Sports injuries are very common and most of these injuries are caused by overuse of our muscles and joint or when greater pressure than that can normally be applied to a joint or muscle is applied. Sports injuries are generally categorized into two groups. They are chronic and acute. An injury that occurs suddenly during a sporting event like a sprained knee joint in a football match is an example of acute sports injury. Continuous overuse of joints or muscle groups in severe training and continuous sporting activities are the examples of chronic sports injuries.
Ligament sprains and muscle strains
Back pain in young athletes is caused mainly by the ligament sprains and muscle strains that occur during sporting activities in which they are involved. Application of improper techniques, , insufficient stretching, trauma etc are the common causes for back pain. Treatment for back pains starts with complete resting, medication etc. Anti inflammatory drugs, non steroidal medications, application of ice etc can be started simultaneously. When the pain decreases the patient may be instructed to do proper exercising under the guidance of a physiotherapist. This will help to improve the muscle power and strength and will be helpful in avoiding recurrence of the injury. Before allowing the patient to take part in sporting activities, sport specific exercises mimicking the conditions in the track and field will be taught and by practicing these exercises the patient will regain his confidence and enthusiasm.
Problems in the facet joints which connect one vertebra to the other is known as spondylolysis and slippage of one vertebra over the other known as spondylolisthesis. These two problems are common causes of back pain connected with sports injuries. These are generally found in athletes who participate in sporting events like gymnastics where twisting and bending of spine is involved. At first symptoms of this problem may seem like the same as that caused due to sprains and strains. Even the difference cannot be identified in X-ray images. Only through a CT scan the correct problem for the continued back pain can be diagnosed.
Treatment for this sort of problems also starts with completed rest followed by medications, exercises and application of ice. In some cases bracing has also been found to be an effective method of treatment for reducing the back pain. In the case of spondylolisthesis athletes with less than 50 % forward slipping will be able to return to their normal sporting activity capabilities. But athletes who have more than 50 % forward slipping, will have to be contented with lesser capacity for sporting activities.
Stinger is a spine injury that occurs in collision spots. It is not catastrophic like a spinal cord injury and does not result in paralysis of the arms or legs. Athletes who play the position of defensive back in football are at a greater risk of stinger injuries. Stinger can occur in two ways. When the spinal nerve in the neck is compressed or elongated stinger can occur. The athlete feels sudden severe stinging pain in one of his arms for a few seconds which may extent to a minute also. The pain may extent to hours, days and weeks also in some cases. Stingers that are felt for the first time may get subsided without any treatment. But if this is left untreated the possibility recurrence is greater. Stingers are usually felt only in one arm only. If stingers are felt on both arms at the same time it can be due to a spinal cord injury for which the treatment options are entirely different.
Diagnosis Stingers are usually experienced during a match. The athlete usually comes out of the field without anybodies help. Initial diagnosis by the teams doctor helps the declaration of the medical fitness of the athlete for continuing the game or not. Continuance of the symptoms and persistence of weakness and pain may keep the athlete out of the game. If no improvement in the symptoms is noticed within a period of a few weeks, then diagnostic procedures like CT scan, MRI scan, electromyogram etc can be made use of.
There are a number of treatment options available for dealing with stinger. The most appropriate method will be selected by the sports medicine specialist based on your conditions and symptoms shown. Treatment for reduction of pain starts with physical rest, application of ice or heat, pain relievers and anti inflammatory drugs. A cervical collar can be used to prevent deterioration of the situation. Cortisone injection around the neck is also another given under X-ray guidance can be very helpful in reducing the pain.
Surgical procedure will be necessary only if the spinal nerves are compressed by herniated discs or bone spurs. Discectomy is the name of surgical procedure followed for the removal of bone spur. Discectomy with fusion is another option in which discectomy for removal of bone spur is performed and the vertebrae are fused together to facilitate movement of the spine to a lesser extent without causing any pain.