Different Types of Surgeries Athletes May Face

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Different Types of Surgeries Athletes May Face

As athletes, we push our bodies to the limits on a daily basis. While pushing our bodies in this way can result in spectacular accomplishments and satisfaction for us, at times it can lead to injury as well.

Some injuries require medical attention and care from specialists, depending on the severity of the injury. In some cases, surgeries may be necessary to repair the damage and allow athletes to return to their sport at full capacity.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the different types of surgeries athletes may face.

Shoulder Surgery

Shoulder injuries are a common occurrence among athletes, and thankfully, advancements in medical technology have made it possible to repair the damage through shoulder surgery.

For instance, shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used to diagnose and treat various shoulder injuries: be it rotator cuff tears, labrum tears, and shoulder impingement.

Or, if the damage is more extensive, open shoulder surgery may be necessary. Whatever the case, shoulder surgery can help athletes regain strength and range of motion in their shoulders, allowing them to return to their sport with improved performance.

Knee Surgery

Knee injuries are very common among athletes, especially in high-impact sports like basketball and football. The most common knee surgeries for athletes include ACL reconstruction, meniscus repair, and patella realignment surgery.

  • ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction surgery is often necessary for athletes who have torn their ACL, a ligament that stabilizes the knee joint. It involves replacing the damaged ligament with a healthy tendon from another part of the body or a donor.
  • Meniscus repair surgery is typically performed when there is damage to the meniscus, which is a rubbery cartilage in the knee joint that acts as a shock absorber. This surgery involves repairing the damaged meniscus or removing a portion of it if necessary.
  • Patella realignment surgery is used to correct patellar tracking disorder, where the kneecap does not move in its normal path. This can cause pain and instability in the knee joint, making it difficult for athletes to perform at their best.

Neck Surgery

For those living with nagging pain and limited mobility in their neck and spine, neck surgery may be a viable solution. Many athletes suffer from neck injuries, such as herniated discs or spinal stenosis, which can be treated through various surgical procedures, including cervical discectomy and fusion, laminectomy, and foraminotomy.

Although many surgeries may seem daunting, these procedures have been proven to help athletes get back in the game and continue doing what they love. With proper rehabilitation and recovery, athletes can come back even stronger than before their neck injury.

Hand and Wrist Surgery

Hand and wrist injuries are common and often require surgery to correct the damage. Athletes who participate in sports that require gripping and throwing, such as baseball or gymnastics, are more susceptible to these types of injuries. Some common hand and wrist surgeries for athletes include:

  • Wrist arthroscopy: This procedure involves using a camera to diagnose and treat injuries within the wrist joint.
  • Tendon repair: Tears or ruptures in the tendons of the hand or wrist can be repaired through surgery.
  • Carpal tunnel release: This surgery is used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when a nerve in the wrist becomes compressed and causes numbness and tingling in the hands.
  • Thumb reconstruction: Athletes who participate in sports that involve hand use, such as basketball or football, may require surgery to repair a damaged or torn thumb ligament.

No matter what type of surgery is needed, you must work closely with a skilled surgeon and rehabilitation team to ensure the best possible outcome.

Foot and Ankle Surgery

Foot and ankle injuries are commonplace among athletes, especially in sports involving running and jumping. Such injuries, often including sprains, fractures, or Achilles tendon tears, may necessitate surgical intervention. Procedures can range from minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery, used to diagnose and treat injuries within the joint, to more comprehensive procedures such as fracture repair or Achilles tendon reconstruction.

Bunion surgery and plantar fasciitis release are other common foot surgeries. These procedures aim to restore function and stability, enabling athletes to resume their sports activities. As with all surgeries, a tailored rehab program is critical to optimal recovery and return to performance.

Plastic Surgery

While plastic surgery may not be the first type of surgery that comes to mind when thinking about athletes, it can play a significant role in helping them recover from certain injuries. For instance, reconstructive plastic surgery can repair large or complex wounds sustained during sports accidents. Cosmetic procedures like scar revision or skin grafts can help athletes regain confidence after an injury that has left visible scarring.

Moreover, plastic surgery can also be beneficial for athletes looking to enhance their performance, such as breast reduction surgery for female athletes experiencing discomfort due to the size of their breasts or rhinoplasty to improve breathing and overall athletic performance.

Athletes face a wide range of injuries throughout their careers, but with advancements in medical technology, surgeries have become a viable option to help them recover and return to their sports at full capacity. From shoulder and knee surgery to plastic surgery, athletes have access to various procedures that can aid in their recovery and performance enhancement.

But that won’t stop there: athletes must work closely with medical professionals and follow proper rehabilitation protocols after surgery to ensure the best possible outcome.

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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