The two main types of fractures seen in sports are stress fractures and acute fractures.
By Brian Beise
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Stress fractures are chronic injuries, named for the repeated stress put on the injured bone. In response to repetitive force, such as repeated jumping up and down or running long distances, tiny cracks begin to form in the bone. Stress fractures are particularly common in track and field athletes.
Acute fractures, or impact-related fractures, occur most often in contact sports. As might be expected, football players suffer such injuries more than in any other sport, but sports like soccer and hockey hold their own as well.
If the injured bone breaks the skin, it is called a compound fracture. If it doesn’t, it can be hard to tell whether it’s broken or simply dislocated. Regardless, it’s vital to seek immediate medical attention.
If you think someone has broken a bone, do not test the bone’s ability to move. Also, do not attempt to move someone with an injury to the hip, pelvis, spine, neck, head, or upper leg from where they are. If someone has suffered an injury to the neck, head, or spine, call 911 immediately.
Treatment and Prevention
Treatment will depend on the nature of the fracture. However, a treatment plan usually includes initial use of ice and cold packs, pain medications like ibuprofen, wearing a brace or cast, and perhaps most importantly—rest. Sometimes, physical therapy may be required for recovery.
Proper warming up and stretching along with good equipment—such as good, shock-absorbing footwear—can help prevent stress fractures. Responsible play can help prevent collisions leading to injury, as can wearing proper equipment (such as helmets, mouth guards/pieces, pads, and shin guards).