John J. Christoforetti, M.D.

Sports Medicine

Sports injuries occur when playing indoor or outdoor sports or while exercising. Sports injuries 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 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

Some of the common sports injuries include:

Foot and ankle Injuries

Foot and ankle injuries include the injuries in the leg below the knee and they are common while playing sports such as football, hockey, skating and in athletes. Treatment for some of these conditions may be orthotics, braces, physical therapy, injections or surgery. Common sports injuries include sprains and strains, ankle fractures, and Achilles tendinitis.

Shoulder Injuries

Severe pain in shoulders while playing your favorite sports such as tennis, basketball and gymnastics may be because of torn ligament in shoulder or shoulder dislocation. These may be caused by overuse of shoulder while playing sports. Simple pain or acute injuries may be treated with conservative treatment and chronic injuries may require surgical treatment.

Hip Injuries

Fractures of the femur bone, labral tear and hip dislocation are some of the common sports injuries affecting the hip. Hip joint bears more weight and is more susceptible for injuries while playing sports. Hip injuries require immediate medical intervention to avoid further complications. Rehabilitation programs and physical therapy is often recommended following the medical intervention where you need to perform certain exercises to strengthen the muscles and improve the movements.

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.

Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries

Alpine skiing and snowboarding are very popular and wonderful winter sports, however they may be associated with serious injury. Improper training, altered snow conditions and poor judgment can all result in unexpected injuries among skiers and snowboarders. Snow sport injuries are most often traumatic occuring as a result of falls or collisions. These injuries can also occur from fatigue after a long day on the slopes or poor judgment.

The risk factors that predispose people to skiing and snowboarding injuries are:

  • Continuous skiing or snowboarding with no rest
  • Skiing or snowboarding beyond your ability level
  • Using faulty or improperly maintained equipment
  • Poor adjustment of altitude
  • Fatigue and dehydration
  • Skiing or Snowboarding in unopened areas
  • Failure to observe and obey the posted signs and warnings

Some of the most common skiing and snowboarding injures include shoulder dislocations/separations, wrist and thumb injuries, lower extremity injuries (anterior cruciate ligament injuries and collateral ligament injuries), spinal injuries and closed head injuries.

For minor injuries, your doctor may begin with non-surgical treatments that may include rest, bracing, use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and avoidance of secondary injury. However, surgery may be required for patients with fractures and ligament injuries. Full recovery after surgery may take about 3 to 6 months. Some may require a longer time for recovery.


To prevent snowsport injuries some of the commonly practiced measures are as follows:

  • Get proper instructions including safe skiing techniques before getting on the slopes
  • Perform warm up and cool down exercises before and after sport activity
  • Use appropriate well maintained equipment
  • Ensure that you wear safety equipment such as helmets, wrist guards and elbow and kneepads.
  • Avoid skiing or boarding when tired and make sure to take frequent rests.
  • Parents should keep their children informed about maintaining proper speeds and the risks of skiing/snowboarding. They should also be advised to avoid skiing terrain that is beyond their ability.
  • Keep your body hydrated during the day.
  • For your safety, read and abide by all posted signs and warnings.

A majority of snowsports injuries can be prevented by using good equipment, being physically prepared and being well informed.

Martial Arts and Boxing Inuries

Martial arts can lead to a wide range of injuries depending on the style of martial art that is being practiced. Some of the common martial arts injuries include:

  • Concussion: A concussion can result from styles of martial arts that focus on striking and throwing. These injuries can cause headache, dizziness, nausea, imbalance, poor concentration, and memory problems. These symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer. An athlete should not return to play while symptoms of a concussion are present until he or she has been medically evaluated.
  • Head/Eyes/Ear/Nose: Minor injuries such as facial cuts, bruises, and lacerations may occur from striking and grappling. However serious injuries such as injury to the eyes, mouth or teeth, fractures of the nose, face, and skull may also occur.
  • Neck: The most common injuries to the neck include bruising and abrasions. Loss of consciousness may also occur in styles of martial arts such as jujitsu, judo and mixed martial arts which allow choking techniques.
  • Extremities: The most common injuries to extremities include cuts, bruises, sprains and strains. Less commonly, fractures and dislocations may also result when styles of martial arts use throwing and joint locking techniques.
  • Skin: Skin infections are common in athletes taking part in contact sports such as wrestling and martial arts. These injuries need to be assessed and treated by a health care provider prior to returning to play.

The following measures may help prevent injury during martial arts:

  • Before participating you should have a pre-participation physical examination and clearance.
  • Before selecting a martial art you should understand the inherent risks associated with different styles of martial arts.
  • Always perform martial arts under the direct supervision of a qualified instructor.
  • Perform warm up and cool down exercises.
  • Ensure that you wear safety equipment such as headgear, mouth guard, gloves, groin protector, chest protector, padding, and/or bracing for your style of martial arts.
  • Discuss any concerns about injuries or prevention strategies with a sports medicine professional.

Boxing Injuries

Boxing is a dangerous sport and can lead to serious health problems among boxers. Some injuries caused by boxing include:

Head injury

Head Injury results when the boxer sustains a direct blow to the head. The impact is similar to the effect of being hit with a 12lb padded, wooden mallet moving at 20mph. Direct blows can cause fractures of the head and face, brain tissue damage, nerve injuries, bleeding, and hematoma (large blood clot within the brain). Studies suggest that professional boxers often suffer from cumulative brain injuries resulting in Boxers’ Encephalopathy or “punch drunk” syndrome with symptoms such as weakness in the lower extmities, unsteady gait, slow muscular movements, hand tremors, alteration in speech, and mental dullness.

Body damage

Injuries such as cuts, bruises, injuries to teeth, dental problems, fractured ribs, internal bleeding, and damage to the internal organs may occur.

Eye injury

A direct blow to the eye may cause injury to retina, retinal detachment, and retinal hemorrhage.

Diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are more likely to occur among ex-boxers.

Click on the topics below to find out more from the Orthopaedic connection website of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Sports Medicine Topics

Click on the topics below to find out more from the Orthopaedic connection
website of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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