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Despite what the name suggests, sports medicine is not limited to the sports field. The branch of orthopedics consists of the treatment of injuries resulting from physical activity. These injuries can occur due to overuse, overexertion, traumatic collision, or overstretching of joint ligaments and cartilage. Sports injuries can affect any part of the body; however, the majority of sports injuries occur in the major joints, including the shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle.
Minimally invasive rotator cuff surgery
A common sport-associated shoulder injury is a rotator cuff tear. Made up of a group of four different muscles and tendons, the rotator cuff coordinates the movement of the arm at the shoulder. A tear in these muscles due to traumatic impact, repetitive motion, or strong pulling can lead to severe pain and loss of mobility in the shoulder.
Depending on the severity of the injury, a rotator cuff tear can be repaired by surgical or non-surgical methods. If the pain is not relieved by non-surgical efforts and surgery is needed, rotator cuff tears can be repaired using arthroscopic techniques. A minimally invasive procedure, arthroscopic surgery involves two small incisions for the insertion of a fiber optic camera and specialized surgical tools. Arthroscopic surgery usually results in successful rotator cuff repair and a shorter, less painful recovery time.
ACL repair surgery for knee pain
A common procedure performed in sports medicine is the repair of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) located in the knee. The ACL provides rotational stability to the knee, and tears of the ligament occur due to over-rotation, sudden changes in direction, improper landing, or traumatic collision. Symptoms of a torn ACL include a “popping” sound and the inability to put weight on the knee joint, followed by pain and swelling.
Non-surgical treatment options are available after an ACL tear; however, a torn ACL will not heal on its own and surgery is required to resume an active lifestyle. Advances in knee surgery techniques now make it possible to repair a torn ACL by arthroscopic intervention. Arthroscopic surgery techniques allow faster recovery time, although an athlete needs at least six months before returning to sport.
Torn meniscus surgery for knee pain
The meniscus consists of two pieces of cartilage located between the thigh bone and the tibia that act as a shock absorber and “shock absorbers” between the two bones. Sports-related meniscal tears result from excessive stress on the knee joint resulting from a traumatic collision, squatting, or over-rotation, and often accompany other knee injuries, such as a ACL tear.
Walking is still possible after a meniscal tear and athletes can continue to play despite the injury. However, the knee will gradually become stiffer and swollen over a period of days. Non-surgical approaches to treatment include the RICE protocol of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If the severity of the injury requires surgery, arthroscopic techniques using a fiber optic camera and miniature instruments will allow for minimally invasive repair of the meniscus.
Shin splint repair
Shin splints are a common sports-related injury, as the condition results from exercise-related overuse. Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, develop because excessive and repetitive physical activity causes muscle fatigue resulting in extra force to be applied to the tissue attaching the muscles to the shin.
Shin splints are treated with rest and abstention from physical activity. Shin splints rarely require surgery; however, persistent pain may indicate the development of multiple microfractures in the tibia. Microfractures are serious and may require a doctor’s evaluation.
Achilles tendon repair surgery
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body and connects the muscles at the back of the lower leg to the heel bone. The Achilles tendon is essential for mobility as it is used for walking, running and jumping. Tears can occur when the Achilles tendon is too tight and cannot withstand the large forces exerted on it during physical activity. Pain and swelling accompany a torn Achilles tendon, along with the inability to bend the foot downward.
Surgery is probably the only option to repair a completely torn Achilles tendon for patients who want to return to sports. Surgically repaired Achilles tendons are more likely to return to near normal performance and less likely to be injured again.
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