Back to School Sports
Common Injuries to Watch Out For
It’s that time of year again. Students will soon enter new classrooms for another exciting year of learning. They also will be returning to gymnasiums, playing fields and playgrounds. Unfortunately, some of these children will also be visiting doctors’ offices and emergency departments for sports-related injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than 2.6 million children ages 19 and under are seen in emergency departments for injuries related to sports and recreation.
Sentara Healthcare Sports Medicine has compiled the following list of common injuries and their symptoms to watch out for:
- Ankle Sprain – Most sports require running, jumping or quick movements. This can results in a lateral ankle sprain, which occurs when the foot and ankle rolls to the inside and the ligaments and muscles on the outside of the ankle are stretched, injuring the joints, muscles, ligaments and nerves. Symptoms include pain, swelling and bruising, and it is common to have difficulty with walking, standing or running.
- Concussion – Football, soccer, lacrosse and many other sports involve high speeds and fast action, which can result in an impact to the head or body that causes movement of the brain inside the skull. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury and temporarily impairs how the brain functions and processes information. Symptoms include headache, confusion, dizziness, fogginess, blurred vision, memory loss, nausea and vomiting, mood swings and loss of consciousness.
- Golfer’s Elbow & Tennis Elbow – The repeated movements of activities like golf, racquet sports, bowling, softball and baseball can cause inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles to the inside or outside of the elbow. “Golfer’s Elbow” symptoms include pain, aching and tenderness on the inside of the elbow. “Tennis Elbow” symptoms include pain and burning at the outside of the elbow. Both are considered overuse injuries, and the pain generally starts gradually and without an injury.
- Jumper’s Knee – The repetitive jumping that takes place during sports like basketball, volleyball, long jump and high jump can result in an injury to the tendon that connects your kneecap to your shinbone. The most common symptom is pain felt just below the kneecap.
- Runner’s Knee – Running, skiing, biking and sports that require kneeling or squatting can result in “Runner’s Knee”, which occurs if the kneecap shifts out of place during activity, irritating and wearing away the cartilage on the back of the kneecap. Symptoms include pain in the front of the knee when the knee is bent, occasional buckling or giving way of the knee, and clicking or popping in the knee when standing after sitting for a while.
- Shin Splints – Shin splints are usually associated with running or a sudden change/increase in physical activity. It is an inflammation of the muscles, tendons and bone tissue around the shin bone, and the most common symptom is aching or pain along the inner edge of the shin bone.
- Thumb Sprain – Many sports result in falls, and thumb sprains typically occur when you extend your arm to reduce the impact from hitting the ground and your thumb is bent backward, overstretching a ligament. A thumb sprain weakens your ability to grasp items between your thumb and index finger. Common symptoms include pain with motion, as well as bruising, tenderness and swelling at the base of the thumb.
Not all sports-related injuries are the result of a single traumatic incident, like a concussion or broken bone. Many young people experience overuse injuries, such as tennis elbow or shin splints, which are the result of repetitive stress on the body without ample time between sessions to recover. It is important to catch these early on before they become chronic issues that are more difficult to treat. Treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis, but caught early many issues can be addressed with relatively simple fixes like flexibility and strengthening exercises, balance training, modifying activities, different shoes, use of ice and heat, or rest.