Broken bones and concussions are just a couple of the fearful images that spring to mind when a parent learns that her child wants to participate in organized sports. While sports injuries are not necessarily a foregone conclusion, it is helpful to know what the most common occurrences are and what to do about them.
Sprains, Strains and Pulls
A variety of sports activities call for movements that can stretch and tear muscles and ligaments. Commonly affected body parts are ankles, hips, groin, hamstrings and shoulders. These injuries result from overstretching or overusing the muscles. Tears in the muscle fibers and tendons are often the result of weak, fatigued or stiff muscles.
Sprains, strains and pulls are not always preventable with the jarring movements of sudden stops, twists and turns from a standstill and flexing movements typical to many sports. Good pre-participation plans, such as working the particular muscle groups in the weeks building up to the actual sport will reduce the potential for injury. Increasing blood flow to the muscles by first warming up increases flexibility and reduces injuries.
Seek medical attention whenever you cannot bear weight without giving in to the injury, if there is excessive swelling, any change in skin color outside of typical bruising or if there are abnormalities such as crooked or deformed joints or bones.
Knocked Out Tooth
Kids of all ages engaged in contact sports are subject to having a tooth knocked out. In this case, it’s important to visit an emergency dentist in Salt Lake City as soon as possible. Teeth are susceptible to impact with the chin, a punch or kick to the face or other jolting impact that involves the jaw. It is possible to save both the permanent tooth and the socket for replacement. Handle a dislodged tooth by the crown portion instead of the root, and avoid using water to either clean or store it before seeing the dentist for emergency repair.
In the meantime, a cold compress applied to the mouth and gums and over-the-counter pain relievers help ease the discomfort. Direct pressure with gauze helps to control any bleeding. The goal is to have the tooth returned to the socket and braced for a time to allow it to heal. Take care during this time to protect the tooth from any further impact including brushing the teeth.
Either one or both of the knees can sustain damage from the repetitive movement of the patella against the femur, that is, where the kneecap encounters the thighbone. Runners and volleyball and basketball players most commonly experience this patellofemoral syndrome. Working the quadriceps with low-impact exercise helps relieve pain. Patience is key here as it can take as many as six weeks to improve.
Brain injury is on the radar as major sports have recognized the significance of what happens from blows to the head. There need not be a loss of consciousness for concussion to occur. Concussion symptoms include dizziness, imbalance, headache, nausea, disorientation, inability to concentrate and even amnesia.
Rest is primarily the response to concussion that can take up to two weeks for recovery. Acetaminophen taken as prescribed on the packaging helps with headache. The caution here is not to resume sports activities too soon after the first blow as second-impact syndrome has proven to be potentially fatal.
Intense exercise following inactivity or stress fracture to the bone may result in shin splints. Runners tend to experience the shooting pain from shin splints that radiate down the front of the leg. Resting the leg and applying ice help improve minor cases. Wearing proper shoes is important in preventing shin splints as is stretching and being aware of your limits.
Sciatica is low-back pain radiating down the legs resulting from improper stretching, running, baseball, tennis, horseback riding or golf. However, it is not restricted to any particular activity. A person who happens to have one leg slightly longer than the other may suffer the full array of painful symptoms associated with sciatica including spasm. Treatment includes rest, ice or moist heat and anti-inflammatory medication. It is best to seek medical attention for sciatica especially if it involves bulging discs.
Mild to moderate injury can happen in any sport your child is involved in. It’s important to know when to go to the doctor or dentist, and when to use home remedies. Restricting activity prevents further damage and pain. When in doubt, do not hesitate to seek proper medical attention.