How to Identify a Rotator Cuff Tear

A rotator cuff tear is a common injury that is caused by constant overhead motions. Many times it may be asymptomatic, but it can be a source of restricted movement and constant shoulder pain. Often the restricted movement is not noticeable as the pain associated with this movement can be minimal. These symptoms can affect your day to day life in significant ways, especially if your work or hobby requires movement of your shoulders.

How to Identify a Rotator Cuff Tear

The Causes

The most common sources of a rotator cuff injuries come from constant overhead motions. These overhead motions are involved in constant lifting or jerking motions such as those involved in sports. As such, the injury is more likely for those who play sports that involve throwing or hitting a ball, such as baseball and tennis. It is also fairly common for those who place their shoulder in constant movement under resistance, such as in swimming.

Finally, any sort of work that involves lifting things overhead throughout the day can be the cause of a rotator cuff tear. This means people such as carpenters, painters, and others whose jobs involve physical labor are prone to these injuries. Due to their sometimes asymptomatic nature, tears can go unnoticed for years until the problem worsens to the point of causing pain.

The Diagnosis

The rotator cuff tear will be identified by viewing an x-ray. The tear itself can take place in one or more of the tendons within four muscles that are in the shoulder. These muscles are collectively known as the rotator cuff muscles. The tear can be easily identified through an x-ray as the tendons will appear inflamed or enlarged.

Tears can also cause other symptoms that may appear unnoticeable to the person who is suffering from the tear. These symptoms include a strange gate or incomplete movement of the shoulder. There will also be poor blood supply to the region, especially in older people who have had a tear over time. A rotator cuff tear with these symptoms is usually referred to as a chronic tear.

Acute tears are caused by sudden jerking motions. These tears often occur in car accidents and other sudden and unexpected forces, although the force that causes the tear can also be light or modest. An acute tear can cause immediate pain, although the onset of the pain may also be delayed. That can be why you don’t feel the full effects of a car accident until a day or two later.

The nature of a rotator cuff tear can affect many aspects of your lifestyle if your hobbies or work require free shoulder movement. If you are experiencing any sort of pain or discomfort in your shoulder and your lifestyle makes you more susceptible to tearing your rotator cuff, you should go and get your shoulder checked. A doctor will be able to diagnose the problem with a quick x-ray and put you on a program that can lead to the end of your shoulder pain.

Advertisements

Important Things to Know about Knee Surgery

Surgeries of the knees are some of the most frequent operations performed by orthopedic surgeons. Our knees are subject to a multitude of injuries and diseases, and sometimes surgery is the best treatment option. Many orthopedic surgeons specialize in knee procedures and can answer your questions regarding the procedures. Here are some important, basic facts you should know if you are considering knee surgery now or in the future.

Knee Surgery Is Not for Everyone

Although surgery can be a great choice for certain patients, greatly reducing their pain and increasing their mobility, it’s not for everyone. First, your issue must be severe enough to make surgery an appropriate choice. If your pain can be relieved with more conservative measures like medications, icing, and physical therapy, then an orthopedic surgeon may decline to perform the procedure.

Important Things to Know about Knee Surgery

Surgery, like many aspects of medicine, is viewed by its risks compared to potential benefits. If the risk to you is too great due to other health issues, then surgery would not be a good choice. Also, if your surgeon believes you would not receive much improvement from surgery, then other options should be considered instead.

There are Many Types of Knee Surgery

Just as there are many kinds of knee problems, there are many different types of knee surgery. Surgery may be performed because there is a rupture or tear of one of the ligaments, to remove loose cartilage or bone fragments, or due to a problem with a knee meniscus. Each different sort of surgery has its own unique risks, procedures, benefits, recovery time, and the expected outcome. Of course, each of these factors further varies based on your individual medical history and condition. For a comprehensive view of your situation, consult with your orthopedic surgeon and don’t be hesitant to ask questions.

Compliance is Crucial

For the best outcome from knee surgery, or possibly avoiding it altogether, it is absolutely vital that you follow your surgeon’s instructions. This includes before and after surgery. Your surgeon might request that you try different medications or therapies or even change your lifestyle. For your health’s sake, you should listen to their advice.

Aftercare is also important. After getting out of the hospital, you’ll be given some restrictions as well as some exercises to perform. Adhering to these rigorously and following your surgeon’s instructions will increase your chances for a favorable outcome and reduce the likelihood of needing additional surgery.

Every Outcome is Different

Just as no two patients are exactly alike, every situation is different. You shouldn’t necessarily expect the same outcome or postoperative course as a friend or family member. Also remember that there are no absolutes or guarantees, although sticking to your surgeon’s instructions can certainly help your outcome.

Hopefully, the above information has been useful to your understanding of the basic facts and information surrounding knee surgery. Remember, however, that your orthopedic surgeon is always your best source of information concerning your individual case.

Facts about the Most Common, Serious Foot Injuries

Our feet get a workout almost every day. Simply walking around puts stress on our feet, even more so when running or participating in athletics. The potential for foot injury is high, and foot problems are among the most frequent orthopedic complaints. In fact, informal polling has shown that 74 percent of all Americans have experienced some form of foot injury during their lives. Here are some facts about the most common serious foot injuries suffered by Americans, including their symptoms and treatment.

Taking an X-ray of a patients foot

Broken Ankle

A broken ankle is actually a fracture of one of multiple bones that make up the ankle joint: the tibia, the fibula, and the talus. The break can be caused by any number of different traumas including automobile accidents, twists, falls, and workplace accidents.

Symptoms include severe pain and an inability to bear weight on the affected foot. Bruising and swelling also occur, and in some cases there may be a visible deformity of the ankle. X-rays and other imaging may be necessary to definitely diagnosis a broken ankle.

An orthopedic surgeon can advise on the best course of treatment. Many ankle fractures can be treated in about six weeks in a cast. In more severe cases, however, surgery is necessary. This usually involves the installation of hardware to fuse the broken bones and hold them in position.

Lisfranc Fracture

A Lisfranc fracture is a fracture and dislocation of the metatarsal bones, located in the midfoot. One or more metatarsals is shifted out of place in relation to the talus, or anklebone. This type of injury is sometimes seen in vehicle accidents but also occurs frequently when a heavy object is dropped onto the midfoot.

It’s very easy to mistake a Lisfranc fracture for a bruise or sprain. If a Lisfranc fracture is suspected, an orthopedic surgeon should be consulted, as these injuries can be difficult to see on X-rays. For injuries where the bones are non-displaced, or still in their proper positions, a few weeks in a cast will usually suffice. Again, more severe cases may require surgery to insert a metal plate with screws or pins to hold it in position.

Frostbite

Frostbite is the result of prolonged exposure to low temperatures. The fingers and toes are especially susceptible. Ice crystals form in the soft tissues, causing damage. Symptoms include itching, pain, and blisters, progressing to numbness and a waxy appearance to the skin.

In mild cases, simply rewarming the toes is sufficient, and there is no permanent damage. However, severe instances may require surgical removal of the dead tissue and even amputation of the toes.

Gangrene

Gangrene is not really an injury in itself but is the result of infection or impaired blood supply. Diabetics are particularly vulnerable and should check their feet daily for wounds or suspicious areas.

Gangrene is dead tissue, usually affecting the toes first and then progressing up the foot. Again, surgical removal of the diseased tissue, along with antibiotics, is often the first line of treatment. In more progressive cases, amputation of the toes or foot may be required.

6 of the Most Injury-Causing Amateur Sports

Life carries inherent risks. Even if you never left your house, given enough time, you’d sustain some sort of injury, no matter how minor. The key is to minimize risk while still enjoying life and living an active lifestyle.

Participation in sports is a great way to build skills, get exercise, and stay healthy. Still, some sports are riskier than others. The list below details some of the amateur sports with the highest injury rates in the U.S., based on data from sports medicine physicians and insurance adjustors. All of these can still be enjoyed; just be sure to take appropriate precautions.

Members Of Female High School Soccer Playing Match

Football

As America’s favorite full-contact sport, football has earned a dubious place among sports with the most injuries. Although concussions in football have gotten a lot of mention in the press lately, they are by no means the only type of injury suffered. Knee trauma, such as tears of the ligaments and meniscus, are not infrequent. Also, shoulder injuries like rotator cuff tears are a common occurrence. As one might imagine, most of these injuries are sustained while tackling or being tackled by another player.

Cheerleading

This entry on the list might be surprising to some. Cheerleading is certainly not a violent sport, but it does involve heights and acrobatic feats. Plus, it’s extremely popular, so there are many participants and more chances for injuries to occur. In addition to concussions, cheerleaders most frequently sustain damage to the knees, ankles, and feet.

Soccer

Soccer matches can be intense, especially when emotions flare. Although certainly not as violent as hockey or boxing, soccer players sustain both intentional and accidental injuries. Not surprisingly, many of these are to the knee areas. Groin injuries are also seen with some frequency. Just like with football, soccer players should always wear the maximum amount of protective gear allowed.

Basketball

Basketball is not designed to be a contact sport, but accidents happen. Basketball players frequently collide on the court, which can result in injuries to both parties. Furthermore, the high jumps and trick shots can lead to trauma. The most common types of damage suffered by basket players are injuries to the feet, ankles, and knees.

Baseball/Softball

America’s pastime isn’t known for being a violent sport, with the exception of the occasional bench-clearing brawl among professional teams. Still, every year, thousands of amateur baseball players end up in sports medicine clinics with injuries from their chosen game. The vast majority of these injuries result from being hit by the ball. A baseball is a hard object, and, when pitched at over 90 mph, can be very unforgiving.

Boxing

Since the object of boxing is to actually hurt your opponent, it should be no surprise that boxing carries a high injury rate. While acute concussions and post-concussive syndrome, or “punch drunk,” are always a problem, boxers also suffer hematomas, abdominal injuries, and facial fractures. If one is going to engage in this sport, be sure to always be checked by a physician before and after a fight and wear a mouthguard and other protective equipment.

What to Look for in an Orthopedic Surgeon

Choosing an orthopedic surgeon is an important and sometimes difficult decision. Your particular medical issue, no matter how common, is unique to you. You’ll want to choose an orthopedic surgeon in Denver who is experienced, competent, and caring. Here are some great ideas on what to look for among orthopedic surgeons and some good places to start.

Focusing on the work

Location

It may seem to go without saying, but the location of your orthopedic surgeon’s office is important. Of course, you’ll want to choose someone convenient to your home or place of work, but you also need to consider the location of the orthopedist’s affiliated hospital.

A surgeon must have privileges at a hospital before he or she can perform surgery there or admit patients. Make sure any orthopedic surgeon you’re considering is able to practice at the hospital or health system of your choice.

Experience

Everyone has to start somewhere, but you’ll want to pick an orthopedic surgeon who has years of experience, especially in dealing with your particular problem. Fortunately, an orthopedic surgery residency lasts several years, so any provider you choose will likely be experienced and comfortable with many disorders and procedures. If you have any doubts, simply ask your doctor about his or her background and training.

Expertise

Although all orthopedic surgeons are well-versed regarding the bones, muscles, and connective tissues of the body, some specialize in certain areas. Look for one who has expertise in your problem. For example, if you are dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome, you might seek out a hand specialist. A foot and ankle orthopedist could better help you with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Partners

While it is by no means crucial, you might want to consider an orthopedic surgeon who has other partners in their practice. There are several reasons for this. First of all, partners cover for each other, so if your regular orthopedist is out of town or otherwise unavailable, one of their partners can care for you and will have access to your medical information. Secondly, different areas of specialization often exist among the partners of a practice. This is extremely convenient if your orthopedist needs another opinion or wants you to be seen by a different orthopedic specialist. Instead of driving across town, you may only need to walk down the hall.

Tips for Finding an Orthopedic Surgeon

Now that you know what to look for, how should you go about finding the right orthopedic surgeon for you? Start by asking around. Your friends and family might have some great recommendations. Also, search on your health system’s website. It should have a listing of medical providers by specialty.

Once you have some good leads, do a bit more research. Check with your state medical board to be certain the orthopedist you have chosen has no sanctions on their record. View their practice’s website to see their area(s) of expertise and what conditions they treat. Finally, schedule an office appointment and don’t be afraid to ask questions about their education, background, and experience.

Why Surgeons Want to Avoid Surgery in Sports Medicine

When you’re an athlete, an eventual injury is almost inevitable. Whether you participate in a full-contact sport like football or just do gentle yoga, the risk of injury from accident or overuse is always present. When you see your sports medicine professional, don’t be surprised if they don’t immediately recommend surgery to address your injury.

Orthopedic Surgeons Avoid Surgery in Sports Medicine.jpg

It may be odd to think of someone avoiding the very thing they’re trained for. A pilot who doesn’t want to fly or an architect who is reluctant to design buildings would certainly raise some eyebrows. The thing is, surgeons are—first and foremost—healthcare providers. Their goal is to maintain your quality of life for as long as possible. While some injuries may very well require some surgery to repair, a good surgeon will try an appropriate conservative measure first.

What are Conservative Measures?

Conservative measures are noninvasive treatment methods used in an attempt to improve your condition without surgery. They can consist of the following.

  • Medications: Pain medications and anti-inflammatories may be prescribed by your sports medicine provider in Denver. These medicines can ease your pain and reduce swelling. They’re often prescribed for short-term problems or mild irritations of the joints.
  • Rest: This is the simplest conservative measure. A lot of sports injuries result from simply overdoing it. If your sports medicine provider wants you to take it easy for a while, listen to them. It might prevent further, more severe injury.
  • Ice/Heat: The proper application of ice and/or heat to an injured area can help with swelling, range of motion, and pain. Sometimes this is all it takes to get you back to 100 percent after a mild injury.
  • Bracing: With repetitive stress injuries like tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome, a brace is sometimes prescribed to help ease symptoms. Be sure to wear your brace as instructed to gain the maximum benefit.
  • Physical Therapy: A course of physical therapy with a qualified therapist is often recommended by Denver sports medicine providers. If improvement can be made during physical therapy, surgery can sometimes be avoided or postponed.

 

Benefits of Conservative Measures

So, what’s so great about avoiding surgery, anyway? While surgery is almost always unavoidable for certain injuries, like complete ACL tears in the knee and ruptured biceps tendons, it’s usually not the preferred method of dealing with sports injuries. For one, surgery carries a longer downtime than conservative measures. Your surgical recovery period means no training for a while and a reduced training regimen for even longer.

Another factor is that surgery never comes with an absolute guarantee. Each case is unique, and even an experienced, highly-trained surgeon cannot promise a certain outcome. Therefore, it’s possible that, even with surgery, your injury may never completely return to normal. Surgery is simply another treatment modality, not a magic fix.

So, even if you eventually need surgery for a sports injury, expect your sports medicine provider to try some conservative treatments first. With luck and adherence to their advice, you might be able to avoid surgery altogether.

5 Procedures Performed By Orthopedic Surgeons That Don’t Involve Fractures

Almost everyone knows at least one person who’s had orthopedic surgery. Maybe you were unlucky enough to fall out of a tree as a kid and needed screws or plates in the bones of your arm. Or perhaps your aunt broke her hip during a fall and needed a replacement. While an orthopedic surgeon would perform the surgery in both of the above examples, their expertise is by no means limited to bone fractures.

Senior Test Results

In fact, an orthopedic surgeon does many other procedures. Almost any surgery that involves the bones, tendons, ligaments, and sometimes muscles may be carried out by an orthopedic surgeon. Here are the details of five such examples below:

Bunions

Bunions are a bone deformity in the feet, most often encountered in the great toes. Bunions almost always require surgery for correction. While there are several types of bunion surgeries, all can be carried out by an orthopedic surgeon. Some orthopedic surgeons even specialize in bunionectomies and other orthopedic procedures involving the feet.

Achilles Tendon Repair

The Achilles tendon, which runs up the heel of the foot, is vital for foot flexion, extension, and simply walking. This tendon can be ruptured or torn from overstretching or trauma. A rupture of the Achilles tendon is extremely painful and debilitating. An experienced orthopedic surgeon in Denver is able to perform Achilles tendon repairs and get their patients mobile again.

Biceps Tendon Repair

Unfortunately, you don’t have to be a body builder to injure the biceps tendons in your arms. A tear of the biceps muscle or its tendons often results in pain, weakness, and visible deformity. However, an orthopedic surgeon can address this injury surgically with a biceps tendon repair.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition often resulting from repetitive use that is characterized by numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and fingers. It is caused by impingement, or pinching, of the median nerve in the forearm. Carpal tunnel release surgery, performed by an orthopedic surgeon denver, relieves pressure on the median nerve and leads to an improvement in symptoms.

Rotator Cuff Issues

The shoulder is one of the most versatile joints in the human body and one that we use very frequently. Unfortunately, the rotator cuff of the shoulder can be prone to tears and other problems. Rotator cuff injuries are accompanied by pain and loss of range of motion. An orthopedic surgeon can offer a rotator cuff repair to correct such problems, lessening pain and restoring range of motion.

Although orthopedic surgeons are specialists at fixing broken bones, repairing fractures is only a portion of what they do. From torn ligaments and tendons to repairing bone deformities, an orthopedic surgeon must be an expert in the surgical treatment of the entire musculoskeletal system, including the soft tissue components. So, if you break a bone, certainly see an orthopedic surgeon, but also remember that an orthopedic surgeon can address many other complaints as well.