Tips to Avoid Summer Ailments Like Tendinitis and Tennis Elbow
Months of time indoors give way to warmth and overwhelming desires to run, jump, get those chores done and then next thing you know – ouch, that really hurts!
Sometimes these come with age, or our golf/fishing/tennis technique is off-base. But injuries to our joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons do pop up more in the summer.
“When we overdo it without proper ‘pre-hab’ or stretching, injuries can happen, and golfer’s or tennis elbow, along with tendinitis in the shoulders, knee or quadriceps – we see all of them more this time of year,” said Matthew Blake, MD, a sports medicine and orthopedic surgery specialist with Avera Orthopedics. “Part of it is our day-to-day activity, as more of us sit in front of computers, with our shoulders hunched. Some of it comes with age. But there are some steps we can take to avoid – or treat – these conditions.”
Stretching and Practice
Almost everyone benefits when they take some time to warm up or build up their ability before going full-tilt into a run, workout or the heavy lifting that goes with around-the-house chores.
“There are exercises that can help strengthen our joints and roll out the function of joints like the shoulder, knee and elbow,” said Blake. “Sometimes, with sports like golf or tennis, our grip or technique may be off. That can lead to an inflammation injury.”
Warm up before getting busy with your passions, and start small and build your way to bigger, more aggressive distances or competitive levels.
Repetition and Age
Knowing when you’re hurt versus just hurting a little is important. Visible swelling – such as one knee looking bigger than the other – usually means it’s time to get help.
“There is a natural decrease in strength that occurs as we get older, and that can lead to injuries. We might ‘think’ we can lift something or run a certain distance at a certain pace, but we’re mistaken,” Blake said. “Sometimes it is just the repetition after time away from the fishing pole, golf club or tennis racket. Rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can help.”
Time Away, Time to Get Help
Rest, ice and elevation, along with a few weeks of not aggravating the injury are all immediate steps orthopedic experts and trainers would recommend. Sometimes that time away will make the difference.
“When we see patients, we start with the most conservative approaches we can, and see how they progress. Often that is rest and time away from an activity. Other times it might be work with a physical therapist,” said Blake. “Sometimes that time away can be a few weeks, but it can be longer. We see how patients respond to these steps before we go forward with other approaches.”
Cortisone and stem-cell treatments, dry needling, ultrasound exams and scraping are all steps between rest and ice and surgery.
“When we run out of other arrows in our quiver and the condition hasn’t improved, that’s when we look at MRIs and consider surgical approaches,” Blake said. “Summer is a time to enjoy, and when a nagging injury prevents that, we work with you to get back that quality of life.”