Common Injuries

Stay Healthy for Sports

A time of dedicated training, achievement and the challenge of competition, sports seasons can be full of other challenges associated with the action. The sports medicine experts at Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists have composed a list of some of the most common sports injuries and how to detect and treat them:

Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains are different injuries, but they both require rest and activity modification to heal. A sprain is an injury to a ligament. When too much force is applied, the ligament typically suffers a sprain. A strain involves the muscles or the tendons. When overstretched, the muscle may become injured or strained. Both injuries typically occur in or around a joint. Sprains are common in the ankle, knee, and wrist, while strains usually occur in the back, neck, groin, and hamstring.

Strains and sprains both result in pain that can be reduced with the RICE method (alternating rest, ice, compression, and elevation). If severe pain occurs when putting or holding any amount of weight on the affected extremity; if you cannot move the joint; or if the area is swollen, looks red, has any lumps or is tender to the touch, the injury should be evaluated by an orthopedic doctor.


Fractures can occur from overuse (called stress fractures) or from sudden impact through a fall or hit and can vary from a partial fracture to a complete fracture. Signs of a fracture include severe pain and limited movement around the area of the injury, as well as tenderness, swelling or a visible deformity around the area.

Fractures should be immediately evaluated to avoid further damage. Most fractures are treated through a doctor setting the injured bone back in place and immobilizing the bone with a cast to allow the bone to heal. Some kinds of fractures require surgical intervention, typically through internal or external fixation, where bones are held in place by metal as they heal.

Knee Injuries

From ligament tears to runner’s knee, athletes’ knees are vital but vulnerable.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears usually occur through trauma, typically by getting hit or an athlete suddenly changing direction and moving the knee unnaturally. ACL tears are associated with severe pain and swelling, tenderness, pain when walking, and loss of function. The ACL requires surgery to be repaired, which should be performed by a knee specialist.

Runner’s knee, or patellofemoral syndrome, is caused by overuse or improper kneecap alignment where the kneecap rubs against the femur, resulting in inflammation, tenderness and/or knee-buckling wherein the knee does not support any weight. Pain can be reduced with anti-inflammatories, the RICE method, and physical therapy. While this injury can often heal on its own, surgery may be required in the case of a misaligned kneecap or severe cartilage damage.


A joint can be dislocated, or forced out of alignment, by activities that involve excessive stretching, falling or forceful contact in sports such as football. Any joint can become dislocated, but the most common dislocations occur in the fingers and shoulder joints.

Dislocations are very painful and typically easy to spot, as the extremities may feel impossible to move and are often visibly out of place. Joints can be put back into place, but the surrounding ligaments, tendons, and muscles may be severely damaged. Suspected dislocations should be assessed by an orthopedic expert as soon as possible.

Patient Consultation

Northwest Orthopaedic Specialist sports medicine doctors specialize in the treatment and diagnosis of every sports-related injury and condition. Proudly delivering expert treatment to area athletes for over 60 years, our experts are here for you whenever you or your athlete is in need of compassionate, specialized care.

Why Choose Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists?

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of a sports injury, we will help get you back to your active lifestyle. Schedule a consultation by requesting an appointment online or calling 888-660-2663.

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“I'm a fourteen-year-old girl and I am very active. I play two sports and I had tendonitis and shin splints in my left ankle, which was making it very hard to be as active as I usually am. I went to Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists and they gave me an ankle brace and they showed me how to use it. I am back in season and I feel great!” — Courtney C.