Common Ice Skating Injuries: Prevention & Treatment

Ice skating injuries can be either acute or overuse injuries. Single skating tends to lead to overuse injuries while pairs suffer more acute injuries due to the nature of the different styles of skating – single skaters have no external support and have to use their full strength to maneuver the moves while pair skaters perform more dangerous stunts that can cause traumatic injuries. That said, repetitive stress from excessive training could cause any skater to suffer overuse injuries and a slip of technique in any kind of sports could result in traumatic injuries.

Types of Common Ice Skating Injuries

Figure skaters are usually not foreign to injuries. Overuse injuries such as pump bump, lace bite and tendonitis are commonly experienced when skaters are breaking in their new skates. These injuries are usually caused by the stiff leather of the new boots. However, it could also be caused by incorrect skating technique and body alignment, which can lead to more serious injuries like stress fractures, knee pain and back pain.

Acute injuries are usually caused by falls and accidents. Skaters could incur wrist fractures from instinctively stretching their arms out to break a fall. An ankle sprain could also happen when landing a jump on a wrong foot. These injuries, however, could be avoided.

Prevention

To prevent overuse injuries, space out the training sessions to avoid overworking the body and stretch before getting on ice. When breaking in new skates, walk around in the skates on even ground or speed up the process with heat moulding. Ensure that proper techniques and postures are used every time.

Wrist injuries can be easily prevented by simply letting yourself fall without using your arms to absorb the impact. You should skate slowly so that should you fall, the impact would not be as damaging to your body. To protect yourself from ankle sprains and other leg injuries, make sure that your skates give enough support to your ankles, and allow just a slight lift in the air when jumping so that the landing would not be as hard.

Treatment

Usually, the R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method is sufficient to treat mild to moderate skating injuries. There are also plasma and steroid injections available to treat chronic injuries. If any bones are broken (fractured), seek medical advice as soon as possible. Your doctor may order an X-ray to examine the severity of the fracture and decide if surgery is necessary. Regardless of severity, it is recommended to only resume skating after full recovery lest causing further injury.

How to Prevent Common Swimming Injuries

Swimming injuries usually involve the shoulders, knees, hips and back. The area of injury depends on the swim stroke that the swimmer practices most often. It is important to perform the strokes correctly and get adequate rest to prevent injuries.

Causes

Most swimming injuries are caused by overuse and improper stroke techniques. Pro swimmers who go through vigorous training periods for competitions are at higher risk of injury because of the excessive repetitive motions and inadequate rest for the muscles to heal. Fatigue would also cause swimmers to perform poor stroke techniques, causing constant micro-trauma and leading to injuries.


Types and Symptoms of Common Swimming Injuries

Swimmer’s Shoulder

One of the most common types of swimming injuries is the Swimmer’s Shoulder. Due to the perpetual stress on the upper body to propel forward during swimming, the rotator cuff of the shoulder blade is often overworked. The joint and muscles are weakened over time and activity, resulting in shoulder instability, inflammation, tears, ligament and cartilage damage.

Patients with Swimmer’s Shoulder may experience:

  • Pain along the back of the shoulder and sometime salong the front of the shoulder as well
  • Inflammation in the tendons and muscles
  • Pain worsens with activity


Breaststroker’s Knee

Breaststroker’s Knee makes 25% of all swimming injuries and is caused by the motion of kicking to generate speed through the water. If the movement is not done correctly, tension would build up inside the knee and injuring the tendons, ligaments and muscles.

Patients with Breaststroker’s Knee may experience:

  • Pain and swelling of the knee
  • Inflammation in the ligament, tendons and muscles
  • Pain worsens with activity
  • Knock-knees or bow-leggedness

 

Prevention

At every swim session, ensure that proper warm up and cool down are done. When swimming, make sure that proper techniques are used. The arms should be raised high enough to complete each full stroke without the “lazy elbow” syndrome. Legs should be kicking correctly without subjecting the knees to external rotations. It is advisable to seek guidance from a coach to improve on swim techniques.

Swimmers should get adequate rest to avoid straining themselves and allow the muscles to recover. If symptoms of an injury have surfaced, stop all activities and ice the affected area to decrease inflammation. Seek a doctor’s advice if the symptoms do not subside even after plenty of rest.

Chronic Ankle Instability: Cause, Symptom & Treatment

Chronic ankle instability is developed after multiple sprains or a single severe sprain that was not properly healed. The ankle easily gives way to the lateral side, especially during sports activities or walking on uneven surfaces. This condition is common among athletes and people with high physical demands as they may have resumed their activities before the previous injury is fully recovered. Because of the ankle instability, people who are affected may find themselves incurring more sprains and developing other conditions such as arthritis and tendon tear over time.

Causes

When an ankle is sprained, the ligaments are stretched or torn and balance is affected. If the ankle muscles are not strengthened to regain the ability to balance, it would be prone to repeated sprains. With multiple sprains, the ligaments are weakened and more difficult to heal, leading to chronic ankle instability.

Symptoms

Patients of chronic ankle instability experience a constant ache and swelling in the ankle, with pain and tenderness when engaged in physical activities. The ankle would be unstable and often rolls over to the lateral side. Usually, patients would complain about these persistent symptoms after the ankle has been sprained several times.

Diagnosis

The doctor would first take a history of your condition to find out if you had any previous ankle injuries and how long the symptoms have persisted. A physical examination is then carried out to check for swelling, tenderness and instability. X-rays or other tests, such as bone scan or MRI, may be ordered.

Treatment

Based on the degree of instability, the recommended treatment may be surgical or non-surgical. For severe cases and if the condition does not improve or recur after non-surgical treatment, surgery would be required.

Non-Surgical Treatment:

Physical therapy incorporates different exercises to help strengthen the ankle muscles. This would retrain the tissue to regain balance and range of motion. For athletes, the rehabilitation may include exercises that specifically help them get back to their sport.

To help support the ankle, a brace is worn to keep it in position and prevent further injury. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are prescribed to reduce the pain and inflammation.

Surgical Treatment:

The goal of the surgery is to reduce the symptoms of the condition to prevent more serious injuries. As such, the surgeon would excise loose fragments and debride the ankle joint of any scar tissue or fibrous bands. The ligaments are then repaired or reconstructed. Tendons may also be transferred to align the ankle for better motion.

Pelvis Fractures: Cause & Treatments

The pelvis consists of a series of ring-like structure of bones located at the lower end of the trunk. There are three ones supporting the side of the pelvis namely the ilium, ischium and pubis. Ligaments and tendons join the pelvis to the sacrum located at the bottom of the spine, creating a bowl-like cavity just below the rib cage. On each side is the acetabulum, a hollow cup serving as the socket for the hip joint.

Many digestive and reproductive organs are located within the pelvic ring as well as large nerves and blood vessels passing through it. The pelvis acts as an attachment point for muscles reaching into the legs up into the trunk of the body. With all these important structures running through the pelvis, a fracture can be serious and life threatening.

Causes

The group of people most susceptible to pelvis fracture are those heavily involved in sports. Very often, a muscle is pulled and these may go undetected. Such undetected pulls might be avulsion fractures of the pelvis due to sudden muscle contractions. In avulsion fracture, a small piece of bone from the ischium located at the hamstring muscles region is broken and torn away by the muscles. This fracture however do not render the pelvis unstable. Most pelvis fractures can also be caused by high impact forces such as those sustained during a motor vehicle accident or falls from great heights. Depending on the impact and height, such injuries can be deadly.

Nonsurgical treatment

Nonsurgical is usually administered for stable fractures such as the avulsion fracture mentioned above. Stable fractures will heal on their own without the need for surgery. However, the patient will need the assistance of a walking aid such as a crutch or walker for at least three months while the bones heal. To lessen pain, doctors may prescribe painkillers. Due to the significant reduced amount of movement and prolonged periods of inactivity, blood-thinners may also be prescribed to reduce the chances of blood clot formation.

Surgical treatment

Pelvis fractures resulting from trauma are life threatening due to extensive bleeding and surgery is inevitable. An external fixator may be used to stabilise the pelvic area while the surgeon performs surgery. The external fixator has long screws that are drilled into the pelvic bones.

A pelvis fracture will heal well if treatment is administered in a timely manner. Some patients may walk with a slight limp months after surgery due to damage to the muscles surrounding the nerves. However, this is only temporary. In serious cases, patients may suffer from impaired mobility or even sexual dysfunction due to damage to nerves and organs.

Muscle Strains in the Thigh: Symptoms & Prevention

A muscle strain refers to a muscle pull or tear and it is an extremely common injury in people who are active in sports. There are three sets of strong muscles in the thigh: hamstring muscle located at the back of the thigh, quadriceps muscles located at the front and adductor muscles located on the inside. The hamstring muscle and quadriceps muscle works in tandem to allow extension and flexion of the leg while the adductor muscles help to pull the legs together. The hamstring and quadriceps muscle are at higher risk for muscle strains as they cross both of the hip and knee joint. Additionally, they are involved in high speed activities such as running and sprinting.

Symptoms

A person experiencing muscle strain in the thigh may hear frequent popping sounds due to the tearing of the muscles. The onset of pain is sudden and intense. The area surrounding the thigh will also be tender to the touch and swelling will be visible. The thigh muscle will be weak and in serious cases, inability to use the muscle.

Treatment

Swelling and localised bleeding can be easily managed by applying ice packs to the affected area. After swelling has lessen, heat pack can then be applied. However, heat pack should not be applied if swelling is still present as this will increase swelling and pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen should be taken to reduce pain and facilitate movement. PRICE technique comprising of Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation should be performed. The strained thigh should be protected from further injury. The thigh should then be rested and all activities should be stopped with immediate effect. The thigh should be iced every 20 minutes to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Small bags of frozen peas are extremely handy tools. At the end of the day, the thigh should be compressed using elastic bandages or thigh guards. It should also be elevated to allow fluid to drain off.

This is followed by gentle resistance exercises to align the scar tissues formed during the healing process. Aligning the scar tissues help to enhance the tensile strength of the thigh muscles. Resistance bands are handy tools to help improve muscle function and reduce the risk of a recurrent injury. Once the core strength is regained, a return to functional activities will then be possible. Compression shorts or thigh supports will help to further strengthen the thigh.

Osgood-Schlatter Disease: Symptoms & Treatment

Osgood-Schlatter disease (OSD) is a medical condition resulting from the inflammation of bones, cartilage or tendons in the tibia. The result of this are growth spurts that specifically affects the knee. It is much more common in growing teenagers between the ages of 10 to 15. It also affects people who are more active in sports involving frequent jumping and running.

OSD will affect growing teenagers at the beginning of their growth spurts. Growth spurts provide the most ideal condition for OSD as different components of the body is growing but at a different rate. For example, the bone grows much faster than soft tissues such as tendons and cartilage and this will create a lot of stress on the growth plate, causing a bony lump. This lump is caused by traction tendinitis and is due to the hardening of the bone at the top of the tibia.

What are the symptoms?

OSD is a medical condition that can be felt due to the tension on the patella tendon by the surrounding muscles. This will result in painful inflammation of the tibia, affecting the patellar tendon all the way to the shinbone. The result is extreme pain, swelling and tenderness which is visible with an x-ray diagnosis. There are other possible symptoms and these include:

  • Pain that gets worse after periods of activeness
  • Pain goes away after periods of rest
  • Swelling under the knee and shinbone
  • Tightness of hamstring and quadriceps muscles

 

How can OSD be treated?

OSD will usually go away on its own after the growth spurt periods and this is usually by the age of 18. If symptoms persist after that, treatment is then required:

  • Icing the affected area for three times a day or as required, especially after sports
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as ibuprofen to reduce swelling and pain
  • Reduction of high impact activities
  • Using a knee immobiliser such as a knee brace
  • Stretching before and after any activity
  • Physiotherapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles

 

Shock absorbent insoles are recommended if the patient is going back to high impact activities or prolonged periods of walking. However, patients are recommended to stop participating in sports to facilitate healing. Non-impact sports such as swimming are still allowed though.

There are no known long-term complications of OSD and only in rare cases are there patients with persistent swelling. In some patients, there are also persistent lumps appearing on the shinbone but this is extremely rare.

Femur Shaft Fractures (Broken Thighbone): Cause & Treatments

Our femur is the strongest and longest bone in our body. Due to the high strength, an extremely large force is necessary to cause any fracture. These situations can include a high speed car crash and this is the most common reason for such fracture. A force that is beyond the normal limits of the femur will result in a fracture. The long and straight part of the femur is called the femoral shaft and when there is a break along the femoral shaft fracture, it is known as a femoral shaft fracture.

Causes of a femoral shaft fracture

Femoral shaft fractures usually occur in young people due to the type of activities they engage in. Most youngsters engage in high impact activities such as wakeboarding, football and racing. The most common reason is an automobile accident resulting in a car crash. Other less common causes can be an accidental fall from a certain height or even a simple fall in people of a higher age group. This is due to their weakened bones or existing medical conditions such as osteoporosis.

Treatment

Non-surgical treatment

Non-surgical treatment is meant for patients who do not have a displaced femoral shaft fracture. In cases like this, treatment will involve the usage of walking aids such as crutches or walker with the foot in a protective brace or splint for a period of time. However, most femoral shaft fractures will require surgery to properly heal.

Surgical treatment

Surgical treatment is needed for those who have displaced femoral shaft fractures and this will usually involve the realignment of the bones. Metal pins and screws will be placed into the bones located above and below the fracture site to properly hold the bone in the proper position to facilitate healing. It is a temporary treatment and will provide adequate stability until the patient is ready for stage 2 of the surgery – intramedullary nailing. A metal rod will be inserted into the marrow canal of the femur to hold it in its proper position. It is then screwed to the bone at both ends. The bone fragments will also be cleaned and joined together with the femur using screws and metal plates.

Patients suffering from a femur fracture should seek prompt medical attention as ignoring such symptoms will cause more damages to the femur and prevent healing of the fracture altogether, leading to a lifetime of instability and pain.

 

Hamstring Muscle Injuries: Cause & Treatments

Hamstring injuries are a common occurrence in athletes. They are usually known as “pulled hamstring”. Sports requiring frequent sprinting such as soccer, rugby and basketball poses a higher risk of a hamstring injury. Hamstring injuries happen when the muscle location at the back of the thigh is injured in the form of a strain. Fortunately, this type of injury respond well to nonsurgical treatment. In this article, we will look at the causes and treatment methods for a pulled hamstring.

The main cause of a hamstring injury is due to overloading of the hamstring muscle. The hamstring is a tendon which is essentially a thick bundle of fibers. During a normal scenario, the tendon contracts and shortens and expands and extends. In unusual situations, this tendon contracts and extend due to the presence of an additional load or strain. When this situation happens, the hamstring is pulled, resulting in a hamstring muscle injury.

Treatment will vary depending on the severity of the injury. Most hamstring injuries can recover with nonsurgical treatment. The first treatment administered will be the RICE protocol – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Resting involves the usage of walking aids such as crutches to avoid placing weight on the injured leg. During this period, the patient is not allowed to participate in any activities. Several times a day, the injured leg needs to be iced in order to bring down the swelling. To prevent swelling and loss of blood, compression garments will need to be worn. This will also help to retain body heat and enhance blood circulation. Lastly, the injured leg needs to be elevated above the heart to drain away excess blood. Once pain and swelling has subsided, a series of physical therapy sessions will be planned for in order to regain strength and range of motion to slowly help return back to sports.

If nonsurgical treatment does not help, surgery will be required. This is usually for cases where the hamstring tendon has been completely torn from the bone. To repair the torn tendon, the hamstring muscle must be located and placed back to its original location. Due to this injury, the body naturally forms scar tissues at the injury site and this must be removed as well. After that, the tendon will be reattached back using biodegradable sutures. This is followed by an intense rehabilitation period lasting at least 3 months.

Patients with hamstring injuries are able to fully recover after completing their rehabilitation plan. Most are able to return back to their pre-injury level and enjoy their favorite sport.

 

Causes and Symptoms of Flexor Tendon Injuries

Flexor tendon injuries as the name suggest are injuries affecting the tendons. Tendons are thick, elastic fibrous cord like structures that connects the muscles to the bones. The ability for our fingers to bend and flex is due to the flexor muscles. Flexor muscles start from our elbow down to the forearms and finally the tendons which are finally attached to the fingers. Each of our finger has two flexor tendons and that includes the thumb. The usual culprit for a flexor tendon injury is due to a deep cut in the fingers or hands which injures the flexor tendons. In this article, we will look at some of the causes and symptoms of flexor tendon injuries.

Flexor tendon injuries are challenging as they cannot heal without surgical treatment. Unlike other forms of injuries, tendons need to be brought together and stitched back surgically in order for healing to occur. Secondly, careful postoperative management needs to be planned in detail as immobilisation can cause rupture of the tendon. Lastly, the bulkiness of the tendon needs to be reduced but scarring will make it almost impossible.

Causes

Sports activities are the main culprit of flexor tendon injuries. The most popular sports are soccer, rugby and wrestling. In fact, there is a term “jersey finger” that is used by athletes due to their repeated occurrence with jersey wearing activities. Jersey finger occurs when a player is grabbing another player’s jersey and finger and a sudden change in direction is initiated, pulling the tendon off the bone. Other activities include rock climbing which requires a lot of finger strength.

Some medical conditions may also lead to a decrease of strength in the flexor tendons, making them more prone to tearing. Patients who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis will have weak tendons and in serious cases, the tendon can tear without any prior notice. The patient will only realise it when he cannot bend his finger anymore.

Symptoms

Symptoms will vary among patients but the most common signs include:

  • A visible open injury at the joint area
  • The inability to bend one or more finger(s)
  • Pain and tenderness when a finger is bent
  • Numbness in the fingertip

Flexor tendon injuries are difficult to manage due to its complex nature. Therefore, it is important to seek medical advice immediately when you suspect your might have suffered a jersey finger injury. If surgery is really required, do not worry. Surgery often brings in good return of finger functions.

About Tendonitis in Children

Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons which results in severe pain and hindrances to mobility. The tendons are thick bands of tissues that connects the bones to the muscles. The chances of children contracting tendonitis is increasing nowadays due to the increased in activity level amongst them. Due to an emphasis on leading a healthier lifestyle, more kids are getting involved in sports.

Tendonitis is an overuse injury and the symptoms differ among patients. Initially, pain will only be experienced during involvement in sports. Gradually, it will start to pop up at random timings of the day. Eventually, pain will be felt even at rest and this will affect the different joints in the body. Tendonitis may also lead to instability in the knee due to the tendons loosening. Some patients may hear clicking sounds when they are flexing their knees.  Another contributing factor is growth spurts or enthesis. This is a genetic issue that is not caused by overuse of the tendons. When a child is born with enthesis, there is no way to prevent or control him from getting tendonitis. The area that is most prone to tendon inflammation is the largest tendon in the body – the Achilles tendon.

Other reasons causing inflammation in the tendons may be due to excessive calcium intake causing calcium to deposit at the tendon sites. Improper warm ups and cool downs will also increase the risk of injuring the tendon. Obesity is also a contributing factor due to the need for the tendon to bear extra weight.

There are many common symptoms and these include experiencing pain at the joints accompanied by swelling and tenderness. The affected area will also be stiff and mobility is limited.  The surrounding muscles may feel weak and sore to the touch.

Treatment methods will differ amongst patients but the most common ones are the usage of ice packs, gel cooling packs and hot packs to soothe and relieve muscles. In cases that are slightly more serious, doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin. In severe cases, surgery may be required to replace the tendon with a graft.

Tendonitis can be prevented through proper warm ups and cooling down sessions before and after engaging in sport activities. However for kids with growth spurts, it cannot be prevented. A healthy lifestyle must be maintained but not at the expense of suffering an injury during the course of keeping fit.