Is your child a budding athlete? Keep an eye out for sports injuries

Dr Kaushal Malhan, Director-Orthopaedic Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, shares his views about the various sports injuries and how it can be prevented and treated

man having knee pain
Image source: Google

Sports in India has become a rewarding field with easier access to sporting facilities; greater awareness about physical fitness has caused an exponential increase in many people engaging in sports.

It may be at an amateur level or professional, but it has led to an increased number of people suffering from sports injuries. These are common musculoskeletal injuries and involve the ligaments, muscles, tendons or bone.

Usually, the most common sports injuries are knee-related, and include:

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear. ACL is a crucial stabiliser inside the knee joint, and patients usually suffer a twisting injury, followed by swelling in the knee. Patients complain of instability while walking. It can be diagnosed clinically and with an MRI scan. These injuries are treated with keyhole Arthroscopic surgery, as soon as the swelling settles.

Meniscal tear: It comes second, and may happen along with ACL tear or in isolation. The Meniscus is a piece of semilunar cartilage cushion between the bone surfaces in the knee. Once torn, they give continuous pain, especially in deep bending of the knee. Arthroscopic Keyhole surgery procedure can treat Meniscal tear.

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Strain: The MCL ligament lies outside the knee joint running longitudinally, giving stability to the knee on its inner side. It is an extremely important stabiliser. Most strains are mild and can be treated without any bracing or surgery.

Sometimes, the ligament may rupture and require bracing for three months, and sometimes, if not treated on time, it may require surgical stabilisation.

Patellofemoral Strain: It results in pain when trying to stand up while sitting or climbing stairs. Usually, it results from high forces generated between the Patella (knee cap bone) and the thigh bone. With medication and appropriate exercises, it can be treated. They are often related to abnormal muscle balance in the knee joint.

Ankle strains: Ankle strains, especially on the outer side, are very usual with twisting force on the joint. In most cases, these resolve satisfactorily with medication and early exercises. Surgery may rarely be needed to correct chronic instability of the ankle.

Hamstring pull or other muscle or tendon injuries: These are common and present with mild pain in the affected area, rendering the athlete incapable of stretching the affected muscle or tendon to full length. It is usually managed with medicine and physiotherapy.

Shoulder dislocations: These happen when the shoulder joint comes out of the socket. Occasionally, people present with this happening multiple times. In the acute situation, the joint has to be reduced and rested in a sling. Once healing occurs, the shoulder is put through an exercise programme. If recurrent, these can be treated with a keyhole or open surgery, depending on the condition of the tissues.

Besides this, the patients may present with what is called ‘overuse injuries’ like Tennis Elbow, Jumpers Knee, Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome, Shin Splints, among others, which are often related to inappropriate training regimes.

Fractures can also occur if one suffers an injury during sport. Such injuries can occur in both the sexes, they, however, it tends to be present more often in men, probably due to higher participation levels in sports. This scenario is changing fast in India.


  • Drink water and maintain hydration.
  • Regular stretching exercises of all muscle groups.
  • Proper clothing to keep warm during training.
  • Warming-up before training or competitive sport.
  • Pace activities correctly and give the body time to adapt rather than progressing to fast.
  • Appropriate protective gear is a must.
  • Supervision by trained personnel.
  • Avoid overtraining and burnout.
  • Maintain regularity.

On-site Early Treatment:

Always immobilise the injured part and give it rest. Do not try to deal with fractures and dislocations on the field; transport to a medical facility immediately.

  • Icing and elevation to reduce swelling.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication to be applied locally.
  • For major injuries, avoid giving water or oral medication to the patient, as sometimes urgent major injuries may be needed.