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“My Old Football Injury”: Keep Old Ailments at Bay

Posted 4/11/2017 by UHBlog

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“My Old Football Injury”: Keep Old Ailments at Bay

Just like cars and other machines, the human body’s parts tend to wear down over time. In some cases, a traumatic injury may exacerbate the impacts of normal wear and tear. Staying physically active and eating healthy foods, however, can help to slow, and sometimes reverse, the progression of physical pain and illness.

“In general, we cannot prevent the effects of aging, but what we can do is to reduce the impacts of those effects through good health and fitness,” says sports medicine specialist Robert Truax, DO.

Arthritis and deterioration of the joints related to loss of cartilage are among the most common conditions that result from bodily wear and tear.

“Joint degeneration is age related, and in the case of major joints, it can lead to knee or hip replacements,” Dr. Truax says. “In some cases, a serious injury, like an ACL tear that happened earlier in your life, may contribute to the problem. You can’t have that sort of trauma to your knee without having some ongoing damage to it. What can happen as a result is that the process of age-related cartilage loss can start earlier than usual. That’s when you see the 50-year-old guys hobbling around on bad knees.”

Unfortunately, he says, outside of an artificial joint, there is no magic solution to undo an old injury.

“What you can do, however, is minimize the impact of the condition on your life by staying healthy and fit,” Dr. Truax says. “Maintain a healthy body weight with a body mass index (BMI) that approaches 23 to 25, and stay physically active with an exercise regiment that is progressively more challenging. Over a week’s time your regiment should include some aerobic activities, some resistance training exercises and some flexibility exercises. Maintaining a normal body weight and staying physically active are the best ways to minimize the progressive worsening of knee problems and to minimize the risk of needing a hip or knee replacement.”

Generally, it’s hard to prove that a particular injury from your youth correlates with a painful condition today, he says. Back injuries, however, may be an exception.

“Back injuries can have accumulating effects that can seem to go away and come back later,” he says. “When a back spasm goes away, the question is whether the cause of the problem was corrected, or whether it feels better because the body has learned to compensate for it – maybe by using different muscles.”

Subtle osteopathic manipulation of the spine, Dr. Truax says, can help to correct back problems and reduce the risk that the pain will return.

“Routine spinal manipulation is a good idea even if your back isn’t hurting,” he says. “It’s just like going to your doctor for periodic cholesterol and blood pressure checks, even when you feel perfectly fine. Small joint and muscle imbalances can develop over time, and the accumulative impact can create problems.”

Robert Truax, DO is a family medicine specialist with University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network who focuses on sports-related injuries and rehabilitation. You can request an appointment with Dr. Truax or any other doctor online.

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