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February 27, 2008 > Health and Wellness Seminar: Do You Have a Sports-Related Injury That Is Not Healing?

Health and Wellness Seminar: Do You Have a Sports-Related Injury That Is Not Healing?

It's not uncommon for athletes - professional, student or amateur - to suffer injuries while involved in sporting activities. The most common sports injuries are sprains and strains of the muscles or tendons, many of which can be treated by following the "RICE" method: rest, icing, compression and elevation.

Sometimes, though, a sports injury is more serious, or it fails to heal properly. If you have ever had that experience, you won't want to miss the upcoming Health & Wellness seminar on this topic on Tuesday, March 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. Dr. John Jaureguito and Dr. David Bell, orthopedic surgeons and co-directors of Washington Hospital's Sports Medicine Program, will describe the latest treatments and answer your questions on sports injuries.

Among the sports injuries that often require medical attention are those to the shoulder and knee, Dr. Jaureguito notes.

"The two most common serious shoulder injuries are problems with the rotator cuff and instability or dislocation of the shoulder," he explains.

The "rotator cuff" consists of four tendons that attach the shoulder muscles to the upper arm. The rotator cuff helps maintain the stability of the shoulder while lifting the arm overhead and rotating the arm from side to side.

"Rotator cuff injuries are generally seen in adult recreational athletes over age 30 who are involved in racket sports such as tennis, throwing sports such as baseball and basketball, and contact sports," Dr. Jaureguito says. "They become even more common in 40- and 50-year olds."

Rotator cuff injuries can result from "tendonitis," a chronic inflammation of the tendons usually caused by overuse. "Impingement" -- pinching of the tendons - can occur as the rotator cuff rubs under part of the shoulder blade when the arm is lifted overhead. A rotator cuff "tear" occurs when the tendon separates from the bone. Most rotator cuff tears result gradually over time from impingement, but some tears happen suddenly.

Regardless of the cause, people with rotator cuff problems typically experience symptoms such as pain when reaching for an object or lifting something overhead, the inability to lift the arm to the side, or pain at night while sleeping.

Instability or dislocation of the shoulder is usually seen among younger competitive athletes. "Shoulder dislocation is often an acute injury, whereas rotator cuff problems are more often due to overuse or deterioration," Jaureguito says.

"Anyone who is involved in a sport where you can take a fall - baseball, football, skiing and snowboarding, skateboarding, waterskiing - is at risk for shoulder dislocation," he adds. "The person almost always feels significant pain. In fact, the patient usually feels the joint go out of place."

When it comes to knees, Dr. Jaureguito notes the most common serious injuries are tears in the meniscus cartilage that acts as the 'shock absorber' of the knee, and tears in the medial collateral ligament on the inside of the knee or the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the center of the knee.

"Knee injuries are common in any sport that requires twisting and pivoting - anything from basketball to soccer," he says. "In the case of ACL tears, female athletes seem to be more at risk, partly because the alignment of the knee and neuromuscular control are different in women."

Treatment options serious or non-healing sports injuries that don't respond to the RICE method generally include physical therapy and cautious use of pain and anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers and steroid injections. In some cases, the only treatment option is surgery.

"We've made significant advances in the surgical treatment of sports injuries, with arthroscopy becoming the mainstay of sports medicine surgery," says Jaureguito. "In arthroscopic surgery, we use much smaller incisions, inserting a tiny camera and instruments to repair the damaged joint. Because the surgery is less invasive, the patients experience less pain, a quicker recovery and a shorter rehabilitation before returning to their normal activities."

The Sports Medicine Center at Washington Hospital is staffed by board-certified sports physicians, physical therapists and certified athletic trainers who are experienced in helping injured athletes return to their favorite activities as well as prevent future injuries. For more information about the Sports Medicine Center's services, please call (510) 794-4671 or visit www.whhs.com, click on "Services and Programs"
and select "The Sports Medicine Center" from the drop-down menu.

Learn More About Sports Injuries
The Sports-Related Injury seminar will be held in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, Rooms A & B, in the Washington West Building located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont. For more information about the seminar, or to register to attend, please call (800) 963-7070 or register online at www.whhs.com.

Washington Hospital
Tri-City Voice article re: Sports injury seminar
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