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Common Sports Injuries Parents of Student Athletes Should Know

Monroe, Ga. (July 18, 2019) – Injuries of the hand, head, elbow, shoulder and ankle are some of the most common sports-related injuries David Poynter, MD, primary care physician at Piedmont Walton Hospital, has treated in his six years of practicing as a student athlete team physician for high schools in the area.

“Identifying the injury and seeking treatment immediately is key to a quicker recovery and getting your student athlete back in the game,” said Dr. Poynter, who specializes in sports medicine and recently joined Piedmont Physicians at Bateman Drive Family Practice in Social Circle, Ga. “While there is no definitive way to prevent sports injuries from happening to your student athlete, it is important to know how to deal with them if they do occur.”

Ankle sprain

Dr. Poynter estimates that half of all ankle sprains are sports related and occur when the ankle is rapidly stretched beyond its normal range of motion. Ankle sprains are common in sports that involve changing direction or jumping.

Signs of an ankle sprain include pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness and inability to walk or put weight on the ankle. If these symptoms present, Dr. Poynter recommends rest, icing the ankle and keeping it elevated to reduce swelling. Wrapping the ankle also will give it support. Have a doctor evaluate the ankle to make sure the injury doesn’t get worse.

Jammed finger

A great catch during the big game could result in a finger injury, especially if the ball hits the finger and bends it in the wrong direction, also known as a finger jam. Finger jams occur when the fingertip is pushed back into the hand or bent backwards.

They are most common in sports that involve a ball, like basketball or football. Signs of a jammed finger include pain or inability to bend or straighten the finger, as well as inability to grab things with the finger, according to Dr. Poynter. Typically, these jams are minor injuries but it is best to have the injury evaluated by a doctor to be sure that there are no significant ligament injuries or fractures that can easily be misidentified as just a jammed finger.


A concussion is the most common kind of traumatic brain injury, according to Dr. Poynter. A concussion occurs when there’s a blow to the head, a fall or a hard hit to the body that causes the head to be jolted. “All student athletes, regardless of the sport, are at risk for a concussion,” said Dr. Poynter, who commonly helps to treat concussions.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, there a variety of signs and symptoms associated with a concussion, including dizziness, blurred vision, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and a headache.  However, according to Dr. Poynter, athletes often don’t always have these common symptoms after a concussion, so any change in symptoms or behavior after a head or neck injury need to be evaluated and treated as a concussion until it is ruled out.

“While most student athletes recover quickly from a concussion, it’s important to not only recognize the signs and symptoms, but also to ensure it’s treated properly and they get plenty of rest and avoid any activity that increases their heartrate or causes symptoms,” said Dr. Poynter. Dr. Poynter recommends immediately seeking guidance from a doctor if you feel your child has experienced a concussion.

Golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow

Despite their names, these common elbow injuries don’t only occur in those who play golf or tennis. Golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow are the result of overusing muscles in the forearm and don’t come from a single injury. Instead, these injuries occur over time because of the repetitive motions involved with throwing or hitting a ball, among other activities.

Look out for pain or burning on the inside or the outside of the elbow as well as weakness when trying to grab something, especially with the elbow extended. If golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow is suspected, Dr. Poynter advises to have your student athlete avoid sports-related activities until they see a doctor.

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