Your physician will do a physical exam and possibly X-rays and MRIs for further evaluation. Ankle sprains will be categorized as either Grade I (mild), Grade II (moderate) or Grade III (severe). Initial treatment includes the RICE method to reduce swelling and pain. Bracing, taping, and an anti-inflammatory medicine may also be used. Rehabilitation is crucial to healing an ankle sprain.

PLANTAR FASCIITIS

  • Overview:
  • Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissue (plantar fascia) that supports the arch of the foot, causing pain on the bottom of the heel.
  • Cause:
  • When too much stress is placed on the feet, it can tear tissue. Tighter calf muscles, a high arch, repeated impact activity or performing new activities could all put an athlete at risk of sustaining plantar fasciitis.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment:
  • Initially, your physician will evaluate your symptoms and foot for signs of plantar fasciitis. Nonsurgical treatment usually helps improve the condition within 10 months. Exercises (including calf and other stretches), supportive shoes and orthotics, and physical therapy can help heal the condition. X-rays and other imaging tests may be used if initial treatment is not successful, possibly leading to surgical treatment.

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