The snow is gone, and so is the ice and frigid air, replaced by warm weather and all the activities it affords.
This annual change of seasons means that more people will be spending time outside, getting some exercise, fresh air, and possibly even some yard work done. But even though temperatures are beckoning, it’s doesn’t mean it’s safe to get back outside and pick up where you left off in the fall.
“As the weather changes and it gets warmer, people begin doing activities that they’re not used to and that could cause an injury,” said Jake Pawela, physician assistant, PA-C, with Garden State Pain & Orthopedics. “For example, if they begin playing soccer without warming up or stretching, we could see an injury.”
Garden State Pain & Orthopedics generally sees a rise in shoulder, knee, back and other overuse injuries when the warm months hit. One way to help prevent these common injuries is by easing into them, and warming up ahead of time, Pawela said.
Engaging in activity throughout the week, rather than just on Saturdays and Sundays, helps maintain and strengthen the muscles, which alleviates pressure on the joints. An added bonus is that frequent activity can decrease the risk of heart attack or even stroke.
“We have this saying, ‘weekend warrior,’ ” Pawela said. “Once the weather gets warm, people get so excited to get out and do things, but maybe they didn’t run throughout the winter because it was cold, and when they first go out, they start up at the level they were at in the previous season without gradually increasing the activity and building themselves back up. You have to train your muscles back up to get strength and endurance.”
Stretching beforehand, including the hamstrings, quads and calf muscles, before going for a run is recommended. A full body stretch or warmup also can get the body ready. Afterward, a cool-down workout such as stretching will help the body recover.
“From an orthopedic standpoint, we see a lot of overuse injuries — tennis elbow, golfers elbow, inflammation of some of the tendons, Achilles injuries. When we see that, we evaluate the patient and go over our options,” Pawela said.
ACL injuries, meniscus tears, shoulder impingements and other injuries also are common, particularly when someone takes a misstep while jogging after a long layoff, or landing wrong on the tennis court. .
Individuals also should be careful when it comes to all the yardwork that summer brings. “Maybe they just mowed the lawn and have to pick up a big bag of grass clippings. If they pick it up and don’t use their legs, they can sometimes get an injury to their back,” Pawela said. “If working in the yard, they might be bend over in positions they’re not usually in, which can put extra stress on the joints and back.”
Garden State Pain & Orthopedics is home to more than two dozen members, including seven physicians, two physician assistants and a nurse practitioner. Garden State Pain & Orthopedics takes a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to patient evaluation and treatment.
“We always start with conservative treatment, so maybe we recommend rest, ice, elevation and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories,” Pawela said. If those options don’t work, prescription medications and surgery will be considered, but those are always the last option.
As a physician assistant, Pawela works as part of a team to determine and diagnose conditions, and create individualized treatment plans to ensure patients receive the best treatment.
“With Garden State Pain & Orthopedics, we’re all constantly learning new methods and new techniques so we can be on the front end of all the new technology,” he said. “All the doctors and staff are highly trained and work really great as a team, so if there is something one of us isn’t sure about, we have a staff of qualified individuals that we can go to for advice.”
With locations in Edison, Clifton, Hazlet, Paramus and Jersey City, Garden State Pain & Orthopedics provides compassionate and comprehensive pain management to people struggling with acute and chronic pain. For more information, visit gardenstatepain.com.