6 Gym-Related Injuries & How to Treat Them

We all have different fitness goals but getting injured at the gym is never one of them. Yet, despite our best efforts to avoid them, gym enthusiasts often pick up a few injuries when pumping iron at the gym.

Fortunately, most gym-related injuries heal with proper rehab and time, allowing individuals to get back into the swing of things and return to their pre-injury performance levels.

Here are 6 of the most common gym-related injuries and how to treat them!


Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Some gym activities such as push-ups, plank poses (and other workouts that involve excessive bending of the wrist backwards or forwards) can increase your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

The median nerve is one of the two major nerves that supply the hand. Before it enters the hand, it passes through a bony tunnel at the wrist, called the carpal tunnel.

In carpal tunnel syndrome, excessive pressure is applied to the median nerve, making its way through the carpal tunnel inside the wrist.

This pressure can lead to pain, weakness, numbness, and pins and needles sensation in the affected wrist and hand.

Treatment

The main goal of treatment for this condition is to prevent severe nerve damage, leading to loss of muscle mass and strength in the hands and fingers.

Wearing a wrist splint, icing, and avoiding certain gym exercises like push-ups often help in recovery. Anti-inflammatory medicines and oral corticosteroid drugs can also be prescribed to reduce the pain and swelling in more severe cases.

Wrist surgery may be the only definitive treatment when other options fail, or the condition has led to severe nerve damage.


Pectoral strain

This condition involves either a partial or complete rupture of one of the chest’s pectoral muscles.

Pectoral strain often occurs due to excessive tension buildup in repetitive chest exercises like dumbbell flys or bench presses.

As a result, you may experience bruising, swelling, spasms, weakness, and pain centred around the chest, in front of the shoulders, or the armpits.

Treatment

Rest and icing help reduce inflammation and keep the pain in check. In addition, compression bandages worn on the chest and torso can further control the swelling.

If you have a minor pectoral strain, you should consider strengthening exercises and pain-free flexibility workouts to ensure complete recovery. Massages and electrotherapy may also be beneficial.

Medical drugs, steroid injections (which reduce inflammation), and even surgery might be needed in more severe cases. You can read more about the condition here.


Hernia tear

Hernia tear

When lifting weights, it is essential to be aware of the proper technique. Not only can improper weight lifting lead to back problems, but it can also increase your risk of a hernia.

You may end up with a gym-related “inguinal” hernia if you exert sudden force or strain too much on your abdomen when lifting weights.

In this type of hernia, a part of your gut protrudes through a weak abdominal wall area (usually in the groin region) and may cause a painful lump to appear.

Treatment

There are only a few treatments that are effective for treating symptomatic hernias other than surgery. You will need to see a gastroenterologist for hernia repair to fix the tear.

A hernia repair surgery is an operation that aims to repair the weakened site of the abdominal wall using stitches or a mesh.

Non-surgical approaches such as wearing corsets or binders may keep the hernia in place by exerting gentle pressure on it to prevent pain while you wait for surgery.


Sternal fracture

Sternal fractures occur due to blunt-force trauma during failed bench press exercises. The sternum is the bone that lies at the centre of the chest and may be fractured if the barbell falls on it during a bench press.

Sternal fractures cause intense, throbbing chest pain, which increases with chest expansion during breathing, coughing, sneezing, or laughing.

Treatment

People with a sternum fracture should consider undergoing a complete medical examination to exclude damage to vital organs like the heart and lungs.

The treatment involves rest from strenuous activity along with pain killers. Surgery may be required in severe cases where the bone has dislocated to ensure proper bone alignment and repair. In some cases, the bone may have to be rejoined using plates and pins.


Bicep tendon tear

Bicep tendon tear

Using weights that are too heavy during bicep exercises can cause a tear in your bicep tendon.

The tear can be either “partial” and only affect the soft overlying tissue, or it could be a more serious “complete tear” and go through the entire tendon.

A bicep tendon tear characteristically shows itself as a visible bulge in the upper arm due to a shortened muscle and intense pain and swelling near the elbow.

Treatment

Anti-inflammatory drugs are used to reduce swelling and pain. And a sling can be used to support the arm. Once the pain and swelling subside, rehab exercises should be performed to strengthen surrounding muscles and restore normal function and flexibility.

Sometimes, you may have to undergo surgery. Surgeons recommend performing surgery within the first two weeks because delayed treatment may allow scars to form, which results in permanently shortened muscle and other complications.


Joint dislocation

Not paying attention to proper form or using weights that are too heavy can result in dislocated shoulders, elbows, hands, or knee joints.

Joint dislocations result in a loss of motion, excruciating pain during movement, and numbness.

The affected joints also swell up and appear bruised, discolored, and have an abnormal shape due to the dislocation.

Treatment

The treatment of choice depends on the joint that has been dislocated. Initially, resting and icing the affected joint and using compression wraps can give much-needed relief from swelling and pain.

A doctor may also pop your joint back into place and advise you to start wearing a sling, splint, or cast for a few days or weeks to prevent unnecessary movement of the joint, which speeds up recovery.

Sometimes, you may be given a muscle relaxant or painkiller to reduce the pain.


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