Athletes, by definition, must keep their bodies in peak physical shape. Even if you aren’t training for the next Olympics or playing in a professional league, a moderate interest in cycling, running or other recreational sport can leave you vulnerable to injury.
The most common injuries for athletes involve joints, muscles and ligaments. Everyone has seen a professional football player end his career by blowing out an ACL or tearing a muscle, but few people realize the importance of minor musculoskeletal injuries. Being under the care of an orthopaedic specialist can help keep even casual athletes stay in optimal shape.
If you find yourself dealing with muscle or joint pain, or worse, an injury, an orthopaedic doctor should probably be your first stop. An orthopaedic doctor can diagnose your pain, and help you determine the appropriate treatment program that will get you back to your desired activity quickly and safely. Orthopaedic doctors who specialize in sports medicine are especially tuned in to the needs of athletes and will take into account the specific demands your sport puts on your body.
Orthopaedic doctors can also assist athletes with a rehabilitation plan. Once you have been injured, you need to work slowly toward recovery and avoid getting back into play before you’re ready. A combination of physical therapy, rest and supervision from your orthopaedic surgeon will minimize the impact of an injury on the body and could result in your injured knee or ankle returning to its original capabilities.
Many sports-related injuries (and re-injury) can be prevented. For example, you’ll notice many college and professional football players wear knee braces during play to prevent ligament injuries on the field. This prevention also applies to degenerative musculoskeletal diseases such as arthritis. An orthopaedic doctor can help slow the progression of these diseases and help you manage pain.
Young athletes need specialized care from a pediatric orthopaedic doctor. Stop Sports Injuries, a campaign dedicated to youth sports safety, estimates that more than 3 million children are injured each year in the course of playing youth sports. While not all of these injuries are musculoskeletal, most are. The needs of young athletes are different than those of adults because their bodies are still growing. Specialized surgical techniques have been developed by orthopaedic doctors to minimize the impact of an injury on a child’s body and speed recovery times.
Whatever sport you play, it’s likely it has taken its toll on your body. If you’re experiencing pain from any sports-related injury, whether it occurred this year or 20 years ago, an orthopaedic specialist can relieve your symptoms and help you return to the activities you enjoy.