It's Finally Spring and Athletes with Overuse Injuries are Blooming

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University Orthopaedic Associate physicians discuss overuse injury as athletes ramp up their activity with Spring sports. Whether you’re a pitcher with a sore shoulder, a runner with sore shins or a lacrosse player with knee pain, Spring is the prime season for overuse injuries.

Published data on overuse injury is quite concerning

As the weather warms, spring sports heat up the potential for overuse injury for athletes. University Orthopaedic Associates (UOA) physicians lead the discussion, highlight problems associated with overuse injury and offer suggestions for preventing overuse injury in athletes.

The published data on overuse injury is significant and quite concerning. It is estimated that 50% of adolescents that visit a sports medicine clinic for an injury, do so because of an overuse injury. Overuse injuries may be very simple injuries and they can progress into serious medical conditions like fractures, ligament or muscle tears which may require surgery. Overuse injuries can have serious consequences for longer term health and are perhaps one of the greatest issues that face the adolescent population. Whether you’re a pitcher with a sore shoulder, a runner with sore shins or a lacrosse player with knee pain, spring is the prime season for overuse injuries.

Overuse injury can happen in any sport although involvement in spring track seems to have the highest rate of overuse injury. Freshmen aged girls, sophomore aged boys, those who are first time participants in a sport or those who participate in >16 hours of supervised activity each week seem to be the most prone to overuse injury. The lower leg is the most commonly injured body part.

Overuse injuries can have many causes, but most are due to an element of change in an athlete’s training. A change in frequency, intensity, duration, surface, training method or brand of shoes are all cited as causes of overuse injury. It is important for athletes to consider all that they are doing and identify what may have created the problem.

Age, bone health, physical development, improper technique, flexibility issues, lack of proper rest, specialization and playing on multiple teams during one season can all contribute to overuse injury as well.

Signs of an overuse injury include:

  • pain,
  • swelling,
  • increased temperature,
  • loss of motion,
  • loss of strength
  • performance decline.

UOA physicians note that it is important that athletes do not dismiss their symptoms and try to work through them. Overuse injury may be subtle at first and then gradually progress to be more debilitating. Disregarding symptoms can complicate an injury and turn a simple issue into a more complex problem .

Athlete’s should consult a physician if:

  •     pain is extreme or progressing.
  •     symptoms last for more than 1week,
  •     the injury affects performance,
  •     weakness is noted.
  •     the injury causes pain when not playing the sport.

UOA’s recommendations for reducing overuse injuries in spring sports include the following:

  •     Do not participate in organized sporting activity more hours then you are old.
  •     Prepare for the physical demands of the sport prior to the start of the season.
  •     Never overlook the value of a good night’s rest.
  •     Play on one team per season.
  •     Play a different sport each season.
  •     Don’t specialize in one sport before you are 15 years old.
  •     Wear the proper footwear for your sport. Match shoe type to individual foot.
  •     Cross training, weight training and general conditioning is encouraged.
  •     When in doubt, get it checked out!

As leaders in overuse injury care, UOA is currently conducting an adolescent shin pain study at its Somerset office to better identify and understand the causes of adolescent shin pain. Interested adolescents with shin pain may voluntarily enroll in the study by contacting UOA. Participants will receive a comprehensive exam by a fellowship trained orthopaedic surgeon and MRI study of their legs. There is no charge to participate in the study.

To learn more about UOA, overuse injury and the Adolescent Shin Pain study, please visit

About University Orthopaedic Associates (UOA):
University Orthopaedic Associates, LLC, New Jersey’s leading orthopaedic practice, is dedicated to providing the most current, highest quality, personalized healthcare services available. The group is committed to the pursuit of excellence in orthopaedic treatment, medical education and training, clinical and bench research, and the promotion of community health.

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Eric Nussbaum
since: 07/2010
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