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Guide to Overuse Injuries

Guide to Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries aren’t just from sports. Find out more about how to recognize these injuries and what to do about them.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Your median nerve and nine tendons pass through a tube called the carpal tunnel that goes from your forearm to your palm. Repeated motion, like texting, typing, or video gaming, can inflame the tube and push on the nerve. This could cause hand pain, numbness, tingling, and a weak grip.

Plantar Fasciitis

It’s the most common cause of pain on the bottom of your heel. The ligament that connects the front and back of your foot and supports your arch gets swollen and irritated.

Though it’s hard to know exactly what causes it, you’re more likely to get it if you repeat the same impact on your feet (when you run, for example). It’s more common when you start out.

Shoulder Bursitis

Small fluid-filled sacs called bursa cushion your joints and smooth the friction between muscle and bone. You can inflame them if you do the same motion over and over, like lifting boxes or serving a tennis ball. It can hurt enough to make it harder to do basic things like dress or comb your hair.

The shoulder is the most common spot for bursitis, but it can happen in your elbow, hip, knee, and anywhere else bones meet.

Tennis Elbow

Almost half of adults who play racquet sports (tennis, squash, racquetball) get this at some point. The repeated arm swing inflames the tendons that join your forearm muscles to the outside of your elbow (tendinopathy, sometimes called tendinitis).

Other motions - turning a screwdriver, pulling weeds, swinging a hammer - can also cause it. You may have pain and burning, especially when you use your arm. Your grip can get weaker, too.

Jumper's Knee

This is also a type of tendinopathy. Repeated running or jumping may cause degeneration of the patellar tendon at the lower edge of your kneecap.

Shin Splints

If you run a lot, like if you jog or play basketball, you can inflame the bone, muscle, and connecting tendons along the edge of your shinbone. It can get especially bad on hard surfaces like concrete. The wrong shoes might make it worse.

Afterward, it could be tender to the touch. A new workout or a sudden jump in how long you do it could cause it and might make it worse.

Stress Fractures

Running, basketball, tennis, or any activity where you pound your feet over and over can cause tiny cracks in your bones, especially in your lower leg and foot. Doing it more often makes it more painful. Several weeks of rest is needed if you don’t want to make things worse.

IT Band Syndrome

The IT, or “Iliotibial” ligament runs along the outside of your leg. Repeated movement, like running, biking, or weightlifting, can rub this “band” against the bone and cause irritation, pain, and swelling. It may hurt more when you walk or run down a hill or stairs.

A warmup could ease the pain, but don’t let that fool you: If you don’t rest the injury to give it a chance to get better, it may turn into something worse.

Trigger Finger

Also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, this is when one of your fingers gets stuck in a bent position. The condition has its name because when your finger straightens, it can do so with a snap - like when a trigger is pulled. If you have arthritis, particularly RA, it’s pretty common. It can also happen when you’re doing things like gardening, clipping, or using a computer mouse.


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