Exploring common sports injuries

Common areas of injury: Head, back and spinal cord.

Over the past weeks, I discussed the four most common types of sports injuries: Sprains, strains, tears and fractures.
In today’s article, I wish to discuss the most common areas of injury. This will be a two-part piece spread out over two weeks.
At the outset, I would like to reiterate that this is by no means a comprehensive review, but merely serves as a guide to the more common injuries per body part.
• Concussion – The term concussion describes an injury to the brain resulting from an impact to the head.
By definition, a concussion is not a life-threatening injury, but it can cause short-term headaches, confusion, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision and/or loss of short-term memory.
In more serious injuries, there may be long-term problems. A concussion results from a closed-head type of injury and does not include injuries in which there is bleeding.
• Clavicle Fracture (Collar bone) – This is generally caused from an impact injury, such as a fall or blow to the shoulder. Most are treated conservatively and healing is most satisfactory, even though a marked irregularity may be seen at the fracture sight.
• Shoulder Tendinopathy, Bursitis, and Impingement Syndrome – These conditions may produce similar symptoms and often occur together. If the rotator cuff (the four tendon group around the shoulder) and bursa (encapsulated sac of fluid) are irritated, inflamed, and swollen, they may become squeezed between the head of the humerus and the acromion.
• Torn Rotator Cuff (the fourtendon group around the shoulder) – This tends to happen as a result of a sudden, powerful movement. This might include falling over onto an outstretched hand at speed, making a sudden thrust with the paddle in kayaking, or following a powerful pitch/throw.
A common symptom of a rotator cuff injury is aching and weakness in the shoulder when the arm is lifted overhead.
Anyone can develop elbow pain, although tennis players and golfers have more elbow injuries than most. The most common is:
• Tennis Elbow (Lateral epicondylalgia) – This is considered a cumulative trauma injury that occurs over time from repeated use of the muscles of the arm and forearm that lead to small tears of the tendons.
Although lack of or improper conditioning is a major cause, proper technique is essential to preventing problems. Take a class or get professional instruction.
Also, make sure your equipment fits well in whatever sports it is that you are participating in.
• The lower back is the most common site of back injuries and back pain. Common back injuries include sprains and strains.
Falling, twisting or getting hit can all cause a sprain. Twisting or pulling muscle tissues can cause a strain.
A very common cause of pain and disability is a herniated disk.
A human backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bones called vertebrae. In between them are soft disks filled with a jelly-like substance. These disks cushion the vertebrae and keep them in place.
A herniated disk occurs when the liquid-like central material “slips out” of place or ruptures. If it presses on a nerve, it can cause back pain that spreads to the buttocks and legs.
Tingling or numbness, muscle spasms or weakness are all common symptoms. With treatment, most people recover. It can take a long time.
Treatments include rest, pain and anti-inflammatory medicines, physical therapy and sometimes surgery.
Losing weight can help, too.
You might be able to prevent some back injuries by maintaining good posture, a healthy weight, lifting objects with your legs and using lower-back support when you sit.

The above information is supplied by Yonatan Kaplan PT PhD (Candidate). Director, Jerusalem Sports Medicine Institute, Lerner Sports Center, Hebrew University. For further details, e-mail: sportmed@zahav.net.il, call Yonatan at 054-463-9463 or visit www.jsportmed.com