Injuries between male and female athletes vary for multiple reasons. Male athletes tend to play more contact sports and get concussions and severe collision injuries. However, women are more likely to suffer a higher cumulative total of injuries over their career.
At Progressive Spine & Sports Medicine in Ramsey, New Jersey, our expert physicians provide specialized sports medicine care to both men and women.
Understanding the female triad
One of the biggest risk factors for female athletes isn’t faced on the field, but off it. The female triad includes rapid bone loss, menstruation issues or cessation, and eating disorders, typically brought on by pressure from parents and coaches to keep body fat to an absolute minimum.
We watch closely for signs of these issues and can refer you to counseling if needed to prevent you from becoming ill because of outside pressures to conform or perform. Your health comes first!
The four most common sports injuries for women
Female athletes are extremely vulnerable to certain types of repetitive use injuries. These injuries can happen when the same motions are completed over and over, causing cumulative strain on a joint or bone. Other types of injuries can be the result of one’s build and type of sport played.
1. Stress fractures
Female athletes can have small calves and a muscular upper body, meaning extra weight on the legs during strenuous activity. Tiny fractures in the leg bones caused by stress can widen suddenly or spiral around the bone, fissuring it and causing complete collapse. These bone stress injuries are much more common in female athletes than in male athletes. Our team will recommend ways to prevent bone loss and reduce the likelihood of this kind of injury.
2. Shoulder instability
Shoulder dislocations often cause permanent soft tissue damage, leaving the joint vulnerable to repeated dislocations or “subluxations.” Over time, this can cause shoulder instability and chronic shoulder pain. We’ll examine your shoulder, determine if surgery is necessary, or recommend splinting, bracing, physical therapy, and other more conservative treatments to help your shoulder joint heal.
3. Ankle sprains
Female athletes have more lower extremity injuries than male athletes, starting in their teens, when severe ankle sprains can knock a young athlete out for weeks or months. A rigorous exercise program to strengthen the muscles, ligaments, and tendons plus diligent foot and ankle care and correct footwear can help prevent ankle injuries.
4. ACL tears
Women’s knee joints have a wider range of motion than men’s. This makes your knee more flexible, but also more prone to injury. Male athletes may constantly be in the news for a “torn ACL” (anterior cruciate ligament), but the reality is that women’s risk for an ACL tear is three to nine times higher. Most ACL tears require knee surgery to fully repair.
You can learn more about playing women’s sports by talking to the team at Progressive Spine and Sports Medicine. Get in touch by calling 201-273-9702 or requesting an appointment online.