Sports Medicine

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Sports medicine is a specialized area of medicine that focuses on helping athletes and active individuals stay healthy, perform better, and prevent injury. The CLS Health sports medicine team works together to help individuals optimize their physical performance by designing specific conditioning programs tailored to their individual needs.

Our sports medicine professionals are highly trained, caring individuals who specialize in everything from diagnosis to treatment and prevention of sports and exercise-related injuries. The team takes the time to understand each patient’s individual needs, allowing them to craft personalized recommendations for injury prevention that focus on staying active without sacrificing safety. Sports medicine shouldn’t be something that makes you hesitant or stressed; CLS Health Sports Medicine physician Javier Rios, MD is here to make sure it doesn’t have to be. Dr. Rios strives every day to ensure his patients have the safest, most comprehensive care available so they can get back out on the field, court, or stage as quickly as possible.

What Does Sports Medicine Treat?

Sports medicine can treat a variety of conditions related to sports and exercise including muscle strains, ligament sprains, fractures, concussion management, overuse injuries, joint replacements and more. Besides treating existing injuries or conditions, sports medicine clinicians can also work with athletes to prevent injury through physical conditioning programs. Nutritionists may also be part of the sports medicine team in order to provide dietary advice for athletes looking to perform at their peak.

Some of the common types of sports injuries treated by sports medicine specialists include:

  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears
  • Concussion
  • Fractures
  • Knee cartilage injuries
  • Meniscal tears
  • Nerve compression injuries
  • Patellar Tendonitis
  • Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injuries
  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Shoulder separation
  • Sprains and strains
  • Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
  • Tendonitis

Treatment for Sports Injuries

Treatment includes management of bruises, strains and sprains, fractures, dislocations, chronic injuries, torn shoulder ligaments, ACL ligament repair in the knee as well as cartilage and meniscal repairs. Surgery is mostly accomplished by minimally invasive methods and healing is expedited by physical therapy and a rehabilitation program to ensure a quick return to your sporting activities.

The most common nonsurgical or conservative treatment recommended for sports injuries include:

  • Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE) Therapy:
    • Rest: Avoid activities that may cause injury.
    • Ice: Ice packs can be applied to the injured area, which will help to diminish swelling and pain. Ice should be applied over a towel to the affected area for 15-20 minutes, four times a day for several days. Never place ice directly on the skin.
    • Compression: Compression of the injured area helps to reduce swelling. Elastic wraps, air casts and splints can accomplish this.
    • Elevation: Elevate the injured part above the heart level to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Activity Modification: Avoiding activities that trigger symptoms and changing your lifestyle
  • Physical Therapy: Regular exercise regimen to improve range of motion and strengthen muscles
  • Anti-inflammatory Medication: Meds like naproxen and ibuprofen are used to relieve inflammation and pain.
  • Cortisone Injection: If physical therapy, medications, rest, and activity modification do not yield the desired results, then a cortisone injection may be helpful. Cortisone is a very effective anti-inflammatory medicine for conditions such as bursitis and is a long-term pain reliever for tears and structural damage.

Prevention of Sports Injuries

Some of the measures employed and advised by sports medicine specialists to prevent sports-related injuries include:

  • Follow an exercise program to strengthen your muscles.
  • Gradually increase your exercise level and avoid overdoing the exercise.
  • Ensure that you wear properly-fitted protective gear such as elbow guards, eye gear, face masks, mouth guards and pads, comfortable clothes, and athletic shoes before playing any sports activity, which will help reduce the chances of injury.
  • Make sure that you follow warm-up and cool-down exercises before and after a sports activity. Exercises will help to stretch the muscles, increase flexibility and reduce soft tissue injuries.
  • Avoid exercising immediately after eating a large meal.
  • Maintain a healthy diet, which will help to nourish the muscles.
  • Avoid playing when you are injured or tired. Take rest breaks after playing.
  • Learn all the rules of the game you are participating in.
  • Ensure that you are physically fit to play the sport.

Sports Medicine FAQ

Musculoskeletal injuries are any injuries causing damage to bone, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and related structures. They can occur in any area of your musculoskeletal system such as the neck, back, hips, knees, shoulders, or elbows. Some examples of musculoskeletal injuries include but are not limited to: Muscle tendinitis or strains (tears in the muscle fiber) Ligament sprains (overstretched ligaments) Bursitis and fasciitis (inflammation of the bursa sac and fascia) Cartilage damage (often in the knee) Bone fractures (due to impact trauma) Carpal tunnel syndrome (pain in hand and fingers due to nerve compression) Pinched nerves (due to pressure by surrounding tissues) Neck tension syndrome (muscle stiffness in the neck)
Several factors are responsible for musculoskeletal injuries. Some of them include: Heavy physical work, falls, fractures Jerking movements, twisting, or overstretching Motor vehicle accidents, direct blows, vibrations Excessive force (pulling or pushing), dislocations Poor or awkward posture Prolonged immobilization Repetitive movements High body mass index (obesity) Wear and tear due to overuse
Symptoms of musculoskeletal injuries manifest in the form of: Pain, redness, swelling or instability at the injury site Tightness or tension at the injury site Discomfort that worsens with movement or activity A burning sensation or a pulled muscle Decreased range of motion and loss of function (in severe cases)
Your doctor may begin the diagnosis with a physical examination. This includes palpating (touching) the affected area and looking for typical symptoms. However, to determine the underlying cause of the pain, the doctor is likely to order imaging tests such as: X-rays to take images of the bones CT scans for an in-depth look at the bones MRIs to assess soft tissues like muscle, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons
Musculoskeletal injuries need immediate attention. Priority should be to bring pain and swelling under control as quickly as possible. Most mild to moderate musculoskeletal injuries can be treated with the RICE method which involves: Rest: Adequate rest to ensure healing of the injured tissue Ice: Placing an ice bag or a cold gel pack on the area to reduce pain and inflammation Compression: Applying bandages or wraps to minimize swelling of the injured area Elevation: Keeping the injured part raised above the heart level to reduce pain and swelling The RICE method, when combined with over-the-counter pain relief, is known to be effective in most cases. However, different types of physiotherapy or occupational therapy may also be used to treat the injuries. Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) can also be an option. If the pain and swelling do not begin to go down after the RICE treatment, the injury may require more intensive treatment and possibly surgery.
Sports injuries can occur during athletic activities, practices, or exercises. Sports injuries may result from accidents, poor training practices, use of improper protective gear, lack of conditioning, and insufficient warm-up and stretching.
Sports injuries may be either Acute: Sprains, fractures, tears Chronic: Tendonitis, overuse injury
Some of the common symptoms of sports injuries include: Pain Swelling Stiffness Bruising Bleeding Concussion Cuts and abrasions Dehydration Fracture
Sports injuries are diagnosed with a detailed medical review and thorough physical examination. Your doctor may order certain imaging studies such as X-rays, MRI and CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.
When you suffer an injury during sports events, never try to continue the activity in pain because it may cause further harm. Some injuries may require prompt attention by a doctor, while others can be treated at home with rest, application of ice. You should seek medical treatment if: The injury is causing severe pain, swelling, or numbness. You are not able to put any weight on the injured area. The pain or dull ache of an old injury has increased along with swelling and joint instability. If you do not have any of the symptoms mentioned above, you can adopt self-care treatment at home. You should follow the RICE method immediately after injury to relieve pain and inflammation. These steps should continue for at least 48 hours. Rest: You should take rest from regular exercises or daily activities as needed. Ice: Apply an ice pack over the injured area for 20 minutes at a time. This should be done four to eight times a day. A cold pack, ice bag, or plastic bag filled with crushed ice and wrapped in a towel can be used. Compression: Compress the injured area with elastic wraps, special boots, air casts, and splints. This helps to reduce swelling. Elevation: Keep the injured elbow or wrist elevated on a pillow, above the level of the heart. This is to help decrease swelling. Your doctor may recommend other treatments to help your injury heal. These include: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: These drugs reduce swelling and pain. Immobilization: Immobilization is minimizing the movement of the injured area to prevent further damage. It also reduces pain, swelling and muscle spasm. Slings are given to immobilize the arms and shoulders. Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation involves exercises that get the injured area back to normal conditions. Exercises start with gentle range-of-motion exercises followed by stretching and strengthening exercises. Other therapies: Other common therapies that help in the healing of sports injuries include mild electrical currents (electrostimulation), cold packs or cryotherapy, heat packs or thermotherapy, high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound), massage and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections. Surgery: Surgery is the last resort for the management of sports injuries and is indicated only if conservative techniques are not helpful. Surgeries are performed to repair torn tendons and ligaments or to realign the broken bones. Your surgeon may recommend an arthroscopic procedure or open techniques to treat your sports injuries.
The objective of early fracture management is to control bleeding, prevent ischemic injury (bone death) and to remove sources of infection such as foreign bodies and dead tissues. The next step is the reduction of the fracture and its maintenance. It is important to ensure that the involved part of the body returns to its function after the fracture heals. To achieve this, fracture reduction and immobilization are achieved by either a non-operative or surgical method. Non-operative (closed) therapy uses casting and traction (skin and skeletal traction). Casting This is done for any fracture that is displaced, shortened, or angulated. Splints and casts are made of fiberglass or Plaster of Paris (POP) and are used to immobilize the limb. Traction This method is used for fractures and dislocations that cannot be treated by casting. There are two methods of traction: skin traction and skeletal traction. Skin traction involves attachment of traction tapes to the skin of the limb segment below the fracture. In skeletal traction, a pin is inserted through the bone and attached to ropes. Weights are applied, and the patient is placed in a traction apparatus. This method is commonly used for fractures of long bones.
A concussion, also called a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs as a result of a blow or an injury to the head. Concussions are common in people involved in sports such as football, ice hockey, snow skiing, bicycling, etc. Usually, a concussion may be mild and does not result in long-term damage, but repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage.
Your brain is protected by cerebrospinal fluid within your skull that acts as a shock absorber against minor trauma to the head. However, the brain can be injured in case of severe trauma such as: A strong blow to the head that causes the brain to forcefully impact the inner wall of the skull Abrupt acceleration and deacceleration of the head that may be caused by a motor vehicular accident Violent shaking of the head and neck A blast injury
The symptoms may be immediate or delayed and can include: Temporary loss of consciousness Nausea Vomiting Headache Dizziness Confusion Slurred speech Sensitivity to light Sleep pattern changes
What is a Concussion? A concussion, also called a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs as a result of a blow or an injury to the head. Concussions are common in people involved in sports such as football, ice hockey, snow skiing, bicycling, etc. Usually, a concussion may be mild and does not result in long-term damage, but repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage. Causes for Concussions Your brain is protected by cerebrospinal fluid within your skull that acts as a shock absorber against minor trauma to the head. However, the brain can be injured in case of severe trauma such as: A strong blow to the head that causes the brain to forcefully impact the inner wall of the skull Abrupt acceleration and deacceleration of the head that may be caused by a motor vehicular accident Violent shaking of the head and neck A blast injury Symptoms of a Concussion The symptoms may be immediate or delayed and can include: Temporary loss of consciousness Nausea Vomiting Headache Dizziness Confusion Slurred speech Sensitivity to light Sleep pattern changes Complications of Concussions Some of the potential complications of a concussion injury include: Post-traumatic headaches that may last for about 7 days Post-traumatic vertigo that may continue for weeks and months after the injury Post-concussion syndrome which is characterized by headaches, dizziness, and difficulty thinking clearly that lasts longer than 3 months after the injury Rapid brain swelling which may occur if a second concussive injury occurs before full recovery from the initial injury Diagnosis of Concussions A diagnosis of a concussion may be made by your doctor based on: Evaluation of your signs and symptoms Review of medical history Neurological examination, which includes testing vision, hearing, balance, coordination, strength, and sensation Cognitive testing, which includes memory and concentration ability testing Imagining tests such as a brain MRI or CT scan to look for signs of bleeding or other abnormalities within the brain A period of observation at the hospital or home as signs and symptoms may develop after a few hours or days following the injury.
The treatment may involve the following measures: Taking prescribed medications for symptomatic relief. Getting plenty of sleep during the night as well as taking a nap during the day. Refraining from activities that can stress your mind. Refraining from sports or games that may worsen concussion symptoms.
The risk of sustaining a concussion may be reduced by the following measures: Wearing a well-fitting helmet and other protective equipment while participating in sports or recreational activities. Buckling your seatbelt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle Keeping your home clutter-free and well-lit to prevent falls Exercising regularly to improve mobility, strength, and balance