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Preventing Sports Injuries of the Hand

There is always a risk of injury when playing sports. Twisted ankles, torn ACLs, stress fractures. But rarely does a sportsman consider an injury of the hand. Until it happens to them! Let’s take a look at some common sports injuries of the hand and what you can do to prevent them from ruining your game.

Common Sports Injuries of the Hand

·      Hand and Wrist fractures (or broken bones) occur when too much pressure is put on bones from overuse, falling, or smashing into something.

·      Skier’s thumb – This is an acute injury to the ligament that sits at the base of the thumb. When the thumb is significantly and suddenly bent backwards, this ligament can tear, causing a lot of pain and weakness in the thumb.

·      Jamming fingers happens when the fingers experience blunt force or hard impact. Some symptoms include pain, swelling, reduced range of motion, and tenderness in the finger.

·      Nerve damage. Certain activities can result in nerve damage due to pressure and vibration shooting through the hands. One example is handlebar palsy, an injury that occurs from prolonged compression of the nerves in the wrist coupled with vibrations.

·      Tendonitis happens when a tendon becomes inflamed. Tendonitis in the hand generally is a result of overuse. Symptoms include pain, inflammation, and swelling in the hand.

·      Cuts and lacerations. Depending on the sport, you can expect cuts, lacerations, as well as scrapes and blackened fingernails.

·      Blisters and calluses. Blisters can happen when the skin chafes against a foreign surface, causing the skin to fill with liquid and eventually break or scrape away. Calluses occur when the skin becomes thick and hardens due to friction occurring over a period of time. While blisters are usually unwelcome, many athletes pursue calluses to make their hands less prone to blister.

Preventing Sports Injuries of the Hand

Preventing sports injuries of your hands often is a result of applying common sense and sensibilities. Other times, hand injuries are nearly inevitable due simply by the nature of the sport. Either way, here are some ways to prevent your hands from getting injured.

·      Following the Rules means playing sports safely. While certain rules seem like a hindrance, remember they are put in place to prevent injury.  Be sure to follow the rules of the sport, including positioning your hands correctly when playing to ensure you don’t injure them.

·      Wear Protective Gear – Wearing the right equipment can help reduce the risk of injury to your hands. If necessary, wrapping may prevent certain injuries from occurring, especially in sports that require close contact with equipment or surfaces, such as gymnastics, climbing and boxing. Other hand protection may prevent vibrations from damaging nerves. Plus, gloves keep hands warm, preventing frostbite and ensuring the hands stay nimble.

·      Inspect Your Equipment. Never play with broken or damaged equipment. Always check your equipment for splinters, shards, missing or damaged grips and proper padding. Make sure the equipment you are using fits properly, or is appropriate for your size, weight, game and ability. 

·      Stretch and Strengthen Hands –Stretching and warm ups of the hands ensures flexibility so there is less chance of injury while playing. Strengthening hands ensures you are less prone to injury, as well as have a better grip on equipment.

·      Avoid Repetitive Motions – Many sports involve repetitive motions that can lead to overuse injury. Be sure to change things up when practicing and playing so you don’t use the same motions over and over again. This will not only make you a versatile player but also protect you from injuries.

·      Rest is crucial for healing and relaxing the body. If you play a sport that requires you to use your hands intensely, be sure to let your hands rest in between games and practices. This will help reduce wear and tear injuries as well as stress injuries.

Don’t let a sports injury sideline you from doing the activities you love. The Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs provides comprehensive orthopedic care to athletes at all levels and can help you prevent new injuries If you have suffered a sports related injury in your hand or anywhere else, call 719-623-1050 today to make an appointment. You can also request an appointment online.

Tendonitis Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

If you know someone who participates in sports or leads an active life, odds are you also know someone who suffers from tendonitis. Tendonitis is a relatively common condition that can be quite painful and affect performance, as well as everyday activities that require movement.  Let’s find out exactly what tendonitis is, what symptoms to look for, and which of those symptoms you absolutely shouldn’t ignore.

What Is Tendonitis?

To understand what tendonitis is, it helps to understand anatomy. Tendons are strong, fibrous bands of connective tissue that join our muscles to our bones. When these tendons become inflamed or swollen, it’s called tendonitis. Tendonitis most often is caused by repetitive or over-use of the tendons. Tendonitis is common in athletes because they tend to overuse their tendons doing repetitive motions for their sports activities. When too much stress is placed on the tendons in areas such as the wrist, knee, or ankle, tendonitis can develop. Common forms of tendonitis include tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, jumper’s knee, swimmer’s shoulder, or pitcher’s shoulder.

Common Symptoms of Tendonitis

Symptoms of tendonitis tend to vary depending on the person and which part of the body is affected. Most of the symptoms tend to occur at the location where the tendon attaches to the bone. Although each person is different, some common signs of tendonitis include:

  • A dull pain or tenderness near the joint that tends to worsen with activity.
  • Swelling and inflammation in and around the area near the tendon/bone.
  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning.
  • A grating feeling when the joint moves.
  • Warm, tender or inflamed skin that covers the tendon.
  • Additional discomfort and pain at night, especially after a day filled with strenuous activity.

Symptoms that Warrant a Call to the Orthopedist

In most cases, tendonitis responds rather well to medication, rest, and physical therapy. However, if your symptoms worsen or if you notice additional symptoms developing, don’t hesitate to call your doctor. Symptoms that you should not ignore include:

  • Redness or swelling around the joint that does not go away.
  • Fever and/or chills, usually indicating infection.
  • A sudden increase in pain or tenderness.
  • A sudden inability to move your joint.
  • No relief after a few days of resting, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and/or icing the joint.

What to Expect at Your First Doctor’s Visit

Upon your first visit, your orthopedist may order x-rays or other imaging tests such as an MRI to rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms. Your doctor may also draw your blood and take a sample of any fluid that may have accumulated in your joint. Studying your blood and the fluid from your joint can clue your doctor in as to whether there is any sign of infection or damage, such as bursitis.

Once your doctor has ruled out any serious conditions such as infection, he can focus on caring for the tendonitis with a combination of treatments such as medication, injections, and physical/occupational therapy. If conservative treatments still do not relieve your tendonitis, your doctor may suggest surgical option.

There is no need to suffer from tendonitis. The doctors at Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence are board-certified professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating tendonitis and other orthopedic concerns. The doctors and staff pride themselves in providing the best care possible, delivered with compassion and respect. We would be honored and privileged to be involved in your care. Call (719) 623-1050 or use our online form to request an appointment online today.

What is Sports Medicine?

Whether you’re a teen athlete, a soccer mom, or an adult weekend warrior, it’s good to have an understanding of sports medicine. After all, you never know when you or your child might need it.

As its name implies, sports medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with both physical fitness and the treatment and prevention of sports and exercise-related injuries.

As you might imagine, sports medicine health care providers have special training, even though sports medicine is not considered a medical specialty in itself. Generally, these physicians are board-certified in internal medicine, emergency medicine, family medicine, or any other specialty, and have received additional training that enables them to help restore function to injured patients as quickly as possible.

Sports medicine providers also have knowledge about the prevention of illness and injury in physically active people. Not only do they work with professional athletes, but also treat children and teenagers involved in sports, as well as adults who exercise for personal fitness. In addition, sports medicine providers treat those who have physically demanding occupations, such as construction workers, mechanics, first responders, dancers, and more.

Many, though not all, sports medicine health care providers have surgical training, practicing as orthopedic surgeons. However, sports medicine also relies on the professional expertise of other health care providers. These include:

·       Physical therapists, who help patients rehabilitate and recover from their sports and exercise-related injuries

·       Certified athletic trainers, who provide the rehabilitative exercise routines that help patients regain their strength and, also, develop conditioning programs to help patients prevent future injury

·       Nutritionists, who provide dietary advice and assist those who need to lose or gain weight in order to improve their physical functioning

Among the common injuries that a sports medicine health care provider would treat include:

·       A sprained ankle

·       Knee and shoulder injuries

·       Fractures

·      Tendonitis (tennis elbow, Achilles tendonitis, swimmer’s shoulder)

·       Exercise-induced asthma

·       Cartilage injuries

·       Concussions

·       Heat-related illness (cramps, exhaustion, fainting spells, heat stroke)

When to consult a sports medicine specialist

If you or your child is seriously injured while exercising or participating in a sports activity, it might be best to seek immediate treatment at a nearby emergency room depending on the severity of the injury. Symptoms of a significant injury include major pain, swelling, numbness, and/or the inability to place weight on the injured area.

If none of these symptoms are apparent, rest, icing, compression, and elevation (RICE treatment) may help alleviate your pain. If the injury doesn’t heal soon after, call your health care provider for guidance and/or referral to a sports medicine specialist.

If you are diagnosed with a moderate to severe sports injury, treatment may include keeping the injured area immobilized with a cast or sling. In more severe cases involving torn tissue or misaligned bones, a surgical procedure may be needed, although most sport injuries do not require surgery.

The Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs regularly treats injuries to bones and joints, providing the best of care. If you’ve sustained a sports injury, our board-certified orthopedic surgeons will diagnose the condition and explain your treatment options. Call us at (719) 623-1050 today for an appointment.

Should I See a Sports Medicine Specialist?

Any medical condition that does not improve with appropriate measures while compromising daily activities requires attention. Making the right choice of physician, whether family practice doctor or specialist, is an important decision in dealing with any illness or injury.

Participating in sports often causes aches and pains or an injury that needs proper diagnosis and treatment. A sports medicine specialist has medical education and training in family, internal, emergency, or rehabilitation medicine, and has pursued additional sports medicine training.

Sports medicine specialists center their therapies on bone, joint, and muscle care. They understand an athlete’s goals and focus on improving athletic performance, recovery from injury, maintaining peak physical fitness, and preventing future injuries. A sports medicine specialist can be a physician, surgeon, or another type of specialist, like a nutritionist or physical therapist. Primary care sports medicine physicians are specially trained for the total care of athletes and active individuals.

Who Should See a Sports Medicine Specialist

People injured while playing sports may see their family practice doctor to have an injury evaluated. At this point, their treatment approach will probably be the same as might be provided by a sports medicine specialist: RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories if needed.

If there is no improvement within a couple weeks, an MRI may be ordered for further evaluation. At this point, you may be referred to a specialist, for their expertise in determining the most appropriate treatment based on the specifics of the injury.

Sports medicine specialists treat acute and chronic injuries – and focus on helping patients prevent future injuries while enhancing their athletic performance through safe strength training, conditioning exercises, and workouts. They evaluate the need for surgery and apply sports psychology principles and therapies.

Injuries treated by sports medicine specialists include:

  • Concussions
  • Dislocations
  • Fractures
  • Joint injuries
  • Sprains and Strains
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Overuse and Training Injuries
  • Tendonitis
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)

Care provided by these specialists may include preseason examinations and “return to play” recommendations as a part of a rehabilitation plan.

Types of Sports Medicine Specialists

There are a wide variety of sports medicine specialists available to treat a variety of concerns, including:

Certified Athletic Trainers are skilled professionals who work exclusively with athletes. They help decide which injuries require specialist attention and can make necessary referrals.

Orthopedists & Orthopedic Surgeons focus on bone and joint problems. They have several years of residency and fellowships beyond their internships. Approximately 90 percent of sports injuries are nonsurgical in nature. When surgery is required, orthopedic surgeons specialize in areas such as back surgery, joint replacement, and ACL repairs.

Physical Therapists treat injuries based on a clinical diagnosis. They often specialize in sports medicine and orthopedics. They integrate training, rehabilitation and injury recovery.

Podiatrists are clinicians with residency training focused on musculoskeletal problems exclusively below the knee. Their clients are runners, joggers, or sports people who often injure their feet or ankles. Biomechanical analysis, normal gait assessment, and prescribing orthotics are their other areas of expertise.

Improving with Sports Medicine

Whether you’re a novice to athletics or want to get to the next performance level, a sports medicine specialist can formulate a comprehensive blueprint that can take you to the peak of athletic performance.

The Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence has served as official doctors for the U.S. Olympic team, as well as nonprofessional sports patients. For award-winning orthopedic and sports medicine treatment, visit The Center online at www.ccoe.us or call (719) 623-1050.