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Most Common Women's Sports Injuries
A womanís sports injuries are basically the same as a manís. But there are some peculiarities due to differences in anatomy and issues related to the menstrual cycle. Hereís a look at some of the most common overuse sports injuries suffered by women, including stress fracture, runnerís knee, jumperís knee, tennis elbow, and frozen shoulder, and how to treat them.
Women tend to have a higher incidence of stress fractures then men. Stress fractures occur from repetitive forces. They are more common in women who do not menstruate compared to those who do. A woman with osteoporosis or osteopenia (low bone density) will also be at greater risk of stress fracture because of decreased bone density. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, dancing and jogging, are particularly valuable in reducing bone loss in middle-aged and postmenopausal women, and may help prevent osteoporosis.
Runnerís knee, or patellofemoral pain syndrome, is characterized by a stable, but painful knee. This is much more common among women because a womanís pelvis is wider, making the angle between the thigh and the calf sharper, which is known as an increased Q-angle. This results in greater force toward the front and inner part of the knee. The tendency is for the kneecap to pull out of line and rub on the side of its groove, causing knee pain. Conservative treatment includes physical therapy, core strengthening, stretching of quadriceps and hip external rotator muscles, bracing, and biomechanical analysis and correction.
Jumperís knee, or patellar tendinitis, is characterized by pain in the front of the knee. Pain increases with running and jumping, and the pain symptoms may intensify during the night and upon waking in the morning. The pain comes from inflammation of the tendons that hook into the upper and lower ends of the kneecap. The more you train and the higher the intensity of your training, the more you feel the pain. The first treatment is to rest long enough to get over the acute pain, and to take anti-inflammatory agents to reduce the pain, if necessary. If pain continues or increases, cortisone injections can help manage the pain and swelling, or surgical treatment may be required.
Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is an overuse injury to the tendons at the lateral humeral epicondyle, the bands of tissue that connect the arm muscles to the outside aspect of your elbow area. It is usually associated with lack of forearm strength. Lateral epicondylitis most often occurs in women between ages 30 and 50. The tennis backhand stroke, which involves repeated wrist extension against resistance, increases the risk of symptoms at the outside of the elbow. Conservative treatment should include physical therapy, bracing, and biomechanical analysis and correction of repetitive activity. In severe cases, surgical treatment may be required.
Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is seen most often in women between ages 40 and 70. It is often seen in combination with other shoulder conditions (such as rotator cuff problems) or diabetes mellitus. The hallmark symptom of frozen shoulder is decreased range of motion and severe shoulder pain. It often disappears on its own. Conservative treatment usually involves taking anti-inflammatories to reduce pain and inflammation. A physical therapist can teach you stretching exercises to help maintain as much mobility in your shoulder as possible. Relief of symptoms is gradual and recovery takes from 12 to 18 months, on average. Surgical options for adhesive capsulitis include joint manipulation under anesthesia and capsular release.
Take a Break
Overuse injuries usually require you to suspend activity. A biomechanical analysis and correction are components to successful recovery and should be performed by sports medicine professionals. Prevention is also a key component by maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle. Core training and strength training of both the lower and upper body can maintain muscular strength and endurance, and help to prevent chronic overuse injuries.