By Matthew Matava, MD, Kevin Farmer, MD, Kevin Shea, MD, Lance LeClere, MD
Preventing and recovering from sports injuries is an ongoing issue for athletes of all ages. Below we address some of the misperceptions about some common injuries and their treatment in sports medicine. Myth: Throwing curveballs leads to the highest risk of injury in young pitchers. Truth: Overuse, high pitch counts, and poor mechanics are the highest risk factors for injury. Throwing only fastballs with inappropriate rest and high pitch counts is a significant risk in young arms. Myth: A reconstructed ACL is stronger than the original ACL. Truth: An original ACL is always stronger than one that has been reconstructed from foreign materials. No reconstruction allows an athlete to perform better than the native tissues. Myth: A dislocated finger takes longer to heal than a fractured one. Truth: Fractures are typically worse in terms of prognosis and return to play than ligament injuries such as dislocations. Myth: Both heat and ice should be used immediately following an injury. Truth: Ice should be used after an injury in order to reduce inflammation and inhibit pain. Heat should be used prior to exercise to warm and stretch injured soft tissues. Myth: A patient is able to throw faster following ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (“Tommy John” surgery). Truth: A common myth about Tommy John surgery is that having surgery when the ligament is not torn will add speed/strength to a player’s pitches. Many players will begin to lose accuracy and speed because of pain, muscle fatigue, and ligament damage before their ligament ruptures completely. Having surgery on a healthy ligament will not improve a player’s performance. Myth: An ankle sprain is worse than an ankle fracture. Truth: An ankle fracture typically takes longer to heal than a sprain and occasionally requires surgery. Even “high” (eversion) ankle sprains, which take longer to heal than the more common “low” (inversion) sprains heal sooner than most true ankle fractures. Myth: Weight lifting in preadolescents and adolescents causes growth plate injury. Truth: Weight lifting and more generally, strength training, requires proper technique to avoid injury. While a few older, retrospective case reports have demonstrated growth plate injury due to weight lifting, these injuries were caused by improper technique, inadequate adult supervision/direction, or inappropriate weight selection. With the exception of these settings, youth resistance training can be done safety. Appropriate supervision, technique, and loads are important to ensure safer training with minimal risk of injury.