Sports injuries: What you need to know

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Sports injuries can happen to anyone. Most people have experienced minor injuries, such as an ankle sprain or a pulled muscle. Some injuries, such as tennis elbow, are due to overuse. Others, such as a concussion, are due to trauma. 

Some causes of sports injuries may be faulty equipment, improper warming up, or trying to increase your activity level too quickly.  There are many other causes of injuries.

Rest and ice may be sufficient treatment for minor injuries, but when in doubt, see your doctor.

Young athletes who train intensely for one sport are at greatly increased risk for severe overuse injuries such as stress fractures, a new study finds.

For example, children and teens who play a sport for more hours per week than their age, such as a 12-year-old who plays tennis 13 or more hours a week, are 70 percent more likely to suffer serious overuse injuries.

Be cautious about intense specialization in one sport before and during adolescence.

The study included more than 1,200 athletes, ages 8 to 18. There were a total of more than 850 injuries.

Young athletes were more likely to be injured if they spent more than twice as much time per week playing organized sports as they spent in unorganized free play.

Athletes who suffered serious overuse injuries spent an average of 21 hours per week doing physical activity, including 13 hours in organized sports.

Do not spend more hours per week than your age playing sports.

Do not specialize in one sport before late adolescence.

Do not play sports competitively year-round.  Take a break from competition for one to three months each year.  Take at least one day off per week from training in sports.

Most people have had a minor knee problem at one time or another.  It’s not surprising that symptoms develop from everyday use and tear, overuse, or injury.  Knee problems and injuries most often occur during sports or recreational activities.

The knee is the largest joint in the body. Although a knee problem is often caused by an injury to one or more of these structures, there may be another cause. Injuries are the most common cause of knee problems.

  • Sprains, strains, or other injuries to the ligaments and tendons that connect and support.
  • A tear in the rubbery cushions of the knee joint (meniscus).
  • Ligament tears, such as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).  The medial collateral ligament is the most commonly injured ligament of the knee.
  • Breaks (fracture) of the kneecap, lower portion of the femur.
  • Kneecap dislocation.  This type of dislocation occurs more frequently in 13 to 18 years.

Overuse injuries
Overuse injuries occur with repetitive activities or repeated or prolonged pressure on the knee such as stair climbing, bicycle riding, jogging, or jumping stress joints and other tissues, irritation and cause irritation and inflammation.

  • Inflammation of the tendons (tendinitis).
  • Conditions that may cause knee problems
  • Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease)
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease causes pain, swelling and tenderness in the front of the knee.  It is especially common in boys ages 11 to 15.
  • A popliteal (or Baker’s) cyst causes swelling in the back of the knee.
  • A problem elsewhere in the body, such as a pinched nerve or a problem in the hip can cause knee pain.

Treatment for a knee problem or injury may include first-aid measures, rest, bracing, physical medicine, and in some cases surgery.  Treatment depends on the location, type and severity of the injury.

Dr. Art Mollen's practice is located at 16100 N. 71st St. in Scottsdale. For more information, call 480-656-0016 or log on to