Injury Prevention: The Holy Grail of Sports Medicine.

Can sports injuries be prevented – The adage that prevention is better than cure is certainly relevant to sports and sporting teams. High-level sporting teams aim to keep their best player on the field or court for as long as possible and able to perform at a high level as possible. There is in many sports a correlation between overall team performance and the number of games lost due to injury. It is in everyone’s best interest to avoid injuries where possible.

What injuries are most costly and problematic?

The type of injury an athlete is a risk of sustaining is often dependant on a variety of factors including the nature of the sport. Can sports injuries be prevented – These will be discussed in further detail later in the article. The most common injuries in sport include:

  1. Ankle sprains- this includes joint capsule damage and ligament sprains and tears
  2. Groin pain- groin strains and tears, osteitis pubis, hernias, adductor tendinopathy are all examples of groin pain
  3. Hamstring strain- tends to be less common in basketball particularly in juniors but occur in all sports involving his speed running and rapid accelerations
  4. Shin splints- is often an umbrella term for any shin pain including medial tibial stress (MTSS) tibial stress fractures, tibialis posterior tendinopathy, compartment syndrome, and popliteal artery entrapment
  5. ACL tear- anterior cruciate ligament in the knee very important for the sport that involves a change of direction, cutting and twisting or pivoting.
  6. Other knee injuries- includes patellofemoral joint pain, patella tendinopathy (jumpers’ knee), meniscus tears, collateral ligament sprains, posterior cruciate ligament sprains, patella instability, or dislocation
  7. Tennis elbow- painful elbow overuse injury also called lateral epicondylalgia
  8. Lower back pain- 80% of the general population will have an episode of back pain in their life. Often hard to diagnose specifically but can be bone, muscle, joint, disc, or ligament injury.
  9. Concussion- is brain injury as a result of trauma to the brain caused by the brain being shaken inside the skull. Often caused by collisions but can be a result of whiplash
  10. Achilles pain- in children is called severs disease and in adults is called Achilles tendinopathy. It is an overuse injury causing Achilles pain and often affects those running or jumping.

All the above injuries can occur in junior sports including basketball. The injury that gets the most publicity is the major joint injuries particularly ACL tears. There has been a 70% increase in ACL injuries to athletes under 18 years of age over the past 15 years. This is a major concern for both the athlete and the Australian healthcare system. For the athlete, they are faced with an expensive surgery usually costing thousands of dollars plus 50% of these athletes will develop post-traumatic osteoarthritis which can cause pain and disability later in life. The onset of osteoarthritis 10-15 years after ACL injury and only 40-60% will return to the same level of sport as when they hurt themselves.

Author: Toby Marcus

Meanwhile, anyone can reach out to staff members at (02) 6210 0060 to ask questions or schedule an in-person appointment.