Orthopedic injuries in men preventable

2013-06-21T00:00:00Z 2013-06-21T16:08:07Z Orthopedic injuries in men preventableChristine Bryant nwitimes.com
June 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Although anyone can suffer from an orthopedic injury, health care professionals say men often experience different orthopedic issues than women.

However, many of them are preventable with changes in lifestyle alone, doctors say.

Anatomy makes a difference

Anatomy alone makes men more susceptible to certain types of orthopedic problems, especially upper body injuries in the shoulder, back and extremities.

"Men tend to have greater lean muscle mass and greater upper body strength, so you're going to see more upper body injuries in men in the elbow, wrist and shoulder," says Dr. Mark Nikkel, an orthopedic surgeon at Bone and Joint Physicians in Oak Lawn, Ill.

Although ACL injuries tend to occur in women more often, Nikkel, who also specializes in sports medicine and joint replacement, says several of his male patients see him for ACL tears.

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four major knee ligaments, and injuries in this area often are associated with sports, though can occur at the work place or elsewhere as well.

Dr. Sunil Dedhia, an orthopedic surgeon with Orthopaedic Specialists of Northwest Indiana in Munster, says he sees several cases of tendon ruptures in men. Tendon ruptures can occur in areas such as the quadriceps, Achilles, rotator cuff and biceps, and happen when the fibrous tissue that attaches muscle to the bone experiences a force too much for it to handle.

Not just a woman's disease

Although osteoporosis is a disease most commonly associated with older women, Nikkel says men are afflicted as well.

"It's a 4 to 1 ratio, but men still do get it," he says.

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become more likely to fracture after becoming fragile. This happens when the bone loses density.

Men should have about 1,000 mg of calcium in their diets, and should exercise to prevent osteoporosis, he says.

"Weight-bearing exercises are important to prevent this," Nikkel says. "But don't do the same thing over and over again. You do that and your body develops compliance."

Instead, experiment with different types of exercises, he says.

"Not that 'no pain, no gain' is the motto you should have, but you have to switch it up on a regular basis," he says.

Dedhia says certain life choices can also increase the odds of osteoporosis in men.

"The likelihood of osteoporosis in men is greater with other environmental exposures such as alcohol use and smoking," he says.


To prevent all types of orthopedics injuries, Dedhia says it's important to live a healthy lifestyle.

Maintaining a healthy weight is the first start to achieving optimal orthopedic health, he says.

Before exercising, Nikkel advises to stretch properly.

First, do a mild, low-intensity work-out for about 10 minutes, such as walking. This will prevent pulling a muscle when stretching. Then, do a good stretch—lower body, back and upper extremities, he says.

"It all depends on the exercise you're going to do," he says. "Especially stretch what you're going to work on."

No matter what activity you are participating in, make sure you stretch, Nikkel says.

"Often, people who play golf don't treat their bodies like they should," he says. "You should treat your body like you're an athlete. You need to warm up before, and cool down afterward."

Don't forget diet as well, he says.

"You can't exercise without diet," Nikkel says. "You have to eat healthy—not only protein, but fruits and vegetables."

Weight, exercise and diet all play a role in preventing orthopedic injuries, he says.

"The worst I see is the overweight person who plays a sport who smokes," Nikkel says. "They're begging for an injury."

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