Common Sports Injuries for Teen Athletes

Common Sports Injuries for Teen Athletes

High school sports have become a popular extracurricular for many teens. They are a great way to stay in shape and help teach teamwork, leadership, and even time management when balanced with other responsibilities. Unfortunately, for many young athletes, injuries are common, ranging from acute to catastrophic. Each type of injury requires specific treatment that may cause them to miss a game, or even the entire season, but healing time is essential for a proper return to the field or court.

If you watch professional sports, you have undoubtedly witnessed any number of injuries throughout the season. Teens are injured at about the same rate as professionals, but the injuries can be much worse if not treated correctly as these young athletes are still growing. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “Growth is generally uneven: Bones grow first, which pulls at tight muscles and tendons.” This tension is a major contributing factor of injuries to muscles, tendons and growth plates that are common among young athletes.

There are a few different levels of injury that can occur in athletes. Understanding each can help the healing process and provide a realistic expectation for healing.

  • Acute Injuries: These are classified as bruises, sprains, strains and fractures. Typically, they are caused by a sudden trauma, such as a collision between players or with an obstacle. Another common acute injury is a twisted ankle, resulting in fracture or sprain.
  • Overuse Injuries: As the skill level of a sport increases, so do the practices, training and games. This can result in gradual damage over time as there is not enough recovery time in between to heal. Common overuse injuries have been seen in elbows of baseball pitchers, shoulders of swimmers, and wrist and elbow injuries in cheerleaders and gymnasts. Stress fractures also become very common, as old bone breaks down quickly with overuse and new bone does not have enough time to grow in, causing weakness.
  • Catastrophic Injuries: These types of injuries are more common with contact sports, such as hockey and football, but have been reported in many others. Catastrophic injuries include damage to the brain, spinal cord, or growth plates. Concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries, have become a hot topic of conversation with their rise in professional football. If a concussion is suspected, the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Neurology recommend the athlete be evaluated and cleared by a doctor before they can return to normal play to avoid any permanent damage. Growth plate injuries occur to the developing cartilage at the end of long bones. These are the final portion of the bone to harden, which is why they are more susceptible to fracture. An injury to the growth plate can cause the bone growth to stop or cause a deformity of the bone.

Any injury that occurs due to sports, particularly if any symptoms or discomfort persist, should be seen by a doctor. Athletes who are pushed to work through pain, or are downplaying the severity in order to continue competing may be causing further damage that could become permanent or even result in a disability. This is where the importance of observation by both coaches and parents comes into play as pain or discomfort can be seen if their technique seems off or they have a decreased interest in practice.

Treatment will all depend on the type of injury and its severity. It could range from simple rest to therapy and even surgery. The injury should be healed completely before the athlete can return to physical activities. While it may not be easy to have to take the time off to heal, it will result in a much better outcome than what could happen if left untreated. Athletes can work to prevent these types of injuries by making sure they are properly conditioned, trained, and using proper equipment. Limiting the number of teams the athlete participates on during a given season can help prevent overuse injuries, and making sure to take breaks between seasons, as well as playing other sports throughout the year, can not only help to prevent injury, but help develop an array of athletic skills.

If you have a teen athlete who has a sports-related injury, contact us today. We will help them with the necessary treatment plan to recover and safely get back on the field.

Elbow Arthroscopy Recovery: How to Help Yourself Recover Stronger

A large majority of people who need to undergo surgery are curious about the recovery times, the level of pain they may experience, and what they will need to do to recover afterwards. The good news is, there are many things patients can do to recover stronger after a surgery such as Elbow Arthroscopy.

Elbow Arthroscopy can be performed to diagnose and fix many problems, such as releasing scar tissue or resurfacing the bone. It is often a very successful surgery, providing patients with less ongoing pain and a better range of motion. Immediately after the surgery, patients will notice the improved range of motion available in their elbow as there are very few limitations placed upon movement at this point. A sling is often given for comfort only.

As this is a surgical procedure, some pain and discomfort is to be expected, but the method of using only a small incision means this will generally only last the first week of recovery. If the surgery was more extensive, it will likely be several more weeks before the pain subsides. In either case, patients may be prescribed pain medication to help with any discomfort. Icing and raising the elbow for the first 48 hours after surgery as directed by the doctor will also help with the pain and recovery.

The doctor may ask the patient to leave on the post-surgery dressing for several days and to keep the area dry. After its removal, bathing can continue as normal, but always ensure that the wounds are covered with antibiotic ointment and bandages after bathing as directed by the doctor. Sutures are removed after one week.

Once the initial recovery time is complete, physical therapy will begin and lasts for approximately 4-6 weeks or until maximum range of motion is accomplished, allowing the patient to return to normal activities such as playing sports and moving regularly again!

To learn more about this simple recovery process or to schedule your Elbow Arthroscopy procedure, contact us.

The Remarkable Hand

What makes humans so “human”? While there are certainly many factors – spiritual, emotional, physical – that make us human, the human hand is a unique appendage that opened up amazing possibilities in our becoming human.

From our opposable thumbs to the amazing sensory receptiveness of our fingertips, the human hand is ideally sculpted for exploration and manipulation of this incredibly complex world. A study at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden in 2013 determined that the human finger can find an irregularity as small as 13 nanometers, which is less than 1/1000th the thickness of a human hair. With sensory tools like that at our disposal, it’s not surprising we humans have done as well as we have!

Let’s spend a minute and look at the basic set-up of the hand.

The eight bones of the wrist are called the carpal bones. The carpal tunnel is the narrow passage through which passes all of the blood and nerve supply for the hand. You’ve probably heard of carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when, for a variety of reasons, that passageway no longer allows for friction-free passage of the tendons, nerves and blood supply to the hand, causing pain and dysfunction.

The five long bones that stretch from your wrist to the base of your fingers are called metacarpals, and the individual bones of your fingers are called the phalanges (phalanx is singular). The muscles and tendons that move your hands and fingers are incredibly sensitive, allowing us to pick up tiny objects, while they are strong enough to lift frying pans and carry babies!

It’s amazing all that we can do with our hands! However, when we begin having pain or discomfort in our hands, it can be difficult to function in the day-to-day. If you are experiencing pain in your hands or wrists, please contact us to set up an evaluation.

Ouch! What’s going on with my elbow?

You are used to doing everything you want to do. Lately, though, just picking up a gallon of milk with your right hand hurts so much it almost makes you cry. You made an appointment with your primary care provider, who thinks you are developing osteoarthritis in that elbow. She referred you to us, the Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine Center.

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After hearing your story, reading your history and reviewing some plain x-rays your PCP had obtained, one of the tools our board-certified surgeons may use to both diagnose and treat your elbow pain and dysfunction is elbow arthroscopy.

What is Elbow Arthroscopy?

The elbow, like all the joints of the human body, is a truly amazing anatomical structure. Through small spaces between the bones pass all of the nerves and blood supply for your hand. In addition to the pain symptoms you are currently experiencing, problems in the elbow can cause pain, numbness and weakness to everything past the elbow – your forearm and hand. Compromised blood flow from the elbow to the hand can cause even more serious symptoms.

Arthroscopy is ideally suited to examine the elbow. Instead of a large, open surgical procedure, one or more tiny incisions are made in the elbow to pass a small fiber-optic camera and various small instruments into the elbow space to both diagnose and potentially treat your pain.

While the x-rays your PCP ordered rule out obvious fractures, elbow arthroscopy can also treat arthritis, loose bodies in the elbow, stiffness, tennis elbow and many other conditions of the elbow.

Because arthroscopy does not use large incisions, less soft tissue has to heal, leading to less post-operative pain and speedier recovery times.

To set up an appointment, please contact us. There’s no need to put up with the pain and limitations! We look forward to hearing from you soon.


General Orthopedic Care

Human Spine

At our center we treat patients on a regular basis as a general orthopedic care center but many of our patients are unaware of a chronic spine condition that often needs ongoing support from spine surgery and aids such as back braces. This condition is called scoliosis and it relates to a curvature of the spine that needs to be corrected.

Written below we have detailed the interesting facts, myths and pieces of art related to the condition. If you have scoliosis you may have heard these already. On the other hand if you are learning about scoliosis for the first time these five unique facts might take you by surprise.

A novel about scoliosis

Many teenagers over the past four decades have learned about scoliosis by reading Judy Blume’s novel “Deenie.” In the book, a teenager deals with the transitional period of being diagnosed and treated for scoliosis. Along the way she struggles with the corrective brace that cuts through her new clothes. She also deals with the social aspects of being different than other kids. However in the past 40 years the braces for treating scoliosis have changed significantly. For example, today’s braces do not de-emphasize the chest area, and are considerably less bulky than the type the character Deenie described.

Scoliosis empowerment support group

Did you know that there was a specific support group in place to empower young girls with scoliosis? According to Curvy Girls founder Leah Stoltz when girls are diagnosed with scoliosis, they often grow silent. For this reason Stoltz has actively maintained a website-based support group specifically for scoliosis-diagnosed girls. Stoltz also talks with social workers and guidance counselors about the special needs of girls with scoliosis.

High scoliosis statistics

In America the statistics related to scoliosis are as high as one-in-40. Regardless most are considered mild cases and the causes for scoliosis are generally unknown. Once diagnosed a child will be monitored with X-rays. If the condition becomes severe surgery or braces may be used to correct the curvature of the spine.

Do not forget about kyphosis

In the field of medicine, there are two conditions that affect the way the spine grows. While scoliosis is an S or C-shaped curvature of the spine from one side of the back to the other, there is a similar condition that bends the spine into the front of the abdomen from the back. Called kyphosis, it can occur when there is a failure for the spine to form or a failure of segmentation of the spine.

Silliest scoliosis myth

On a number of scoliosis websites there are doctors writing about a common myth. Evidently many people believe that heavy backpacks cause children to get scoliosis. This is refuted by medical science and is not a proven cause for scoliosis. Nevertheless keep in mind that there are many areas of the back that can suffer duress due to carrying bags or luggage that exceed the weight your back can withstand. For all of these reasons when you need professional orthopedic care know that we are the educated ear you have been looking for. Thank you for choosing Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine and we look forward to hearing from you.