Put a Stop to Recurring Injuries

May 5, 2020

By Nick Parkinson, M.Ed., AT, ATC, TSAC-F
Henry Ford Health System

Recurring injuries happen — and they're especially common among single-sport athletes or people who focus on one type of exercise, like runners. The reason: You're working the same muscles repeatedly. The end result: Your joints, muscles and tissues get worn out.

Breaking Down Recurring Injuries

Overuse injuries are a big deal. Continuing to re-injure the same muscle groups can take you out of the game entirely and limit your ability to participate in other activities. Here's what you need to know about these all-to-common ailments:

What are Recurring Injuries?

Recurring injuries, also called repetitive and overuse injuries, are injuries that happen repeatedly in the same location. Think along the lines of tendinitis, stress fractures, shin splints and even carpal tunnel syndrome. Common sites include ankles, knees, hips and shoulders.

Who is at Risk for Repetitive Injuries?

Overuse injuries can happen to anyone, but they're more likely to occur among workers who do repetitive motions and single-sport athletes. The risk of these injuries also increases with age. They're more likely to occur if you don't recognize the impact aging can have on your muscles, joints and tissues and modify your activities accordingly.

Why Do Recurring Injuries Happen?

Recurring injuries happen when you overuse the same muscles without sufficient recovery. It's simple body mechanics: If you continue using compromised muscles, you're more likely to get reinjured. And once you get stuck in that same biomechanic loop, it's nearly impossible to recover without changing your routine and learning new techniques.

How Can You Prevent Recurring Injuries?

All sports have a risk of injury. The key is paying attention to your body and taking the appropriate steps to minimize your risk. Here's how:

• Use appropriate gear. Make sure you're wearing appropriate protective gear for the activity you're participating in and choose the right footwear.

• Alternate muscle groups. Instead of focusing on one type of exercise, switch things up. Incorporate low-impact activities, such as swimming, biking and water sports, and make sure you're not overloading any particular muscle group.

• Take rest days. It's important to give your muscles, joints and tissues time to recover. Two days of rest each week is best. If you play a sport, plan to have at least one off day per week and at least one month off per year.

• Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises can help strengthen the muscles you need to perform various activities.

• Use proper form. Overuse injuries are sometimes related to improper form during activity. Work with a professional to ensure you're using proper body mechanics and get back to your usual activities gradually.

Play it Safe

The best way to avoid recurrent injuries is to not get injured in the first place. Recover during the season — even if it means missing out on some play. It's better to show up to a game healthy but undertrained than to power through an injury and risk reinjury.

Talk to your doctor before starting a new activity or ramping up your current routine. If you're at risk of developing a recurrent injury, a professional can provide you with a workout regimen that can help prevent injury.

Most important: Don't let an overuse injury prevent you from being physically active. Instead, listen to your body, consult a professional and pace yourself. Treatment may involve avoiding a specific activity for a period of time, along with hot and cold therapy, massage and focused rehabilitation.

Nick Parkinson, M.Ed., AT, ATC, TSAC-F, is the Supervisor of Athletic Training with Henry Ford Sports Medicine and also leads Sports Performance training at the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine. Learn more about Nick.

Want to learn more? Henry Ford Health System sports medicine experts are treating the whole athlete, in a whole new way. From nutrition to neurology, and from injury prevention to treatment of sports-related conditions, they can give your athlete a unique game plan.

Visit henryford.com/sports or call (313) 972-4216 for an appointment within 24 business hours.

Symptoms of a Meniscus Tear — and When to Seek Treatment

April 2, 2024

Meniscus tears are not one size fits all: Sometimes they cause no pain, other times they’re excruciating.

Henry Ford HealthOnce in a while they heal or adapt on their own, but more often than not they require physical therapy or surgery.    

“Your meniscus is a fiber elastic cartilage that acts as a shock absorber for the knee,” says Ahmad Bazzi, M.D., a sports medicine physician at Henry Ford Health. “It also helps stabilize the knee joint. But when it tears — which can occur in young athletes after a pivot injury or in older people who have arthritis — it can be painful.”

Here, Dr. Bazzi shares symptoms of a meniscus tear and when to see a doctor. 

What Does A Meniscus Tear Feel Like?

Depending upon the level of injury and type of tear, meniscus tears can either be asymptomatic or cause symptoms like:

  • Locking. When the meniscus tears, a piece of it might move into the knee joint, causing mechanical issues like stiffness and locking of the knee joint.
  • Catching or clicking. This often feels like a sudden ‘click’ in the knee joint, where it suddenly gives out while you’re walking or doing certain movements. 
  • Localized pain on the inner or outer part of the knee. In young athletes, a meniscus tear often causes an impaired range of motion and localized pain on the inner or outer part of the knee. 
  • Pain and swelling. In older people, a meniscus tear often causes swelling and an overall aching pain in the knee.  

Treatment Options For Meniscus Tears

A meniscus tear can only heal on its own if the tear is on the outer part of the knee where it has better access to blood supply. If you’re experiencing pain a few days after injury and you have limited range of motion, instability and/or swelling in the knee, Dr. Bazzi recommends seeing a doctor to get an examination and, if needed, an MRI for diagnosis. 

“It’s hard to tell what type of meniscus tear you have if you haven’t seen a doctor,” says Dr. Bazzi. “If you have a mechanically unstable tear and it goes untreated, it could lead to worsening range of motion and stiffness, or worsening arthritis. It’s important to get seen by a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and the proper treatment. It may take one to three months for a full recovery.”     

Here, Dr. Bazzi shares treatment options:


If someone is having mechanical symptoms like locking or catching, surgery may be considered right away, especially if it’s an athlete younger than 40 years old. “Meniscus tear surgery has a shorter recovery compared to other knee surgeries,” says Dr. Bazzi. “Surgery could either consist of a meniscectomy, which is partial or complete removal of the meniscus, or sometimes just a meniscus repair.”  

Hyaluronic acid or cortisone injections

Non-operative treatments are often recommended for older people who have degenerative tears due to arthritis. “This is because meniscus surgery doesn’t often relieve their pain since they have underlying arthritis, meaning they have cartilage loss in the meniscus,” says Dr. Bazzi. 

Instead, a cortisone injection, which is an anti-inflammatory medication that can be injected into the knee, can reduce inflammation, swelling and pain caused by arthritis.

A hyaluronic acid injection may also be considered, which adds cushioning in the knee. “Hyaluronic acid is one of the substances that make up our cartilage, so this injection helps us mimic the lost cartilage,” says Dr. Bazzi. “It also has anti-inflammatory properties.” 

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is another great option, especially for older people who need non-operative treatment options. It can help the knee adapt to the tear, reduce pain and encourage full range of motion. “Physical therapy for meniscus tears focuses on balance exercises and exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee,” says Dr. Bazzi. “This helps to uphold the knee joint to achieve full range of motion and strength while being pain-free.” 

To find a sports medicine provider at Henry Ford Health, visit henryford.com/athletes or call 313-651-1969.

Reviewed by Ahmad Bazzi, M.D., a sports medicine physician who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Fairlane.