Sports Medicine

Surgery for Common Sports Injuries

Many common sports injuries can be healed through a combination of casting or bracing and physical therapy. But some need surgery in order to give your child the best chance at a full recovery and return to the field.

This is especially true when connective tissue is torn or bones are misaligned in a compound fracture—the type where the bone pierces the skin. Here are 5 common sports injuries that might require corrective surgery.


1.  Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears

ACL tears might require surgery to reconstruct the torn ligament. This is commonly done by using tissue from somewhere else on the knee to replace the torn ACL.


2.  Shoulder Dislocations

In a shoulder dislocation, the ball of the shoulder joint—the round top of the arm bone—falls out of the groove that lies in the shoulder blade (also called the socket).

There are also shoulder subluxations, when the ball falls out of the socket only partially. Sports injuries are fairly common causes of shoulder dislocations or subluxations.

The symptoms of a shoulder dislocation or subluxation include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Unsteadiness in the shoulder
  • Numbness or tingling in the arm, hands, or fingers

Treatment involves putting the shoulder back in place, which usually causes a drop in pain almost immediately. Your child’s care provider also might put the shoulder in a sling, recommend rest, and prescribe icing down the shoulder several times a day.

When the shoulder has started to heal and there’s less pain and swelling, your child’s care provider also might prescribe rehabilitation exercises. These can help restore muscle strength and joint mobility.


3. Meniscal Tears

Smaller tears on the outside edge of the meniscus might not need surgery. But if your child’s symptoms like pain and knee instability persist, surgery could be the best option.

Meniscus repairs can be done arthroscopically, using a tiny camera and surgical instruments inserted through a small incision in the knee.

Generally, surgeons perform one of the following procedures:

  • During a partial meniscectomy, the damaged meniscus tissue is trimmed off.
  • In a meniscus repair, surgeons stitch parts of the meniscus together. Recovery time for this procedure is longer than it is for a meniscectomy.


4. Patellar Instability/Kneecap Dislocation

Surgery to correct a dislocated kneecap is usually necessary only when the patella continues to dislocate repeatedly or remains unstable even after non-surgical treatment—like physical therapy or bracing.

There are different types of corrective surgery for patellar instability, depending on the cause of the condition. Frequently, surgeons will reconstruct the ligaments responsible for holding the patella in place.


5. Severe Fractures

There are a variety of surgical options for fixing severe fractures. The treatment required depends on what bone is broken, the location of the break, fracture pattern and your child's age.

If you have any questions about your child’s surgery for a fracture, please ask your child’s care provider at OIC. We are here to help.