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How to Rebound Quickly From 5 Common Sports Injuries

June 27, 2019

All Posts by MinuteClinic

Time to dust those cleats off because summer is calling.

Whether you're playing kickball with friends or shuttling your kids off to soccer practice, sports are bound to be on your calendar. And that's a good thing.

Sports are a great way for kids and adults alike to get in extra exercise and have fun doing it. But playing hard can lead to one thing that isn't fun: injuries. No matter the sport, they are bound to happen at some point.

Here's a rundown of some of the most common sports injuries and what you can do about them.

Shin splints

Most frequently associated with running, shin splints refer to a painful sensation along the outer side of the shin bone. The condition is known medically as tibial stress syndrome, and is caused by inflammation and swelling of the muscles and tendons around the tibia.

"They typically respond to application of ice, rest and taking an anti-inflammatory medication," says Dr. Robert Glatter, MD, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital and former sideline physician for the New York Jets.

"The key is to rest and allow them to heal," he adds.

Take note of any pain in your lower legs when starting a new exercise routine, especially running, and don't over do it!

Tennis elbow

It's no surprise that this condition is associated with playing tennis, but any sport that causes repetitive overuse of the elbow and forearm can lead to it.

"Tennis elbow is one of the most common overuse syndromes. It is related to exaggerated and excessive wrist extension," says Glatter.

Over time, a repetitive motion like swinging a tennis racket can lead to pain in the muscles, joints and tendons of the elbow, known as lateral epicondylitis.

Rest and use of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) are the most common treatments for tennis elbow. Take some pressure off one arm and switch it up occasionally. You may lose the match, but your elbow will thank you.

Additional measures like physical therapy or wearing a brace can also be helpful if the condition doesn't clear up quickly.

Sprained ankle

If you're running a lot, there's a chance a sprained ankle may occur. This common injury —damage to the ligaments (connective tissues) in the ankle—can happen from twisting or rolling the ankle unnaturally.

It can be identified by symptoms like pain and tenderness, swelling, bruising and, in some serious instances, instability of the ankle itself.

"Simple ankle sprains are best treated by adhering to the principle of rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE)," says Glatter, "I always recommend ice application for acute sprains and muscle strains, applying ice packs every one to two hours for five to 10 minutes at a time for the first 24 hours, when awake."

Concussion

Concussions are common in a wide variety of sports and need to be taken seriously. A concussion is trauma to the brain—literally the brain moving inside the skull—generally caused by some kind of physical force, like tackling or even hitting a ball with your head.

High-impact sports such as football and soccer are known to cause concussions. Sports in general are responsible for about 30 percent of all concussions in the U.S. But concussions can also happen during rough housing or trips and falls.

The most common symptoms of concussions include drowsiness, headache, confusion and loss of consciousness.

"Detecting and monitoring signs of concussion in children and teens is important, since higher numbers of sub-concussive impacts and/or concussions at an earlier age may be predictive of longer term cognitive impairment," says Glatter.

"Eye tracking may be one way to help detect concussions earlier in order to remove athletes from competition. Measuring heart rate and monitoring neurological symptoms such as dizziness are good predictors to determine when a person can return to play," he says.

While symptoms can pass quickly, depending on the severity of the concussion, it's a good idea to get checked out by a doctor who can give a further neurological examination.

Achilles tendinitis

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, connecting the calf muscle to the ankle. It does a lot of hard work, particularly if you're physically active. Over time it can become stressed and inflamed, a condition known as tendinitis.

Like shin splints, sudden changes or increase in your exercise can lead to this condition. RICE therapy and calf stretches are an effective way to treat tendinitis.

If you're exercising and hear a sudden "pop," that could indicate that you have ruptured the Achilles tendon, a serious problem that needs immediate emergency medical attention.

"People with rupture of the Achilles tendon typically present with sudden severe pain and a snap in the lower calf to the heel." The feeling can be very extreme, Glatter notes, and often "prevents one from being able to walk."

If you like to play hard during the summer, you can always pop in to treat scrapes, bruises and other minor sports-related issues. Schedule an appointment at your local MinuteClinic here.