Spotting Sports Injuries

November 24, 2008 8:26:06 AM PST
Nothing can halt an athlete's career faster than a sports-related injury. The Merck Manuals estimates more than 10 million such injuries are treated in the U.S. each year. Football is associated with the greatest number of catastrophic injuries, or injuries that involve the brain and/or the spinal cord, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. The most common sports injuries are sprains, strains, knee injuries, swollen muscles, Achilles tendon injuries, shin splints, fractures and dislocations. Concussions are also a common, and more serious, occurrence. They account for about 300,000 sports injuries every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A GENDER BIAS? Numbers show women are more prone to certain injuries than men, especially to tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) -- one of the most commonly injured ligaments of the knee. Most ACL tears occur in young athletes, and they take place when the ligament undergoes a force that exceeds its strength. Sudden movements like pivoting, jumping, cutting or changing direction can lead to an ACL tear. Researchers say one of the most likely reasons women sustain ACL tears more often than men is the way they are built -- namely, women tend to have wider hips and are slightly knock-kneed. Women also use their leg muscles differently than men. Running seems to be harder on women's bodies than men's, and female athletes are more prone to tears in heel tissues; shin splints from running; kneecap pain; and pain along the iliotibial band; the outside portion of the leg between the knee and hip.

PROTECTING DEVELOPING BODIES: Children and adolescents are especially prone to sports-related injuries because of their developing bodies. It's important for parents to know that the more contact in a sport, the greater the risk of injury. Most injuries occur to ligaments, tendons and muscles, and only about five percent of sports injuries involve broken bones, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, in children, areas where bones are growing are at a higher risk for injury during rapid periods of growth.

PROTECTING DEVELOPING BODIES: To prevent injuries, make sure your child or adolescent:

Wears appropriate gear

Stretches regularly

Uses proper technique during play

Takes breaks

Follows the rules of the game

It's also immensely important to prevent heat injury by encouraging your child to drink plenty of water before, during and after play.

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For More Information, Contact:
Baptist Sports Medicine
Nashville, TN
(615) 284-GAME