The injuries include concussions, scrapes, bruises, tongue cuts, and cauliflower ear. However, knee and shoulder injuries occur with more severity than all other injuries and are responsible for the most lost time, surgeries, and treatments.
Head and Face
Cauliflower ears are caused by severe bruising of the ear structure. The resulting injury may need to be drained and the ear wrapped in a casting material to retain ear shape once the swelling has subsided. Although difficult to avoid, wearing headgear is the best defense against this potentially disfiguring injury. Wearing headgear with a frontal pad can also minimize the impact of the forehead and help prevent concussions. In addition to preventing severe tongue and tooth injury, a mouthguard can help prevent concussion, as well.
Prepatella bursitis is the inflammation of the sac (bursa) located in front of the kneecap (patella). For wrestlers, this area is constantly hit into the mat, often causing sharp pain and sometimes swelling. Once prepatella bursitis has developed, it is treated by anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or Asprin, ice, and rest. Knee pads are designed specifically for this condition and can be used to try and prevent the condition, or to diminish the impact to the front of the knee once it has developed.
Knee ligament injuries can also occur during wrestling,
most commonly to the inside (Medial Collateral Ligament – MCL) or outside (Lateral Collateral Ligament- LCL) of the knee. These injuries are often the result of the leg twisting outward from the midline of the body. First-degree sprains can be treated with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) and the athlete can return when the pain subsides. Second and third degree sprains need to be treated by a physician, but they rarely need surgical intervention. Maintaining strength of the quadriceps and hamstrings, as well as flexibility through the lower extremities, can help prevent injury.
With deadly infections such as MRSA developing in schools across the country, infection prevention is critical. Epidemics of skin infections have been known to spread quickly from team member to team member with the three most common infections in wrestlers being herpes simplex, ringworm, and impetigo. With so much skin-to-skin contact, it is especially important to minimize risk by:
- Taking routine and thorough showers both before and after practice and matches
- Wearing clean clothing at each practice session
- Sanitizing mats with antiseptic solution after each practice
If an infection does develop, a doctor should treat it promptly with antibiotics or antibiotic creams. Wrestlers may continue to drill or participate in conditioning workouts, but should avoid bodily contact with other team members until the infection is completely resolved.