Less pain, more gain

Published 12:55 pm Thursday, August 25, 2016


Taking simple precautions can prevent many common sports injuries, according to Dr. James Worthen.

As fall comes closer and football players take to the field, injuries are the last thing anyone wants to worry about. Parents and students can have peace of mind if they do their part to prevent injuries that often arise from carelessness on the field.

According to Worthen, his practice often sees separated or dislocated shoulders from football players. The orthopedic surgeon said that this is often a result of making an arm tackle or being driven into the ground by the weight of another player. He emphasized that proper form can help prevent shoulder injuries.

One injury that many players worry about is a torn ligament in the knee, as this can often be a season ending injury. Worthen said these injuries are hard to take preventative action against, but recommended properly fitting shoes and working during conditioning to build strength in the legs.

The big injury that concerns many parents and has sparked national campaigns is the concussion. Worthen said that it is hard to determine whether concussions are being better prevented now than they have been in the past.

This is because doctors have become more vigilant in their treatment of concussions, which leads to more cases being diagnosed. At the same time, helmets are getting better and coaches are training players to avoid concussions, which leads to less head injuries to diagnose. The effects of these two changes on the number of concussions diagnosed seem to balance each other out.

Worthen said that the number of yearly cases is much the same as it was a few years ago, but he encouraged parents to rest assured that coaches, medical staff and physicians are all making progress in reducing concussions.

To do their part, parents and coaches should be aware of the signs of a concussion. This injury doesn’t make itself outwardly obvious, but players may exhibit personality changes or complain of memory loss, difficulty focusing, headaches and/or vision changes if they have experienced a concussion. It is important for the player’s health that they see a doctor sooner rather than later if they exhibit these symptoms.

Worthen is an orthopedic surgeon at St. Vincent’s Orthopedic in Birmingham. He specializes in knee replacements, sports medicine, and Arthroscopic surgery. To find out more, visit drjamesworthen.com, where you can find educational materials about sports injuries and sports medicine.