Young Athletes and Sports Injuries

(Following is an
article by Brett Thomas D.O. describing his first experiences
with osteopathic treatments which began during his high school
days. Dr. Thomas participated in many sports and received a sports
scholarship to college. Osteopathic treatments for his injuries
led to an interest in osteopathic manipulation and its role in
treating athletes. Dr. Thomas is board certified in Family Practice
and practices at the Osteopathic Center for Children.

Explains Dr. Thomas: “Osteopathic manipulation is
a valuable tool for the prevention and treatment of sports injuries.
Ensuring that the body’s musculoskeletal system is in proper
balance and alignment can prevent injuries. Once an injury has
taken place, it is wise to be evaluated and treated osteopathically
to reduce healing time, prevent recurrent or chronic injuries
and help the young athletes reach their fullest potential and
enjoy all of their sports endeavors.”)

 

An injury I sustained in high school changed my whole life.
I sprained my right ankle severly in an attempt to get a rebound
while playing basketball. This was the same ankle that I seemed
to sprain one or two times a year. Four weeks later the swelling
had disappeared but at times I still had a slight ache.After
I was treated several times with osteopathic manipulation the
tenderness was gone and I have never sprained that ankle again
since! The success of the manipulative treatments I received,
led to an interest in osteopathic manipulation and its role in
treating athletes.

Chronic joint or muscle pain can
develop and affect us in ways that are not always initially realized.
When an athlete twists or sprains their ankle it not only affects
the ankle but also the foot and leg, the hip, the pelvis, and
even the back and head for the body is a dynamic integrated unit
of function.

A strain in the tissue called “fascia” which surrounds
the muscles usually occurs with a sprained ankle. The fascia
can be corrected by proper manipulation. If the fascia tissue
is not treated then the area can have decreased blood circulation,
ligamentous weakness, decrease range of motion and persistent
tenderness.



Even if there is not tenderness in the area of the injury, the
ankle sprain could make an athlete susceptible to other injuries
such as knee injuries. This is because the remaining twists in
the fascia tissue can cause a decrease range of motion of the
muscles which then can lead to muscle weakness and/or muscle
spasms. Since muscles connect to bones, the muscle spasms or
muscle weakness can cause bones of the human body to move out
of proper alignment and balance which can lead to other injuries.

An osteopathic physician has the medical training in musculoskeletal
diagnosis and treatment which can relieve the strain of the fascia
tissue, increase circulation to the area and correct malalignment
of the musculoskeletal system.

The prolonged use of muscles caused very small tears in my
muscles which led to overuse injuries. Osteopathic manipulation
was able to help decrease the inflammation in the area and helped
balance the muscle and tissue strains in the area. In my case,
the ankle injury led to a

shoulder problem because I insisted on playing tennis. I had
changed the motion of my tennis serve in order to avoid aggravating
my slightly tender ankle. This change in tennis technique lead
me to use muscles that were not used to vigorous exercise.



A young athlete involved in collision sports (such as football,
snowboarding, soccer) or a young athlete who is involved in a
prolonged sports training is more vulnerable to overuse injuries.

Overuse injuries deal repeated microtrauma to soft tissues
or bones. The cumulative affects of these very small injuries
can lead to stress fractures, Sever’s disease (common in
soccer and running sports), Osgood-Schlatter disease or Little
League elbow (elbow pain and decrease range of motion).Young
athletes are more vulnerable because the epiphyseal plate (growth
plate) is weaker than the surrounding tissues. The prolonged
use of muscles caused very small tears in my muscles thus causing
the overuse injuries. Osteopathic manipulation was able to help
decrease the inflammation in the area and helped balance the
muscle and tissue strains in the area.

Minor injuries can have many prolong affects on the young
athlete. There are several things that a person should do to
prevent injuries:


  • Have an Osteopathic physician diagnose and treat all musculoskeletal
    abnormalities regularly.

  • Stretch muscles before and after exercising.

  • Improve sport technique.

  • Purchase appropriate athletic equipment. (Make sure it’s
    the right size!)

  • Plan a proper training regimen with attention to intensity
    and duration.

  • Exercise opposing muscles.

When the athlete, at any age, sustains an injury in a particular
area, he/she should remember the

RICE-O treatment for injuries!

Rest

Ice

Compression

Elevation

Osteopathic evaluation and treatment

Avatar Written by Brett P. Thomas DO

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