The bad news about joint injuries is that they can be tough to recover from and very painful. Indeed, some joint injuries can plague a sufferer for the rest of his or her life. The good news is that sports medicine for joint injuries has advanced to a degree where many can get treated quickly with noninvasive techniques.
What are the Most Common Joint Injuries in Sports?
Injuries that involve the clavicle, sternum, and upper arm joint are among the most common sports injuries that orthopedists see these days. The shoulder is a “ball and socket” type of joint, and it is usually very flexible. But the head of this joint rests in a fairly shallow socket in the human body, and that means that an athlete’s shoulder puts a lot of strain on soft tissue around the joint. Other common joint injuries involve ankles and knees. The type of sport really influences which types of injuries happen most commonly.
It is mostly not the bone, but the ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and muscle around the joint that suffer sprains and tears.
How are Mild to Moderate Joint Injuries Treated?
If you visit a sports medicine facility, the doctor will probably suggest simple pain medication and cold packs to reduce swelling and relieve pain. The limb might be held in a sling, brace, or cast for about a week to ten days to add additional comfort and reduce the chance of aggravating the injury again. In this case, and athlete may be able to return to sports after a couple of weeks.
How Are Severe Sports Injuries Treated?
In severe cases, surgery might be suggested by an orthopedic doctor. This suggestion could be based upon results from an MRI or X-ray, but it might also get suggested if more moderate treatments do not successfully treat pain or injuries.
In this case, athletes might not return to their sports for two to six months. This is because the surgery actually involves reconstructing ligaments that hold the bones in place at the joint. After surgery, the patient might have to complete a course of physical therapy to regain strength and flexibility in the affected limbs and joints. Typically, doctors will wait until the athlete has minimal pain and also has recovered the strength in the affected joints.
Do Athletes Recover From Joint Injuries?
With proper treatment, which might involve medication, physical therapy, and even surgery, most athletes can return to their sports after a period of time that can last from several days to several months. The length of time this will take really depends upon the extent of the injury, the treatment an orthopedist prescribes, and how well the athlete follows prescribed treatments.
Returning to sports too quickly after an injury might be worse than not getting treated at all because it can aggravate injuries and make the entire recovery process longer and more intense. However, athletes who do not feel comfortable with one orthopedist’s treatment suggestions are usually free to seek a second opinion from another sports medicine doctor.