4 Common Orthopedic Problems Men Should Watch Out For

May 21st, 2018 Becki Andrus
Orthopedic Problems Men

When it comes to orthopedic problems, men and women can be very different. While women tend to suffer more bone and ligament issues, men cope with more soft tissue damage. Here are the things that men should be careful of.

4 Common Orthopedic Problems Men Should Watch Out For

Orthopedic problems aren’t gender specific, age specific, or anything of the sort. If you have bones and muscles, you are susceptible to injury. However, not everyone deals with the same threat. In terms of orthopedic problems, men and women have a very different journey ahead of them. It’s not always clear why that is, but it is always there.

Women are more likely to deal with bone issues, as we discussed last week: osteoporosis and sprained ankles are much more common in women. Men certainly don’t get off scot-free, though. While women worry about brittle bones, men have to be worried about torn muscles. Whether it’s a question of biology or activity isn’t always clear: likely it’s a combination of the two, as the gap continues to close but never shuts. Here are a few things that men, in particular, should be careful of.

Achilles Tears

Orthopedic Problems MenMen are three times as likely to receive an Achilles tear than women.

An Achilles tear, of course, occurs when the tendon connecting your calf and ankle is torn. The tendon is very strong but at near constant risk. It got its name when the Greek hero, Achilles, was downed from an injury to the tendon. If there is a moral to be learned from that tale, it’s that Achilles tears are no fun. Many who suffer from an Achilles tear lose the ability to walk on that foot during the injury’s duration.

So, why are men more likely to tear their Achilles tendon than women? Likely because men put their Achilles tendon at higher risk. Sports like football and basketball which require a lot of cutting foot motion can put heavy amounts of strain on the tendon. When you factor in the contact element, it’s clear to see that the sports are a hotbed for tendon injuries.

Part of the evidence for this is the fact that the gap between Achiless tears in men and women is slowly closing. It’s suggested that the “three times” number is down significantly, likely because more and more women are playing contact sports. Whether that is the sole factor is unknown.

Finger Fractures

Similar to Achilles tears, men are much more likely to have fractures in their hands and fingers. Again, contact sports play a part in this. With a lot of pushing and tackling going on, it’s easy for someone’s fingers to get hurt. However, the major differentiating factor is something else entirely.

Many orthopedists suggest that men are more likely to finger and hand fractures because they are more likely to get into a fistfight. When punching someone in the face, it’s not uncommon to hurt yourself in the process. If you want to stay healthy, not hitting anyone is probably a good idea.

Tools can be another factor, though. Drills, lawnmowers, screwdrivers, and, especially, hammers can cause a lot of damage with just the slightest slip. Men are more likely to operate these tools than women, likely creating the gap. However, this is likely to start closing as well.

Distal Bicep Tears

While also caused by heavy lifting, the gap is not closing on one injury: distal bicep tears. Despite being incredibly common in men, it’s almost unheard of for a woman to suffer a distal bicep tear.

The distal bicep tendon is the tendon that connects your bicep to your forearm — you can likely feel it while moving your arm. A distal tear is characterized by a loud pop, followed by a sudden and intense pain. Immediate bruising in the arm is common. This injury mostly occurs during heavy lifting and is especially common in smokers and other people with weakened muscles.

Soft Tissue Injuries in General

Beyond the bicep and the Achilles tendon, men are more likely to receive soft tissue injuries in general. The reasoning isn’t entirely clear — it doesn’t appear to be entirely biological, but likely has more to do with the behavioral tendencies of men.

Men should watch their muscles: overworking and overstressing them is common, and almost always leads to injury. Working out is good for keeping in shape, but be careful not to overdo it. A small mistake or a small a little added weight can start you down a slippery slope.


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