Overuse Injuries and What You Can Do About Them

You’ve noticed that your elbow has developed more and more twinges over the past few months. Perhaps your knee bothers you when you bend a certain way, and it’s getting worse. You need to see a doctor. 

The team at Urgently Ortho, a walk-in clinic serving Phoenix and the surrounding area, has board-certified orthopedic surgeons and orthopedic physician assistants available to help you seven days a week. No appointment is necessary. 

After a physical exam, review of your medical history, and careful testing, usually including an X-ray and sometimes other tests such as an MRI, your Urgently Ortho physician explains the diagnosis, which in some cases will be an overuse injury

They explain that repetitive motions, such as swinging your arm during tennis, can damage the tendons and ligaments over time. Your body is always producing new cells to replace old and dying cells in your tissue. If the replacement cells don’t reproduce as rapidly as the old tissue, the constant wear and tear causes injury

You’re definitely susceptible to overuse injuries if you play sports on a regular basis. Overuse injuries also occur in workers who have a job that entails physical labor requiring the same motion over and over, such as a carpenter hammering nails or a warehouse worker lifting heavy loads.

Treating overuse injuries

Here are useful strategies to treat overuse injuries

Rest 

Once your physician diagnoses an overuse injury, you need to give the injured joint time to rest so it has a chance to heal. Refraining from playing tennis for a few weeks is better than being out for the whole season if you continue to try to play. A minor health issue now could become a major problem later. 

Use ice and anti-inflammatories

Use ice or heat as directed by your Urgently Ortho physician as well as over-the-counter pain medication to lessen inflammation. 

Examine your equipment 

The equipment you use in your sport or at work can make a difference in your health. If you’re a runner and your overuse injury affects your knees, your running shoes could be the problem. Are they old and worn out, not giving you the proper support? 

Are they the right kind of shoes for your foot? Prescription orthotics might help. They’re useful for all runners, because most people either overpronate (your foot rolls inward when you move) or underpronate (your foot rolls outward). The orthotics help stabilize your foot while you’re moving. 

If you work at a computer all day and you have carpal tunnel syndrome, the angle of your hands over the keyboard is likely causing your injury. Transitioning to a split keyboard may solve the problem. 

Use an exercise rehabilitation program

If your Urgently Ortho physician feels that physical therapy is needed, they’ll prescribe it. Physical therapy uses passive and active modalities to help you regain range of motion in the injured joint and reduce pain and inflammation. If your doctor feels the injury is minor, they may give you exercises to do at home. Once the inflammation has calmed down with rest, ice or heat, and medications, you’ll begin to perform gentle range-of-motion exercises, starting with small movements and increasing them as you heal. 

Preventing overuse injuries

These strategies can help you  prevent overuse injuries. Some overlap with treating the injuries, such as examining your equipment. 

Warm up before exercising or using a joint that is susceptible to injury 

If your work involves repetitive motions, learn to perform gentle range-of-motion exercises before starting for the day. If you play sports, warm up before every workout. These types of movements lubricate your joints, getting them ready to move and reducing the risk of injury. 

Cross-train 

Cross-training helps prevent injuries. If you’re a runner, alternate the days you run with biking or another aerobic activity. If you always use the same weights at the gym, try using new machines or free weights on alternate days. This way, you’re strengthening all of your muscles instead of overusing just a few. 

Work with a fitness coach specializing in your sport 

If you’re a serious sports enthusiast, you may gain help from a fitness specialist or coach in your sport. If you’re a member of a gym, management should be able to make a recommendation. The coach can observe your play, give tips on specific movements that could be problematic, and discuss injury prevention with you. 

Make ergonomic changes 

As noted previously, if your work involves repetitive motion, you may need a slight adjustment to your environment that can make a big difference. 

Take breaks 

If you’re working at a computer or in a warehouse all day performing a repetitive motion, you should take a short break every 25-30 minutes if you’re able to.  

If you suspect you have an overuse injury, call Urgently Ortho or simply walk in to be treated. We’re here for you.

You Might Also Enjoy...

How PRP Therapy Can Help Your Body Heal

Do you have a painful orthopedic injury or condition? Orthopedic practices have new therapies available today that weren’t widely available two decades ago. Learn about platelet-rich plasma as a healing therapy.

Can Overuse Injuries Heal on Their Own?

If you love to play your sport several times a week or have a job that involves repetitive motions, you’re susceptible to overuse injuries. Learn what to do to help these injuries heal as quickly as possible.

Why Concierge Medicine Might Be Right for You

If you’re tired of waiting two or three days to get an appointment with your doctor when you’re sick, it’s time to consider concierge medicine. This form of practice offers you top priority service.

3 Grades of Strains

You have musculoskeletal pain. If it’s a strain, how will experts decide if you need surgery or if you’ll heal with conservative treatment? Read about the 3 grades of strains.