Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve answered the most common sports injury questions here. If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, consult our dictionary or injury resources. Still not finding what you need? Submit a question using the contact form.

Why do athletes miss playing time because of turf toe?

A big toe seems like a little thing, but a sprain to the ligaments that connect the big toe the foot is a big deal for an athlete. Turf toe happens when the big toe gets bent too far up or down. This often occurs when an athlete jams his toe or repeatedly pushes off a hard surface. When football fields starting using artificial turf, the rate of injury to the joint at the base of the big toe (the first metatarsal-phalangeal or MTP joint, to be exact) increased and gave the injury its name.

The initial treatment for turf toe is the RICE treatment used for other sprains; Rest, Ice, Compression and elevation. Treatment may include a walking boot or crutches to keep strain off the joint. Physical therapy is vital to keep the joint from becoming permanently stiff.

Even minor turf toe can keep an athlete on the bench. Using special shoe inserts made of rigid plastic or metal to reduce flexion, some athletes with minor turf toe return to action in just a few days. More severe sprains can take as long as twelve weeks to heal.

How long does it take to recover from an ankle sprain?

The good news is that athletes can regain full mobility and strength after a sprain and can be back in the game one or two weeks after the injury. High ankle sprains can take six weeks to heal and some severe sprains require surgery. The bad news is that once a ligament is sprained, it is more susceptible to future injury. So if your fantasy team quarterback has a sprain, consider benching him for at least one week.

What is a pulled muscle?

Any time a muscle is stretched or even torn, it is called a strain. Strains are graded according to severity. Grade 1 sprains are minor and sometimes referred to as a "pulled muscle." A pulled muscle will be painful and may cause some swelling. Minor strains can heal as quickly as one week.

What do you call that?

These are some of the bones and muscles often involved in sports injuries. Do you recognize them by their proper medical names?

  • Biceps femoris and semitendonosis = hamstrings
  • Cranium = skull
  • Clavicle = collar bone
  • Femur = thigh bone
  • Gastrocnemius = calf muscle
  • Gluteus Maximus = buttocks muscle
  • Mandible = jaw bone
  • Patella = knee cap
  • Pectoralis = chest muscle
  • Quadriceps = thigh muscle
  • Scapula = shoulder blade
  • Tibia = shin bone
  • Tibialis anterior = shin muscle

Does an MRI show a concussion?

After a head injury, many athletes want a quick answer to the question, "Do I have a concussion?" Unfortunately, tests like MRIs and CT scans cannot diagnose a concussion but can determine if there is swelling or bleeding in the brain. Symptoms of a concussion include dizziness, headache and nausea, but these symptoms may not appear for hours or even days after the injury. Doctors rely on observation of functions such as vision, hearing, balance, memory and coordination to help diagnose a concussion.

What is the most common type of sports injury?

Though concussions and ACL injuries most often make SportsCenter, ankle sprains are the most common type of sports injury. According to "The Journal of Athletic Training" the injury rate for ankle sprains per athletic exposures is .83/1000. The rate for concussions is .28/1000 and for ACL injuries is .15/1000.

What's the difference between a strain and a sprain?

A strain is an injury to a muscle and a sprain is an injury to a ligament.

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