Trauma is any injury caused during physical activity, motor vehicle accidents, electric shock, or other activities. Sports trauma or sports injuries refer to injuries caused while playing indoor or outdoor sports and exercising. Sports trauma can result from accidents, inadequate training, improper use of protective devices, or insufficient stretching or warm-up exercises. The most common sports injuries are sprains and strains, fractures, and dislocations.
The most common treatment recommended for injury is rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE).
- 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 over 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 heart level to reduce swelling and pain
Some of the measures that are to be followed to prevent sports related injuries include:
- Follow an exercise program to strengthen the 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, facemasks, mouthguards, and pads, comfortable clothes, and athletic shoes before playing any sports activity which will help to reduce the chances of injury
- Make sure that you follow warm up and cool down exercises before and after 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 nourish the muscles
- Avoid playing when you are injured or tired. Take a break for sometime after playing
- Learn all the rules of the game you are participating in
- Ensure that you are physically fit to play the sport
Knee injuries: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is major stabilizing ligament in the knee which may tear with over use of knee for playing sports. The ACL has poor ability to heal and may cause instability. Other common sports injuries in knee are cartilage damage and meniscal tear. Knee injuries of sports may require surgical intervention that can be performed using open surgical or minimally invasive technique. Your surgeon will recommend you for physical therapy to strengthen your muscles, improve elasticity and improve the movements of the bones and joints.
Patella (knee cap) is a protective bone attached to the quadriceps muscles of the thigh by quadriceps tendon. Patella attaches with the femur bone and forms a patellofemoral joint. Patella is protected by a ligament which secures the kneecap from gliding out and is called as medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL).
Dislocation of the patella occurs when the patella moves out of the patellofemoral groove, (called as trochlea) onto a bony head of the femur. If the knee cap partially comes out of the groove, it is called as subluxation and if the kneecap completely comes out, it is called as dislocation (luxation). Patella dislocation is commonly observed in young athletes between 15 and 20 years and commonly affects women because of the wider pelvis creates lateral pull on the patella.
Some of the causes for patellar dislocation include direct blow or trauma, twisting of the knee while changing the direction, muscle contraction, and congenital defects. It also occurs when the MPFL is torn. The common symptoms include pain, tenderness, swelling around the knee joint, restricted movement of the knee, numbness below the knee, and discolouration of the area where the injury has occurred.
Your doctor will examine your knee and suggests diagnostic tests such as X-ray, CT scan, and MRI scan to confirm condition and provide treatment. There are non-surgical and surgical ways of treating patellofemoral dislocation.
Non surgical or conservative treatment includes:
- PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics to treat pain and swelling
- Braces or casts which will immobilize the knee and allows the MPF ligament to heal
- Footwear to control gait while walking or running and also decreases the pressure on the kneecap
- Physical therapy is recommended which helps to control pain and swelling, prevent formation of scar of soft tissue, and also helps in collagen formation. Physiotherapist will extend your knee and applies direct lateral to medial pressure to the knee which helps in relocation. It includes straightening and strengthening exercises of the hip muscles and other exercises which will improve range of motion
Surgical treatment is recommended for those individuals who have recurrent patella dislocation. Some of the surgical options include:
- Lateral-release – It is done to loosen or release the tight lateral ligaments that pull the kneecap from its groove which increases pressure on the cartilage and causes dislocation. In this procedure, the ligaments that tightly hold the kneecap are cut using an arthroscope
- Medial patellofemoral ligament reconstruction – In this procedure, the torn MPF ligament is removed and reconstructed using grafting technique. Grafts are usually harvested from the hamstring tendons, located at the back of the knee and are fixed to the patella tendon using screws. The grafts are either taken from the same individuals (autograft) or from a donor (allograft). This procedure is also performed using an arthroscope
- Tibia tubercle realignment or transfer – Tibia tubercle is a bony attachment below the patella tendon which sits on the tibia. In this procedure the tibia tubercle is moved towards the center which is then held by two screws. The screws hold the bone in place and allow faster healing and prevent the patella to slide out of the groove. This procedure is also performed using an arthroscope
After the surgery, your doctor will suggest you to use crutches for few weeks, prescribe medications to control pain and swelling, and recommend physical therapy which will help you to return to your sports activities at the earliest.