by Christopher Alan Looze, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon
January 24, 2020

It’s summer time—meaning a number of sports’ seasons, such as baseball and soccer, are in full swing. And for those who don’t play organized sports, the warm weather provides plenty of opportunities for more physical activity, such as running a 5k or playing a round of golf.

Related Reading: 3 Tips for Running Your First 5K

As an orthopedic surgeon and team doctor for the Baltimore Orioles, I see a variety of injuries from both athletes and everyday people who exercise. Our Sports Medicine team focuses on getting you back to the activities you love as soon as possible, whether it’s playing golf on the weekends, playing recreational basketball, or returning to college or professional sports.

Common Sports Injuries

Exercise unfortunately can result in a number of injuries—notably, to the shoulders, elbows, and knees. Below are three of the most common injuries we see.

1. Dislocated Shoulder

Dislocated shoulder x-rayA dislocated shoulder involves your upper arm bone popping out of your shoulder socket. Common symptoms of a dislocated shoulder—the most frequently dislocated joint in the body—include:

  • Inability to move the joint
  • Severe pain
  • Swelling or bruising
  • The shoulder looking deformed or out of place

Make sure to speak to your doctor if you believe you might have a dislocated shoulder. Treatment can range from surgery (usually to tighten torn or stretched tendons or ligaments) or rest to physical therapy. Following surgery, you’ll typically wear a sling for four to six weeks and return to their activities once your doctor clears you to do so—which often is around six months after surgery.

2. ACL Tear

An ACL tear affects the anterior cruciate ligament, one of the major ligaments of your knee. In many cases, people hear or feel a “pop” when they experience a torn ACL. Additional symptoms can include:

  • Knee instability
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Severe pain
  • Swelling

ACL tears can occur for a variety of reasons, commonly when you play sports such as football, basketball, and soccer, as they require you to start and stop, jump, and change directions frequently. Make sure to speak to your doctor if you suspect you may have a torn ACL. Surgery and physical therapy are essential in order to return to physical activity. In many cases, athletes can return to their sport anywhere from eight months to a year after surgery.

An #ACL tear most commonly occurs during contact sports in which people stop often, jump, and change directions. Learn why women are more susceptible to an #ACLtear, and tips for preventing sports injuries, via @MedStarHealth.

3. Torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL)

Because I frequently work with baseball players, I often treat individuals who experience a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), which is inside the elbow and helps secure your elbow joint. Common symptoms of a torn UCL include:

  • Decreased ability to throw a baseball or other object
  • Elbow instability
  • Pain on the inside of the elbow

Tips for Preventing Injuries

Preventing injury is a big topic in sports. Most athletes want to miss as little time as possible from their sport. To help prevent overuse injuries, it’s important to give your body time to recover. This usually involves adequate time between outings or sessions of whatever activity you’re participating in. You also want to gradually increase your exercise routine, rather than going full-go from the start. This allows your body to adjust to your new exercise routine and the stress it puts on your muscles and joints.

Participating in an exercise routine that focuses on your core strength, flexibility, and muscle pliability can also help you prevent injuries. When you have a strong core and a flexible body, your body recovers and performs more efficiently.

Injuries are always a possibility when you exercise or participate in sports. Make sure to see a doctor if you experience symptoms, as prompt treatment can both prevent further injury and get you back to your activities as soon as possible.