Are sprains and strains just part of the game?

Jordan Quinn Larson Burbach at Volleyball World Grand Prix 2014

Whether it’s volleyball, football, basketball or cross-country it seems like every athlete experiences a sprained ankle or a strained muscle in their career. In fact these minor injuries involving muscles, ligaments and/or tendons, cause the majority of sports injuries.

“These injuries include contusions, more commonly referred to as bruises, sprains and strains,” said Dr. Carlos Berrios, an OrthoIndy sports medicine and pediatric orthopedic specialist. “Sprains and strains are uncommon in younger children because their growth plates are weaker than the muscles or tendons, but as children become young adults, sprains and strains occur more frequently.”

A contusion (bruise) is an injury to the soft tissue often produced by a blunt force such as a kick or gall. The immediate result is pain, swelling and discoloration. A sprain is a twisting injury or tear to a ligament. Sprains most often affect the ankles, knees or wrists. A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon and is often caused by overuse, force or stretching.

“Most contusions will go away on their own with minimal treatment. However, treatment plans for a sprain or strain will depend on the athletes age, overall health and medical history, the extent of the injury and the athlete’s tolerance for medications, procedures or therapies,” said Dr. Berrios.

Initial treatment for a sprain or strain is usually R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression and elevation). Other treatment options include: medications, activity restrictions, splint or cast, crutches or wheelchair, physical therapy and, in extreme cases, surgery.

“Contusions, sprains and strains usually heal quickly in children and adolescents,” said Dr. Berrios. “It is imperative that the adolescent follow the activity restrictions and rehabilitation programs to prevent re-injury.”

Most sports injuries are due to traumatic falls or overuse of muscles and joints. Many sports injuries can be prevented with proper conditioning and training, wearing appropriate protective gear and using proper equipment.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Berrios, please call 317.802.2847 or click here.

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