Sprains, Strains and Tears: What to Do about Common Sports Injuries

Everyone gets a sore joint once in a while, but if you’re an athlete, the chances of it being a more serious injury go up. The National Athletic Trainers Association estimates that 28,000 Americans twist their ankle daily, and that 45% of sports injuries are related to the ankles. Add the shoulders, arms, wrists, hips, and knees, and you have a lot of vulnerable points that can sustain injury.

Dr. Philip Regala provides orthopedic care to patients in and around Naples, Florida. This includes diagnosis, advice, and sports medicine treatment (including surgical options) for all types of injuries, including those to muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding your joints.

Sprains, strains, and tears 

Sprains and strains are simply minor, “partial thickness” tears of different types of tissue. 

A tear is a more severe injury that extends through the “full thickness” of the ligament, tendon, or muscle. 

Examples of common sports injuries involving sprains, strains, or tears include:

A low “lateral” ankle sprain, caused by rolling or inverting the ankle and damaging the ligaments. These often involve an over-stretch of the ATFL (Anterior Talofibular Ligament) or CFL (Calcaneofibular Ligament).

A tear in the Anterior Cruciate Ligament, often caused by a rapid change of direction including pivoting, cutting, or jumping. A full thickness ACL tear or rupture usually requires surgical intervention to reconstruct the torn ligament. 

A muscle or tendon strain, typically caused by twisting or overextending during play. This kind of injury is common in football and other impact sports.

Treating sports injuries

Unfortunately, many athletes fear being benched for what they think is a minor injury, and choose to “walk it off,” according to International Ankle Consortium. Sports injuries can become worse if not properly diagnosed and treated, so if you’re hurt, it’s best to call our office for an examination of your injury. In the meantime, R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) should always be applied promptly, according to the Mayo Clinic:

Rest

Use crutches to keep weight off of the injured joint if necessary. Find ways to exercise the rest of your body that don’t involve the injured limb.

Ice

Ice the area as soon as possible after the injury occurs. Repeat icing in 15-20 minute segments every 3-6 hours for 48 hours or until swelling improves (whichever comes first), but don’t use ice directly on the skin due to risk of nerve damage. Wrapping the ice in a towel is a good solution.

Compression

Use a compression wrap or ankle sleeve made of elastic or neoprene, just tight enough to provide support and compression without cutting off circulation.  

Elevation

Raise the injured limb carefully above the heart whenever possible to help limit swelling. Use soft pillows and gentle inclines to make this happen.

Medical treatments

Minor sprains and strains may be left to heal naturally, but a serious tear will need extra attention. Dr. Regala may use corticosteroids or a platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection to boost and speed healing. Surgery may be needed for a full thickness tear. 

Dr. Regala will go over your options with you, including whether or not you are a candidate for arthroscopic surgery. This minimally invasive procedure uses a miniaturized camera to guide your surgeon as he manipulates small tools through tiny incisions to repair damage.

Have you been injured on the field or the court? Contact our office at 239-325-1131 or book an appointment online. We can help.

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