Overuse injuries account for close to 30% of all college sports injuries, according to a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training. Researchers followed 573 male and female Division I NCAA college athletes for three years.1 In this time span they recorded 1,317 injuries. 70% of these were acute injuries, where one specific event caused a trauma-like injury. 30% of these injuries were overuse injuries, injuries that develop gradually over time, caused by repeated small injuries.
Overuse injury complications
The problem with sports injuries in college or professional athletes is that it affects so much of their career. Not only do they lose playing time, they have to deal with the psychological effects of recovery and rehab and getting back into pre-injury shape. If not treated right away, overuse injury can lead to long-term deformity or arthritis.
This study found that 62% of overuse injuries happen in female athletes. Low contact sports were the most common cause of overuse injury. So athletes participating in rowing, cross country, swimming, volleyball, and softball had the highest rates of this type of injury. The most common types of overuse injuries were general stress, inflammation and tendinitis. The researchers concluded that, “Additional studies are needed to examine why female athletes are at greater risk for overuse injuries and identify the best practices for prevention and rehabilitation of overuse injuries.”1
Overuse injury treatment
Overuse injuries typically occur because tissue is broken down faster than it can rebuild. An athlete gets better, faster, and stronger when the body breaks down tissue during training and workouts, then rebuilds, or remodels, tissue to a better state. When the remodeling falls behind and an athlete’s tissues start breaking down without building back up, injury occurs. While typical treatment for overuse sports injuries involve NSAIDs, RICE, physical therapy, etc, none of these treatments address the injured tissue, namely ligaments and tendons.
Prolotherapy is a conservative and alternative treatment for sports injuries in that is uses the athlete’s natural healing system, inflammation. By inducing a mild inflammation in the injured area, Prolotherapy allows the tissues to make more proteoglycans and collagen that can strengthen and thicken injured ligaments and tendons. The best part of Prolotherapy for the athlete is that the athlete can continue to exercise, or cross-train, throughout treatment. So while the authors of this study believe they need to search for better rehabilitation practices for overuse injuries, Prolotherapists already have the answer: Prolotherapy.
1. Yang J, Tibbetts AS, Covassin T, Cheng G, Nayar S, Heiden E. Epidemiology of overuse and acute injuries among competitive collegiate athletes. J Athl Train. 2012 Mar-Apr;47(2):198-204.