St Paul MN Sports Injury Chiropractic Treatment
Yes, it’s football season, and already everyone’s counting the days until the Super Bowl. Football is an American tradition, but all that sweat and glory can leave a host of sports related injuries in its wake. Because of the dynamic and high collision nature of the sport, these injuries range from bruises and muscle strains and sprains, to fractures, head injuries and concussions.
Sports injuries can be broadly classified as either traumatic or overuse injuries. Traumatic injuries account for most injuries in contact sports such as football.
Young players are particularly vulnerable to ‘overuse’ injuries as their muscles and bones grow at different rates – particularly when they experience ‘growth spurts’. The four main areas where ‘overuse’ injuries occur are the back, knee, shin and ankle/heel. Persistent aching, discomfort, tenderness and/or pain that won’t go away without several hours/days rest is a warning sign – and remember, these aren’t injuries you can ‘run off’. They will get worse with continued activity. These injuries will not be a result of a ‘direct’ impact, like a tackle, or twisted ankle – they will have developed over time, and will take time to heal.
A bruise or contusion is damage to small blood vessels which causes bleeding within the tissues. A muscle strain is a small tear of muscle fibers and a ligament sprain is a small tear of ligament tissue. The body’s response to these sports injuries is the same in the initial five day period immediately following the traumatic incident – inflammation.
Strains are a result of muscular-fiber tears due to overstretching. They can happen while doing everyday tasks and are not restricted to athletes. Nevertheless, people who play sports are more at risk of developing a strain due to increased muscle use.
Another one of the more common injuries is the “burner” or “stinger.” Burners are injuries to what is known as the brachial plexus. For those you that have never played contact sports or were not privy to bone crushing hits on a daily basis, a stinger or burner is an injury to a group of large nerves in the upper body. Usually a stretch or compression, or a combination of both, of the brachial plexus results in a burning sensation and lose of strength.
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that has just exited the spinal cord. These nerves travel across the shoulder and into the arm and are important in directing the muscles of the arm, and sending sensory information from the upper body to the brain.
In a recent survey of college football players, 65 percent reported at least one burner during their careers.
A stinger, also called a burner or nerve pinch injury, is a neurological injury suffered by athletes, mostly in high-contact sports such as ice hockey, basketball, football, wrestling, and roller derby. The injury is always a spine injury as opposed to more serious spinal cord injuries, which can lead to partial or even total paralysis. Many athletes in contact sports have suffered stingers, but they are often unreported due to their minor symptoms and high frequency in sports.
The injury usually involves nerves traveling from the spinal cord to the arm, but sometimes involves nerves in the neck. This happens in one of two ways: either the head and neck are forced toward the shoulder, compressing the nerves that lead from the spinal cord to that arm, or the head and neck are forced away from the shoulder, stretching those nerves. It is for this reason that stingers do not affect both arms simultaneously, however it is possible for both arms to accrue injuries. Symptoms often disappear within minutes and usually within hours, however, repeated nerve trauma can cause recurring stingers, chronic pain, and muscle weakness.
Stingers are best diagnosed by a medical professional. This person will assess the athlete’s pain, range of head and neck motion, arm numbness, and muscle strength. Often, the affected athlete is allowed to return to play within a short time, but persistent symptoms will result in removal. Athletes are also advised to receive regular evaluations until symptoms have ceased. If they have not after two weeks, or increase, additional tests can be performed to detect a more serious injury, such as a herniated disc.
How Can Football Injuries Be Prevented?
- Perform proper warm-up and cool-down routine
- Consistently incorporate strength training and stretching
- Hydrate adequately to maintain health and minimize cramps
- Stay active during summer break to prepare for return to sports in the fall
- Wear properly fitted protective equipment, such as a helmet, pads, and mouthguard
- Tackle with the head up and do not lead with the helmet
- Speak with a medicine professional or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about football injuries or football injury prevention strategies
Have a pre-season health and wellness evaluation
Nonsurgical treatment methods and methods that are side-effect free from prescription medications are always the best options to try first. Many professional athletes and Olympians rely on the least invasive forms of treatment on a regular basis for pain management as well as peak performance. A chiropractor trained to treat sports-specific injuries are the best avenues to pursue first. At Caron Chiropractic we have great success in treating stingers, and we are able to customize treatment based not only on a patient’s specific condition, but also on the sport they are involved in, to prevent future injuries and enhance performance.
The strain put on a football player’s body is different from that of a runner, and our treatments reflect the different mechanisms the human body goes through in training and competing. Subsequent injuries tend to be increasingly severe and can damage the nerve permanently, and getting the proper course of treatment on the first injury is ideal. We look forward to working together with you to formulate the best way to getting you back on track and back in the game.
Not only do we treat all types of sports injuries, we can also help you to minimize the risk of getting one. If you or a loved one suffers from any kind of sports related injury, please schedule an appointment today.