Osteopaths can help you to both prevent and manage a range of sports injuries. Major injuries should be checked out by a doctor first, but we can be your first port of call for minor ones.
Sprains and Strains
Most sports come with the risk of a pulled muscle or strained ligament. These are both graded by severity, which impacts the healing time and management plan. Immediate first aid in any case can give your body a head start on recovery. The current guidance is not to use ice, but to allow the body to react naturally: “PEACE + LOVE“.
P: protect E: elevate A: avoid (anti-inflammatories and ice) C: compression E: education
We soon move on to LOVE:
L: load O: optimism V: vascularisation E: exercise
Your osteopath can help with all of these points. It can be daunting returning to exercise after injury, especially if it’s sooner than you might normally. Alongside treatment, we will ask you your goals and develop a plan accordingly. All four of the points in LOVE can be achieved through exercise. Ligaments are a great example of this. They have a poor blood supply, and their healing is dependent on the forces put through them. With things like an ankle sprain, there’s additional benefit to load bearing.
Proprioception is the sense of where a joint is in space. A lot of this sense comes from the ligaments, so after a bad sprain, you might be more prone to trips and falls. In order to break this cycle, you want to manage an injured ligament as soon as possible.
Sports that require repetitive throwing can cause a range of shoulder injuries. The shoulder’s main joint is a ball and socket, like the hip. Unlike the hip, the shoulder socket is very shallow. This gives the joint a lot more mobility, but much less stability. A ring of cartilage around the outside of the socket (the labrum) helps to support the joint. However, actions like throwing can irritate or tear the labrum. Symptoms of a torn shoulder labrum include:
A clicking or tearing sensation at onset
Pain around the tip of the shoulder and into the deltoid area
A catching or locking sensation
Symptoms that may not always be reproducible or predictable
The rotator cuff can also be injured by these kinds of sports, which may be easier to manage when addressed early on. Your osteopath can diagnose and treat a torn muscle like this, but they may refer you for imaging to help get a broader overview of the case. Alongside treatment of the local area, we work to prevent any compensatory patterns from developing. We also work with you to rehabilitate the injury and get you back to your chosen sport.
Running and agility sports can put a lot of force through the knee. Twisting is a movement that the knee is particularly vulnerable to. The knee is a hinge joint, meaning it mostly wants to flex and extend. There is a bit of additional movement in other planes, but it is minimal. Twisting puts force through the mensici: two C-shaped pieces of cartilage within the joint. Under force they can tear, causing locking, swelling, and pain.
There are actually a number of ways a meniscus can tear, and different shapes can cause variable symptoms. In a “bucket handle” tear, a flap of cartilage mobilises, flipping between the correct position and sitting in the middle of the joint. When in position, the knee may be totally asymptomatic, but a seemingly innocuous movement can flip it back and bring the symptoms on again.
With all of these injuries, there are a number of conditions that could arise. Your osteopath can help to diagnose and treat, but also advise you on management and prevention of future episodes.