The continued spread of COVID-19 has called on everyone—and especially the healthcare system—to quickly adapt. Many hospitals have postponed elective surgeries to be rescheduled later as they deal with the current crisis. Elective surgeries are surgeries that are not life-threatening and can be scheduled in advance. The patient chooses to have the surgery to better his or her quality of life. Many orthopaedic surgeries fall under this category even though the underlying conditions can be very serious and the discomfort to the patient can be significant. What can a patient do when his or her surgery is postponed due to COVID-19 safety measures? Though many orthopaedic conditions are not life-threatening, they can be painful and restrict your movement. Here’s some helpful advice on how patients can alleviate their pain while they wait for surgery.
You may be surprised to learn that every bone in your body is alive. As they break down and rebuild themselves in a process known as “remodeling,” your bones need a constant supply of blood. What happens to your bones when that blood supply is disrupted? Your bones can, in fact, die—they become brittle and eventually collapse. When a bone in your body loses its blood supply, the disease is called avascular necrosis (also known as osteonecrosis). While the condition can strike any bone in your body, it most commonly affects the femoral head of the hip.
Getting a diagnosis of arthritis might be a life-changing event. After the initial shock wears off, you might be wondering whether your life will ever be the same with a chronic illness like arthritis. Will the pain keep you from living a full and productive life? How can people with arthritis manage the illness successfully? Here, we’ll cover some of the main arthritis treatment options and how they can help you get relief from pain.
As fall sports kick back into action, parents of young athletes are watching out for injuries on the field. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports there are nearly 300,000 sports-related concussions every year in the U.S—with more than 62,000 sustained in high school contact sports. Concussions are especially common injuries for football players, cheerleaders, and basketball players in the fall athletic season.
Dr. Andy Harcourt, a sports medicine specialist at Baldwin Bone and Joint, defines a concussion as “a hit to the head that causes temporary neurological symptoms.” Kids suffering from concussions typically develop a headache, followed by dizziness, difficulty focusing, nausea, sensitivity to light, and sometimes vomiting.
When it comes to recognizing the signs of a concussion, parents are in the best position to gauge their child’s symptoms. Dr. Harcourt advises parents to look out for changes in behavior, encouraging them to “be aware when kids don’t seem like themselves.”
“They might be spaced out, feel slowed down, have trouble concentrating or remembering their words, and feel overwhelmed by stimuli like being around a lot of people,” Dr. Harcourt explains.
Osteoperosis is a condition that often flies under the radar—untreated and undetected—until the day a bone fractures. It’s a disease that causes progressive bone loss and weakened bone quality. Your bones are constantly breaking down and being rebuilt. When bone loss happens faster than its renewal, that’s osteoporosis.
As a common condition that older adults face, osteoporosis affects than 44 million Americans, contributing to 2 million bone fractures every year. (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons). Some might have a short fall off the bed and break two ribs because their bones are weaker due to osteoporosis. Others may experience back pain because there are cracks in their vertebrae. Some older adults break their hips, which can lead to significant disability. In serious cases, bones may even fracture from a movement as slight as a sneeze.
Dr. Matthew Goldman, an orthopaedic surgeon and an expert on osteoporosis at Baldwin Bone and Joint, advises women over the age of 50 to get a bone density test every two years and everyone over the age of 65 to be checked every year. “Osteoperosis is a common issue that not many people pay attention to. As people age, some of the things that protect bone health, such as estrogen for women, decreases. That bone protection subsides and bones get fragile,” Dr. Goldman said. “Unfortunately, the condition is usually not discovered until a bone fracture happens. It really should be part of a routine maintenance exam.”
The hips support the weight of your body when you are standing, sitting, or moving, and they allow your legs to move into a variety of positions. When all the bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage in your hip work harmoniously, they allow your body to move in its highest capacity.
Hip pain and hip problems are common complaints among young adults. In the young adult population, many cases of hip pain (such as labral tears) may be caused by sports related injuries or everyday activities. Yet another lesser-known cause may be a structural abnormality known as hip dysplasia, a condition that has been diagnosed more frequently over the years in the young adult population.
What is hip dysplasia?
“For a young adult with hip dysplasia, the hip is not formed completely correctly. The hip socket and ball portion of the upper thighbone might not be completely concentric and could subsequently cause a pinch in the hip,” said Dr. Matthew Goldman, an orthopaedic surgeon at Baldwin Bone and Joint who is an expert on the hip.
Dr. Goldman indicated that hip dysplasia is a much more common cause of hip pain than the medical community once thought. “Nowadays, it is being diagnosed more frequently in young adults who are in the teens and twenties.”
In the first installment of our series on the latest developments in orthopaedics, we are highlighting a type of surgery known as the knee “salvage” surgery. We sat down for a Q&A with Dr. Drew Corbett, a fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon and expert on surgical sports medicine at Baldwin Bone and Joint, who shared with us his insights on some of the most relevant issues in surgical sports medicine to patients today.
How can knee salvage surgery save you from having a knee replacement?
Dr. Corbett: When your knee pain severely limits you from performing even simple activities, you may be considering a knee replacement (also known as a knee arthroplasty). The surgery in question will remove the damaged knee cartilage and a small portion of the bone and replace it with metal implants that recreate the surface of the joint. But it may not be the only option. There may be an alternative surgery to “save” your knee without resorting to a complete knee replacement.
The human body has remarkable capabilities. Far from a static system, the body is constantly changing and adapting to the ways that you choose to move. Through exercise and activity, we can literally build a stronger and more flexible body in a process known as “remodeling,” which simply means the break down and buildup of tissue.
But sometimes in our devotion to the sports and hobbies we love, we may stretch our capabilities too far and too fast. What happens when the repeated stress on your body causes the break down of tissue to happen faster than the buildup? That’s when you have an overuse injury.
What are the most common overuse injuries?
According to Dr. Andy Harcourt, an expert on non-surgical sports medicine at Baldwin Bone and Joint, four of the most common overuse injuries he sees involve the tendons. You might know them by their colloquial names:
- Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) – pain on the outside of the upper arm near the elbow
- Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) – pain on the inside of your elbow
- Jumper’s knee (patellar tendonitis) – pain in the front of your knee
- Achilles tendonitis – pain in the ankle and legs
As an athlete, you know all too well that taking care of yourself is the #1 most important factor of success. No weekend warrior can win without putting his or her health first. Why let a preventable neck or back injury keep you from scaling every Kilimanjaro and all the amazing scenic trails to run?
Back and neck injuries, along with severe neck and back pain, are some of the most common issues that athletes and fitness enthusiasts face.
Common back and neck injuries
Muscles strains and ligament sprains – some of the most common injuries that can be caused by heavy training, improper techniques, insufficient stretching, and trauma.
Cracks and stress fractures in the vertebrae – often experienced by athletes who practice sports that require intense twisting or hyperextension of the spine, like gymnastics.
Stingers – injuries to the nerves around the neck and shoulder most often occurring with contact and collision sports like football. (North American Spine Society)
If lower back pain is cramping your lifestyle, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 31 million Americans are experiencing lower back pain at this very moment. Back pain might even be called a silent epidemic: it’s one of the most common reasons for doctor’s visits and the reason behind 264 million lost work days every year.
The back is made up of a complicated arrangement of bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments that can be injured or worn down with age. You might be an athlete that’s stretching your capabilities every day and end up straining a muscle or ligament (one of the most common causes of lower back pain). Or you might be experiencing normal wear and tear with age—for example, a disc between two vertebrae can degenerate with time through no fault of your own. Other conditions such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, sciatica, abnormal spine curvatures, or even arthritis and fibromyalgia may be the key factor underlying your lower back pain.
Leaving lower back pain untreated may be dangerous in some particular cases, so it’s important to consult a doctor who can make a diagnosis and create a treatment plan. We recommend several types of therapies for lower back pain: