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Readers Respond: Have You Had a Sports Injury Misdiagnosed?

Responses: 10


Updated October 13, 2009

Sports injuries happen to every athlete at some point, but some injuries are harder to diagnose than others. Other injuries are commonly overlooked or missed altogether.

Have you ever had a sports injury misdiagnosed? What was your initial diagnosis and how did you or your doctor eventually discover the actual diagnosis? Do you think the misdiagnosis affected your recovery process? Share your injury misdiagnosis story with other sports medicine readers.

Fractured Pelvis Undiagnosed

I was taken to hospital in an ambulance after coming off my bike at speed. I was sent home without being X rayed and told nothing was wrong. My sister said "But she cant walk". The response was "The nurse will give her some crutches". It was 2 weeks and 3 doctors before I was x rayed and diagnosed. It was intensly painful. The lesson I got from this experience is to be very proactive in getting the right care. Refuse to be intimidated when your body is saying something different to the professionals. Go somewhere else immediately if they dont take you seriously.
—Guest Prue Dudley

hip pain

After suffering with severe hip pain for 2 months, I finally made an appt with the orthopedic. He sent me to pt with a hip flexor strain. The pt further diagnosed it as a strain of the tenor fascia lateae. After 2 months of no sports and pt, I went back to all my sports still in pain. The pain was not as severe, and I continued to play through it (bad idea). By the following fall (about a year after the initial diagnosis), I couldn't run a mile without severe pain, and I couldn't remember life without pain. The problem was that my coach didn't believe me, and thought that I was using pain as an excuse for my slow mile times, and running in general. The doctor (same as before) did an mri to "rule out a labral tear". Turns out, I had a labral tear due to FAI which could only be fixed by surgery. A year and a half after the initial suspicion of injury, I am finally pain free.
—Guest LL

knee pain

When I was 10 I was diagnosed with patellar femeral stress syndrome. After I was treated for that for 2 years, It seemed to have gone "away". Really it didn't, I was just tired of having people look at me weirdly when i said I had to go to Physical Therapy when I was ten. As my pain got worse I told my parents and they never took me to get it checked out get an MRI of my right knee. Turns out I had had torn menisci in both knees since I was 10. I was almost 14 when I got the MRIs, always get a second opinion
—Guest guest

Double Knee Injury

I messed both of my knees up in soccer. I messed my left knee up in my freshman year, and my right knee in my sophomore year. A year and a half after the injuries, i finally couldn't take it anymore and got them checked out. My doctors originally thought my quads were week, causing patella subluxation. After 4 months of therapy and getting worse, my doctors decided to check an MRI, after they decided i had meniscus tears. When the results came in, they realized i had double ACL tears. The symptoms are very alike, from what they've said, so they cant be blamed for me getting worse. Make sure your doctors are at least 90% sure.
—Guest China

Broken Back - Missed

I was on the wrong end of a slide tackle in high school soccer and got knocked down hard. After being carried off the field, I finished the game but in tears. I practiced two more days and ended up crying from the pain. None of the doctors I saw thought to look at my back, since the pain was all in my hips. Years later, a chiropractor did full x-rays and told me I "forgot" to tell him I fractured 2 vertebrae in 3 places... I didn't forget, it was never diagnosed correctly!

Knee Injuries

I have had issues with my right knee for the past 2 years, and I'm not a doctor so I suppose they could be right and the injury could just be changing over time, but it feels the same every time it happens. The first time I injured my knee the doctor I saw @ urgent care told me I had Water on the knee. The next diagnosis I had was "a sprain" not specifying to what ligament. The next diagnosis (note these are all separate times I have injured my knee in the same way) was patellar subluxation, and that is what they have called it and I have been treated for ever since. The diagnosis made sense they explained it to me and why it is happening, but now I think they may be wrong. I am taking a sports medicine class @ my hs, and we happen to be studying meniscus tears, I fit all the signs and symptoms, and when the teacher demonstrated the special tests for a meniscus tear on me there was popping and clicking. I have an appointment with my pt tomorrow, I hope I am wrong, but what if I'm right
—Guest Guest

Senior Athlete

As a elite senior athlete, I was not prepared for the lack of interest by the first orthopedist who pronounced that my injury was a "Sprain and to give it a few more weeks." I had already had significant pain, swelling and dismobility for 8 weeks and fortunately, being in medicine, her advise did not sit well with me. "Ageist" attitudes are common these days as more and more aging-well persons continue to pursue their dreams. Those of us who remain competitive athletes need to lead the way to change such attitudes prevalent, unfortunately among medical professionals. Anyway, my final diagnosis based on surgical intervention? A partially torn scapholunate ligament. In the hands ( pardon the pun) of a very fine hand surgeon, I have had an excellent recovery and just returned from my latest endeavor with three gold medals! The take home message? Advocate, advocate, advocate!
—Guest Andrea Weiss

sprain or break?

Oct 10, I started a 5.4 mile race -- and lasted 30 seconds before I stepped into a hole, heard a loud CRACK, and went down. 2 hours in the ER, I was told I had sprained my ankle and given an aircast and crutches, but the radiologist would read the xray on Monday and call me if he disagreed with the attending dr diagnosis. He didn't call....ever! Thank goodness I followed up with my own doctor 4 days later. I had a broken leg (just above my ankle) and had been hobbling around on it for 4 days!!! I'm now in a cast toes to mid calf for 5 weeks. Who knows, at this point, when and how I will be able to run again. I was supposed to do Goofy at WDW in January. That's out now. I'm so glad I followed up........who knows how long I might have gone with a broken leg. At my age (65) the healing process may take longer!! Lesson: get a second opinion -- always.

ACL tear and mis-treatment

I tore my ACL skiing 10+ years ago. It was properly diagnosed, but the surgery and treatment is where things went astray. The surgeon failed to perform a notchplasty, which resulted in limited extension due to scar tissue build up. In effect, a notchplasty is grinding away bone in the knee joint to create a larger "tunnel" for the grafted ligament to freely move. After almost a year of PT and still not reaching full extension, this required ANOTHER surgery for the notchplasty! I chose a better surgeon the second time around and have full flexion/extension of the knee again. My advice...choose wisely!
—Guest Laura

Sprain or Fracture?

I was told I had a bad sprain and the Xray was cleared. After 6 months of hobbling and still not healing I asked for more tests and they discovered a bone chip floating in the joint space that required surgery to remove. This is why I was still in pain and not healing. Needless to say, I was not happy about the misdiagnosis and missed an entire season of racing. To this day my biomechanics are a bit off because of limping for so many months. I guess the take-away for me is to question your doctors if you aren't healing in a reasonable time-frame or if you feel that something is amiss. Also, get a second opinion when things are important to you.
—Guest EB

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