Summer time seems to inspire just about everyone’s inner athlete. Even though summer is a great time to get outdoors and play our favorite activities, it’s also a common time for sports injuries. Unfortunately, some of our patients may ignore symptoms or believe they can wait it out but understanding symptoms and knowing when to seek treatment like physical therapy will help keep these summer athlete’s healthy and pain-free.
We’ve discussed several other types of sports injuries in a previous post, but today we’ll do a deep dive on common sports injuries your clinic may treat this summer season including:
- Shin Splints
- Lower Back Pain (Sciatica)
- ACL Tear
- Bursitis Sprains
- Joint Dislocation
- Muscle Cramps and Spasms
We’ll explore each condition individually, defining symptoms and appropriate treatment modalities in this two-part series.
Treating Summer Injuries
Shin splints also known as Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) can be the bane of our running patient’s existence, but they can also affect other types of summer athletes, including: cyclists, tennis and baseball players. Shin splints occur when exercise or physical exertion is ramped up too fast before the athlete can safely keep this pace.
SHIN SPLINT SYMPTOMS
Patients with shin splints may experience:
- Muscle pain in the shins on either side of the shin bones
- Shooting pains down the leg
- Tenderness with palpation
- Numbness and weakness in the feet
Treating patients with shin splints will use a number of modalities coupled with gait assessment and training. Some of the best techniques to utilize include:
Kinesio Tape: Taping the arch of the foot and the affected leg muscles will help retrain runner’s in proper gait while at the same time reducing pain during physical activity.
Cold Compression Therapy: Cold compression therapy is an innovative choice to help reduce the pain and discomfort from shin splints.
HELPING PATIENTS PREVENT SHIN SPLINTS
To help patients prevent shin splints, make sure to analyze their gait when running, making necessary adjustments to ensure their using proper form. In addition to in-treatment training, advising patients to use good shoes with cushioned insoles along with an adherence to a running schedule and pace that is appropriate for their fitness level will help reduce future occurrences of shin splints.
LOWER BACK PAIN (SCIATICA)
Sciatic is slightly different than generalized lower back pain. This pain is found in the lower back, above the hips, but can radiate into the buttocks and down the legs. Sciatica is caused by injury or overuse to the sciatic nerve which causes compression resulting in radiating pain. Sciatica can be caused by any number of summer activities, including: running, tennis or soccer.
LOWER BACK PAIN (SCIATICA) SYMPTOMS
Patients with Sciatica may experience:
- Shooting pains from the lower back into the buttocks and down to the legs and/or feet
- Pins & needles sensation
- Increased pain with movement.
Luckily for patients with Sciatica, there are a number of modalities which can be used to help not only reduce pain but increase their fitness condition to help avoid future episodes of sciatica.
Back-Leg-Chest Dynamometer: In the beginning of treatment, it is useful to establish a baseline of strength for the back and legs using a Back-Leg-Chest dynamometer to identify any deficits and create a treatment plan designed to increase strength.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): This type of stimulation therapy works with the gate control theory, which stimulates the surrounding peripheral nerves around the site of pain helping prevent pain sensation from traveling to the central nervous system. Not only can TENS be used as part of treatment, but there are portable devices that can be used by patients at home.
HELPING PATIENTS PREVENT LOWER BACK PAIN (SCIATICA)
In addition to pain relieving modalities, core training that helps improve the strength of the low back as well as the abdominal muscles will help patients maintain good posture when participating in their favorite summer sports.
One of the most common summer sport injuries involve the knees, specifically an ACL injury. The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the four ligaments that is essential to stabilize the knee. Typically, the ACL is injured during activities where the knee straightens or hyperextends while pivoting. Common summer sports that are at a higher risk for ACL injuries include: tennis, racquet ball, soccer, or running.
ACL INJURY SYMPTOMS
Patients with an ACL injury may experience:
- Popping sound or feeling in the knee at the time of injury
- Severe pain
- Reduced range of motion
- Instability in the leg
While some ACL injuries require surgical repair, there are several modalities that physical therapists can use to help reduce pain and increase function in patients that qualify for non-invasive measures.
Cold Compression Therapy: With it’s ergonomically designed wrap specific to the knee, cold compression therapy is on of the best pain-relieving devices to treat acute pain after an ACL injury.
HELPING PATIENTS PREVENT ACL INJURIES
ACL injuries are best prevented with pro-active training that looks to improve the strength to the stabilizing muscles of the knee. Working with equipment like the Togu Aero Balance Trainer will help patients gain the necessary strength to protect the knee joint.
Bursitis is a painful inflammatory condition that affects the bursae (the fluid filled sacs) that surround the knee and provide necessary cushioning. Bursitis is caused by repetitive motion and is most commonly seen in summer ports injuries involving running, rowing, soccer, tennis, or racquet ball.
Patients with Bursitis may experience
- Acute, burning, sharp pain at the site of the injury
- Redness at the site of injury
- Reduced range of motion
While bursitis can become a chronic problem, early intervention can help reduce symptoms and aid to prevent future episodes. Some of the best modalities to use when treating bursitis include:
Strength training with therapy bands: Bursitis is often correlated to weak or injured muscles. Controlled strength training with the use of therapy bands allow for graduated treatment as the patient makes gains during treatment.
HELPING PATIENTS PREVENT BURSITIS
Strength training and modifications of lifestyle activities help prevent episodes of bursitis. In addition, helping patients learn how to stretch appropriately will help them maintain proper range of motion in their joints and prepare them for physical activity and recovery.
We hope you enjoyed part one of our treating summer injury series. Be on the look-out for part-two, where we’ll discuss the treatment of:
- Joint Dislocation
- Muscle Cramps and Spasms
Contact Us Today
We can help your practice find the latest and advanced modalities to help you treat patients with summer sports injuries. Contact us today and we’ll locate the right therapeutic device as well as any necessary accessories and supplies to take the hassle out of equipment buying. Call us today at 1-801-770-3328.