Nothing is more personal or important than your health–particularly after an illness, surgery, or a sports injury. Whether you’re an amateur or professional athlete, you are probably wondering when it’s safe to return to the sport you love. Let’s look at basic criteria for return to play.
Sports Injuries Your Orthopedic Doctor Sees
At All-Star Orthopedics of Austin, our board-certified orthopedic doctor sees many children, teens, and adults with sport-related injuries. Whether the activity is competitive, solitary, scholastic, professional, contact, or non-contact, accidents happens, as the saying goes. You will need help to heal and get back in the game.
In your case, maybe you suffered a repetitive or overuse injury from running or volleyball. Or, in the case of your teenager, maybe they have a sprained ankle from gymnastics. Has your weekend warrior spouse sustained a torn rotator cuff (shoulder) in a game of pick-up basketball?
Whatever the situation, your orthopedic doctor can provide a hands-on evaluation and diagnostic imaging to understand the nature of the injury. They will also chart out a treatment plan suited to immediate stabilization, repair, and healing. They’ll also focus on ways to prevent further injury and to get you safely back to the sport you love.
When Can I Return to Sports After My Injury?
Return to play, as it’s called in professional sports, depends on the kind of injury you have and how severe it is. For instance:
- Is it the result of a collision?
- Is it due to overuse?
- How much pain, swelling, and inflammation do you have?
- Are your joint range of motion and function impacted, and to what extent?
- Did you sustain a muscle strain, joint sprain, or bone fracture?
- Do you need simple rest, or are physical therapy, assistive devices, and surgery needed?
- How are your general health, overall physical condition, and stamina like?
Also, your orthopedic doctor will consider the results of imaging tests, such as digital X-rays and MRIs, plus a physical evaluation, to determine the proper course of treatment.
In short, many factors shape your road to recovery. In general, your orthopedic surgeon will consider these factors to help you make an informed decision about treatment:
- Level and location of pain
- Amount of swelling and inflammation
- Healing of a surgical wound
- Return of strength and range of motion in an affected joint
- Need for bracing or assistive devices
The Specific Case of Concussion
Concussion, or traumatic brain injury following a sudden and hard impact to the head, is very serious. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) set some guidelines for return to play after a concussion.
The return to play protocol advances through six steps:
- Engaging in normal activities around the house, at school or at work.
- Light aerobic activity, such as spinning on an exercise bike and walking.
- Moderate aerobic activity, such as light jogging, biking, and weight lifting.
- Heavier, non-contact training to include weight lifting and jogging.
- Monitored practice with your team (allowing contact).
- Regular competition.
Being Safe Staying Healthy
At All-Star Orthopedics of Austin, our board-certified orthopedic surgeon is Dr. Carolyn Hyde. She specializes in a wide range of musculoskeletal problems, including sports injuries. She is an expert in arthroscopic surgery, shoulder and knee reconstruction, and joint replacement procedures.
Dr. Hyde and her team want you to recover and enjoy your life to the fullest for years to come. Let us help you with your sports injury or orthopedic condition.
For a detailed consultation, please contact our Austin, TX, office at (512) 346-4933, or request an appointment through our website.