An overuse injury can involve any part of the complex network of muscles, ligaments, joints, vertebrae, and nerves that make up your spine. Although they may occur anywhere along the backbone, repetitive use injuries affecting the spine are most common in the lower back.
The pain management experts at Colorado Clinic in Greeley, Colorado, provide nonsurgical treatments that stop chronic pain from interfering with your life. One of their many specialties is addressing back pain related to overuse injuries.
Here’s what they want you to remember about overuse injuries that compromise your spine’s health and mobility.
Overuse injuries occur when repetitive motion or improper technique during exercise stresses muscles, bones, tendons, and other tissue structures. They frequently involve the elbows, shoulders, knees, and spine.
Unlike an acute injury such as a fracture or joint dislocation, overuse injuries can develop over weeks, months, and even years.
These injuries frequently occur in response to overtraining, ramping up a new activity too quickly, or not allowing enough time for rest and recovery between workouts.
They also develop because of jobs requiring repetitive motions or activities that hold your body in one position for long hours. For example, working on an assembly line, overhead painting, gardening, and driving a truck can cause an overuse injury.
Children, teens, and young adults develop overuse injuries, but they’re more common in older adults. However, as more children and teens become involved in organized sports, the rate of overuse injuries in that age group is rising.
Familiar overuse injuries include tennis elbow, jumper’s knee (patellar tendinitis), rotator cuff tendinitis, and stress fractures. Overuse is also a common factor in osteoarthritis, a wear-and-tear form of arthritis.
Common overuse injuries that affect the spine include:
Spondylolysis occurs when a stress fracture develops in a portion of one or more vertebrae in the lumbar spine (lower back). Repetitive stress, overuse, and aging are common triggers for spondylolysis. Activities such as football, gymnastics, and weightlifting increase your risk.
Symptoms can include lower back pain radiating into the buttocks and backs of the thighs, which tends to worsen with activity and improve with rest.
With spondylolisthesis, a lumbar vertebra shifts forward and rests on the vertebra directly below. This slippage can occur because of spondylolysis (vertebral stress fracture) or when the discs that act as cushions and stabilizers between vertebrae wear or weaken.
Symptoms often include sharp stabbing pain that may travel into the buttocks and legs.
Facet joints link one vertebra to another in the spine, creating structural stability and allowing back and neck movement. Osteoarthritis causes cartilage erosion in these tiny joints, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling as bones rub together.
Facet arthropathy also destabilizes the spine and may lead to bone spurs, disc herniation, or spinal nerve root compression.
Facet joint osteoarthritis is most common in the cervical (neck) and lumbar spine. It’s often age-related, but repetitive motions or overuse can speed its development.
Strains affect muscles or the fibrous tissues (tendons) that attach muscle to bone. Sprains involve the strong cords (ligaments) that connect bones within a joint. A sprain or strain can occur with a fall, a single heavy lift, or an awkward movement that twists or strains the back.
However, chronic strains and sprains can also develop from overuse injuries that repetitively stress the back. Lifting weights, playing football, and having poor posture increase your risk of chronic strains or sprains.
Once our Colorado Clinic team accurately identifies the type and cause of your overuse injury, we develop a customized treatment plan.
Your strategy may include physical therapy, epidural steroid injections, activity modification, and other nonsurgical treatments that address your pain and help prevent future problems.
Schedule an evaluation today by calling the our office or requesting an appointment online.