Joint pain can keep you from enjoying your life to the fullest, but there are steps you can take to build strong and healthy joints for life. Orthopaedic specialists on the Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano medical staff offer tips on developing strong joints and avoiding pain and injuries so you can love your joints and your active life.
Shoulder injuries can occur from improper exercise and falls. “Knowing how to exercise properly can decrease the chance of rotator cuff and shoulder injuries,” says Robert Berry, M.D., medical director of sports medicine at Baylor Plano.
Avoid lifts behind the head. Dr. Berry encourages women to perform exercises in front of the body to decrease the strain on the shoulder. Consult a trainer or health care professional about proper form.
Women who enjoy playing sports often develop Tennis Elbow or Golfer’s Elbow. “Tennis elbow and Golfer’s elbow occurs when the outside part of the upper arm, near the elbow becomes inflamed and painful,” says Dr. Berry.
Apply ice to the outside of the elbow after playing sports or performing any activity that requires repetitive twisting of the wrist to help prevent and treat pain.
“Stretching your arm and elbow to help retain strength and flexibility in the arm muscles will also help prevent pain,” says Dr. Berry.
Repetitive typing on a keyboard, sewing and racquetball can all lead to Carpal tunnel syndrome, pressure on the nerve in the wrist that gives feeling and mobility to parts of the hand. “Many ergonomically friendly tools such as split keyboards, typing pads and wrist braces, have been created to help reduce the risk of Carpal tunnel,” says Dr. Berry.
Arthritis is the breaking down of the cartilage that protects joints when they move. “When cartilage begins to wear down, people experience pain, swelling and stiffness in their joints,” says Dr. Charles Toulson, medical director of the Baylor Plano Total Joint Replacement Center.
Joint inflammation can be caused by autoimmune disease, broken bones, wear and tear or infection. “Excess weight places more pressure on your joints and puts you at an increased risk for developing arthritis so aim to maintain a healthy weight,” says Dr. Toulson. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have a family history of arthritis as it can run in families.
Many women experience pain in their knees during or after physical activity such as running or climbing stairs. “One way to help prevent knee pain is to increase your activity level slowly over time so that your body and knees have time to adjust to the activity level,” says Dr. Toulson.
A sprain is an injury to the ligaments around a joint. “When a ligament is stretched too far or tears, the joint will become painful and swell,” says Dr. Berry. Be sure to warm-up and stretch the muscles and tendons in the ankle before you exercise to help avoid sprains.
“If you do sprain your ankle, rest, ice and elevate it. You may need to do some therapy on your ankle to help avoid future injuries.”