“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” – Rogers Hornsby
For those who have been staring out the window waiting for spring, it is finally here! And with the arrival of spring, comes the arrival of spring sports - baseball, softball, track and field, tennis, and soccer. As athletes train and play this spring, be aware of common sports injuries and treatment.
Injuries can be classified into two main groups – acute and cumulative. Acute injuries occur due to sudden force or impact. Cumulative injuries, often called overuse injuries, occur over time when the muscles, tissues, or joints have not had proper time for healing. Athletes may experience both.
Common injuries in spring sports
Because of the extreme rotational stress on the ligaments and knee joint during sports, knee injuries are common. Sprains or strains can occur with overuse. Ligament injuries around the knee, such as the ACL or MCL, are prevalent. Twisting, pivoting, and changing speeds suddenly can lead to meniscal injuries or tears. Knee injuries usually cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the knee.
Rotator Cuff Injuries
Shoulder injuries are especially common for pitchers in baseball, and softball pitching with the windmill action is especially stressful on an athlete’s body. Rotator cuff injuries can result from repetitive motion and overuse. Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include pain, limited mobility in the shoulder, muscle weakness, and a grating or cracking sound when moving the shoulder.
Shoulder impingement accounts for approximately 1/3 of all shoulder pain, a condition characterized by the repeated pinching of a nerve, tendon, or bursa in the shoulder. Shoulder impingement is also the result of overuse. It often occurs with repetitive activities like baseball, tennis, and volleyball. It can also be the result of an acute strain or traumatic injury where the tissue stays inflamed. It begins with a simple clicking of the shoulder and will continue to loss of function in the shoulder if left untreated.
The greatest treatment for injury is prevention. Proper stretching before and after activities can help muscles and ligaments stay healthy. Staying hydrated and getting proper rest between games also helps the body recover from the stress and strain it experiences. In young athletes, many overuse injuries can be avoided by varying sports and positions.
When injuries do occur, using the R.I.C.E. protocol at home is your first line of treatment. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation can help reduce swelling and pain.
If symptoms do not resolve, other conservative treatments may be needed to promote healing. In some cases, if the injury is severe, surgery may be indicated.
Athletes work hard and play hard. Be aware of common sports injuries this spring and how to treat them. If your athlete has experienced an injury that is not improving with rest, call us and make an appointment. After waiting all winter for spring, we want to help your athlete stay on the field all season long.
Dr. Daniel Jones is an orthopedic surgeon at Advanced Joint Replacement of Southern Oregon specializing in sports medicine and total joint replacement. Dr. Jones completed his internship and residency at the University of Utah followed by a one-year orthopaedic sports fellowship at the Taos Orthopaedic Institute in New Mexico. Because of his athletic background, Dr. Jones understands first-hand his patient’s desire for joint preservation and remaining active.