Overuse Injuries in the Athlete

Participation in sports and physical activity account for a significant portion of injuries in the United States. While anyone can experience an overuse injury, athletes are particularly prone to them due to the intensity and duration of their workouts. Learn more about overuse injuries in the athlete, what causes them, and how they are diagnosed and treated.

What Is an Overuse Injury?

There are two main types of sports injuries: acute injuries and overuse injuries. An acute injury, such as a wrist fracture or ankle sprain, is typically the result of a single traumatic event. An overuse injury, also known as a repetitive strain injury (RSI), is any type of joint or muscle injury that is caused by repetitive trauma, such as tennis elbow or shin splints. Overuse injuries are the result of repetitive trauma to the bones, tendons, and joints. RSIs are usually subtle and occur over a period of time.

Why Do Overuse Injuries Occur?

Overuse injuries are typically caused by training errors that involve a rapid increase in the frequency, duration, or intensity of a repetitive motion. For athletes, overuse injuries can occur when they try to do too much too soon or when a movement is repeated over a prolonged period of time. Some people are more prone to overuse injuries than others. Body alignment and imbalances between flexibility and strength around certain joints make some individuals more prone to injuries than others.

Overuse Injuries of the Arms and Legs

Overuse injuries often affect an athlete’s arms and legs. RSIs affecting the legs include shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, runner’s knee, and jumper’s knee. Overuse injuries of the arms include lateral and medial epicondylitis (more commonly known as backhand and forehand tennis elbow), pitching elbow, and swimmer’s shoulder.

Preventing Overuse Injuries in Athletes

Many overuse injuries can be prevented with correct training methods. It is important to listen to your body’s cues and allow your body adequate time for recovery. It is also essential to warm up and cool down properly before and after physical activity. In addition, staying hydrated throughout your workout is essential. If your body sweats without rehydrating, it will lose strength, resulting in you feeling weaker and increasing your risk of injury. Here are more injury prevention tips for physical activity.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Overuse Injuries

Because RSIs are more subtle and occur over a period of time, they can be more challenging to diagnose than acute injuries. To properly diagnose an overuse injury, it is best to consult with a sports medicine specialist who can perform a thorough physical examination. In some cases, X-rays need to be taken, and additional tests like an MRI or bone scan are needed. A sports medicine specialist can create a detailed, customized treatment plan for your specific condition.

Injury Care with the Orthopedic Center of Palm Beach County

From simple sprains to complex surgeries, the Orthopedic Center of Palm Beach County has been treating the South Florida community for over 65 years. We offer the finest orthopedic and podiatric care by incorporating the latest developments in procedures and equipment. If you are suffering from an overuse injury, contact the Orthopedic Center of Palm Beach County today. We are committed to providing compassionate and personalized care to help you recover.