Sports surgery – Definition:
In sports surgery, speedy recovery is a demand to the same extent as efficacy. For the athlete, training and competition must resume as soon as possible. Not only does the functional result have to be excellent, it also has to be achieved as quickly as possible. The athlete must recuperate as rapidly as possible to stay at the same level. The introduction of arthroscopy was a breakthrough for sports surgery. By using a micro-camera, arthroscopic surgery minimizes scarring. Although it is primarily performed by specialized sports surgeons, arthroscopic surgery is not confined to sports pathologies and it also contributes to the treatment of many degenerative pathologies (wear and tear).
Pathologies and injuries in sports surgery:
The pathologies treated in sports surgery are essentially traumatic pathologies, direct injuries in sports or after-effects of old sports injuries. In this regard specialized emergency units that are fully trained in traumatology allow accurate diagnoses and are a prerequisite for appropriate treatments of sports pathologies and injuries.
Benefits of arthroscopy in sports surgery:
Arthroscopic surgery techniques make recovery shorter so they address perfectly the demands of sports surgery. Arthroscopic sports surgery combines minimal invasiveness with visual monitoring and the accuracy that any surgical procedure demands.
In sports surgery, arthroscopy initially developed in the field of knee injuries; hence the expertise that nowadays most surgeons of the lower limb have in arthroscopic ligamental repair at the knee.
It is only recently, however, that the use of arthroscopy has spread to include the treatment of traumatic and sports pathologies of the upper limb at the various joints.
Shoulder surgery in sports surgery:
In shoulder surgery, arthroscopic repair techniques for sports traumas are less than 10 years old.
- Arthroscopic surgery of acromioclavicular dislocations makes it possible to avoid, among other things, a second surgical procedure to remove the hardware.
- In shoulder instability (recurrent dislocation), the arthroscopic Latarjet (bone blocks) procedure makes it possible to position the block perfectly, but also to repair all the capsulo-ligamentous and bicipital lesions (SLAP-lesion) that frequently occur in the athlete. Similarly, when a Latarjet is not required, shoulder repair surgery by anterior (Bankart) and posterior (fixation) capsular plication restore the shoulder's anatomic stability.
Elbow surgery in sports surgery:
In elbow surgery, arthroscopy and endoscopy have contributed a lot to the treatment of sports injuries and pathologies.
- distal biceps tears are now day cases which require 3-cm incisions that in time merge with the elbow crease
- arthroscopic elbow fracture repair techniques are emerging and shorten recovery
- chronic compartment syndrome in the forearm, a non traumatic pathology affecting athletes specifically, benefits from an endoscopic, minimally invasive surgical technique.
Hand and wrist surgery in sports surgery:
In hand and wrist surgery, recent surgical techniques make it possible to repair injuries to the small joints without sutures.
- some finger and thumb fractures can now be repaired with flawless accuracy thanks to micro-cameras that are less than 2 mm in size.
- wrist fractures (lower extremity of the radius) and scaphoid fractures can be reduced and united more solidly, using less invasive methods
- wrist sprains are more thoroughly diagnosed, with a more accurate surgical repair.
- severe thumb sprains, a frequent sports pathology, can be operated arthroscopically and benefit from more accurate diagnosis and easier recovery
Rehabilitation and physiotherapy in sports surgery:
In sports surgery, specialized postoperative rehabilitation is often required. The specialized surgeon gives detailed physiotherapy prescriptions to the team in charge of the athlete’s rehabilitation. In upper limb surgery, cardiotraining can usually resume within the 15 postoperative days, first as home training, then as running. Muscle strengthening of the lower limb often resumes within one month. Finally, the moment when muscle strengthening of the upper limb and specific training will resume depends on the traumatic pathology treated and the sport.