As the weather begins to warm up in the spring, many of us awake from our “winter hibernation” and look forward to getting outside and being active again. A great and fun way to be active in the spring is with typical spring sports like baseball, softball, and track among others. With an increase in activity, there also comes an increased risk for injury. Some of the common spring sport injuries are listed below. If you feel you may be suffering from one or more of these injuries, call or stop to set up a free assessment with one of our physical therapists to determine what course of treatment will benefit you the most.
COMMON TRACK AND FIELD INJURIES
Overuse injuries are very common in track and field. The most common injuries that occur in track are shin splints and knee injuries. Some of the most common injuries for runners are:
Runner’s Knee: This is more common in female athletes than in males. Runner’s knee is pain on the undersurface of the patella due to irritation when the kneecap rubs against one side of the knee joint.
Jumper’s Knee: This is also called patellar tendonitis and is caused when an athlete’s patellar tendon becomes inflamed and irritated.
Shin Splints: Shin splints is a catch-all term for pain in the lower leg. Shin splints can be caused by doing too much too soon. Shin splints are commonly defined as the muscle pulling away from its attachment to the bone.
Stress Fractures: The most serious overuse injury is a stress fracture. If a sore spot is left untreated, it can potentially result in a hairline bone fracture. Stress fractures can be distinguished from shin splints several ways. A stress fracture will be very point tender in one area versus pain along the entire shin bone. Also, a stress fracture will be less painful in the morning where shin splints are generally more painful in the morning.
COMMON BASEBALL INJURIES
Rotator Cuff Tears: Rotator cuff tears are very common in baseball players, especially pitchers. The rotator cuff consists of four muscles that come together as tendons to form a covering around the head of the humerus or the upper arm bone. Repetitive shoulder motions, such as pitching, can cause the tendons to wear down over time, which can eventually result in a tear to one or more of these muscles. Rotator cuff tears cause pain in the affected shoulder. There can also be pain with certain arm movements, such as lifting or lowering, and the shoulder may also be weak. surgery is often needed to repair the tear and restore full strength and function within the shoulder.
UCL Injury: The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is another area that is a common injury in baseball, especially with pitchers. The UCL acts as a stabilizer for the elbow, by preventing the joint from bending sideways, and is often stressed with repetitive throwing motions. A UCL injury will cause pain and tenderness on the inner portion of the elbow. The elbow will also feel stiff, which can make it difficult to fully straighten the arm. In some cases, a UCL injury will cause numbness or tingling in the ring and little finger, and grip strength may also be affected.
Impingement syndrome of the shoulder: Impingement syndrome is a painful condition that is caused from repetitive motions such as throwing or pitching. It is caused by the tendons of the rotator cuff becoming impinged as they pass through the shoulder joint. Symptoms include shoulder pain which comes on gradually over a period of time
Knee Injuries (ACL and MCL): The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL) are two ligaments in the knee that help to stabilize the knee joint. Knee injuries can happen when running either from base to base or out in the field. Injuries to these ligaments can happen when making a sudden stop while running, landing on a flexed knee, or twisting the knee with the foot planted. ACL and MCL injuries most often cause sudden, severe pain. A loud popping or snapping sensation may also be felt as the injury happens. There may also be swelling and a feeling of looseness in the joint, and it may be difficult to put weight on the knee without severe pain. Mild to moderate ACL and MCL injuries can heal with nonsurgical methods. However, if the ACL is torn, surgery will be needed to rebuild the torn ligament.
Muscle Sprains and Strains: A sprain is an injury to a ligament, while a strain is an injury to a muscle. Sprains and strains are common sports injuries, which are often the result of overuse. In baseball, sprains and strains are common in the legs, arms, and back. In some cases, the muscles or ligaments will be overstretched, but in others, the ligament may be partially or completely torn. Symptoms will vary based on the severity of the injury but can include pain, muscle spasms, and muscle weakness. There can also be bruising, swelling, or inflammation around the injured area. Sprains and strains don’t usually need surgery unless the muscle or ligament is severely torn. These injuries usually will be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
COMMON SOFTBALL INJURIES
Upper Extremity: Upper extremity injuries are a lot less common in softball than baseball. This is due to the underhand pitching motion for softball because this places less stress on the shoulder and the elbow. However, injuries to the rotator cuff and labral tears can still occur, just know that they are much less common in softball. The majority of upper extremity injuries in softball are traumatic injuries to the shoulder wrist and hand such as fractures and dislocations. Minor injuries like sprains and strains can usually be treated with rest, rehabilitation, and taping/bracing if needed.
- Ankle sprains and knee injuries are the most common softball injuries. Ankle sprains are the most common injury in softball. A sprain can happen as a result of sliding into a base, or running in the field. The majority of ankle sprains are relatively minor injuries and can be treated conservatively.
- Knee injuries are the second most common injury and consist mostly of meniscal tears and ACL tears.
- ACL injuries usually require a surgical consult and are almost always season ending. With a meniscal injury, some athletes are able to finish their season if the symptoms are mild. A consult with an orthopedic surgeon should be made in order discuss the severity of the injury and the different treatment options.