• Dr. Maria Alejandra De La Peña

Summer and Sports


There has been a renewed interest in wellness and an increase in physical activity in the US. Americans are finding new ways to stay physically active and this has resulted in an encouraging trend for overall health. That said, according to the CDC, there is an average of 8.6 million sports - and recreation-related injuries that occur annually. 

The most common injury types of sports injuries are sprains and strains, followed by fractures. Experts recommended acute injury patients first use the P.R.I.C.E. method shortly after an injury occurs. PRICE stands for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. This self-treatment may be helpful during the initial 24 to 72 hours. However, despite these measures, in many cases, a physician who specializes in sports injury sprains, strains, and tears should be consulted.

Common types of these injuries include:


Rotator cuff tears This type of tear is caused by trauma to the shoulder, falling, overhead motion for an extended period or just wear and tear on the tendon over time. While a partial tear does not sever the rotator muscles completely, a total tear does. Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common orthopaedic problems in the US. The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles. There are various treatment options available depending on the patient and the nature of the tear. After a physical examination and imaging studies, there are non-operative and regenerative treatment options available in order to stave off surgery.

Meniscus tear The meniscus is located on the outer side of the knee - on either side of the joint. It is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that absorbs shock while lubricating the joint and prevents the knee from hyperextending. It helps to spread out the weight from the femur to the tibia bone. Once a meniscus is torn, it will not be able to heal on its own. To diagnose a meniscus tear, physicians perform imaging studies. While an x-ray cannot detect a meniscus tear, it will detect other skeletal-related conditions. An MRI, however, is quite accurate. Depending on the severity of the tear, Dr. De La Peña will help determine what types of interventions will be most helpful. Once swelling and pain subside, a physical therapy program may be recommended. Ligaments tear Ligaments are small tough bands of stretchy, dense and flexible fibrous tissue. They connect two or more bones of the body at a joint. They lend joints support and limit their movement so as not to overextend. Ligaments are found at the ankles, elbows, knees, shoulders, for instance.

Tears or strains occur when a joint is overstretched or twisted. Tears can either be incomplete or total - with a total tear being as painful as a fractured bone. Torn ligaments are common sports injuries and can occur at any joint. Knees and ankles are particularly vulnerable to sprain and tears. Common causes include falling and landing awkwardly or twisting. Since ligaments have a blood supply, most will eventually heal - normally within a 6-week time frame. Ligaments naturally grow additional fibers as a response to increased exercise, so a physical routine is necessary for healing. Physicians like Dr. De La Peña will also suggest non-invasive treatment options to speed up the process.


Hip Bursitis Otherwise known as Trochanteric Pain Syndrome, Hip Bursitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the bursae inside the joint of the hip. A bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac that is gel-like inconsistency. They provide a cushion between the bones and soft tissues like tendons and muscles. Bursae reduce the friction around joints which helps with freedom of movement. Bursitis develops due to stress, and trauma, among other causes. The two bursae in the hip are prone to irritation and inflammation. One covers the bony point of the hip bone while the other is located on the inside. Patients with hip bursitis are sometimes able to find relief through lifestyle changes. IT Band Tendinitis The Iliotibial band (IT) and tendinitis, also called iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), is a common condition of the outer part of the thigh that is caused by activities such as running, cycling, and even weight training The IT band is the tissue that extends from a patients’ pelvis to their knee. The tissue supports the spine, hip, and knee stability. When injured, the band becomes inflamed. Dr. De La Pena will evaluate a patients’ pain and symptoms before offering treatment options. These options may include anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. Typically, the condition will resolve in four to six weeks. However, in some cases, other treatments to the hip may be needed such as cortisone (steroid) injections which decrease the inflammation. Elbow Tendinitis Tendinitis is the irritation of the fibrous cord whose function is to aid in moving a specific bone or joint structure. Repetitive motion injuries make up over 50% of sports-related injuries. The elbow joint in particular is prone to micro-tears from overuse. This leads to inflammation, pain, and even difficulty in gripping objects. If tendinitis is caught early, most patients resolve their issues with time and rest. If problems persist, Dr. Le Pena may prescribe physical therapy and medications to reduce symptoms. Severe tendinitis can lead to further rupture of tendons so treatment is necessary and to prevent further damage. Cervical Facet Sprain Also known simply as a neck sprain, this injury happens suddenly due to quick or harsh movement. The condition causes stiffness and sharp burning pains that may radiate down into the upper back area - and even involve the shoulder or arm. It is quite common not to feel the pain until the next day after the injury. Physicians like Dr. De La Pena may prescribe a short course of anti-inflammatory medications and rest. Other treatments include strengthening exercises and gentle massage therapies. There are a variety of treatment options available such as trigger point injections for pain, facet joint treatment for back pain, medial branch nerve blocks, PRP, Radiofrequency Ablation. Lumbar Facet Strain Syndrome This condition is also known as Lumbar Facet Syndrome and is a common cause of low back pain. It’s caused by irritation of the posterior facet joint of the lumbar spine. Facet joints are located on either side of the spinal column. They provide stability and movement to that area of the spine. This part of the spine is particularly vulnerable to repetitive injuries caused by repeated back extensions and movements. The first line of treatment of lumbar facet joint syndrome consists of rest and physical therapy. Other treatments which can alleviate symptoms include trigger point injections for pain, facet joint treatment for lower back pain, medial branch blocks, rhizotomy, PRP, and stem cell therapy.

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