Can Overuse Injuries Heal on Their Own?

Can Overuse Injuries Heal on Their Own?

Have those twinges of pain been happening more and more frequently? Perhaps it’s pain in your shoulder, shins, elbow, knee, hamstring, or foot. You may be developing an overuse injury. If you’re an athlete who plays your sport several times a week, or if you have a job that requires you to perform the same motions over and over again such as those in the construction trades, a factory, or a warehouse, you’re at risk for an overuse injury. 

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon and regenerative medicine and pain management specialists at Urgently Ortho in Scottsdale, Arizona, treat many patients with overuse injuries. Most of these types of injuries can be healed with prompt treatment. Early intervention is key in preventing serious damage to a tendon, ligament, or joint to the point where surgery might be required.

Effective treatments for overuse injuries

With proper medical supervision, overuse injuries can heal without surgery. The less damage that has been done to the affected area, the quicker the injury heals. We use a multipronged approach to healing overuse injuries. Your adhering to treatment protocols helps you heal as fast as possible. Following are effective treatments for an overuse injury. 

RICE method

When a part of your body is in pain, it’s a signal that something is amiss. It’s important to stop using the shoulder, arm, or other body part that hurts. Take a rest from the tennis court. Ask your Urgently Ortho physician for a note for your employer if the pain is from a work-related condition. 

Use an ice pack with a protective cloth off and on the painful area. Elevate the injured area as much as you can.

Medication 

You’re likely already using over-the-counter pain relievers. They’re a temporary solution that masks the condition but doesn’t treat the problem. Your doctor prescribes a stronger pain reliever for short-term use if you need it. 

Assistive/ergonomic devices 

Your doctor prescribes any assistive devices that would be helpful during the healing process. For example, you may need a temporary sling for a sore shoulder. 

You may need to form new habits and incorporate some assistive devices into your regular daily routine. If you have tendonitis from using a keyboard for hours during the day, try a split or curved ergonomic keyboard to relieve the strain on your fingers, wrists, and forearms. If you’ve developed a painful heel condition such as Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis, your physician may prescribe custom orthotics that can help relieve the pain and help improve or correct faulty biomechanics in your feet. 

Physical therapy

Once the inflammation begins to subside, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy to help you regain range of motion and increase your flexibility in the injured area. Often, four to six weeks of physical therapy provides the support you need to strengthen the muscles surrounding the injury and help you function normally again. 

PRP/regenerative medicine 

Our practice may recommend using platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to help hasten healing. More study is needed, but PRP is a promising treatment for speeding the healing of soft tissue injuries. Preliminary research supports using PRP for soft tissue injuries to help them heal faster.

Daily stretching/exercises 

Your doctor and physical therapist explain that it’s important for you to continue some of the exercises and stretches you’ve learned in physical therapy in your daily life to help prevent new overuse injuries. 

Most overuse injuries heal in weeks or months without surgery. The course of treatment depends on the severity of the injury.

Call Urgently Ortho today for prompt treatment of acute injuries and for unexplained musculoskeletal pain that may be caused by an overuse injury.

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