Common Orthopedic Injuries: Things You Need To Know
An orthopedic injury is any injury that is suffered to the musculoskeletal system, including bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. In many cases, injury to the musculoskeletal system is a result of some kind of accident or trauma that the body has been subjected to, most commonly sports injuries or incidents such as falling down the stairs, for example. Read below to learn about some of the most common orthopedic injuries, how they are treated, and when it is a good idea to see an orthopedic physician.
How Are Orthopedic Injuries Categorized?
Orthopedic injuries can be categorized into various classifications – which set the tone for how they are identified, diagnosed, and treated.
Dislocations occur when the bones of a joint are hit out of place. This can result in either a partial dislocation or a complete dislocation. Dislocations often occur as a result of trauma, such as through a fall or some type of accident, but they can also be caused or exacerbated by weakened tendons and muscles.
A fracture is a break in a bone, which can range from a crack to a complete break. Fractures are most often the result of a trauma or accident, such as a fall or a vehicle accident. However, fractures can also be caused by osteoporosis, a condition that gradually weakens bones and makes them more prone to breaking.
Fractures can also be caused by overuse, which is most often seen in athletes. Repetitive motions that most athletes practice can place more fore on a bone and result in a stress fracture.
A sports hernia is not a true hernia, even though the symptoms for both these conditions are similar. The pain and pressure sensation from a sports hernia is caused by torn tendons that attach to the pelvis, as opposed to a true hernia which is caused by the separation of the abdominal muscles, resulting in a protrusion of soft tissue or organs.
Sports hernias caused by torn tendons are often caused by repetitive movements that are performed during sport, especially pelvis-twisting motions such as those performed whilst running, during soccer, rugby, hockey, or similar sports.
Impingement is commonly experienced as impingement syndrome of the shoulder and arises when the rotator cuff gets pinched between the top of the shoulder and the upper arm bone. This results in a pressure and pinching sensation leading to compression and diminished blood flow, which is caused by an increase in pressure in your tendons.
Impingement can be caused by trauma such as through a fall, but commonly occurs with repetitive overhead shoulder movements, such as those performed in swimming and tennis.
As the name suggests, these types of injuries are caused by repetitive movements which eventually result in tissue damage. These kinds of injuries are often encountered in people who train and participate in sports and can be caused by overtraining.
A sprain refers to the stretching or tearing of a ligament or tendon. Sprains have a range of severity and are usually caused by trauma such as a fall, or through overuse or repetitive movements.
10 of The Most Typical Orthopedic Injuries
Below is a list of the most common orthopedic injuries frequently seen in clinics.
1. Torn Meniscus
Your meniscus is the cartilage located in your knee joint and allows for proper movement of your legs. A meniscus tear is a common knee injury and is often sustained whilst playing sports. Symptoms involve swelling, stiffness, pain, and difficulty extending the knee.
2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpel Tunnel is a condition that causes tingling, numbness, pain, and weakness in your hands and fingers. This is caused by the median nerve in your wrist being impinged or pinched and is often the result of overuse of your hands and fingers for repetitive tasks.
3. Torn Rotator Cuff
Your rotator cuff is a group of muscles, tendons, and ligaments which allow your shoulder to move around in many directions. Sometimes, either through an acute injury or through repetitive movements, components in your rotator cuff (most commonly ligaments and tendons) can be torn and result in an inability to raise your arm as well as pain and stiffness in the area.
4. Plantar Fasciitis
This condition is the most usual cause of heel pain and is caused by straining the ligament that attaches your heel bone to your toes through the arch of your foot. Symptoms usually range from pain and weakness to inflammation and swelling, making it painful to walk.
5. Torn ACL
ACL stands for the anterior cruciate ligament, a ligament that runs directly through the middle of your knee, giving your knee steadiness and stability. When this ligament is torn, it may be difficult to bend your knee and cause instability in your knee when standing. ACL tears commonly occur whilst playing sports, often those which require a sudden change in direction whilst running, or a sudden stop whilst running, which places shock on the ligaments in the knee.
6. Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is the result of inflamed tendons and ligaments around the elbow and is most often caused by overuse of the muscles in the hand, forearm, and arm.
7. Ankle and Foot Sprains
These kinds of injuries are usually the result of a twisted or rolled ankle, which stretches ligaments and tendons past their limit, causing a sprain injury.
8. Stress Fractures
Stress fractures are another result of overuse. Overused muscles become weak, and thus become unable to support and protect the bones around them from impact, even minor impact. As unprotected bones continue to experience impact, they can eventually fracture.
9. Dislocated Shoulder
This is when your upper arm bone essentially pops out of the socket that forms part of your shoulder blade. This injury is commonly sustained during sports or exercise and is very physically apparent.
10. Wrist Fracture
These are most commonly caused by accidents, such as a fall or a high-impact blow to your wrist. Wrist fractures are most often treated with a cast to keep the wrist immobile, or with surgeries, if the break is more severe.
What Are the Common Treatments for Orthopedic Injuries?
Orthopedic injuries have many different approaches to treatments, which range from non-surgical interventions to surgical interventions, and rehabilitation practices.
In some instances, especially with regards to dislocations and certain fractures, can be treated without the need for invasive surgery.
Most often used for fractures are external fixation methods, such as casts, splints, and braces, among other tools that are used to essentially immobilize the affected area and stabilize the fracture.
In some cases, where the orthopedic injury is severe, the only option for treatment may involve surgery. Some minor surgeries that orthopedic physicians may perform involve the placement of internal fixation methods, such as pins, screws, plates, and wires directly onto the affected bone to stabilize it internally.
More severe orthopedic injuries may involve surgical procedures that are more complex, such as bone grafts, limb lengthening, and reconstruction.
This type of treatment usually follows surgical or non-surgical interventions or can be used as a standalone type of treatment for mild injuries.
Rehabilitation involves interventions such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and massage therapy to aid in the healing process, and to help injured patients get to their full range of motion and back to their regular activities before the injury occurred.
When to See an Orthopedic Physician?
Orthopedic injuries are common, and it is sometimes not always easy to determine whether the injury you have suffered is ‘worth’ a visit to your orthopedic physician.
Here are some instances where it is best to see an orthopedic physician:
- You have sustained a sports injury, and there is significant swelling, bruising, and pain at the site of the injury.
- You have very clearly broken a bone or dislocated a joint.
- The injury is limiting your range of motion – for example, you cannot bend your knee.
- You are unable to walk without discomfort or pain.
- You have sustained a soft tissue injury that has not improved within 48-hours.
How can OPA Ortho Help?
It is clear that common orthopedic injuries can befall anyone at any time. It is therefore important to be aware of your symptoms to know when it is a good idea to seek professional help.
OPA Ortho offers some of the best patient resources, and links patients with board-certified and experienced orthopedic professionals, with a variety of subspecialties that are able to cater to every patient’s distinctive requirements. OPA Ortho also ensures that you are linked with an orthopedic professional that is close to you and easy to access.
Request an appointment today or call us for all your orthopedic queries. OPA can assist you with the best way forward from an injury, and get you back on track to living your life in the most pain-free comfortable way possible.