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Overuse and Repetitive Motions


By Angie Austin, LPTA

What exactly are overuse injuries? These types of injuries occur when you try to too much at once. Do you remember the last time you started a new exercise program or did a lot of the same physical activity at once? It probably resulted in pain or tendonitis. Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon due to repetitive trauma or overuse. In most cases, if you stop the activity, your symptoms will resolve as the tendon heals. Understandably, this isn’t always possible or realistic. If you have a job for example that require repetitive motions or you play a sport, it’s difficult to just stop cold turkey. But it’s important to recognize the symptoms and know what to do when they flare up.

What happens when you continue doing the same activity?

Let’s look specifically at biceps tendonitis. This is a very common overuse injury we treat at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center. Biceps tendonitis is an irritation or inflammation of the bicep tendon, a strong cord-like structure that attaches the bicep muscle to the shoulder. Many routine chores or work-related activities over time can contribute to symptoms. Another reason people seek help for this kind of pain is due to sports-related movements. Athletes who compete in repetitive overhead sports like tennis, swimming and basketball are susceptible to tendonitis.

Symptoms of Overuse Injuries: Biceps Tendonitis

  • Pain in the front of the shoulder, which worsens with overhead reaching or lifting activity
  • Tenderness to the touch or inability to lie on the affected side
  • Ache that may move down into the upper arm
  • Occasional snapping or catching sensation in the shoulder

How can physical therapy help overuse injuries like biceps tendonitis?

A common question we hear from patients who are being treated for some kind of tendonitis, whether that’s in the biceps or somewhere else int he body, is ‘how can I keep doing the activity?’ A physical therapist is trained to educate you on how to manage the inflammation. We also help improve range of motion that may have decreased. If you have biceps tendonitis, we help address the lack of mobility in the shoulder. Most importantly, physical therapy will address weaknesses. Again, looking at biceps tendonitis, we will strengthen the shoulder and supporting structures like the upper back that may also be contributing to faulty mechanics.

No one is free from developing an overuse injury. Our bodies were not designed for repetitive activity without some wear and tear. The good news is that physical therapy is an effective, conservative treatment method that can help get you back to your activities. Call our office today at 703-450-4300. CLICK HERE for information about other common overuse injuries and how to determine if you are at risk for them.

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