Sports medicine is a subspecialty of orthopedics that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries suffered during athletic activity. The goal of treatment is to heal and rehabilitate the injury so patients can return to their favorite activities quickly, whether it’s Little League, recreational play or a high school, college or professional sport.
Because of the frequent use, wear-and-tear and risk of a fall or accident associated with sports activities, athletes are often susceptible to orthopedic injuries, including a stress fracture, chronic pain, or a tearing or stretching of internal structures. Different activities place different areas at a higher risk for damage, so it’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself while playing sports. Treatment for these conditions may involve surgery, orthotics, physical therapy and rest.
It is important to seek proper medical care at the first sign of a sports injury, as continued use and activity can lead to even more damage. We understand your desire to return to physical activity as soon as possible, and offer a wide range of treatment options to heal your injury and protect you from future injuries as well.
ACL Tears - (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of the most commonly injured ligaments in the knee. Running diagonally through the middle of the joint, the ACL works together with three other ligaments to connect the femur (upper leg bone) to the tibia (lower leg bone). People who play sports that are likely to damage the knee — such as basketball, football, skiing and soccer — are at greatest risk for injuring the ACL. Only about 30% of ACL injuries result from direct contact with another player or object. The rest occur when the athlete decelerates while cutting, pivoting, or sidestepping; lands awkwardly; or plays recklessly. About half of ACL injuries are accompanied by damage to the meniscus, cartilage, bone or other ligaments in the knee.
Shin Splints - A shin splint, or medial tibial stress syndrome, is a painful condition in the shins that is often associated with exercise. Several causes have been identified, including the overuse of the tibialis muscles, inflexibility of the calves (specifically the soleus and gastrocnemius), and Pes Planus (commonly “flat feet”). A less frequent but more severe cause is compartment syndrome, when swelling in the anterior compartment of the leg becomes constricted by the rigid connective tissues surrounding it. This is the only scenario where shin splints may require surgery.
Methods such is icing, taping and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be effective in reducing symptoms while the patient continues exercising. Physical therapy is also a possibility in order to better strengthen and stretch the problematic muscles without overstressing them.
Stress Fractures – is a common injury that involves a small crack in the bone as a result of overuse. This injury most frequently occurs in athletes such as runners and basketball players, as well as those who play tennis, gymnastics or dance.
Surgery may be required for severe stress fractures to restore the bones through a process called internal fixation. This may include the use of metal pins, screws and plates. Physical rehabilitation will also be required to restore function and allow patients to eventually resume physical activity.
Treatments and Procedures
Arthroscopy - is a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to diagnose and sometimes treat joint injuries and disease through small incisions in the skin. It is often performed to confirm a diagnosis made after a physical examination and other imaging tests such as MRI, CT scan or X-rays. During an arthroscopic procedure, a thin fiberoptic light, magnifying lens and tiny television camera are inserted into the problem area, allowing the doctor to examine the joint in great detail.
ACL Reconstruction – is usually not performed until several weeks after the injury, when swelling and inflammation have been reduced. The torn ligament is completely removed and replaced with a new ACL. Simply reconnecting the torn ends will not repair the ACL. Part of another ligament, usually from the knee or hamstring, is used to create a graft for the new ACL. Choosing the proper type of graft depends on each patient’s individual condition.
ACL surgery requires a few months for full recovery and physical rehabilitation will be needed as well. Surgery is not required for all ACL injuries. Talk to your doctor to find out if ACL reconstruction is right for you.