Expert Corner 756

Sports medicine is taking wings in India

Football team doctor attending a player with injury 

The dietary habits, body weight and genetics of the people are few contributory factors which increase the risk of sports injuries. Sports injuries are therefore most commonly caused by a weakness and stiffness in muscles, tendons, ligaments, writes Dr Naveen Sharma, Consultant, Joint replacement and Arthroscopy Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Hospitals.

Today, people across the globe are showing tremendous interest in sports. With time, more people are getting actively involved in physical activities like playing, running, and going to the gym regularly. In India, until a while back, sports were never considered an important aspect of a child’s growth and development. Even today, very few parents are supportive of their child getting involved in playing any of the sports. But the things are changing now for good.

Today, people across the globe are showing tremendous interest in sports. With time, more people are getting actively involved in physical activities like playing, running, and going to the gym regularly. In India, until a while back, sports were never considered an important aspect of a child’s growth and development. Even today, very few parents are supportive of their child getting involved in playing any of the sports.

Due to limited indulgence in physical activities during childhood, the muscles and bones of today’s youth are so rigid that they are more prone to suffer from lot of injuries in their later stages of life. The sedentary lifestyle of today’s working population also adds to the dilemma.

The dietary habits, body weight and genetics of the people are few other contributory factors which increase the risk of sports injuries. Sports injuries are therefore most commonly caused by a weakness and stiffness in muscles, tendons, ligaments.

Some of the common sports injuries include knee ligaments tear, shoulder cuff tear, tennis elbow, stress fracture or joint dislocations. As one approaches middle age, the muscles, bones, and joints change composition. Certain natural processes which help the body rebuild and strengthen begin to slow down, thus making injury more likely.
There are five golden tips to reduce your risk of injury:

1. Remember to warm up well before you play and cool down after

2. Wear the correct sports gear – shoes, guards, helmets, etc

3. Ensure you learn the correct technique

4. Know your limits. Get medical clearance if you have had any injuries in the past

5. Stay hydrated

Additionally, most sports injuries require immediate attention to ensure that the injuries do not become persistent niggling problems. These are your big danger signs. See a doctor if you have multiple of these:

1. Pain and tenderness that does not go away within 48 hours

2. Swelling in the joints, in soft tissues or blood clots

3. Sudden stiffness in the joints

4. Sudden weakness in joints or muscles

5. Numbness and tingling sensations

6. Inability to function as normal, or place weight on an injured body part

First aid is critical to most sports injuries and there is an easy, but important method to follow in such a situation, either for oneself or for a fellow sportsman. For soft tissue injury, or even in the case of serious injury, the PRICE method can help stop swelling and prevent further damage to the tissue:

• Protection – In this case the first thing one needs to do to protect the injured in by ensuring that the injured person stops the activity immediately

• Rest – Ensure the person rests the injured area and no additional stress is added on it

• Ice – Applying ice to the injured area (ice pack or ice wrapped in a towel) will help in reducing swelling and pain while also narrowing blood vessels, thus limiting internal bleeding if any – One can add heat treatment to the area once the swelling has reduced after the ice therapy is complete

• Compression – Quickly wrapping the injured area with gauze, elastic bandage or a wrap will help keeping the swelling at a minimum and will prevent any unnecessary movement of the injured area

• Elevation – Elevating the injured body part can also aid in reducing the blood flow in the case if internal bleeding and can be used as a method to ensure reduced movement of the injured area

In the recent years, there has been a good proliferation of health centers for treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries. These centers have physiotherapists and are well equipped to diagnose and treat sports injuries effectively.

Such centers are turning out to become a boon to athletes as it enables them to continue their career and live a fit and healthy life. Specialty hospitals like Apollo Spectra Hospitals, have complete care teams for Sports Medicine with orthopedicians, physiotherapists and pain medicine experts.

These centres provide rehabilitation and physiotherapy facilities to ensure that players can resume their game at the earliest. Common sports injuries which are treated are knee ligaments tear like ACL/PCL tear or rotator cuff tear in the shoulder, tennis elbow or golfer elbow. The average age group of people approaching for sports injury treatments is 38 years.

Maintaining an active lifestyle and a good body posture can help preventing the incidence of sports injuries. Whether we are standing, sitting or lying down, gravity exerts a force on our joints, ligaments and muscles. Good posture entails distribution of the force of gravity evenly through our body so that no one structure is overstressed.

When one has a proper posture, the bones and spine can easily and effectively balance the body weight of a person and minimise the risk of injuries at later stages. Not only does a good posture help in keeping the bones and joints in correct alignment but also decreases the abnormal wear and tear of joint surfaces which could cause degenerative arthritis and joint pain. Correcting one’s posture today helps in ensuring a happier and healthier life tomorrow.

Sports is one of the finest forms of recreation. With good dietary habits, an active lifestyle and appropriate care, one should not hesitate in indulging in any form of sport. With the government of India and private tertiary care recognising the need to work hand in hand to set up more sports medicine specialty centres across the country, the sporting fabric of the nation will experience a new lease of life.

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