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What Is an Overuse Injury? (With Examples)

Spine conditions can have many causes. Some genetic or the result of natural aging. Others are caused by our actions and behaviors. This is the case with overuse injuries.

What is an Overuse Injury?

An overuse injury is a condition caused by a repetitive motion, action, or being in a position too long. Performing the same action, over and over again, can put strain on the muscles, joints, ligaments, and other soft tissues being used. This can result in pain in the area affected or, in some cases, the pain can radiate to other areas of the body.

Examples of Overuse Injuries

tennis elbow is an example of an overuse injuryThere are many types of overuse injuries. Tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome are some commonly known ones. Tennis elbow is an issue in the arm which can result from the repetitive motion tennis players make with their arm. Carpal tunnel syndrome, which can cause hand pain, can be the result of repetitive use of the mouse or keyboard.

Overuse Injuries of the Spine


Repetitive lifting of heavy objects can aggravate the lower back and cause low back pain or sciatica. If you have to do a lot of heavy lifting, use proper lifting techniques to avoid straining your lower back.


Just like tennis elbow can cause an individual pain, many sports can strain on your spine. A weight lifter may develop problems in their lower back from all the heavy lifting. Football players can develop neck pain or back pain as the result of the physical jarring the spine experiences during tackles. Gymnasts can develop overuse injuries of the spine from the repetitive arching of the back and twisting.

Office Ergonomics

If your workspace is not setup ergonomically, you may find yourself experiencing pain in the neck, shoulders, or down the arms. This condition, sometimes called tech neck, is becoming more prevelant as we bend our heads down to look at the laptop or phone more often. To avoid pain associated with being in this incorrect position too long, make sure your monitor is at eye level. Read more about how to setup your office ergonomically.


Believe it or not, sleeping can actually be the cause of an overuse injury. If you sleep on a poor mattress, use too many pillows, or sleep in a position that puts pressure on your spine, it can lead to back or neck pain. As with most overuse injuries, the first step in resolving the pain is to remedy the cause. Read about the correct pillow for neck pain or which sleeping positions are best.

Treatment for Overuse Injuries of the Spine

The first step in resolving an overuse injury is to understand where it comes from and try to avoid the motion/action if possible. If it’s not possible to avoid it, adding stretches before the activity or building core strength may help take some of the load off of the aggravated part of the spine. Hot and cold therapy and over the counter anti-inflammatory medications can help ease the pain until the area heals.

If you believe you have an overuse injury but the pain is not going away, it may be time to see a spine specialist. Contact us for an appointment if you’re in the Saratoga Springs, Glens Falls, or Plattsburgh area.

*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery