If you suffered an injury in your youth, it could come back to haunt you as you get older. GP, Dr James Thompson offers advice on the three most common recurring injuries.
The injury: “A sprained ankle is damage to the ligaments that support the joint,” explains Dr Thompson. “Bad sprains can tear the ligaments. If the ligaments are not treated appropriately at the time of the injury, the ligaments may remain weak and could increase the risk of further sprains.”
The symptoms: “If you notice any of the symptoms you experienced during the initial injury, it may well be that your injury has returned or flared up,” he says. “If your ankle is giving way more often, the ankle ligaments could have weakened.”
Take action: Notice the warning signs of similar symptoms and be proactive. Don’t leave them to get worse. Dig out your old exercise sheets from when you were first injured and start doing them again.
Knee cartilage problems
The injury: People who play sports that require sudden changes in movement and speed, like football and netball, could suffer from cartilage tears. “Cartilage tears do not heal spontaneously,” Dr Thompson says. “People often rest the knee and symptoms subside without treatment. However, the chances of aggravating the injury are high if you return to the same activities, potentially making the tear worse.”
The symptoms: Cartilage trouble could give you pain when flexing your knee. You may also experience fluid on your knee. You will often find you get pain along the border of the knee joint on the side of the affected cartilage and in extreme cases your knee may lock.
Take action: Try to lose weight if you’re carrying a few extra pounds as this could put strain on your joints and their support structures. A glucosamine supplement could help repair joint and cartilage health as our body’s natural supply of this amino sugar declines with age.
The injury: “Falling awkwardly or taking an impact to your shoulder could result in pain when moving the arm in an arc or weakness in certain planes of movement,” says Dr Thompson. Shoulder dislocations can be particularly damaging to the ligaments and rotator cuff muscles.
The symptoms: Shoulder injuries will often niggle if not sorted properly and could give rise to weakness of the joint on that side. “Certain movements could flare the pain. Dislocated shoulders can lead to sufficient weakening of the ligaments and mean further dislocations become common,” he says.
Take action: Physiotherapy, both private and through the NHS, could be a good source of advice and treatment. “The best advice I can give is be vigilant,” Dr Thompson adds.
Dr James Thompson is a GP who works in private and NHS surgeries in London and the East Midlands.