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Sports Injuries Require Proper Care
By Lois Thomson


Colleen HammNow that summer has arrived, more and more people will be heading outdoors to take advantage of the nice weather.

Sports are some of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors, but being a little too exuberant or jumping into an activity right away may cause you some health problems.  If after beginning an activity you experience some discomfort, how do you know if it is just a muscle ache, or something more serious?

In her practice as a physical therapist and Director of Rehabilitation Services at Ohio Valley Hospital, Colleen Hamm is familiar with all types of sports-related injuries.  She commented, "It depends on the amount of time.  If the pain doesn't go away within a few days or week of icing or using anti-inflammatory medications, then you should definitely see your doctor, or a physical therapist."

Hamm continued by saying the first telltale sign would be how much swelling and pain there is.  "If you have immediate swelling and heat associated with it, and the area becomes black and blue, that would be an indication of a problem.  A sudden onset of pain and weakness may suggest a muscle injury.  If the increase is gradual – it's probably not a tear or break.  It may be an inflammation of a tendon, ligament, or surrounding tissues."

Colleen Hamm, a physical therapist and Director of Rehabilitation Services at Ohio Valley Hospital, said she is seeing more and more older patients because "everybody is living longer and staying more active, and sometimes they aren't sure how to begin an exercise program, or may not have the proper equipment. We have patients in their 70s and 80s, and they're bowling, playing golf and walking." If someone has pain with recreational activity, she advises everyone to check with their medical doctor or physical therapist for preventive care before the symptoms worsen and a more serious condition develops.

According to Hamm, such an injury could occur because the person is not employing proper motion during the activity.  Using the shoulder as an example, she said somebody may have pain after they've been playing a lot of tennis or golf.  "The pain might start in the shoulder, but the person keeps playing.  Chances are the tissues are becoming inflamed either because of how they're swinging or because something is not moving right within the joint.  You get abnormal movement patterns if muscles aren't recruited correctly.  As you keep swinging, the tissues get more inflamed and that can lead to more damage."

Even professional athletes, who are attuned to proper warm-up, can have issues.  Baseball players frequently find themselves on the disabled list with hamstring pulls, and Hamm said that can happen when athletes don't know how to bring the right muscles into play at the right time.

That is why it's important to seek help sooner rather than later.  "As soon as pain begins it's probably a sign that something isn't right.  So the prevention is, once you get the onset of pain, you have to take a step back and try to correct it so it doesn't get exacerbated."

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For more information, visit www.ohiovalleyhospital.org or call 412-777-6231.



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