GHATTAS: Understanding common fall sports-related injuries

Dr. Timothy Ghattas is a orthopaedic and sports medicine specialist at OrthoAtlanta in Stockbridge. (Special Photo)

Autumn heralds the start of the fall sports season including football, soccer and fall tennis leagues. Across the region, sports enthusiasts from young children to adults, participate in school sports teams, organized leagues and pickup games. Significant health benefits are derived from sports and recreational physical activities, however across the country nearly 2 million otherwise healthy people suffer sports-related injuries that require treatment in emergency departments each year.

OrthoAtlanta’s Timothy Ghattas, M.D., is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. Also serving as team physician to Clayton State University and local schools including Eagles Landing, Ola and Woodland High Schools, Ghattas shares insights into some of the most common sports injuries, prevention tips and treatment considerations this time of year.

Knee Injuries

Knee injuries comprise about 55 percent of all sports injuries, and are the most common traumatic injuries in football. Not surprisingly, they comprise approximately one-fourth of all problems treated by orthopaedic surgeons. Torn cartilage and ligaments, like the dreaded ACL tear, are the most common knee injuries. Many knee problems can result from the repetitive movement of the kneecap, or patella, against the femur, or thigh bone which can damage the tissue under the kneecap and result in a condition called Patellofemoral syndrome, or “runners knee”. Wearing proper equipment, taking precautions to prevent over-use, and including exercises to strengthen the quadriceps through weight training can prove beneficial to avoiding injury.

Ankle Injuries

Ankle sprains typically occur when the foot turns inward, stretching or tearing the relatively weak ligaments on the outside of the ankle. Ankle sprains are extremely common in any sport that involves jumping, running and turning quickly including football, soccer and tennis. Exercises that strengthen the ankles, such as ankle lifts on stairs, as well as taping the ankle or wearing a lace-up brace can help, but these measures in no way guarantee that you won’t be injured if you fall hard or make a false movement.

Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries are quite common in fall sports. The cartilage cushion surrounding the socket part of the shoulder is particularly susceptible to injury, especially in offensive and defensive linemen. The rotator cuff is a set of four muscles that sits around the ball of the shoulder joint and allows the shoulder to move. Sports that involve repetitive and strenuous movement of the hands over the head, can overload the tendons that connect the rotator cuff muscles to the joint, eventually causing them to become tender and inflamed. Ignoring the pain and continuing the activity can eventually cause the tendon to tear, resulting in pain, limited shoulder movement, and reduced strength.

Initial treatment of these common injuries may include Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, or RICE for short, and anti-inflammatory medications. Treatment options for more advanced injury can range from stretching and mobility exercises to formal physical therapy or even reconstructive surgery. You’ll want to see an experienced, board-certified orthopaedic specialist to evaluate the injury and determine the appropriate treatment.

Dr. Timothy Ghattas is a orthopaedic and sports medicine specialist at OrthoAtlanta in Stockbridge, which is located at 1240 Eagles Landing Pkwy Suite 300. OrthoAtlanta is one of the largest orthopaedic and sports medicine practices in the greater Atlanta area. For more info, visit or call 770-506-4350.

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