Every time you play a sport, you risk suffering severe and devastating injuries. In fact, the CDC estimates that 8.6 million sport-related injuries happen every year in the United States. Educating yourself on how to identify the worst sports injuries and how to treat them will help you avoid further injury and get the help you need in a timely manner. Here are the 7 worst sports injuries and how to treat them:
The rotator cuff is a group of four tendons that attach the humerus (upper arm bone) to the shoulder. Repetitive movements – such as those involved in baseball, tennis, weightlifting, and rowing – are the most common causes of rotator cuff tears in athletes. Common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear are pain or weakness when lifting or rotating your arm.
Sometimes, a torn rotator cuff will heal on its own; however, this is uncommon. Surgery will often repair minor tears but only has about a 57% success rate in fixing complete tears. No matter what, it’s best to avoid any strenuous repetitive actions after a rotator cuff tear to avoid damaging it further or retearing it.
The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is what connects the humerus to the ulna (lower arm bone). Torn UCLs are almost always found in pitchers who throw incredible fastballs.
For many years, there was no treatment for this injury. However, when pitcher Tommy John tore his UCL in 1974, Dr. Frank Jobe developed an experimental procedure that replaced the UCL with a tendon from the forearm. The surgery doesn’t always work, unfortunately; even if it does, pitchers face a 12-18 month recovery time.
Tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are incredibly common amongst football, basketball, and soccer players. This injury is caused by improperly landing, collisions, suddenly stopping, or rapidly changing directions. The ACL is a ligament in the knee that keeps the tibia (lower leg bone) from sliding, and it also provides the knee with rotational stability.
Physical therapy and a brace are often enough to allow a torn ACL to heal. A lot of times, however, a minimally-invasive surgery is necessary to repair the ligament. In either case, athletes can usually return to their sport in less than a year.
A broken arm is not uncommon – especially amongst athletes – but a broken leg is. After all, leg bones are the strongest bones in your body. Since it takes a serious amount of force to break one, it takes a serious amount of time for one to heal. Femur bones are especially devastating breaks since the femur bone is about four times stronger than concrete.
Leg breaks require immediate treatment. Misaligned bones will need to be manually realigned and immobilized by a cast. Oftentimes, an operation is needed, wherein metal rods are inserted to reconnect the broken ends. Unfortunately, this injury is quite often a sports career-ender, as was the case for Giants quarterback Joe Theismann.
The Achilles tendon is that muscle that sticks out over your heel. It connects the calf muscles to the heel bone and is necessary for walking, running, and jumping. Achilles tendon tears often occur from pushing off with your feet wrong or from continuous use of an already-weakened tendon. A minor tear will make walking painful, while a complete tear will make walking pretty much impossible.
A minor tear requires either surgery or physical therapy; a complete tear can only be fixed via surgery. Rehabilitation time after the injury is usually 6-9 months.
Concussions are incredibly common in contact sports, especially football. Unfortunately, they’re quite often ignored by the coach or player – thought to be nothing more than a headache. If you’re experiencing problems with your vision, hearing, reflexes, memory, coordination, or concentration, you may have a concussion.
If you think you might have a concussion, stop any sports or physical activity that you’re engaging in and report to a physician immediately. Continuing to play with a concussion can lead to serious issues down the line. A doctor will conduct an evaluation to determine if you have a concussion and then prescribe plenty of rest if you do.
Of all the back injuries, a fractured vertebra is the worst. It can lead to loss of movement or even paralysis that can be permanent.
Fractured vertebrae will usually require a back brace. Prescription or natural pain relief along with physical therapy will often also be necessary.
If you’ve suffered a sports injury that requires chiropractic care, physical therapy, or rehabilitation, contact Health First Injury and Pain Centers. Chiropractor Michael Davis has over 20 years of experience helping people recover from sports injuries.