Getting Back In the Game: Sports Injuries and Physical Therapy

School is back in session, fall weather is here and the kids are back to practice and games. It’s the season for football, soccer, tennis, dance, and volleyball. Unfortunately, when sports are in full swing, so are the number of sport injuries we see in the physical therapy department at Team Health Care Clinic. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE working with young people at our clinic, but seeing them miss out on their favorite activities is a bummer.

 

Some of the common sports injuries we see are:

  • Ankle sprainsAnkle sprain
  • Hamstring strains
  • Tennis elbow – sports that require gripping activity cause this, not just “tennis”
  • Hip flexor strain
  • Sciatica
  • Shoulder injuries

 

These most common types of injuries are strains and sprains. They are injuries that affect the soft tissues such as muscle, ligaments and tendons in the body.

Sprains are injury to ligaments. These structures connect bone to bone and give joints their integrity. These injuries are sustained when a joint is stretched beyond its normal motion causing tearing or disruption to the ligament.

Strains are injuries that affect the muscles and tendons. Tendons attach muscles to the bone. Strains are muscles that have been over stretched or over used with repetitive motions. Injuries can be caused by a trauma such as a collision or over training. There is usually pain, swelling, and an altered movement pattern when these tissues are affected.

 

You can reduce your risk for soft tissue injury by:

  • Warming up and stretching: this will increase the blood flow to your muscle tissues. Your muscle now responds like a warm piece of taffy vs. a cold piece of taffy. The muscle is going to be more flexible.
  • Condition for your activity: do some pre-season work outs to prepare your body and gradually increase your intensity.
  • Stop when you are fatigued: this reduces the risk of over use and abnormal movement patterns placing you at risk for injury.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and protective gear: contact sports without a helmet? You get the idea.
  • Cross train: this prevents over training and repetition injuries.

 

Fellow parents and coaches, we need to be attentive to our athletes. Child and teen athletes are especially prone to injuries, because they are still growing. During growth spurts, muscles are placed under more stress and stretch. Along with this they experience muscle imbalances and weakness. Look for signs of discomfort, a reduced desire to play or different movement patterns. This is a warning that could indicate something significant is going on. Pressure to participate can lead to decisions to play while injured, and put our athletes at risk for additional injuries. Continuing to play while injured prolongs their recovery and places them at risk. The biggest risk factor for a soft tissue injury is a previous or untreated injury. If an athlete has an injury and it is persisting, they need to seek care. Doing so early on will prevent further damage, and not delay their return to get back in the game.

Andrea Newport, PT

Andrea Newport, PT

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): A Natural Treatment Option for Joint and Other Pain

What can be more natural than using your own body’s natural healing properties to stimulate healing? Instead of taking drugs or another artificial means of treatment, Platelet Rich Plasma makes use of your body’s natural ability to heal itself. By concentrating healing properties and applying them directly to injured tissue, we can initiate or speed up healing in a previously unresponsive tissue or joint.

At our mutli-specialty wellness clinic, we have seen an explosion of interest in Platelet Rich Plasma procedures and we’re excited to offer another treatment option that supports our mission of natural healing. Our patients have experienced fantastic results since we began offering Platelet Rich Plasma in mid 2017.

PRP treatment requires a 2-step procedure: Harvesting and AdministrationWhat conditions can PRP treat_

The PRP is harvested initially by drawing blood from the patient’s own body and spinning it down in a high-speed centrifuge. This divides the blood into red blood cells at the bottom and plasma at the top of the tube. In the middle is a thin layer of platelet rich plasma that contains super concentrated healing constituents such as growth factors, cytokines, and platelets. These goodies are then carefully extracted and drawn into a tube, ready to be injected in inflamed, injured and degenerative ligaments, muscles or joints.

The second step is administering the PRP concentrate with an injection (in most cases). Our clinic uses an ultrasound to guide and confirm the medical provider is in the exact, desired location. Seeing the needle in the right location removes the chance of a patient having a variant in their anatomy that causes the provider to miss their mark. You won’t find an ultrasound guided injection in some other clinics, and I believe that this has a tremendous impact on the outcome of treatment.

The entire procedure is not particularly painful. Since the injection is actually less uncomfortable than the blood draw, patients don’t worry that the procedure is more than they are willing to tolerate. We have never had a patient refuse a second injection due to pain.

How many treatments are needed?

The PRP protocol in our clinic is 2 injections per region with approximately 3 weeks between each one. Some clinics have a 3 injection protocol but we have found most cases respond in 2 injections with an occasional patient that needs three. This may be due to the ultrasound guidance.

What is recovery like?

Generally, patients will return to work or normal activities after the injection, though loading the joint unnecessarily is discouraged. For example, if a knee is injected, deep knee bends such as squats and lunges are restricted for a few weeks following the procedure. Walking and using the stairs is allowed.

We advise patients do some physical therapy to have expert guidance in rehab exercises that will stabilize the joint or tissue without interfering with the healing process of PRP. The PRP and physical therapy combination is a one-two punch that has proven and exciting results.

Who is a candidate?

PRP is an effective and an all-natural option for patients of all ages. It has become our first option for patients suffering with achilles tendonitis, ligament tears, knee osteoarthritis, muscle strains, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff tears, Morton’s neuroma and more.

Future blogs will compare PRP with other procedures that have been used to treat similar conditions. Our clinic routinely provides cortisone, viscosupplementation (Euflexxa, for example), trigger point and PRP injections. Our observation is PRP out performs all the other procedures. This is why athletes such as Tiger Woods, Ray Lewis, Kobe Bryant and countless others have chosen this option even though they could afford other, more expensive treatments.

If you’re interested in a treatment option that is successful, natural and affordable, I encourage you to consult with your medical providers to determine if PRP is an option for you. Not sure who can help? Contact us to schedule a consultation in our clinic.

Joe Bertsch, DC

Joe Bertsch, DC