Breaking into medicine – sports injuries

April 18, 2021

Sitting in comfortable environs of your office cubicle or working from home in front of a laptop, you are highly likely not to be prone to any major physical injuries. However, there are a number of professions in which accidents, emergencies and trauma are very common. Sports and injuries go hand in hand as the body is exposed to different types of vigorous exercises.Some of these injuries and conditions are very common which include different muscles or ligament tears, fractures, bruises, dislocation, muscular cramps, strains, and sprains. Since teams invest a lot in their players and much is at stake with them, it is crucial for the owners and management to keep the best players match ready. Therefore, they ensure that players are available for games in the best physique. They are, therefore, made to do certain sets of exercises, follow a diet plan and are provided with services of a team of medical personnel, including a physiotherapist, a doctor, nursing staff, an exercise physiologist, a psychologist, or some sport-specific specialist, who may advise them on different injuries to which these players may be vulnerable and guide them about how to avoid these in the first place or deal with these when they occur.

There are a few medical conditions and injuries that interestingly owe their names to the sports that are highly likely to cause them.

Baseball Finger (Mallet Finger in Medical terms) – This injury occurs commonly during catching of the ball in sports like baseball, cricket or even in Basketball. The ball hits the tip of the finger which bends the finger backward violently, causing tendon rupture. This tendon normally helps the finger to straighten.

Boxer’s Fracture (5th Metacarpal Bone Fracture in Medical terms) – This is a small fracture in hands, to be precise in the fifth or pinky finger. Sometimes, an identical fracture may occur in the ring finger. Generally, the bone is broken just below the knuckle area in the finger. This injury happens to inexperienced boxers landing rapid punches on hard, flat surfaces during practice. It happens due to direct injury to a clenched fist and may also occur if a person falls hard on the floor with closed fists.

Boxer’s Knuckle (Injury to structures around Metacarpophalangeal Joint in Medical terms) – This injury occurs in boxing, kick-boxing and mixed martial arts due to absorption of mishits by the knuckles. The most commonly injured is the extensor tendon of the finger and skin, cartilage, joint and ligaments may all be involved. The tendon involved may be thickened, weakened, scarred or inflamed.

Golfer’s Elbow or Pitcher’s Elbow or Climber’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis in Medical terms) – It is a painful condition of the inside of the elbow. This injury occurs in the same tendons that are most under stress during a golf swing or a baseball pitch, but bulk of the patients may not come with the history of any sports at all. It occurs due to severe overloading and jerky actions on the elbow.

Jumper’s Knees or Runner’s Knees (Patellar Tendonitis in Medical terms) – Repeated jumping, running and changing directions damages the knees in sports like basketball, gymnastics, athletics, volleyball, soccer and badminton. It is an overuse injury of the knee in which there is inflammation of the patellar tendon which connects the knee cap with the shin bone.

Karate Kid Finger – It is a traumatic injury, common among beginner karate players. The injury may result in numbness on the surface of the little finger and pain in both finger and hand. It occurs due to application of wrong technique while persisting with karate chops, especially when the hand absorbs the impact of outside forces.

Skier’s Thumb (Medically it is the insufficiency of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament of the joint of the thumb) – In this condition there is injury to the strong ligament where the thumb is connected to the rest of the palm, near the index finger. When the torn ligament is attached on the opposite side of the thumb then the condition is known as Reverse Skier’s Thumb. It is also called Gamekeeper’s thumb as this condition was also very common among rabbit keepers and game keepers. This injury is prevalent in volleyball and football goalkeepers.

String Slap – It is a very common condition in beginner archers where string hits the forearm causing a bruise. It may be due to tightened grip on the bow or improper handling. Fatigue avoidance and right posture helps remove String Slap from the game.

Swimmer’s Ear (Otitis Externa in Medical terms) – It is an ear infection, specifically in the ear canal, due to the water that may be left behind after swimming. This water creates a bacteria-friendly environment. The infection generally subsides within a week or so, with proper treatment and precautions.

Surfer’s Ear (External Auditory Exostoses in Medical terms) – It is a slowly progressive, benign bone growth that occurs due to persistent exposure to cold water.

Surfer’s Myelopathy – It is a very rare feature of surfing or yoga in which paralysis occurs beyond the waistline due to non-traumatic spinal cord injury.

Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis in Medical terms) – Just opposite to the Golfer’s Elbow, Tennis Elbow is located on the outside of the elbow with pain and tenderness. It is a common injury in tennis, baseball, cricket and table tennis. Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar’s career was at stake back in 2004 due to this condition but he managed to bounce back. Tennis stars that faced this condition include Venus Williams, Aleksandra Wozniak, Juan Martin Del Potro, Bjorn Borg and Andy Murray.

Tennis Toe or Runner’s Toe (Subungal Hematoma) – Skiers, runners and tennis players generally have this painful injury in which blood pools up under the toenail.

Thrower’s Elbow – This condition occurs in the elbow joint and forearm, impacting the muscles, bone, tendons and ligaments. It commonly occurs in baseball pitchers and also in cricketers while fielding and throwing.

Thrower’s Shoulder – This happens in sports like badminton, baseball and handball. Although the above mentioned sports injuries are common in other professions requiring physical exertions as well but, somehow, they are more attributed to the sports in which the players are likely to face them.

The writer is a physician, healthcare leader, traveller and a YouTuber host for the DocTree Team promoting Organic Gardening in Pakistan. He tweets @Ali_Shahid82

Breaking into medicine – sports injuries