Sports & Spine
Sports medicine is a subspecialty of orthopedics that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries suffered during athletic activity. The goal of treatment is to heal and rehabilitate the injury so patients can return to their favorite activities quickly, whether it's Little League, recreational play or a high school, college or professional sport.
Different activities place different areas at a higher risk for damage, so it's important to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself while playing sports. Treatment for these conditions may involve surgery, orthotics, physical therapy and rest.
As with a sports team, there are many physicians who work together to help the patient regain maximum use of the injured limb or joint. "Players" on the team are typically the physician, orthopedic surgeon, rehabilitation specialist, athletic trainer and physical therapist - and the patient him/herself. Our doctors have specialized training in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of sports injuries, and can help athletes return to their favorite activities as quickly as possible through the most advanced, minimally invasive treatments available.
In order to prevent sports injuries from occurring, it is important for athletes to take care of themselves before, during and after physical activity. This helps to ensure long-term athletic health. Some of the most effective injury prevention tips include:
- Staying hydrated
- Taking time to rest
- Don't work out on an empty stomach
- Warm up before exercising
- Gradually increasing activity level
Spinal trauma is an injury to the spinal column, which may also include the bones, blood vessels and tissue of the spine. It may cause injury directly to the spine, or it may injure the neck or other surrounding structures. Spinal trauma can lead to a fracture or dislocation of one or more of the vertebrae, as well as bleeding, swelling and inflammation within the spinal cord. It can occur as a result of numerous different factors, including a fall, motor vehicle accident, sports injury or violent encounter.
When a spinal trauma has taken place, the symptoms will vary depending on the exact location of the injury. Patients may experience pain, loss of movement, weakness, loss of sensation, exaggerated reflexes and difficulty breathing, depending on the type and severity of their condition.
If the injury is to the cervical (neck) area, the arms, legs and midsection of the body may be affected. The symptoms may include breathing difficulties, loss of bladder and bowel control, pain, weakness or paralysis, numbness and spasticity. These symptoms may be present on one or both sides of the body.
When the injury is thoracic (chest area), the symptoms predominantly affect the lower half of the body. Typical symptoms are numbness, weakness or paralysis, pain, loss of bladder and bowel control, spasticity, blood pressure difficulties, increased sweating and body temperature fluctuations.
In a lumbar (lower back) injury, one or both legs and sometimes the muscles controlling the bladder and bowel can be impacted. Common symptoms include pain, numbness, weakness or paralysis, spasticity and loss of bladder and bowel control.
To evaluate spinal trauma and obtain a more detailed view of the spine, your doctor will most likely perform a series of imaging exams, including x-rays, CT scans, MRI and myelography. Frequently, these will be done once immediately after the injury occurred and then repeated a few days later when any swelling has subsided.
A neurological exam may be performed as well to test muscle strength and sensation to both light touch and a pinprick. This can help the physician pinpoint the precise location of the injury. Motor function in each of the extremities will most likely be checked as well. Trauma to the spine is always a possibility when an injury involves the head or pelvis, in many automobile accidents, and in incidents where one has fallen from a height or was diving into water.
Treatment for a spinal trauma injury will vary depending on each patient's individual condition, but often includes medication to reduce nerve damage. Corticosteroids may be used to decrease swelling that can do damage to the spinal cord. Use of a brace for immobilization of the spine or bed rest may promote healing. Surgery is sometimes necessary to remove bone fragments, herniated disks or foreign objects. It can also be beneficial for removing any fluid or tissue around the spine that is putting pressure on the spinal cord or to fuse broken spinal bones.