Overuse Syndrome in a young individual

Patient

Q: I'm currently recovering from a pretty nasty sprained lower back and though I was told to keep off physical activity for around 2 months, I kinda forgot, and went on with track training. I kinda overexerted my calf muscles and back in the process. My shin splints aren't recovering well (close to 4 months) and would like to know if anything can be done. I'm continuing to go for physical therapy and haven't approached my therapist regarding my shin pain. Should I bring it up? and what can I do about it? I'm taking painkillers for my back and it works for my shins too. Is it advisable?

Doctor

A:    Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are injuries that happen when too much stress is placed on a part of the body, resulting in inflammation (pain and swelling), muscle strain, or tissue damage. This stress generally occurs from repeating the same movements over and over again, with no enough healing time so they are also called “overuse syndrome”. The concept is that overuse injury is associated with repeated challenge without sufficient recovery time, and this is true for Body Building, Running, Jogging or any other sport or activity in which you exceed the guidelines and your own limits or capacities. Overuse injuries or repetitive motion injuries make up over 50% of all athletic-related injuries seen by doctors. Simple everyday actions, such as throwing a ball, scrubbing a floor, running or jogging, can lead to this condition. The most common types of repetitive motion injuries are tendonitis and bursitis. The “shin splint” is a stress fracture, is a common overuse lesion seen in athletes (running sports, dancing or ballet) and also in military recruits. The typical presentation is a complaint of increasing pain in the lower extremity during exercise or activity. The patient's history usually reveals a recent increase in either training volume or intensity. The suggested strategy would be:  using a heating pad for periods no more than 15 minutes each time during the day, limit activities that produce pain or discomfort, and for to control the pain you can keep on  taking anti inflammatory medication (such as “Motrin” or “Aleve”). The healing time is different for each patient, and also depends on the severity of the initial injury.

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