Are you experiencing progressively worsening pain, tingling, or numbness in any part of your musculoskeletal system that seems to be getting worse with activity? If your answer is yes, you may have sustained an overuse injury.
Injuries can broadly be divided into 2 types; acute injuries which occur suddenly; and chronic injuries that develop gradually.
Common examples of overuse injuries in sports are tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, swimmer’s shoulder, shin splints, runner’s knees, and Achilles tendonitis. Overuse injuries can also occur at the work place and affect nurses, healthcare aides, cleaners, packers & movers, or anyone who performs repetitive movements that cumulatively cause degeneration of joints and soft tissues.
In sports, overuse injuries may be caused by playing too often without adequate time for rest and recovery, improper technique, imbalance in body alignment such as knock knees, unequal leg lengths, and flat feet. At the work place, overuse injuries may be caused due to frequent lifting and carrying objects or holding a specific posture for a long time. Not taking corrective action when you first notice symptoms could result in serious complications.
Here are some tips for avoiding common overuse injuries:
- Warmup before any physical activity with some light range of motion exercises.
- Always use proper technique, whether it is working out at the gym or lifting something as part of your job.
- Use the right equipment. If you are runner, you should replace your running shoes every 500 miles or whenever you feel they have lost their shock-absorbing capability.
- Don’t overdo it. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your activity.
- Use a warm compress or a heating pad to warm up a sore muscle or joint before activity.
- Use an ice pack to lower swelling and reduce pain after activity.
- Anti-inflammatory medications may help you heal faster but should only be used as recommended by your doctor.
- Try cross training. It involves mixing up your routine, so you don’t perform the same exercises or movements every day. This way one group of muscles have an opportunity to rest while other groups of muscles are working.
- Ensure you are eating a well-balanced diet. Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D will provide the nutrients needed for bone remodeling and protein-rich foods will help build muscle tissue.
- Get enough rest. Avoid any activity that causes pain for a several weeks or months if necessary. This is better for your health in the long run as pushing through the pain will put you at risk for permanent disability.
If you continue to have a nagging muscle or joint pain despite following the tips mentioned above, consult your doctor or an orthopedic specialist.
South Palm Orthopedics is a medical practice devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases of the body's musculoskeletal system. Our orthopedic surgeons have advanced fellowship training in the areas of hand & wrist, shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, trauma and fractures, foot and ankle, and sports medicine. The physicians of South Palm Orthopedics are committed to providing the highest level of orthopedic care to each and every patient each and every time.