Despite adding years, you may remain young at heart, but it’s your body that keeps reminding you of your advancing age in the form of bodily aches and pains. Add to this the bane of orthopedic injuries that, more often than not, plague the older adults
What are orthopedic injuries?
Orthopedic injuries are muscular or musculoskeletal injuries, resulting from undue stress and strain on different parts of the body. These can occur in any part of the body.
The common orthopedic injuries include:
- Ankle sprain: Ankle sprain is common among the elderly. It is usually sustained by twisting the ankle while walking on uneven ground or mis-stepping.
- Heel pain: Repeated strain on the ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes, called plantar fascia, causes a condition called plantar fasciitis. It shows up as swelling and inflammation of one or both the heels.
- Tennis and golfer’s elbow: Tennis elbow is not limited to tennis players, but can occur in the elderly by overuse of the arm, forearm and hand muscles. The end result is excruciating elbow pain. Similar to this is the golfer’s elbow, where the pain emanates from the inside of the elbow.
- Knee injuries: Old people keen on taking brisk walks are most susceptible to knee injuries. This condition is caused by taking a hard turn that results in a sharp knee pain, making it difficult to even bend the knee.
- Meniscus tear: Meniscus is a cartilage in the knee joint that provides cushioning to the junction, where the thigh bone (femur) and shinbone (tibia) meet. The meniscus tear may be caused by turning too quickly when the foot is stationary and the knee is bent. This painful condition is accompanied by swelling.
- Shoulder dislocation: The elderly people are prone to falls, even a sharp jolt to the body can cause the shoulder dislocation. In addition to the pain, this condition may also cause muscle spasms, bruises, swelling, and numbness.
- Rotator cuff tear: Rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and keep the head of the upper arm bone securely in the shallow socket of the shoulder. A tear in the rotator cuff, as a result of shoulder injury or undue strain on shoulder ligaments and muscles, may cause pain and extreme stiffness.
- Stress fractures: Weak bones, due to depleted calcium, make elderly people most prone to stress fractures. The most common cause of this condition is muscle fatigue. This makes it difficult for the muscles to reduce the shock of repeated impacts. The stress of such impacts gets transmitted to the bone, leading to cracks or fractures.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Old people mostly suffer from diabetes, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity and such other conditions, which reduces blood flow to the medial nerve. These medical conditions are the leading cause of sustaining carpal tunnel syndrome, in which a nerve gets pinched in the wrist. This condition results in tingling sensation or pain in the fingers or hands and recurs frequently.
- Wrist fractures: Old people, who are more prone to falls, usually sustain wrist fractures in their attempt to save themselves from falling and taking full body weight on the outstretched hand. The elderly can also sustain such injuries by doing physical work, without adequately warming up the body or conditioning it.
Orthopedic injuries sustained in auto accidents
People are most susceptible to orthopedic injuries during auto accidents, more so, the elderly people. This is because their bones become brittle with age and the loss of muscle mass prevents muscles to cushion the impact.
Such injuries include muscle strains, injured tendons, torn or strained ligaments and cracked or fractured bones. The more serious ones include the broken neck and traumatic brain injuries.
How to reduce orthopedic injuries in the elderly?
Since old age leads to stiffening of the body that makes it vulnerable to orthopedic injuries, a moderate intensity exercise for one-and-a-half hours a week is one of the best preventive measures. However, much depends upon the shape the body is in.
For the obese elderly, maintaining normal body weight is important. This can be achieved through regular exercise and a balanced diet. To ward off osteoporosis-related orthopedic injuries, especially in older women, regular resistance training is recommended. Also, intake of Calcium and Vitamin D is important.
Besides this, the elderly should take all precautions while walking or driving. They should use a walking stick while walking and click the seatbelt while driving.
Orthopedic injuries get treated but take more time for the elderly. However, in case of an auto accident, it is important that a case is filed for personal injury to get compensation for the injuries. Seek help from Indianapolis, IN auto accident and orthopedic injuries lawyers if you hail from Indiana.