Curvesday Thursday: Sports Injury and Chiropractic Care

Participation in sports or exercise is an important step in maintaining your health. Exercise strengthens your heart, bones, and joints and reduces stress, among many other benefits. Unfortunately, injuries during participation in sports are all too common. Often, these injuries occur in someone who is just taking up sports as a form of activity, doesn’t use proper safety equipment, or becomes overzealous about the exercise regimen.

The more commonly injured areas of the body are the ankles, knees, shoulders, elbows, and spine. Remember that you should discuss any exercise program with your doctor of chiropractic before undertaking such activities.

Strains and Sprains

Although bones can sometimes be fractured with acute sports injuries, the most commonly injured structures are the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Tendons attach muscles to bones, and ligaments attach one bone to another.

An acute twisting or overextension of a joint can lead to tears of muscles and tendons, called “strains,” and tears of ligaments result in “sprains.” These tears range from mild to severe. In mild injuries, just a few fibers are torn or stretched. Severe injuries, where there is a tear through the full thickness of the structure, are most often considered unstable injuries and frequently require surgical intervention. The intervertebral disc, a ligament between the vertebrae of the spine that works as a shock absorber, can also be torn, resulting in a disc bulge and/or herniation.

Ankle sprains most often involve tears of one or more of the ligaments along the outside of the ankle. Knee ligaments, including the larger external supportive ligaments and the smaller internal stabilizing ligaments, can also be torn. The cartilage on the back of the patella (knee-cap) can also become eroded from overuse, leading to a condition termed chondromalacia patella.

Chiropractic care can help treat sprains and strains by restoring normal function to the injured area. The chiropractor may also use one or more physiotherapy modalities such as ice, interferential muscle stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound, and rehabilitative therapies such as stretches and exercises, which all serve to help restore stability, range of motion, and normal use as soon as possible.

A study reported in The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that patients receiving chiropractic care for a sprain or strain lost an average of 2.3 days less of work than patients receiving care from a medical physician (MD), and 3.8 days less work than those receiving osteopathic care, concluding: “generally, fewer workdays were lost and lower amounts of disability compensation and provider cost paid when chiropractic was included in the care pattern.” (Johnson, Schultz, Ferguson: 1982)


In those who are training too much, overuse of a particular joint or joints in the body can result in pain and dysfunction. These injuries are called “overuse syndromes.” A common overuse injury is tendinosis, also called tendinitis. In this condition, the tendon becomes inflamed from repetitive use. In the shoulder, the rotator cuff (a complex of muscles that stabilizes and moves the shoulder) becomes inflamed, resulting in rotator cuff tendinitis. Tennis elbow is another form of tendinitis that occurs along the outside of the elbow, most commonly in tennis players. In golfer’s elbow, the tendons on the inside of the elbow are affected.

The first goal of a chiropractor in treating tendonitis is to make an accurate diagnosis of the problem, ruling out any other possible underlying causes of the pain. This is necessary because the joint pain and stiffness of tendonitis are similar to the experience of bursitis or arthritis. X-rays, CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scans (an x-ray procedure used to create cross-sectional or three-dimensional images) and MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) are tools a chiropractor might use to obtain an accurate diagnosis for tendonitis pain.

After the diagnosis, a chiropractor will select a natural treatment plan that addresses the cause of the tendonitis, rather than simply treating symptoms. Initially, the chiropractor may support and protect the injured tendons by bracing those portions of the tendon that were pulled. The tendon needs to be loosened and the inflammation reduced. Treatments that follow might include ultrasound, ice, rest, temporary immobilization, electrical muscle stimulation, manual trigger point therapy (applying firm pressure by hand on a trigger point for several seconds and then stretching the muscle afterward), strengthening exercises, physical therapy, and/or massage. Joint manipulation may also be performed on individuals with diminished joint mobility.

Stress Fractures

Some athletes may experience a stress fracture, also called a fatigue fracture. This type of fracture occurs when an abnormal amount of stress is placed on a normal bone. This might occur in a runner who rapidly increases the amount of mileage while training for a race. Stress fractures also occur in people who begin running as a form of exercise but overdo it from the start, rather than gradually progress to longer distances. A common type of stress fracture is known as shin splints. This overuse injury is caused by micro-fractures on the front surface of the tibia (shin bone).

While the main symptom of a shin splint is caused by a constant contraction of the muscle at the front of the leg, the root of the problem is usually related to improper biomechanics of the foot and knee. If twisting of the shin bone called tibial torsion is occuring, the tibialis anterior is forced to work much harder than necessary. This can cause significant damage to the cartilage pad of the knee if left untreated. This means that you must return the biomechanics of the foot and knee to proper function. Chiropractic treatment for shin splints focuses on returning the biomechanics of the foot and knee to proper function in order to reduce strain on the tibialis anterior so that it may heal.

Are you suffering from a sport-related injury? If you would like to begin a drug-free pain management protocol, please call our office as (304) 263-4927 today to schedule an appointment.

Stickin’ it Tue You: Treating Sports-related Injuries

Playing sports is a wonderful way to stay in shape and have fun with friends. Whether you are a casual sports player, a weekend warrior or someone who trains hard everyday, acupuncture can be extremely valuable for you: it assists both acute and cumulative injury recovery, helps prevent future injuries and enhances athletic performance and endurance.

Many acupuncture techniques were born from the needs of the martial arts traditions in China. Acupuncture played an important role in keeping ancient fighters in peak condition and it continues to keep modern athletes healthy and active. Some recognizable sports names who use acupuncture regularly are Maria Sharapova, Martina Hingis, Carl Lewis, Charles Barkley and Jim McMahon. Also, many professional sports teams employ acupuncturists to treat injuries and keep players in top condition.

Acute sports injuries

Sports are competitive in nature. When we are competing, we push ourselves beyond our normal limitations, which can result in traumatic injury. No doubt, when this happens, you will want to get back out on the court, field, rink, course or trail as soon as possible and acupuncture can help.

When traumatic injury occurs, first check with an urgent care doctor to be sure that it isn’t serious; fractures, dislocations, ruptured tendons and serious internal injuries should be treated by a medical doctor or hospital. But, after you are released to rest and recuperate, acupuncture is the perfect therapy to augment recovery, reduce pain, and speed healing time.

Common traumatic injuries that acupuncture can treat are:

  • shoulder rotator cuff tears and strains
  • wrist sprains and strains
  • ankle sprains and strains
  • knee ligament and meniscus injuries (these are especially common in sports that require a lot of sudden starting, stopping and direction changing)
  • vertebral disc inflammation in the neck or back
  • strains (pulls) and tears of any muscle or tendon (i.e. hamstring, groin, Achilles tendon)

Cumulative over-use injuries

Some sports injuries are not sudden, but slowly build-up over time due to repeated over-use of a particular joint or muscle. Usually, these types of injuries start out as a nagging dull ache. This is the best time to start getting treatment for these injuries. If you ignore them, they will build-up to become chronic and debilitating problems. Once advanced, these injuries often require more recovery time than acute, traumatic ones.

How do you distinguish between the nagging ache of a cumulative over-use injury and the typical soreness that accompanies working out? Here are 3 general guidelines to help you determine what your ache may be telling you:

  1. Cumulative injuries are often felt more in joints: shoulders, knees, elbows, wrists, hip joints. Conversely, typical “working-out” soreness is felt more in the muscles.
  2. With a cumulative injury, the nagging soreness occurs during or very shortly after playing your sport, whereas, typical muscle soreness from training doesn’t begin until 24 to 48 hours later.
  3. Cumulative injuries will repeatedly occur in the same area week after week, but soreness from working out usually will not.

Common cumulative, over-use injuries that acupuncture can treat are:

  • tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow and elbow bursitis
  • shoulder tendinitis, bursitis, arthritis and impingement syndrome
  • wrist tendinitis
  • Achilles tendinitis
  • hip bursitis
  • illiotibial band syndrome
  • knee arthritis

How does acupuncture help?

From the Chinese medical point of view, the body is an energetic collection of functions, not just a mechanical collection of parts. That is to say, we contain Life Energy, also known as Qi (“chee”). One is said to be in perfect health when this energy is flowing unimpeded, and in an adequate amount throughout the entire body. Qi is the basis for the proper functioning of all body processes: it provides structural integrity and stability, physiological efficiency and the potential for healing.

When you sustain an injury, the flow of energy in and around the area becomes disrupted, causing stagnation and pain. This energy stagnation also inhibits the proper circulation of blood and lymph to the area, extending healing times, prolonging swelling and bruising and increasing the need for pain medications.

Acupuncture works directly to free the flow of Qi through these areas of stagnation. This serves 3 main functions to assist healing and speed recovery:

  1. Increased circulation of Qi decreases pain, inflammation and swelling (all of which are signs of stagnation).
  2. Enhanced circulation of energy also brings increased circulation of blood and lymph. This means that fresh vital nutrients are more readily available to tissues that need them in order to mend.
  3. Enhanced circulation also carries dead cells and cellular waste products away from the injured site.

When Chinese herbal medicine is added to the acupuncture treatments, the healing and pain relieving effects are even greater. Herbs for injuries may be applied topically and/or taken internally, depending on the nature of the injury. Massage techniques may also be incorporated after the initial stages of recovery.

Enhancing athletic performance

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine focuses on regulating the flow of energy (Qi) throughout the entire body, to create optimal circulation and function.

What could be possible when your heart, lungs, muscles, tendons and joints are all receiving fresh vital nutrients and being flushed of waste products quickly and efficiently? Better physical performance, enhanced endurance, quicker recovery times and fewer incidents of injury. When added to a proper physical training program, acupuncture is extremely valuable for improving your game. This is what many professionals already know, and why they use acupuncture for injuries, injury prevention and enhanced performance.


Chiropractic Care for Young Athletes


The current generation of children are more athletic than ever before.  According to The Center for Kids First, 30 million to 40 million children get involved in organized sports in the course of a year. Whether your little one is just starting out in pee-wee football, or you have a teenager in any and every high school sport activity, your young athlete is bound to get injured. Even though the old adage is that, “kids bounce back quickly after a fall or injury,” don’t dismiss your child’s minor athletic injuries, especially during the crucial years of their musculoskeletal development.
Regular chiropractic care can benefit young athletes in several ways. Even if your child escapes during the season with just a few minor bumps and bruises, a chiropractic adjustment will help realign the spine, especially after lot of activity and when their developing bodies may be pushed harder than normally.
And not only can chiropractic care treat misalignments, but also can be preventive health against major injuries from occurring.
  • Prevent injury. When bodies are properly aligned, then we have a decreased chance of injury.
  • Prevent sickness. Proper alignment of the spine, balances the nervous system and immune system. A compromised health can lead to poorer performance and missed practice.
  • Ensure peak performance. Think about how much precision it takes to throw a baseball. If the body is misaligned just a little bit, it could vastly affect an athlete’s skills.
Proper health, nutrition and equipment are vital to success in any sports activity. Chiropractic care is another vital way to protect a young athlete from injury and give them the best opportunity to perform at their peak.