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TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog

What are signs an cycling injury is serious?

May 19, 2012

The experts from TRIA Orthopaedic Center will be checking in from time to time to share tips for cyclists on a wide range of topics. Today’s installment is from Anne Moore, MD, CAQ who focuses on Musculoskeletal Primary Care/Sports Medicine. She will be talking to us about signs an injury may be severe and may need medical assistance.

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Cycling injuries occur across a spectrum of severity.

Many bike injuries are caused by overuse or ramping up into activity too quickly. Falling off the bike can involve more serious injuries, such as abrasions, muscle/tendon strains, ligament  sprains (or tears), fractures, joint dislocations and concussions.  Typically,  pain or soreness which occurs after activity and resolves with rest is less worrisome.  Pain that occurs during biking may be a sign of an injury that could benefit from further medical evaluation.

Soreness is simply less intense than pain, and can certainly be expected with intense physical activity.  One of the most basic prevention strategies for these types of injuries is to undergo a formal bike fitting and make sure that you do not overload any body part simply due to malalignment.   Additionally, cross training with strength training, flexibility exercises, swimming, and core stabilization can help overall fitness and minimize overuse injuries.

If a fall is sustained while biking,  open skin wounds should be cleaned thoroughly and may require antibiotics  and/or stitches.   If localized swelling, redness, or bruising  occurs at an injury site, this should be evaluated by a health care provider, especially if it persists for days (sooner if sharp pain or loss of function accompanies the injury).

Although helmets are necessary and can protect riders from skull fractures, serious head injuries can still occur with falls from a bike.  Concussions are the most common of these injuries, and  should undergo formal  medical evaluation. Some typical signs and symptoms of concussion can include headache, dizziness, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, feeling foggy, visual disturbances, feeling nauseated, or changes in sleep. The majority of concussions resolve within 1-2 weeks, but lingering symptoms are more concerning.

As  a recreational and competitive sport, biking  is especially beneficial for people with knee arthritis since it does not tend to overload the joints.  However for patients with low bone mineralization/osteoporosis, it is not very beneficial from a bone strengthening standpoint.  None the less, biking provides several other health benefits, and can be  enjoyed throughout one’s lifetime.

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