A growing field in health care, sports medicine covers the prevention and treatment of injuries caused while exercising or playing a sport. A graduate of the Chicago Medical School, Dr. Michael Mirochna offers advice on injury prevention, home remedies, when to seek medical attention and when and how to return to the gym, the field or the court.
Q: What are some of the most common sports injuries among younger and older athletes?
Kids are specializing at younger and younger ages rather than being three- or four-sport athletes. With all the travel teams, they’re encouraged by their sport to pick one and go with that. They tend to have some overuse injuries—whether it’s from pitching a curveball or spiking in volleyball—and those in tennis have problems in the shoulder. Of course, we treat a lot of sprained ankles and things like that too. In sports, we see plenty of concussions not just in football, but in basketball, baseball, volleyball and soccer.
In adults, you see a lot of arthritis, especially as people get older, a fair amount of knee and shoulder pain, and sometimes pain in the rotator cuff, impingement in the shoulder and hip pain too. We’ll see those injuries in adults, both athletes and non-athletes.
Q: How can athletes prevent these injuries?
-Working into a good routine and not starting at 110%
-Avoiding overuse and not straining
-Trying to do multiple sports as a kid, not just sticking with one sport all the time
-Running on softer surfaces like asphalt can be helpful for runners
Q: What home remedies do you recommend for minor injuries?
Rest, trying to take it easy
Ice 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off and try to get three cycles of that
Compression, such as an ACE wrap, can help reduce swelling
Elevation can help with the swelling as well
When you start talking about medications, I think for kids sometimes it’s reasonable to try a little bit of Motrin. If you start taking a lot of Motrin, Advil or Tylenol, it’s something worth going to the doctor for.
Q: How does an athlete know when to seek medical attention?
If after a few days—maybe even two weeks tops—of trying to minimize the activity you were doing that was causing the pain and it’s still occurring, I think it’s worth being evaluated.
With a joint if there’s a pop or snap or large amounts of swelling right after an acute injury, that’s something you’d probably rather have seen earlier than waiting two weeks to see if it goes away. If there’s difficulty with walking or activities of daily life—like showering, putting your clothes on, driving—when the injury is affecting your normal daily activities, it’s worth being seen as well.
Q: After an injury, when can an athlete return to physical activity?
Once people are pain free, then you start talking about trying to work back into whatever activity it was they were doing. If the pain comes back, then it’s worth being evaluated by your doctor, sports medicine doctor, or orthopedic doctor.
Michael Mirochna, MD
Lake Porter Primary Care
336 E US Hwy 30