Health Beat - Winter 2017 - 7


Sports Injuries,
You don't have to be a professional athlete to pull a muscle.
Here's how to treat the most common bumps and bruises,
and when to call a doctor


eekend warriors, high
school sports stars and
first-time half-marathon
runners, take note: While
all that exercise you're getting does a
body good, you could be putting yourself
at risk for a sports-related injury.
Jack Chou, M.D., a member of the
American Academy of Family Physicians,
explains the most common sports injuries
-and how you can avoid them.

Top Offender:

Ankle Sprain

Photo by Thinkstock

"The most common injuries we see are
sprains and strains, especially to the
ankle, knee area and back," Chou says.
Often confused with a broken bone,
a sprain is actually an injury to the
ligaments, while a strain is a tear in the
muscle fiber or tendon (earning the
name "pulled muscle"). These ligaments
and muscle fibers are like springs-they
can lengthen and return to their regular
size up to a certain point, but if they're
pulled too far out of normal range,
injury occurs.
When to see a doctor: "If it's a sudden
onset injury and you can see significant
deformity or loss of use, go in for a visit
right away," Chou says. Your doctor can
determine a stretching regimen that will
prevent loss of flexibility and strength
and help you avoid reinjury.

A Close Second:

Pulled Groin
The side-to-side motion that often
comes along with sports such as soccer,
football, tennis and baseball can cause
strain of the inner thigh muscles, also
known as the groin. As with any muscle
strain, a pulled groin typically can be
treated at home, Chou says. "Use the
RICE method for pulled muscles: rest,
ice, compression, elevation. But be
careful not to compress too tightly-
you don't want to compromise blood
flow," he says.
When to see a doctor: If there is
significant swelling after a groin pull,
it's time to visit your physician.

Taking Bronze:

Stress Fractures
Common in runners, a stress fracture
occurs when muscles become fatigued
and are unable to absorb added shock.
Eventually, the fatigued muscle transfers the overload of stress to the
bone, causing a tiny crack. Most stress
fractures occur in the feet or lower
legs and too often go ignored, Chou
says. "While they will heal by themselves eventually, it's important to give
yourself time to rest," he says. "And
when you do get back to pounding the
pavement, make sure you have proper

shoes. Anything too worn or inflexible
puts you at risk."
When to see a doctor: If the pain
lasts longer than a week, schedule an
appointment. You may need to wear a
protective boot for a few weeks to let
the bones heal.

Honorable Mention:

Although not as common as twisted
ankles or muscle overuse, traumatic
brain injuries are nothing to take lightly.
"In almost every team sport, athletes
are susceptible to concussion-not just
football," Chou says. It's next to impossible to avoid them altogether, but it
is important to make sure you prevent
more than one hit to the head in a single
game or practice. "A general rule of
thumb is that two hits to the brain in
any game is not a good thing," Chou
says. So if you have any suspicion that
you suffered head trauma, head to the
sidelines. (If it's your kid playing, see to
it that he or she does the same.)
When to see a doctor: If you get
knocked out, feel disoriented after a hit
or lose consciousness, take a timeout
and go to the doctor-or emergency
department-right away. 1
FOR FRESH TIPS and ideas on exercise, visit


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