Sports are a great way to stay active and socialize with others. But, no matter your pastime, playing sports can cause injuries, especially in the arms and shoulders.
Reaching up, throwing, handling a racquet or club, or even falling awkwardly on your arm can all put you at risk of getting hurt. About 3.2 million Americans go to the emergency room every year for sports-related reasons, and those injuries can keep you from doing the things you love.
Fortunately, Kristopher Downing, MD, is a sports medicine specialist with experience treating shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand injuries at Upper Extremity Specialists of Ortho 1 Medical Group. In this blog, he discusses the most common types of upper extremity injuries and what you can do if you get hurt.
Ligaments are tough bands of tissue that connect bone to bone. They naturally have some flexibility, but sudden impact can force ligaments to stretch beyond their usual range or tear completely. When this happens, you suffer a sprain.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common sports injuries, but you can sprain almost any joint. A few of the most common ligament injuries in the upper extremities are wrist sprains, acromioclavicular (AC) sprains, and shoulder ligament tears.
Like ligaments, tendons are strong bands of tissue. However, instead of connecting bones to each other, tendons connect bones to muscles. Strains are injuries that stretch tendons too far, and they often develop with overuse, especially if you suddenly increase training.
Your muscles and tendons are interconnected along every bone in your shoulders and arms. Because of this, injuries that impact muscles often affect tendons and vice versa. Strains, pulled muscles, and muscle tears can involve both muscles and tendons.
Muscle tears and tendon tears are injuries that separate muscle from bone. A few examples of these injuries are rotator cuff tears and biceps tendon tears.
Tendinitis is tendon inflammation. It usually develops from repetitive stress and overuse, and it’s most common in shoulders, elbows, and wrists. While tendinitis isn’t as serious an injury as a torn tendon, it’s still painful.
Participating in certain sports could increase your risk of developing tendinitis. In fact, many tendinitis conditions get their names from sports, including golfer’s elbow, tennis elbow, and swimmer’s shoulder.
Bursae are small, fluid-filled pouches in your joints. The bursae cushion your bones, but overuse can cause inflammation called bursitis. Bursitis is common in joints that receive a lot of repetitive movement, such as the shoulders and elbows.
A fracture is a broken bone. In most cases, extreme impact or traumatic injury causes fractures, but sometimes, small cracks called stress fractures develop over time. While you can break any bone in your upper extremities, two of the most common sports-related fractures are ulna fractures and clavicle fractures.
If you suffer an injury during a game, or if you notice pain in your everyday life, don’t ignore your symptoms. Our team has experience diagnosing and treating common sports injuries, and we’re here to help you find healing.
Mild sprains and strains may heal with at-home care using the RICE method, which stands for rest, ice therapy, compression, and elevation. More severe injuries might require bracing, anti-inflammatory medication, or other nonoperative therapies. Some traumatic injuries, such as fractures, may need surgical repair.
No matter your injury, Dr. Downing typically prescribes physical therapy to help you recover. Physical therapy can help rebuild your strength and lower your risk of suffering injury again in the future, especially if you plan to return to athletics.
To find compassionate sports medicine care, book an appointment online or over the phone with Upper Extremity Specialists today. We have offices in Chula Vista and La Jolla, California.