Martial Arts Injuries Treatment
Martial arts are a group of combat sports, variations of which have been popular for more than a millennium already. It is impossible to say where it has originated, or how long it has been around, but aggression has long been a human natural instinct, and has evolved to the point that today, it is a popular partially recreational sport in which many partake in. The styles, to this day, keep on evolving, with new schools and styles introduced by different masters. It is even difficult to pinpoint which martial arts styles are most popular, since pertaining to each different continent, and in some cases, countries, different martial styles are popular.
It is rather complicated to understand frequency of injury in this sport due to such a wide spectrum of styles of martial arts, and the physical intensity each entails. For example, styles such as karate and taekwondo are more physically demanding than tai chi, thus resulting in a higher injury rate. Comparing injury rates in some of martial arts sports, the research has shown that of all participants in that style of martial art, the highest injury rate was in taekwondo, with 59% of all participants injuring themselves in the period of one year. Second highest is aikido, with 51% injury rate, with kung fu and karate injury rates being in the 30% range of injury rates. The studies have shown that older participants, as well as the ones with more years of experience, were more likely to acquire a trauma.
However, such statistics do not deter those who want to join martial arts, whether in form of a professional sport, or simply doing it for their own enjoyment or defensive skill.
Martial arts are a contact sport, with overstraining, contact, and falls being responsible for the injuries, particularly contusions, acquired while practicing the sport. Depending on the style of the martial art, different parts of the body have a higher risk of being injured. Unsurprisingly, contusions (or bruises) are the most common injury obtained among martial artists. Combat movements employed are the reason for the majority of the injuries sustained while practicing martial arts, therefore pretty much any body part can suffer, anywhere from head to toe. Some of the common martial arts injuries include concussions, sprains, strains, and repetitive stress injuries. The motions used in this sport are generally forceful rapid movements, and that increases the chances of acquiring a more serious injury, such as a tendon tear.
Tendinopathy, or the disease of the tendons, is common complaint due to the reasons stated above, as well as due to the usual wear and tear athletes experience over time. This includes tendinosis (degradation of collagen fibres in the tendon on cellular level), tendinitis (inflammation of the tendons caused by micro tears in the soft tissue), bursitis (inflammation of the fluid-filled sac, the bursa, around the joint), and tears (a complete tear of the tendon).
Upper body injuries
As in many contact sports, elbow and hand strains (including the carpal tunnel syndrome) are very common injuries. They are so in combat sports, since the arms are most commonly used as a form of defense or a weapon, and having to generate massive force, injuries are most prevalent to that area. Strains, as well as repetitive strain injuries are commonplace, and occur due to the overuse of the muscles and tendons. Acute strains occur where the body sustained a direct hit or extreme contraction of the muscle tissue. Sprain, on the other hand, also commonplace in martial arts, particularly among the more experienced practitioners, as they occur when a ligament connecting the bones is stretched or torn by a direct impact, such as a fall or a direct blow to the body.
Rotator cuff tendinitis is another frequent complaint from martial arts enthusiasts, causing shoulder pain. Due to shoulder being an integral part in generating force for upper body combat moves, the joints in the shoulder perform swift and abrupt movements over and over, causing irritation in the soft tissue (tendinitis), and in more sever cases, a complete tear of the soft tissue. The rotator cuff itself is a set of muscles and muscles which support the bones in the shoulder and enables the arm to move and rotate. When irritation and inflammation occur, the person feels a tingling painful feeling extending from the shoulder down to the arm, and depending on the severity of the injury, can experience a certain limitation to doing overhead movements because of the pain.
Concussions are a less common injury; however, they can occur, for example, from a kick to the head or an unfortunate fall resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) causing the brain to hit the walls of the skull after an impact. Although the brain is heavily protected by the skull and is surrounded by fluid, a concussion causes the formation of free radicals inside the brain (which are also responsible for inflammation in tissue after an injury), which in excess can cause tissue deterioration, resulting in brain damage. The symptoms usually involve no recollection of the collision that caused the concussion, headache, dizziness, queasiness, and in some cases, unconsciousness.
Lower body injuries
The common injuries to the lower extremities in Martial arts vary depending on the style of the martial art practiced. Knee injuries and Achilles tendon injuries prevail as the most frequent, usually caused during kicks and jumps.
An ACL injury is a trauma caused to the anterior cruciate ligament located in the knee, which enables the knee to rotate and leg to bend and extend at the knee. This occurs when the shin bone and the femur bone in the thigh twist in opposite directions, causing the anterior cruciate ligament, and thus resulting in limitation of motion, pain and the knee giving out from underneath the weight of the person. An ACL tear does not occur during contact, but from such motions as landing from a jump or performing a sudden turn in the martial arts. It is important to see a specialist when this happens, because although within a couple of weeks, after the inflammation has disappeared, the knee may feel normal again, the instability problems in the knee start to become visible.
The other common injury sustained during a martial arts practice is the Achilles tendinitis, or in more severe cases, an Achilles rupture. The Achilles tendon is a tendon connected to the heel bone, which is formed from the calf muscles. The tendinitis condition is the product of overuse of the tendon, and may happen due to age as well as over practicing the martial arts movements. The rupture is of the tendon is a serious condition, where a complete tear occurs in the tendon, thus causing the person to lose function in their foot and lower leg, specifically the calf muscles. A partial rupture is a slightly less significant injury, however, with rehabilitative therapy it can be cure, although it will put the person out of sport for some time.
Injuries in martial arts, although being combat sports, can be somewhat avoided. As statistics have shown, the less experienced ones tend to suffer injuries less during practices, perhaps due to the restraint of potentially hurting the opponent, or only practicing the martial art as a form of physical activity rather than a combat sport that it is. For more physically demanding martial arts, properly warming up and cooling down is essential, as well as gradually building up for more difficult movements. In case of an injury, do see a specialist to evaluate it, as well as apply the general rule of thumb as with all injuries – the ‘RICE’ method (Rest plenty, apply Ice and Compression to the injured area, and keep it Elevated).
In case of the concussion, seek immediate medical help. However, first the person who has suffered a TBI, should rest and take tylenol for headache. It is vital to avoid any blood thinning pain relievers, as they would increase the bleeding in the brain and further the brain injury.
TREATMENT AT OUR CLINIC
At NYCSPT, you will be diagnosed, have your type of injury identified and evaluated via the technology available at our clinic, and finally, have a rehabilitative treatment developed to suit your needs. Due to our understanding of neuromusculoskeletal conditions, their pathology, and cross-discipline knowledge in orthopedics and sports medicine, along with state of the art innovative technology available at our clinic, you can get diagnosed and offered an individualised non-invasive treatment of your injury at one and the same place.
Some of our innovative methods include the dynamic neuromuscular stabilization (DNS) and computer assisted rehabilitation environment (CAREN), which help restore human locomotion after an injury. CAREN has also been proven to help rehabilitate the patients after a traumatic brain injury, therefore can be used to treat the more serious cases of concussions. For severe injuries, such as tears of the soft tissue, where generally surgery is suggested, we have extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) available. With its help, the healing of the soft tissue is triggered and enhanced by electric shocks, thus increasing the blood supply to the injured area. This, along with traditional methods of treatment such as physical and manual therapies help rehabilitate the patient completely after a sports injury.