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Common sports injuries and how I can help you with them

“Sport is murder.” This attitude of former English Prime Minister Winston Churchill brought him high blood pressure, a heart attack, as well as two strokes and is certainly to be questioned. After all, sports and especially exercise are healthy, and sports physicians agree that the health benefits of sports outweigh the risks many times over.

However, those who exercise and play sports have to deal with injuries every now and then. In Austria alone, up to 200,000 people are injured in sports every year, and this number will rise in the future due to the growing number of recreational athletes, the increased willingness to take risks, and the trend toward sports with a higher risk of injury.

Read below to find out which are among the most common sports injuries, how you can best prevent them, and how I can help you should an injury occur anyway.

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The most common sports injuries at a glance

In first place among the sports with the most accidents is soccer, with about 47,000 accidents per year. This is followed by skiing with about 24,000 and other team ball sports with about 22,000 accidents per year. The most common sports injuries include bruises and sprains, broken bones, dislocations, tendon injuries, ligament injuries, and muscle injuries.

Acute treatment of many sports injuries follows the principle of the RICE rule: rest, ice, compression, elevation. This is mainly used for muscle and joint injuries. In order to keep the injured part of the body still, sporting activity should be interrupted immediately after the injury occurs. Consistent cooling with ice relieves pain and reduces swelling and bleeding in the affected joint. To reduce, as well as prevent swelling and bruising, a stabilizing bandage or light compression bandage may be applied. Elevating the affected part of the body reduces blood supply and allows tissue fluid to be better drained.

As an acute measure for initial treatment after sports injuries, the RICE rule is very suitable; further clarification and treatment should be carried out by a doctor.

Bruises (contusions) and sprains (distortions)

Direct force, often as a result of a fall, impact or blow, can cause a contusion. The most common sites for bone bruising are those covered only by a thin layer of skin on the head, ribs or shin.

In the case of a sprain, overstretching occurs in the joint. This can cause strains and fiber tears of the ligaments, as well as the joint capsule – the result of which can be bleeding and bruising. Frequently affected joints are the ankle joint, as well as the knee and wrist joints.

Both injuries may cause bruising (hematoma), swelling, and limited range of motion. To distinguish a contusion from a fracture, an X-ray examination must be performed. To rule out ligamentous injury in sprains, an MRI may be useful in cases of doubt.

The duration of a contusion or sprain can last from a few days to several weeks or months. Especially in the case of a sprain with a torn ligament, it can often take longer for the symptoms to subside. Here, a splint or orthosis can help immobilize the joint and thus relieve the ligaments.

For faster and more effective recovery, your orthopedist can help you. Bruising due to direct trauma often results in fluid accumulation in the bone. This often painful accumulation of fluid in the bone is called bone marrow edema or bone bruise. A possible therapy option in this case is ion induction therapy. In this, the cells are stimulated by a high-energy magnetic field. The treatment improves the charge of the cell membrane – the energy level. This optimizes the function of the cell. It also improves muscle tone and the regeneration process. In cases of prolonged bone marrow edema, additional infusion therapy with iloprost, a prostacyclin, may be considered in the inpatient setting.

If tendon injuries occur after sprains, shock wave therapy or autologous conditioned plasma therapy can help improve and accelerate the healing process. Shock wave therapy works with high-energy sound waves, these stimulate blood circulation and stimulate the regeneration of cells. ACP is a high quality autologous blood therapy and accelerates and improves the healing process not only in osteoarthritis, but also in tendon injuries and sports injuries.

Bone fractures (fractures)

In a bone fracture, unlike a bone bruise, there is a complete or partial interruption of continuity of the bone. A distinction is made between different forms of fractures. As a result of the injury, there is pain, swelling, limited mobility, and even possible deformity or visible bone fragments in open fractures.

As first aid measures, the injured body part should be immobilized and stabilized. Closed fractures should be carefully cooled if possible and open fractures should be covered sterilely.

Treatment can be either conservative (such as with a cast) or surgical (e.g. osteosynthesis, external fixator, etc.). The aim is to be able to put weight on the bone again as soon as possible. This is achieved by anatomical axial relationships of the bone, immobilization of the fracture allows adequate blood supply. In addition to a detailed medical history and clinical examination, an X-ray examination in two planes is required for accurate diagnosis. In addition, computer tomography may be required in special cases.

In conservative fracture treatment, the ends of the fracture are properly aligned and immobilized with a plaster splint or orthotic. If the bone fragments do not have sufficient contact or if displaced fractures can no longer be positioned correctly, the fracture should be treated surgically. Surgery should also be considered if a deformity reoccurs after conservative treatment or if the affected body part can no longer be immobilized. Here, there are several different options and surgical procedures.

Dislocations (luxations)

The application of force in an accident or congenital tissue weakness can cause a joint to dislocate. Symptoms include painful deformity with loss of joint function. In addition, severe pain and even nerve loss may occur. Almost half of all dislocations affect the shoulder joint.

Possible causes may include problems with one or more components of a joint in addition to traumatic, spontaneous, habitual, and paralytic or paralytic dislocations.

In addition to an examination for fracture signs and a clinical examination, especially concerning blood circulation, motor function and sensitivity, imaging procedures should be performed to further confirm the diagnosis. An X-ray will help clarify if there is an additional fracture, and a magnetic resonance imaging will help clarify if additional structures are involved.

The methods of treatment are also different here. First of all, the affected joint must be put back into place, sometimes under anesthesia. Subsequently, it should be immobilized with a rigid bandage for a few days. Intensive physiotherapy should be performed in addition to and independent of concomitant injuries. In some cases, surgical intervention is necessary to prevent further dislocations. If concomitant injuries have also occurred with the dislocation, these must also be surgically repaired in some cases.

Tendon injuries

Tendon injuries often happen after misuse or overuse of a joint. In most cases it is a tendon rupture and the muscle, which is normally connected to the skeleton by the tendon, loses its connection to the bone and therefore can no longer perform its function. In addition to complete ruptures of a tendon, they may also be only partially torn.

Common tendon ruptures affect the Achilles tendon or the biceps tendon, but also the shoulder; the supraspinatus tendon is often affected.

Characteristic are pain, swelling, and a more or less severe loss of function. In addition to a careful clinical examination, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging scans help to confirm the diagnosis.

In order to restore the full function of the affected muscle, surgery is usually necessary. The particular surgical method depends on the individual findings, and the torn tendon can be sutured to join the ends, reattached to the bone, or replaced with an autologous graft, as needed.

In the case of partial tears or tendon insertion inflammation, shock wave therapy or therapy with autologous conditioned plasma (ACP therapy) can help and thus on the one hand accelerate regeneration or alleviate the irritation.

Ligament injuries

Ligaments are usually tight connecting elements made of connective tissue between two bones and are counted as part of the passive musculoskeletal system. In the course of athletic stress, such as stop-and-go sports (tennis, soccer) or even running by over-ankling, the ligaments can become excessively stretched, but they can also tear completely.

In addition to ligament strains, the most common ligament injuries include a torn cruciate ligament in the knee and a torn ankle external ligament. Cruciate ligament rupture, and in particular anterior cruciate ligament rupture, is the most common type of ligament injury in sports such as soccer or skiing. The anterior cruciate ligament is affected about 7 times more often than the posterior, and sometimes a combination of cruciate and lateral ligament tears can occur.

The therapy is based on the one hand on the clinical complaints of the patient, but also on the athletic requirement and should be decided together with the treating orthopedist. Under certain conditions, it is possible to live with a torn cruciate ligament, but this is especially difficult for people with an active lifestyle. Surgical treatment is arthroscopic and minimally invasive. In this case, the cruciate ligament can be surgically reconstructed in the event of a bony tear without injury to the ligament itself. If either the anterior straight or posterior oblique portion of the cruciate ligament tears and the other remains intact, one can attempt to reinforce the intact portion. If the cruciate ligament is completely destroyed, the method of choice is the complete replacement with endogenous or graft tendons.

Whether conservative or surgical and whether pre- or post-operative, in addition to good medical care, adequate physiotherapy is essential for the further course. In addition to the known structures within the knee joint, there are a number of other ligaments that provide additional stability. These must also not be overlooked in therapy and treatment and must be included in the overall surgical concept.

Injuries to the ligaments in the ankle typically occur as a result of the classic twisting of the ankle. In many cases, the ligaments heal again with rest and targeted training of the muscles. However, more serious injuries can be treated very well by surgery. Instabilities in the lateral or medial malleolus can be corrected by direct reconstruction of the ligaments, i.e., suturing them back together, or by replacement with the patient’s own tendons.

Muscle injuries

Muscle injuries are among the most common sports injuries of all, accounting for 10-55%. These range from the simple Muscle soreness, to muscle strains, to muscle tears. In most cases, there is a mismatch between load and resilience. Over 90% of muscle injuries in sports are contusions and strains; an acute muscle contusion typical of contact sports, for example, occurs when the muscle receives a direct blow. In contrast, acute muscle strains are more commonly found in sprinting and jumping sports and are usually caused by overuse.

The diagnosis can usually be made with a thorough history and clinical examination. In addition to palpation, imaging techniques such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging provide useful tools.

For therapy, timely hematoma containment and adequate initial treatment are cornerstones of a short injury downtime. In selected or severe cases, surgical therapy is necessary. In most cases, however, conservative therapy is sufficient. The simplest treatment is again based on the RICE principle. This minimizes bleeding into the injury site. Indications for surgical intervention may include large intramuscular hematomas, muscle tears greater than 50% to complete muscle rupture, or myositis ossificans.

For pain syndromes in the muscles and fascia, shock wave therapy can also help shorten the break. ACP therapy can also shorten the healing time for muscle and sports injuries and increase the quality of healing.

Conclusion: sports injuries and how I can help you with them

Dislocated, sprained, bruised, torn – injuries often occur during sports. Often, these can be avoided through simple risk mitigation. This includes wearing appropriate sports shoes or adequate protective equipment. Adequate warm-up, as well as proper execution of all movement sequences during sports, can also help minimize the risk of sports injuries.

Should an injury still occur during sports, extensive diagnostics and clarification by a specialist in orthopedics is recommended. Feel free to contact me for this!

Depending on the type and extent of the injury, a wide variety of treatment options are available. Together with the patient’s athletic aspirations and in synopsis of all the findings obtained, we find the appropriate therapy for each individual patient.