It’s that time of year when everyone begins emerging from winter’s gray haze and enjoying spring’s warmer, sunny days. Many people get more active during this time and participate in a variety of warm weather sports.
However, common spring and summer sports such as baseball, tennis, golf and swimming, leave participants at an increased risk for shoulder and elbow injuries.
“It’s important that people ease themselves back into these activities after a long winter off to help ward off common overuse injuries,” says Khurram Pervaiz, MD, Shoulder, Hand and Elbow Specialist at Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland.
A common injury plaguing many athletes is bursitis. This painful condition occurs when there is irritation or inflammation of the bursa, or fluid-filled sac located between tissues that helps decrease rubbing and friction.
“This is a very common overuse injury, especially in the shoulder’s rotator cuff,” says Dr. Pervaiz. “The repetitive motions associated with golf, tennis and swimming leaves people very susceptible to this type of injury.”
Other common injuries include rotator cuff tears, tendonitis of the outer elbow, also known as “tennis elbow,” and tendonitis of the inner elbow, also known as “golfer’s elbow.”
There are a few steps you can take to help prevent injury:
- Thorough stretching before activity
- Using proper form for the sport being played
- Conditioning muscles by slowly reintroducing movement
- Warming up the muscles prior to exercise
If you do find yourself with an injury, there are several ways practitioners can help you find relief.
“If the pain is severe, we’ll often have the patient stop activity for a period of time and then start with physical therapy or home exercise programs,” says Dr. Pervaiz. “We also use targeted steroid injections that help to temporarily relieve pain so patients are able to either resume their activity or begin physical therapy. If these types of treatments don’t work and the injury is severe, then we start exploring surgical treatment options.”
Arthroscopic surgery performed by many of OACM’s fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeons can prove successful for individuals whose shoulder or elbow injuries are not improving with other therapeutic options. Dr. Pervaiz explains that most surgeries are performed arthroscopically, through small, key-hole incisions in the shoulder or even the elbow. A small telescope is inserted through these small incisions to view the joints and muscles. Such arthroscopic surgery can involve cleaning out existing tendonitis, repairing a muscle tear or even removing bone spurs.
So, when you find yourself back in the game this spring, be sure to take care of your muscles to help ensure you have a healthy, safe and winning season.
For more information about shoulder and elbow injuries and treatment options, visit the Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland website at www.mdbonedocs.com or call 866-927-1338.