Overuse Injuries: Causes, Prevention, Treatment

Overuse injuries occur when muscles and joints are damaged by long-term strenuous activity. This leads to weakness and pain in the affected areas during moments of use, which can harm the quality of your day-to-day life and overall activity. They can occur almost anywhere on the body, though they typically manifest in the hands, knees, back, hips, and feet. 

Overuse injuries are common, though not always easy to detect. A break or fracture would cause immediate pain, but overuse injuries are subtle, with damage that occurs gradually over time.  Let’s look into the common causes of overuse injuries and what can be done to prevent and treat them. 

Common Causes of Overuse Injuries

As the name suggests, overuse injuries are caused by overused joints and muscles. For example, tendonitis is a type of overuse injury that develops in your hand after long-term periods of strenuous hand use. This includes things like writing, drawing, or even doing the dishes. When these activities are done without the proper precautions, your muscles and joints begin to gradually break down. Whether you jog every day, work in the garden, or play an instrument, it’s important to pace yourself and take breaks to decrease your risk. 

Ways to Prevent Overuse Injuries

Being mindful of your health and pacing makes all the difference. A healthy diet and regular breaks promote a natural resistance to injury and damage. You can gauge your health and pacing with simple steps, such as:

1. Rest and Recovery: Avoid rushing through activities and projects. Taking breaks is vital for muscle and joint recovery. This gives your body time to breathe and recharge so that you don’t risk injury.

2. Changing it up: If you’ve been doing the same thing for hours on end, you can break the cycle of overuse by switching activities. This will help you to move other muscles and is a proactive way to get your breaks in. 

3. Stretching and Massaging: You can do this before, in between, and after activities. It helps to prep the muscles, break up stagnancy, and provide your muscles with a healthy blood flow. 

4. Eating Right and Exercising: A healthy diet and regular movement go a long way in keeping your body protected. It encourages healthy blood flow and strengthens your bones, muscles, and joints. Special care to your diet and exercise as you age will naturally keep your risks lowered. 

Treatment Options

If you’ve sustained an overuse injury, you may be treated in multiple ways. The easiest relief is found in anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications, such as Ibuprofen and Advil. Depending on the severity and location, you may be accommodated with a sling, wheelchair, or other type of assistance. It’s important to rest the affected area and limit its use to very little or not at all. You may be recommended for physical therapy, and given a list of gentle exercises you can do to nurture the injured area. 

At Advanced Orthopedics Associates, we understand your pain and vow to bring you understanding and relief. Contact us or fill out the form below to learn more about overuse injuries and what we can do to help. 

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