When the Beatles sang Doing the garden, digging the weeds/ Who could ask for more, they were nowhere near 64 and probably not thinking about the aches and pains that become more prevalent in middle-age. While children and young adults usually don’t hurt themselves by simply bending over, injuries that occur during this simple act seem to happen more frequently as we age.
Sometimes bending injuries heal easily with rest, an application of heat or cold packs, or some stretching, but more serious ones require medical care. The best place to seek that care is in a professional office that specializes in non-surgical pain management and restoration of function, like Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine. Our practice offers an array of traditional and complementary medical options for injuries incurred through bending.
Why Bending Injuries Are So Common
One important reason for bending injuries is that many people have been taught how to bend properly. In order to avoid straining, you should always remember to:
- Bend with your hips, not your back
- Keep the chest forward
- Keep the weight of anything you’re lifting close to the body
During vigorous exercise or while playing sports, you may be more prone to injury because you bend while running, reaching, or twisting your body.
Risk Factors for Injuring Yourself While Bending
You are at increased risk for injuring yourself bending if:
- You are obese and/or have weak abdominal muscles
- You lead a sedentary lifestyle
- You are bending in extreme heat or cold
- You are forcefully exerting yourself
- You are bending while under emotional stress
- You have osteoporosis
- You bend repeatedly and/or lift heavy objects while bending
- You already have weakened back muscles, spinal stenosis, or disc herniation
No matter how fit, healthy, or careful you are, however, bending injuries are not uncommon. A single moment of awkward movement can result in sudden or ongoing pain. Most bending injuries occur in the back or knee.
Bending Injuries to the Back
It is all too easy to hurt your back while bending, especially, as previously mentioned, if you bend forward over your waist instead of bending your knees. Possible back injuries caused or worsened by bending include:
- Strained muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the back that leave your spine poorly supported, resulting in great pain and limited range of motion
- Herniated (slipped) disc that happens when the central portion of one of the cushions between your vertebrae bulges into the spinal canal, often impacting an adjacent nerve and causing severe pain
- Stress (hairline) fracture which can be very painful and which can widen into a more serious break without necessary rest and medical treatment
A sudden jolt of pain in the back as the result of bending may heal on its own with rest and home remedies but may, if serious damage has been done, lead to chronic back pain.
Bending Injuries to the Knee
Because your knees bear most of the weight if you are lifting correctly, the knee joint itself can suffer:
- Tendon strain or tear (patellar tendonitis)
- Meniscus tear, tear of cartilage between the shin and thigh bone
- ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear
- Joint dislocation
- Inflammation of connective tissue
- Bursitis of the knee, when the small sacs of fluid that cushion the knee become inflamed
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome, an overuse disorder
Patellofemoral pain syndrome may seem to start with a single act of bending, but, as with a herniated disc, the act of bending may simply be the last straw in an area weakened by repetitive stress or aging.
Treatments We Offer for Bending Injuries
Before we can determine which therapeutic treatment will be best for you, we have to make a precise diagnosis, typically through imaging tests like X-rays and CT or MRI scans. Depending on our findings, we may recommend one of the following options, or a combination of two or more:
- Epidural steroid injections
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Knee injections of hyaluronic acid (viscosupplementation)
- Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF)
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy
Contact Us Soon so that We Can Start Helping You Feel Better
Depending on the nature of your bending injury and on your general health, age, and other factors, our doctors will work out a customized regimen to relieve your pain, restore your normal activity level, and provide you with a general sense of well-being.