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4 Signs You May Have an Overuse Injury (and What We Can Do About It)

Overuse injuries tend to be associated with professional athletes, dancers, and others who engage in repetitive, high-impact activities. But anyone can develop an overuse injury, at any age. Unfortunately, they’re more common as you grow older and your muscles, tendons, and ligaments start to degrade.

Lloyd Decker, DC at Reno Regenerative Medicine in Reno, Nevada, believes that your body can stay strong and healthy as long as you heal and prevent injuries. Here he lays out the kinds of overuse injuries you could have, a few of the common signs that you might have one, and strategies you can take to avoid their complications.  

Types of overuse injuries

You’re at risk for an overuse injury if you play sports, play an instrument, or engage in any activity for work or fun that requires repetitive, high-stress movements. Just a few of the overuse injuries that you may have heard of include:

To avoid worsening your condition, it’s important to pay attention to the signals that your body sends you. Once you develop any of the four signs of an overuse injury, be sure to get a diagnosis and treatment so you can heal and go back to your normal activities without worsening the damage.

1. Pain or swelling

One of the most common signs that you have an overuse injury is pain. The pain could be caused by inflammation in joint tissues, such as that caused by arthritis or bursitis, or might even be the sign of a stress fracture.

Even though you may have to soldier through a game or performance, you don’t do your body any good by ignoring pain over the long term. When your pain is minor, you may be able to heal it yourself by using the RICE protocol (i.e., Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

If your pain doesn’t improve in a day or two, or if it gets worse, contact us right away. Pain that lasts for more than 12 weeks is considered chronic pain and may be difficult to treat.

2. Dysfunction

If you can’t completely straighten your elbow or move your arm over your head, you may have torn your tendons and ligaments. When your joints are stiff but not too painful, they may respond to the RICE protocol. If not, contact your doctor right away.

3. Tingling or numbness

One troubling sign that you have an overuse injury is tingling or pins-and-needles sensations in your fingers or toes. Numbness and tingling are usually signs of a pinched nerve. If you don’t heal or treat the nerve, it could be permanently damaged. 

4. Sensitivity

Feeling pain or sensitivity when you touch an area, even without moving it, may be a sign of an overuse injury. Your injured area might also be extra sensitive to cold or heat.

Treating overuse injuries

After Dr. Decker examines your injury, orders any necessary imaging studies, and diagnoses the type of injury you have, he tailors a treatment plan to help you recover and get back into the game. Depending on the kind of overuse injury you have, he may recommend:

Platelet rich plasma (PRP)

This popular regenerative medicine therapy starts with a donation of your own blood. The Reno Regenerative Medicine team separates out the healing platelet cell fragments and injects them into damaged areas to help your body rebuild injured tissue. He may recommend PRP to heal damaged tendons, ligaments, and bone.

Cold laser therapy

If you’ve torn or stretched a muscle, or the supporting tissues in your joints, Dr. Decker may recommend a cold laser treatment. He directs the laser energy to damaged soft tissues to instigate a self-healing process. The laser treatment is pain-free and doesn’t damage your skin.

Chiropractic care

If you engage in repetitive activities, chiropractic care can do more than alleviate pain and swelling. Chiropractic care can also help prevent re-injury by properly aligning your spine. When your spine is aligned, your body can more easily and efficiently circulate healing fluids, such as blood and lymph, to provide your tissues with oxygen and nutrients. 

Physical therapy

In addition to rehabbing your injury, physical therapy keeps you safer in the future. Your physical therapist not only gives you exercises that strengthen your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, but also evaluates the way you move and recommends modifications that are more efficient and less likely to cause an injury.

Whether you have one sign or a combination of signs, catching and treating overuse injuries as early as possible prevents them from worsening and causing permanent damage. For diagnosis and treatment with cold laser, platelet rich plasma (PRP) or chiropractic services, call our office or request an appointment using the easy online form.

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