3 injuries that can sideline your kids
It’s a horrible scene for sports fans: One minute, the athlete is on fire, gliding along like he’s excused from gravity. The next minute, he has collapsed on the ground in the fetal position, gripping some body part in agony. Spectators are in pain just watching.
Injuries occur when awesome moves during sports or exercise challenge the limits of our bones, joints and muscles. Each year, nearly 3 million people end up in an emergency room for sports related injuries — and that figure only counts children and young adults, according to a study in the journal Sports Medicine.
The reasons behind an injury could stem from poor equipment, inadequate training or not taking the time to stretch and warm up properly, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMSD). Or it could be from just doing too much.
Here are three of the most common sports injuries and how to prevent them:
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear
The knee has a lot of moving parts. It’s where the thighbone, knee cap and shinbone meet, and they are all held together by ligaments. The ligaments are like ropes located on the sides of your knee and in the middle, connecting all the bones together, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
The anterior cruciate ligament helps your knee move backward and forward. So, when an athlete twists to abruptly change directions, lands incorrectly, stops or slows down suddenly, she can stretch or tear that ligament. This causes the knee to be unstable. This is also why ACL tears are most common in football, basketball, skiing or soccer.
The best way to prevent an ACL tear is by doing exercises that improve agility and balance.
Symptoms of an ACL tear can range from mild discomfort while walking to pain and swelling in the knee. Treatment can include a knee brace, physical therapy or surgery, depending on the severity of the tear.
Think about sitting at a red light. Then, the person behind you bumps into your car. Even though your car might not be damaged, your body jerks around a bit. The impact even cause you to bump the steering wheel or the window on your side.
That’s what happens during a concussion, sometimes called a minor traumatic brain injury. A hard blow to the head causes the brain to jerk around a bit and bump against the skull. Like the car, there’s usually no external evidence like bleeding. But, in the best-case scenario, a concussion can cause headache, dizziness and a brief period of confusion or memory loss.
The worst cases can lead the injured person to have seizures, lose consciousness or suffer muscle weakness. That’s when it’s time to call a doctor.
Concussions have come into the spotlight recently because of the high rates among professional football players. But hockey players and cyclists are at risk as well.
Between 2001 and 2009, the number of emergency room visits related to concussions increased from 153,375 to 248,418, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The best way athletes can bring these numbers down is to wear the right headgear with the right fit, the CDC advises.
You’ve heard the expressions: the bone is “loose” or “out of socket.” This is a sports injury that happens when two bones that come together at a joint end up separating.
The shoulder is the most common site of a dislocation for athletes, along with the hands. Unlike the knee, the shoulders have a wide range of motion beyond just back and forth. This also makes them more prone to injury, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM).
Extreme pain is the most common symptom. Shoulder dislocations must be treated by a physician and may require surgery. And young people with shoulder dislocations have an 80 percent chance of suffering the injury again. The way to prevent initial or subsequent shoulder dislocations is to strengthen shoulder muscles and wear protective gear.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.