The Weekend Warrior's Guide to Eight Common Injuries

U.S.News & World Report—June 8, 2007

Get hurt during a workout last weekend? You're not alone. Exercise-obsessed baby boomers are reluctant to slow down as they age—but sometimes their bodies have different ideas. People with sports injuries—led by boomers—are now the No. 2 group coming into the doctor's office, behind those complaining of a cold. And most of their aches and pains can be traced to a few common injuries that doctors see over and over.

U.S.News & World Report asked Scott Rodeo, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and researcher at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, to offer advice on how to avoid the most common sports injuries and what to do if you're sidelined by one.

As a rule of thumb, if you feel sharp or stabbing pain (as opposed to sore muscles) during activity—stop! If the pain doesn't go away after a few days off and some ice, seek medical advice. Here are several other guidelines for the injuries doctors see most often:

Rotator cuff problems

What goes wrong:
The four muscles that sit right above your shoulder joint can get caught between the bones in the shoulder and upper arm, causing tendinitis and eventually a tear.

Who gets it:
Weight lifters, swimmers, tennis players, volleyball players, baseball pitchers

Ways to prevent it:
Ask a trainer to make sure your weight routine works all the rotator cuff muscles, not just the front part.

How to fix it:
Until it's healed, avoid aggravating it with repetitive motion or overhead weight lifting. If it doesn't get better with time, you may need surgery.

The latest treatment:
Having blood drawn before surgery to isolate growth factor-containing platelets. Technicians then concentrate those platelets into something resembling a wad of chewing gum, which is put into the cuff to speed healing.

Elbow tendinitis

What goes wrong:
Repetitive motion can cause tendinitis on either side of the elbow.

Who gets it:
Tennis players (tennis elbow), racquetball and squash players, fencers, golfers (golfer's elbow)

Ways to prevent it:
Ask a coach or a pro to make sure your technique is correct. One wrong move, repeated hundreds of times, can easily cause injury.

How to fix it:
It usually doesn't require surgery, but you may need a brace or splint while you're taking time off to heal.

The latest treatment:
The same platelet-concentrating technique used for the rotator cuff is being studied for tennis elbow.

Knee cartilage tear

What goes wrong:
The cartilage in your knee rips.

Who gets it:
Anyone who squats. In sports, that would be baseball catchers, weight lifters and football players.

Ways to prevent it:
Protect your knees by building up your quads with cycling.

How to fix it:
Surgeons often remove the damaged part of the meniscus, the cartilage that cushions your knee.

The latest treatment:
A collagen scaffold, which is attached to the remaining meniscus and allows new tissue to grow, is available in Europe. It's still being studied for use in the United States.

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