We all have aches and pains. But as we age, our joints, tendons or ligaments can get sore, stiff or injured.
We spoke to three orthopedic doctors — Dr. Alejandro Badia of OrthoNow, Dr. Clifton Page, sports medicine physician with UHeath - University of Miami Health System, and Dr. Michael Swartzon, sports medicine physician with Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute at Baptist Health South Florida — who all agree the most common orthopedic maladies stem from back pain, followed by knee pain.
Here, then, are the nine most common orthopedic issues:
1. Back pain
Lower back pain can be caused by an injury to a muscle (strain) or ligament (sprain). Common causes include improper lifting, poor posture, lack of regular exercise, fracture, herniated disk, arthritis or stenosis. Stenosis is a narrowing of the open spaces in the spine that puts pressure on the spine and nerves. An estimated one out of 10 people have lower back pain.
2. Knee pain
This includes osteoarthritis in which the cartilage has worn away from the knee cap, leading to bone on bone. A common problem among seniors is a tear of the meniscus, the cartilage that cushions and stabilizes the knee. Another injury is an ACL tear, particularly in athletes. Hearing a pop or experiencing a sharp pain in your knee after taking a hard turn may mean you have torn the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).
3. Shoulder pain
“In older people, pain is caused more from degenerative problems like arthritis. In the younger population, it’s usually more bursitis in the shoulders,” Swartzon said. Other problems include a dislocated shoulder caused by a tear in the labrum, the firm tissue around the shoulder socket, and a rotator cuff tear, caused by an injury or wear and tear of the tendon. Symptoms include pain when raising your arm high or when moving your shoulder.
4. Ankle sprain
Sprains can happen when the ankle rolls, twists or turns in an awkward way.
5. Plantar fasciitis
Caused by repeated strain on the plantar fascia, the ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes. This malady is the most common cause of heel pain, and often is caused by running, Badia said.
6. Tennis elbow
A condition aggravated by overuse of the arm, forearm and hand muscles that result in elbow pain. “Golfer's elbow” refers to pain on the inside of the elbow caused by overuse.
7. Stress fractures
These injuries occur when the muscles become so fatigued that they no longer reduce the shock of repeated impact, leading over time to small cracks in the affected bones.
8. Carpal tunnel syndrome
Caused by compression of the median nerve in the wrist, which connects to the thumb and three middle fingers. This pinched nerve can cause tingling, weakness or pain in the fingers or hand.
9. Wrist fractures
This injury can occur when you stretch out a hand to block your fall.