By Jeff Odom
The cool winter days are gone and warming temperatures are signaling the start of more outdoor activities.
However, with the changing of seasons comes the risk of something more than sunburn — serious injuries.
Dr. Stephen A. Hanff, a board certified orthopedic surgeon at the Medical Center of Trinity, had a seminar May 3 called Weekend Warrior to discuss the most common types of traumatic and sports injuries to shoulders, knees and toes and what kind of procedures can be done to repair them.
Sprain or break
In the case of a sprain or simple fracture, there are different treatment options to choose from according to Hanff.
One of the easiest ways to help the injury heal is with a boot, in the case of a broken foot or leg, or a cast for six to eight weeks. In displaced or unstable breaks, major surgery may be recommended in which a plate and screws will be inserted to prevent the formation of arthritis in the bone.
In compound fractures, immediate surgery is required as well as antibacterial treatment to prevent serious infection that could require amputation. In some cases where the outside skin and soft tissue has been compromised, muscle flaps or skin grafts may be needed to prevent further injury and infection.
A severe case could mean time in therapy with the aid of a walking boot. However, it could be a much worse injury like an Achilles tendon tear. Hanff said if the tendon is torn, then surgery to repair it is recommended. It can even reduce the risk of rupturing the tendon again by more than 8 percent.
One of the most common injuries that athletes face is the tearing of the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament. According to Hanff, most ACL tears are noncontact injuries and can usually be associated with a popping sound and immediate swelling.
Although the tear is repairable through surgery and months of rehabilitation, pain could linger long after the injury, and arthritis could form between the bones as a result. In the worst cases of arthritis, a knee replacement procedure might be recommended. Hanff said most replacements last about 20 years.
A hamstring rupture can happen and go unnoticed for some time.
According to Hanff, “If you pop a hammy, you might not even realize it,” because it does not swell or hurt the same as an ACL tear. Usually, the first sign that the hamstring area is ruptured is bruising, which could get very bad. In unusual cases of complete hamstring tears, all four muscles that are attached to the bone come off, requiring surgery.
Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow
Lateral epicondylitis, also called tennis elbow, is an injury that occurs in most tennis players, because they use the muscles in that region most often.
In some cases, surgery may be needed, but it is rare.
In medial epicondylitis, or golfer’s elbow, much of the same symptoms can occur and the muscles that are involved with flexing the fingers and thumb become inflamed from overuse.
The best way to treat both injuries, according to Hanff, is to rest the areas for a long period of time to prevent future damage, which could be much more serious.
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