Overuse Injuries: Prevention for Youth Athletes

Overuse Injuries in Athletes

Orthopaedic surgeons have seen an increase in the occurrence of overuse injuries in children over the past several years. This shift has been associated primarily with youth athletes.  The trend to specialize in a single sport at a young age has certainly contributed to the rise in overuse injuries in this population.

Overuse injuries occur when an individual uses the same muscle groups and applies stress on specific areas of the body repeatedly. The pressure to compete can push athletes to overtrain. In addition, without an appropriate amount of rest in between, the likelihood of injury increases even more.

Some of the most common overuse injuries involve the knee and the foot. The lower body tends to take on the most impact. In addition, shoulder and elbow joints suffer from repetitive motion in certain sports. Muscles, ligaments, tendons, growth plates and bones are at higher risk in children as their bodies are still growing.

Common Overuse Injuries

  • Stress Fractures result from repetitive force commonly in weight bearing bones of the leg and foot.
  • Shin Splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, cause pain and discomfort on the front part of the lower leg.
  • Runner’s Knee is typically experienced as pain felt between the knee cap and thigh bone.
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome is commonly found in runners, weightlifters and cyclists. This lateral pain can be frustrating for athletes as it can be slow to heal.
  • Achilles Tendonitis is an injury that causes an acute pain in the back of the ankle.
  • Plantar Fasciitis is a very common injury of the feet that is caused by inflammation of the soft tissue in the bottom of the foot.

Injury Prevention

If you have a youth athlete, one of the best ways to help avoid overuse injuries is by diversifying their sports participation. Avoiding specialization at an early age can decrease the likelihood of these types of injuries. Another way to help prevent injury is increasing rest time to allow growing bodies to recover in between games and practices. Pushing hydration and a healthy diet is another great way to help prevent injury. Consult an orthopaedic surgeon if you think your child is suffering from an overuse injury.

Elbow Pain: When to see an Orthopaedic Surgeon

Elbow Pain

Elbow pain can feel like an inconvenience when it begins to interfere with your daily activities. Often time will ease the discomfort. However, elbow pain can be more serious than just a nagging distraction. So how do you know when to see an orthopaedic surgeon for an assessment and when to trust that time and rest will be enough?


The elbow is a complex joint made up of bones, cartilage, nerves and ligaments. Elbow pain can be caused by a number of different things. Overuse is one of the most common causes of  this type of injury. Doing a repetitive motion such as throwing, lifting or swinging can produce wear and tear on the joint, resulting in pain.

In addition to overuse injuries, other reasons for experiencing pain in your elbow joint include, arthritis, a strain or sprain of the joint, a fracture, a dislocated elbow or trapped nerves. All of these issues can produce pain but the severity can vary significantly. Just as there are many different causes for this type of pain, there are different methods of treatment depending on the diagnosis.

When to See an Orthopaedic Surgeon

If your pain is keeping you from performing daily activities, it is possible that the injury needs medical attention. Trying to care for your elbow pain at home with rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E.) can often times be enough. However, when the pain does not subside with these approaches, it is likely necessary to see an orthopaedic surgeon. If you are experiencing severe pain, swelling and bruising or are unable to fully extend and/or bend your elbow, it would be beneficial to get in to see a doctor. If your pain increases over time, an orthopaedic surgeon could help determine the best treatment plan. When in doubt, it is always wise to rule out anything serious by making a trip to see your doctor.

Yoga and Orthopaedic Injury Prevention

Practicing Yoga

Yoga has many proven benefits. From mental to physical, you can improve many aspects of life no matter your age or ability level. If you already incorporate yoga into your weekly routine, you likely experience the many benefits this exercise has to offer. But did you know how important this practice be for injury prevention?


It is no surprise that exercise can help with overall health and emotional wellbeing. But certain types of exercise have specific benefits that supplement fitness routines like weight training, running, swimming and cycling. Whether you are an athlete or an individual with a low level of physical activity, yoga can offer many advantages.

  • Stretching techniques can ease lower back pain and improve mobility
  • Increased flexibility can help avoid injuries such as strains and overuse injuries
  • Increased muscle tone and core strength can help reduce back pain and injury
  • Improved balance which can prevent falls

Injury Prevention

Orthopaedic injuries can range in severity from a slight sprain to a complex fracture. Some of these injuries are unavoidable but others can be prevented with a little proactive exercise. Many of the benefits of yoga directly impact your body in ways that help prevent injury. Slow movements and stretching combined with deep breathing can warm up your muscles. Incorporating this routine into your daily life, even if for a brief duration of time, can help prevent injury.

An increase in your overall flexibility is important in injury prevention. Along with improved flexibility comes an increase in range of motion. These two benefits go hand-in-hand when it comes to preventing orthopaedic injury as they allow your body to better move in unexpected ways. This is especially important when it comes to preventing falls.

By building muscle through yoga, your are providing your body more stability. A regular routine of yoga will help you improve functional strength by moving numerous muscles and joints at the same time. In addition, yoga helps to strengthen your connective tissues like ligaments and tendons, helping to prevent the likelihood of strains and sprains.

Improving overall balance by focusing on core strength, yoga can decrease the possibility of injury from a slip or fall. This becomes increasingly important and people age.

Starting a Yoga Routine

As with any other type of exercise program, it is always recommended that you consult your doctor first. There is a wide variety of types of yoga and finding the right one for you is essential.

Spondylosis: Stress Fractures of the Spine in Contact Sports


Stress Fractures are a common occurrence in competitive athletes. Spondylosis is a specific type of stress fracture that can develop in the vertebrae of the spine. Typically, this injury will occur in the lumbar area of the spine. This injury can cause a great deal of lower back pain. While spondylosis can develop for no reason in about 5% of youth, it is commonly associated with repeated stress on the lower back.


There can be a variety of reasons for developing spondylosis, sidelining the individual for quite some time. Trauma to the lumbar spine from a fall, a hit in a contact sport, or overuse are some of the most common causes for this type of stress fracture. What may develop as a very small fracture can continue to worsen as the athlete attempts to play through the pain. Additional trauma to the fracture can lead to further injury.


Spondylosis is a condition that can be tricky to identify. Because some of the symptoms can mimic other issues, it can be easy to put off seeking and evaluation and waiting for conditions to improve. The following are often symptoms of spondylosis:

  • Lower back pain that may mimic a muscle strain
  • Pain the the buttocks area
  • Pain the the thigh region
  • Tenderness or stiffness in the lower back
  • A sensation of unexplained tightness in the hamstrings

Treatment for Spondylosis

Spondylosis can be diagnosed with the use of x-ray, MRI or a CT scan. Once Spondylosis has been diagnosed, it is important to follow the directions of a physician such as an orthopaedic surgeon fellowship trained in spine. The most challenging part of the treatment is having patience and letting the fracture heal. This can be difficult for young, competitive athletes. The following treatment strategies are often effective in healing spondylosis without surgical intervention:

  • Rest/time off from sports
  • Physical therapy
  • Core exercises approved by a certified trainer or physical therapist
  • Training to increase flexibility
  • Over the counter medications to aid in pain relief and swelling

If your adolescent is suffering from lower back pain that is interfering with daily activities or participating in sports, it could be beneficial to see an orthopaedic surgeon to assess for any issues with the spine. If a stress fracture is the culprit, it is important to know as soon as possible to avoid any further damage.

Bone Bruises and Fractures: Diagnosis and Treatment

Bone Bruises Vs. Fractures

Orthopaedic trauma can occur in many ways. Bone bruises and fractures are two very common types of injuries that can cause significant pain and restrict activity. However, treatment for these two injuries can look very different.

From an unexpected fall to a forceful impact during a sport, there are endless ways to sustain a substantial bone injury. Bone bruises and fractures are common injuries that can cause pain, swelling and limited range of motion. With many similarities in symptoms, it may be tricky to determine how serious the injury is. Getting a proper diagnosis after suffering an orthopaedic injury is key to getting on the road to recovery.

Bone Bruises

Bones bruises, also known as bone contusions, are similar to bruises of other tissue in your body. When the area suffers a trauma, the small blood vessels of your bone tissue are damaged. This damage isn’t enough to show up on an x-ray, it is more of a “micro-fracture.”

Symptoms of Bone Bruises

  • Pain, sensitive to touch of the injured area
  • Bruising to the skin
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness of the joint
  • Palpable lump under the skin
  • Joint inflammation

Treatment for Bone Bruises

  • Rest the injured body part
  • Ice the injury periodically throughout the day
  • Elevate the impacted area above heart level to assist with decreasing the swelling
  • Take a medication such as acetaminophen to reduce swelling and pain


When a fracture to the bone occurs, a visible crack in the bone will appear on the x-ray. This makes the diagnoses of a fracture a bit more straightforward. Symptoms of fractures are very similar to those of a bone bruise. Pain, swelling, tenderness of impacted area can all accompany a fractured bone. The best way to determine whether or not a fracture has occurred is to consult with an orthopaedic surgeon immediately. In some cases fractures can be treated with a cast however, in some cases, surgery is required. Determining the diagnosis quickly is the best bet for getting the appropriate treatment plan as soon as possible.

Shoulder Pain and Injury Illustration - © Agility Orthopedics

Shoulder Pain: When to See and Orthopaedic Surgeon

Living With Shoulder Pain

Are you living with chronic shoulder pain? Have you been avoiding meeting with a physician in fears that your pain might be something more serious? It is common to put off seeking treatment in hopes that pain will subside on its own. But how can you determine the difference between temporary pain and and an issue that requires medical intervention?

Signs You Should Consult an Orthopaedic Surgeon:

  • Your pain is accompanied by swelling or redness
  • Your shoulder joint is tender to the touch
  • Your shoulder joint appears to be deformed or abnormal
  • You are unable to move your arm away from your body
  • Your pain increases over time
  • Your pain has lasted more than a few weeks
  • Your pain prevents you from doing daily activities or disrupts your sleep
  • Methods of self care such as rest, ice and use of pain relievers do not decrease pain

*If shoulder pain occurs in addition to tightness in the chest or labored breathing, you could be experiencing a heart attack. Call 911 immediately.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder, you may or may not know the source of the discomfort. If you have experienced an acute injury, you have a better understanding of the source of your pain. However, shoulder pain can often develop slowly over time leaving the sufferer with a lot of questions about the source and solution of the problem. There are a number of reasons for sustained pain in your shoulder joint.

  • Bursitis
  • Rotator cuff injury or tear
  • Damage to your labrum, joint lining or ligaments resulting in shoulder instability
  • Frozen shoulder (adhesions in the shoulder joint resulting from underuse)
  • Arthritis
  • Broken collar bone
  • Brachial plexus injury

If you are trying to determine whether or not to consult an orthopaedic surgeon for your pain, know it is often better to air on the side of caution. Be sure to prepare for your appointment by considering the right questions to ask.


Cortisone Injection: Risks and Benefits

Cortisone Injection

Are you suffering from pain and swelling in your tendons, muscles, bursa or joints? You might be seeking a treatment option that can alleviate the pain quickly without an invasive procedure. If so, a cortisone injection may be one of the options you are considering.

What is a cortisone injection? A cortisone injection, often referred to as a steroid injection, is a shot of medicine used to target a specific part of the body to reduce inflammation and pain. This intervention can offer fast-acting relief to muscles, joints or tendons. The side effects of this type of treatment a generally mild however, it is beneficial to weight the risk to benefit ratio before deciding if this is the best option for you.

Benefits of a Cortisone Injection

  • Intervention provides fast-acting results ranging from a few hours to a few days for noticeable relief.
  • Patients often report experiencing minimal discomfort.
  • Often covered by insurance
  • Can be administered in your orthopaedic surgeon’s office

Risks/Side Effects

  • Pain around the injection site
  • Bruising around the injection site
  • Temporary facial flushing
  • Nerve damage
  • Joint infection
  • Temporary elevated blood pressure


So how do you determine if getting a cortisone injection is the best treatment option for you? Consulting with an orthopaedic surgeon about your treatment options is the best way to make a decision. Prior to your consultation, prepare a list of questions to help gather the best information. Some helpful questions may include:

  • What is your success rate with an injection for my particular injury/orthopaedic issue?
  • How much downtime should I expect after receiving the injection?
  • Is there anything I need to do in preparation for this procedure?
  • Will this procedure be covered by my health insurance?
  • How long can I expected to wait for the injection to begin working?
  • What is the duration for the results to last?
  • Are there any particular side effects I could expect knowing my medical history?



Falling Safely: Preventing Orthopaedic Injury

Falling Safely

If you have ever taken a fall, you know that preventing injury can be tricky. Falling safely can be simple, however, if you are able to respond in without panicking. Given that you only have a matter of seconds to react, it is important to understand how falling safely works before you are in the situation.

Tips for Falling Safely

  • Don’t panic! Staying calm is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do to promote a safe fall. Panic tends to result in tightening up of the body. Of your body is rigid, the likelihood of orthopaedic trauma is higher. If you can calmly react, falling safely is much more likely.
  • Stay loose. This tip goes hand in hand with avoiding panic. If you mindfully fall with bent knees and arms, you are less likely to lock out with rigidity. Our instinct is to reach out to protect ourselves while falling. This however, makes for a more rigid frame that will buckle under the stress of a fall.
  • Protect your head. If you are falling backward, the best way to protect your head is tucking your chin to your chest. In a forward facing fall, turn your head to either side.
  • Keep falling and roll. One of the biggest issues with falling comes from trying to actually stop the fall after it has started. You can actually decrease the impact of the fall by rolling out of it. The more you allow yourself to fall, the more you can spread the impact out rather than focusing it on one specific body part.

Common Falling Injuries

There are several types of orthopaedic injuries that can result from falling. From life-threatening to minor trauma, a simple fall can easily land you in the office of your orthopaedic surgeon. Here are the most common injuries:

  • hip fracture
  • wrist fracture
  • head injury
  • rotator cuff injury
  • back injury
  • torn meniscus
  • wrist sprain

If you have suffered an orthopaedic injury following a fall, be sure to consult an orthopaedic surgeon for an appropriate evaluation.

Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms and Treatment

Importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins as it supports a variety of bodily systems. In addition to strengthening bones and muscles, vitamin D helps boost your body’s immune system. In addition, vitamin D has been found to help prevent certain types of cancers as well as type 1 and type 2 diabetes. With so much to offer, why do so many people find that they are vitamin D deficient?

Vitamin D Deficiency

Our bodies can make vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. The other main way to get the proper amount of vitamin D is through diet. Foods such as fatty fish, egg yolks, red meat, cheese and a variety of foods that are fortified with vitamin D, can be good sources. But for many people, these two methods are simply not enough.

Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include:

  • staying indoors
  • begin obese or overweight
  • poor diet
  • dark skin
  • some vegan diets

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

If you have been diagnosed with low levels or insufficient levels of vitamin D, you might be at risk for a number of issues. Some of the most common symptoms include fatigue, getting sick often, stress fractures, bone loss, muscle soreness, poor wound healing and hair loss. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, it might be wise to consult with your doctor about getting a test to assess levels of vitamin D in your body.

Treatment Options

If you have been diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency, there are some simple things you can do to address this issue. While adjusting your diet to ingest more vitamin D can be helpful, the most efficient way to increase levels is through a supplement. Talk to your doctor about setting the correct dosage as it can vary from person to person based on age, weight and current levels at diagnosis.

Baseball Injuries: Causes and Prevention for Youth

Baseball Injuries

As the summer weather rolls in, baseball season kicks into high gear. With over 3 million kids participating, baseball is one of the most popular sports in the United States. However, back on the field can also mean back in the doctor’s office with one of many baseball injuries.

Along with the steady growth in popularity, the demand to train harder, play longer and be faster drives the industry. Unfortunately, with the increase in competition, there is also an increasing number of baseball injuries. Some of these injuries happen on the field while others develop in conditioning workouts.

Common Baseball Injuries

If you have a youth athlete that is active in baseball, there are a number of common baseball injuries to look out for as the season jumps into action.

  • ankle sprains
  • concussions
  • overuse injuries including little league elbow and little league shoulder
  • muscle strains
  • rotator cuff injuries
  • labral tears
  • shoulder instability
  • fractures

Preventing Common Injuries

  • Develop skills that are age appropriate
  • Focus on conditioning exercises to strengthen the entire body
  • Communicate with child and coaches about any pain they are experiencing
  • Fuel properly with hydration and a nutritional plan rich in lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables
  • warm up properly
  • Rotate playing positions to avoid constant, repetitive motions that lead to overuse injuries
  • Follow pitching guidelines proposed by Little League Baseball
  • Identify and treat minor injuries early to prevent further damage from overuse
  • Avoid pitching on consecutive days or playing the same position year round

Treatment of Baseball Injuries

The most important step of treating a baseball injury is appropriately diagnosing. If your child is experiencing pain whether from an acute injury or overuse issue, it may be beneficial to see an orthopaedic surgeon. Certain injuries can be treated with rest, ice and compression. Other types of injuries may need further medical intervention such as physical therapy, casting or in some cases, surgery.

Many acute injuries such as fractures or sprains happen in an instant and are unavoidable. However, overuse injuries can often be prevented and completely avoided.