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Top 5 Most Common Questions Regarding Sports Injuries and How to Prevent Them.

Written by Joshua Alpert, MD on December 20, 2013

Are you ready to get onto the field or court? Unfortunately playing any sports can lead to a number of injuries sustained due to the combination of high speeds and high impact.

As athletes compete either recreationally or in high school, college, and professional sports, Dr. Alpert has provided us some information on the 5 most common questions he gets regarding injuries that occur during sports activities.

1. How can sports injuries be prevented?

  • A proper stretching routing both during warm-up and cool-down.
  • Off-season conditioning and strength training
  • Appropriately fitted gear including helmets (when necessary), shoewear, bracing, pads, and mouthguard.
  • Hydrating before and after the activity with water and avoiding sugar filled sports drinks.
  • A medical evaluation by a primary care MD to assess overall health and wellness.

2. How do I know if I have a concussion?

A concussion is any injury to the head that leads to any kind of altered mental status. Many times symptoms may seem minor, such as a slight headache or Nausea. Other times a player has severe symptoms such as dizziness, blurry vision, or loss of balance. Regardless of the severity of symptoms, any player suspected of a concussion, no matter how minor it appears, should necessitate the player being removed from a practice/game so that they can be evaluated by a health care professional before being cleared to return to play.

3. How do I know if I tore my ACL?

Most knee injuries that occur in sports occur either from a direct blow to the knee, or when the knee is planted, foots get caught or stuck, and the knee is twisted.Signs of a significant knee injury include: swelling, the inability to bear weight, a feeling of instability, inability to fully flex or extend the knee, and pain. The anterior cruciate ligament is the main stabilizer of the knee. It is usually torn from a non-contact twisting injury to the knee, an audible pop may be heard, the knee swells, and may feel “unstable” or wobbly.

4. What is the difference between a shoulder “separation” and a shoulder “dislocation”

A shoulder “dislocation” occurs when the ball (humeral head) pops out of the socket (glenoid). This is a significant injury that usually necessitates a trip to the emergency room to have the shoulder put back into place. This is usually then treated in a sling for up to 6 weeks and sometimes needs surgery if the ball continues to come out of the socket. For more info on shoulder dislocations.

A shoulder “separation” occurs at the level of the “AC JOINT” where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the acromion (shoulder blade). This usually happens from a direct blow to the shoulder where the clavicle “separates” from the acromion and the ligaments stretch out. Although painful, this is generally treated with a sling and ice for 1-2 weeks and rarely needs surgery.

5. How can I prevent heat related injuries?

Heat stroke and dehydration are fairly common, especially in the early part if the football or soccer season when the weather is warmer. Aggressive hydration with water is important before, during, and after play. Early signs of dehydration include severe cramping and muscle fatigue. It is important to notify the medical team of these symptoms during play in order to be treated quickly in an appropriate manner.