From bumps and bruises to broken bones and concussions, sports injuries can, unfortunately, happen to anyone participating in competitive or recreational sports. With proper treatment, nearly all athletic injuries can be fully healed – restoring the patient back to having full strength and range of motion.
But when a sports injury is incorrectly diagnosed, the patient may receive incorrect and incomplete treatment. This can lead to needless pain, and it may even pose a risk of permanent damage.
Let’s explore some of the most frequently misdiagnosed sports injuries:
An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear is a knee injury that can happen when an athlete pivots, jumps, lands, or changes direction quickly. The ACL is a ligament that connects the back of the femur (thigh bone, in the upper leg) to the front of the tibia (shinbone, in the lower leg).
A torn ACL often requires reconstructive surgery to repair the ligament. If you experience sudden pain or “pop” in your knee while playing a sport like basketball, soccer, or football, it may signify an ACL tear.
This injury may be misdiagnosed as a simple knee sprain or strain.
A concussion is a serious head injury where the brain is injured by a strong impact or shake within the skull. Symptoms may include headache, dizziness, confusion, and blurred vision.
Any head injury should be evaluated by a doctor. Ignoring a concussion can have serious consequences, such as brain bleeds and serious cognitive issues.
Trainers and coaches must be vigilant about protecting their players’ heads. Helmets and certain game rules are in place to help reduce the risk of players sustaining a concussion.
Achilles Tendon Rupture
The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone, so it is somewhat vulnerable to injury due to its relatively long length and exposed location. When it ruptures either fully or partially, it often makes an audible popping sound.
If the pain is not severe, a ruptured Achilles tendon may be misdiagnosed as a pulled or strained calf muscle. Unless this injury is properly treated, it will not fully heal.
A stress fracture occurs when a bone is exposed to repeated, consistent stress over time. Runners are especially vulnerable.
When muscles become weakened and lose their ability to cushion constant impact to the bone, the strain can eventually cause tiny bone fractures. Stress fractures require rest and treatment to prevent further injury.
Because they often occur in the shinbone in the lower leg, stress fractures may be misdiagnosed as shin splints (inflammation of the tibial muscle) or tendon strain.
Foot and Ankle Injuries
The bones and tendons located in and around the ankle can often be injured while playing sports. This is because they bear all of your weight and absorb impact from walking, running, and jumping.
A serious tendon injury may be misdiagnosed as a simple sprain. Ankles and feet heal slowly due to their constant use, so a misdiagnosis can lead to improper treatment – which can cause further pain and immobility down the road.
Sports Physicians in Colorado
Any sports injury should be evaluated by a medical specialist. At STAR Spine & Sport, our board-certified physicians are experienced in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of all kinds of sports injuries.
For an appointment, call our office at (303) 238-4277 today, or complete our online appointment request form. We have three convenient locations in Golden, Westminster, and Denver, and we look forward to serving you.