ER Not Used for Most Sports Injuries
Written by Editor   
Thursday, December 01, 2016 12:00 AM

News Bite: Half of all sports and recreation injuries are seen in the doctor's office and not in the ER.  Males are injured more frequently and sprain/strain are the most common.  Girls get injured more frequently then boys playing the same sport. Contact is the most common cause of injury.

Amidst a flurry of new sports and recreation injury studies, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has found that one-half of Americans with such injuries went to a doctor’s office for treatment in 2011-2014 — far more than emergency departments (ED).  Treatment at a doctor’s office (50%) exceeded emergency departments (36.6%) and other sites.

The report also found that males suffered 61.3% of all the injuries, and that falls were the leading injury cause, followed by overexertion and contact.

The report featured the first national estimates of sports and recreation injuries not limited to ER data in 15 years, and included injuries sustained in "general exercise" and yoga. Data for the analysis came from the CDC’s regular National Health Interview Survey.

The report has its limits.  “Our data doesn’t mean that general exercise is more likely to cause injury," the author said. “We don't know how many people actually participated in general exercise."  Additionally, the report didn't distinguish between provider types, such as whether office visits were in primary care versus orthopedic specialty practices. “Whether a doctor is trained for treating or diagnosing related injury is something we may need to look at.”

Sprains/strains are the most likely sports injury diagnosis. Four different studies this month all found that sprains and strains are the most common type of injury sustained from sports activity. Each study covered a slightly different universe. The estimates ranged from 34% of yoga-related injuries to 42% in all sports activity (CDC).

Another recent analyses showing that girls are more likely to get injured than boys while playing the same sport. High school girls suffered “medical disqualification" (MDQ) injuries -- those ending participants' seasons or careers -- more often than boys in soccer, cross country, track and basketball.

Football, lacrosse, and wrestling athletes were the most likely to suffer season- or career-ending injuries among boys, while gymnastics, soccer, and basketball were the most likely girls' sports to manifest these injuries. For both sexes, contact was the most common cause of major injuries.

"Interestingly, we found no significant change in MDQ injury rates over time," the authors wrote. “Given the seriousness of MDQ injuries, it is concerning that trends over time have remained so stable.

Another new study of yoga injuries reported from 2001-2014 in the U.S. also reported sprains and strains as the most common injury. (The researchers found, too, that yoga injury rates are increasing, especially in participants 65 and up -- who are also more prone to injury than others.)