5 Expert Tips for Preventing Winter Sports Accidents

5 Expert Tips for Preventing Winter Sports Accidents

BY KAYLA MCKISKI | Article Featured on US News

Hitting the slopes or the skating rink as the winter of 2020 winds down? Don’t let an accident or injury spoil your fun.

“Winter sports and recreational activities have great health and cardiovascular benefits,” said Dr. Joseph Bosco, vice president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). “However, it’s important not to underestimate the risks that cold weather can bring.”

He noted that hospitals and health care clinics see a surge of bone and joint injuries during the winter months and many could be prevented with the right preparation.

Sprains, strains, dislocations, fractures and more traumatic injuries can happen to anyone. Here, Bosco and the AAOS offer suggestions on how to protect yourself:

  • Be prepared: Before you tackle a winter sport, make sure your muscles are warmed up and in good condition. Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are more prone to injury. Make sure to have water and other supplies on standby.
  • Wear appropriate gear: Well-fitting protective equipment like goggles, helmets, gloves and padding is crucial. Your clothes should be layered, light, loose and wind-resistant. Footwear should be warm, provide ankle support and keep your feet dry.
  • Follow the rules: If you’re unsure of the rules of your sport, it’s time to take a lesson with a qualified instructor, especially with sports like skiing and snowboarding. Knowing how to fall correctly and safely can drastically reduce your risk of injury.
  • Keep an eye on the weather: Warnings about storms and extremely low temperatures are red flags. If you’re experiencing hypothermia or frostbite, seek immediate shelter and medical attention.
  • Use common sense: Always have a buddy when participating in an outdoor sport or activity. If you feel pain or fatigue, don’t push yourself and stop the activity.

“Don’t let winter sports injuries freeze your fun,” Bosco said in an AAOS news release. “By keeping in good physical condition, staying alert and stopping when you’re tired or in pain, you can enjoy the best of winter and reduce your risk of injury.”


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Shoulder Injuries in the Throwing Athlete

Shoulder Injuries in the Throwing Athlete

Article Featured on AAOS

Overhand throwing places extremely high stresses on the shoulder, specifically to the anatomy that keeps the shoulder stable. In throwing athletes, these high stresses are repeated many times and can lead to a wide range of overuse injuries.

Although throwing injuries in the shoulder most commonly occur in baseball pitchers, they can be seen in any athlete who participates in sports that require repetitive overhand motions, such as volleyball, tennis, and some track and field events.

Anatomy of the Shoulder

Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made up of three bones: your upper arm bone (humerus), your shoulder blade (scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle).

The head of your upper arm bone fits into a rounded socket in your shoulder blade. This socket is called the glenoid. Surrounding the outside edge of the glenoid is a rim of strong, fibrous tissue called the labrum. The labrum helps to deepen the socket and stabilize the shoulder joint. It also serves as an attachment point for many of the ligaments of the shoulder, as well as one of the tendons from the biceps muscle in the arm.

Strong connective tissue, called the shoulder capsule, is the ligament system of the shoulder and keeps the head of the upper arm bone centered in the glenoid socket. This tissue covers the shoulder joint and attaches the upper end of the arm bone to the shoulder blade.

The bones of the shoulder

The bones of the shoulder. Reproduced with permission from J Bernstein, ed: Musculoskeletal Medicine. Rosemont, IL, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2003.

The ligaments of the shoulder

The ligaments of the shoulder. Reproduced with permission from J Bernstein, ed: Musculoskeletal Medicine. Rosemont, IL, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2003.

Your shoulder also relies on strong tendons and muscles to keep your shoulder stable. Some of these muscles are called the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that come together as tendons to form a covering or cuff of tissue around the head of the humerus.

The biceps muscle in the upper arm has two tendons that attach it to the shoulder blade. The long head attaches to the top of the shoulder socket (glenoid). The short head attaches to a bump on the shoulder blade called the coracoid process. These attachments help to center the humeral head in the glenoid socket.

rotator cuff anatomy

This illustration shows the biceps tendons and the four muscles and their tendons that form the rotator cuff and stabilize the shoulder joint. Reproduced and adapted with permission from The Body Almanac. (c) American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2003.

In addition to the ligaments and rotator cuff, muscles in the upper back play an important role in keeping the shoulder stable. These muscles include the trapezius, levator scapulae, rhomboids, and serratus anterior, and they are referred to as the scapular stabilizers. They control the scapula and clavicle bones — called the shoulder girdle — which functions as the foundation for the shoulder joint.

Muscles in the upper back

Muscles in the upper back help to keep the shoulder stable, particularly during overhead motions, like throwing. (Note: this illustration has been drawn in such a way to show the many layers of muscle in the back.) Reproduced with permission from JF Sarwark, ed: Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, ed 4. Rosemont, IL, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2010.

Cause

When athletes throw repeatedly at high speed, significant stresses are placed on the anatomical structures that keep the humeral head centered in the glenoid socket.

baseball pitching phases

The phases of pitching a baseball. Reproduced and adapted with permission from Poss R (ed): Orthopaedic Knowledge Update 3. Rosemont, IL. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1990, pp 293-302.

Of the five phases that make up the pitching motion, the late cocking and follow-through phases place the greatest forces on the shoulder.

  • Late-cocking phase. In order to generate maximum pitch speed, the thrower must bring the arm and hand up and behind the body during the late cocking phase. This arm position of extreme external rotation helps the thrower put speed on the ball, however, it also forces the head of the humerus forward which places significant stress on the ligaments in the front of the shoulder. Over time, the ligaments loosen, resulting in greater external rotation and greater pitching speed, but less shoulder stability.
  • Follow-through phase. During acceleration, the arm rapidly rotates internally. Once the ball is released, follow-through begins and the ligaments and rotator cuff tendons at the back of the shoulder must handle significant stresses to decelerate the arm and control the humeral head.

When one structure — such as the ligament system — becomes weakened due to repetitive stresses, other structures must handle the overload. As a result, a wide range of shoulder injuries can occur in the throwing athlete.

The rotator cuff and labrum are the shoulder structures most vulnerable to throwing injuries.

Common Throwing Injuries In the Shoulder

SLAP Tears (Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior)

In a SLAP injury, the top (superior) part of the labrum is injured. This top area is also where the long head of the biceps tendon attaches to the labrum. A SLAP tear occurs both in front (anterior) and in back (posterior) of this attachment point.

Typical symptoms are a catching or locking sensation, and pain with certain shoulder movements. Pain deep within the shoulder or with certain arm positions is also common.

shoulder labrum and SLAP tear

(Left) The labrum helps to deepen the shoulder socket.

(Right) This cross-section view of the shoulder socket shows a typical SLAP tear.

Bicep Tendinitis and Tendon Tears

Repetitive throwing can inflame and irritate the upper biceps tendon. This is called biceps tendinitis. Pain in the front of the shoulder and weakness are common symptoms of biceps tendinitis.

Occasionally, the damage to the tendon caused by tendinitis can result in a tear. A torn biceps tendon may cause a sudden, sharp pain in the upper arm. Some people will hear a popping or snapping noise when the tendon tears.

biceps tendinitis

(Left) The biceps tendon helps to keep the head of the humerus centered in the glenoid socket. (Right) Tendinitis causes the tendon to become red and swollen.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis and Tears

When a muscle or tendon is overworked, it can become inflamed. The rotator cuff is frequently irritated in throwers, resulting in tendinitis.

Early symptoms include pain that radiates from the front of the shoulder to the side of the arm. Pain may be present during throwing, other activities, and at rest. As the problem progresses, pain may occur at night, and the athlete may experience a loss of strength and motion.

Rotator cuff tears often begin by fraying. As the damage worsens, the tendon can tear. When one or more of the rotator cuff tendons is torn, the tendon no longer fully attaches to the head of the humerus. Most tears in throwing athletes occur in the supraspinatus tendon.

rotator cuff tear

Rotator cuff tendon tears in throwers most often occur within the tendon. In some cases, the tendon can tear away from where it attaches to the humerus.

Problems with the rotator cuff often lead to shoulder bursitis. There is a lubricating sac called a bursa between the rotator cuff and the bone on top of your shoulder (acromion). The bursa allows the rotator cuff tendons to glide freely when you move your arm. When the rotator cuff tendons are injured or damaged, this bursa can also become inflamed and painful.

Internal Impingement

During the cocking phase of an overhand throw, the rotator cuff tendons at the back of the shoulder can get pinched between the humeral head and the glenoid. This is called internal impingement and may result in a partial tearing of the rotator cuff tendon. Internal impingement may also damage the labrum, causing part of it to peel off from the glenoid.

Internal impingement may be due to some looseness in the structures at the front of the joint, as well as tightness in the back of the shoulder.

The muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff

The muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff. Reproduced with permission from JF Sarwark, ed: Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, ed 4. Rosemont, IL, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2010.

shoulder impingement

This illustration shows the infraspinatus tendon caught between the humeral head and the glenoid. Reproduced with permission from JF Sarwark, ed: Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, ed 4. Rosemont, IL, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2010.

Instability

Shoulder instability occurs when the head of the humerus slips out of the shoulder socket (dislocation). When the shoulder is loose and moves out of place repeatedly, it is called chronic shoulder instability.

In throwers, instability develops gradually over years from repetitive throwing that stretches the ligaments and creates increased laxity (looseness). If the rotator cuff structures are not able to control the laxity, then the shoulder will slip slightly off-center (subluxation) during the throwing motion.

Pain and loss of throwing velocity will be the initial symptoms, rather than a sensation of the shoulder “slipping out of place.” Occasionally, the thrower may feel the arm “go dead.” A common term for instability many years ago was “dead arm syndrome.”

Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit (GIRD)

As mentioned above, the extreme external rotation required to throw at high speeds typically causes the ligaments at the front of the shoulder to stretch and loosen. A natural and common result is that the soft tissues in the back of the shoulder tighten, leading to loss of internal rotation.

This loss of internal rotation puts throwers at greater risk for labral and rotator cuff tears.

Scapular Rotation Dysfunction (SICK Scapula)

abnormal positioning of the scapula

This photograph shows abnormal positioning of the scapula on the right side. Reproduced with permission from Kibler B, Sciascia A, Wilkes T: Scapular Dyskinesis and Its Relation to Shoulder Injury. J Am Acad Orthop Surg 2012; 20:364-372.

Proper movement and rotation of the scapula over the chest wall is important during the throwing motion. The scapula (shoulder blade) connects to only one other bone: the clavicle. As a result, the scapula relies on several muscles in the upper back to keep it in position to support healthy shoulder movement.

During throwing, repetitive use of scapular muscles creates changes in the muscles that affect the position of the scapula and increase the risk of shoulder injury.

Scapular rotation dysfunction is characterized by drooping of the affected shoulder. The most common symptom is pain at the front of the shoulder, near the collarbone.

In many throwing athletes with SICK scapula, the chest muscles tighten in response to changes in the upper back muscles. Lifting weights and chest strengthening exercises can aggravate this condition.

Doctor Examination

Medical History and Physical Examination

The medical history portion of the initial doctor visit includes discussion about your general medical health, symptoms and when they first began, and the nature and frequency of athletic participation

During the physicial examination, your doctor will check the range of motion, strength, and stability of your shoulder. He or she may perform specific tests by placing your arm in different positions to reproduce your symptoms.

The results of these tests help the doctor decide if additional testing or imaging of the shoulder is necessary.

Imaging Tests

Your doctor may order tests to confirm your diagnosis and identify any associated problems.

X-rays. This imaging test creates clear pictures of dense structures, like bone. X-rays will show any problems within the bones of your shoulder, such as arthritis or fractures.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This imaging study shows better images of soft tissues. It may help your doctor identify injuries to the labrum, ligaments, and tendons surrounding your shoulder joint.

Computed tomography (CT) scan. This test combines x-rays with computer technology to produce a very detailed view of the bones in the shoulder area.

Ultrasound. Real time images of muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and soft tissues can be produced using ultrasound. This test is typically used to diagnose rotator cuff tears in individuals who are not able to have MRI scans.

Treatment

Left untreated, throwing injuries in the shoulder can become complicated conditions.

Nonsurgical Treatment

In many cases, the initial treatment for a throwing injury in the shoulder is nonsurgical. Treatment options may include:

  • Activity modification. Your doctor may first recommend simply changing your daily routine and avoiding activities that cause symptoms.
  • Ice. Applying icepacks to the shoulder can reduce any swelling.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication. Drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen can relieve pain and inflammation. They can also be provided in prescription-strength form.
  • Physical therapy. In order to improve the range of motion in your shoulder and strengthen the muscles that support the joint, your doctor may recommend specific exercises. Physical therapy can focus on muscles and ligament tightness in the back of the shoulder and help to strengthen the structures in the front of the shoulder. This can relieve some stress on any injured structures, such as the labrum or rotator cuff tendon.
  • Change of position. Throwing mechanics can be evaluated in order to correct body positioning that puts excessive stress on injured shoulder structures. Although a change of position or even a change in sport can eliminate repetitive stresses on the shoulder and provide lasting relief, this is often undesirable, especially in high level athletes.
  • Cortisone injection— If rest, medications, and physical therapy do not relieve your pain, an injection of a local anesthetic and a cortisone preparation may be helpful. Cortisone is a very effective anti-inflammatory medicine. Injecting it into the bursa beneath the acromion can provide long-term pain relief for tears or other structural damage.

cortisone injection in shoulder

A cortisone injection may relieve painful symptoms. Reproduced with permission from JF Sarwark, ed: Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, ed 4. Rosemont, IL, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2010.
Your doctor may recommend surgery based on your history, physical examination, and imaging studies, or if your symptoms are not relieved by nonsurgical treatment.The type of surgery performed will depend on several factors, such as your injury, age, and anatomy. Your orthopaedic surgeon will discuss with you the best procedure to meet your individual health needs.

Arthroscopy. Most throwing injuries can be treated with arthroscopic surgery. During arthroscopy, the surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the shoulder joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and the surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments.

Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, the surgeon can use very small incisions (cuts), rather than the larger incision needed for standard, open surgery.

During arthroscopy, your doctor can repair damage to soft tissues, such as the labrum, ligaments, or rotator cuff.

shoulder arthroscopy

During arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts the arthroscope and small instruments into your shoulder joint.

Open surgery. A traditional open surgical incision (several centimeters long) is often required if the injury is large or complex.

Rehabilitation. After surgery, the repair needs to be protected while the injury heals. To keep your arm from moving, you will most likely use a sling for for a short period of time. How long you require a sling depends upon the severity of your injury.

As soon as your comfort allows, your doctor may remove the sling to begin a physical therapy program.

In general, a therapy program focuses first on flexibility. Gentle stretches will improve your range of motion and prevent stiffness in your shoulder. As healing progresses, exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles and the rotator cuff will gradually be added to your program. This typically occurs 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

Your doctor will discuss with you when it is safe to return to sports activity. If your goal is to return to overhead sports activities, your doctor or physical therapist will direct a therapy program that includes a gradual return to throwing.

It typically takes 2 to 4 months to achieve complete relief of pain, but it may take up to a year to return to your sports activities.

Prevention

In recent years, there has been a great deal of attention on preventing throwing injuries of the shoulder.

Proper conditioning, technique, and recovery time can help to prevent throwing injuries. Throwers should strive to maintain good shoulder girdle function with proper stretches and upper back and torso strengthening.

In the case of younger athletes, pitching guidelines regarding number of pitches per game and week, as well as type of pitches thrown, have been developed to protect children from injury.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Hip Pointers in Contact Sports

Hip Pointers in Contact Sports

Article Featured on Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Hip Pointers

Bumps and falls are all a part of everyday life as an athlete, and can often result in bruising and injury. The majority of these types of injuries are seen in contact sports. The term “hip pointer” is often used as a catch all phrase for any injury resulting in pain to the front of the hip. However, this is not always the case.

What is a Hip Pointer?

A hip pointer is bruising caused by a fall or a direct blow to the iliac crest, or front and top of the pelvis. This bruising is not always visible and may actually occur deep below the skin. Bruising may also occur in the abdominal muscles which attach to the pelvis. Most often hip pointers are seen in contact sports such as football and soccer. Hip pointers are extremely painful and may be aggravated by walking, running, laughing, coughing, or deep breathing.

Treatment

Hip pointers are treated immediately with rest and ice. Resting the injured hip from extremely painful movements will help to reduce swelling and speed the healing process. It may take 1 to 2 weeks before the injured hip is pain free with movement. During this time the athlete should be allowed to stretch the hip in all directions to avoid stiffness. The rule here is to stretch in the pain free range. Any pain will only slow the healing process and delay their return to sport.

It is important to consult your physician if your pain last more than two weeks or worsens overtime. This may be a sign of a more severe injury. Ice should be applied directly to the hip for 30 minutes of every 1-2 hours for the first 72 hours. A regimen of gentle stretching for 20-30 seconds can help to loosen the muscles around the injured hip and reduce pain. For more information on strains please see the article “The Sprains and Strains of Sporting Injuries” located on the Nationwide Children’s Hospital website.

Prevention

Hip pointers can be prevented by wearing appropriate protective equipment. For example, football and hockey wear protective hip pads to help prevent this injury. In other sports where padding is not worn, such as soccer, certain skills and techniques can be taught to avoid this injury. Padding can also be worn to prevent further injury to the hip.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Water Polo Study Highlights Head Injury Risk

Water Polo Study Highlights Head Injury Risk

Water polo players appear to face similar head injury risks as athletes in better-known sports, a new study finds. “For years, water polo’s head trauma risks have been downplayed or overshadowed by football-related brain injuries,” said study co-author James Hicks.

“Our data quantifies the extent of the problem and sets the stage for additional research and possible rule changes or protective gear to improve water polo safety,” Hicks added. He is chairman of the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Irvine.

“People who’ve never seen a game may not realize how physical it is,” Hicks said in a university news release. “Head-butts and elbows. Balls flying up to 50 miles per hour.”

And while no concussions were diagnosed among players in the study, the force of the head blows was “similar to those observed in collegiate soccer, another sport that is commonly studied for the risks associated with repeated head impact exposure,” he added.

For the study, Hicks and his colleagues tracked several dozen players in Division 1 NCAA Men’s Water Polo over three seasons. The players wore caps embedded with electronic sensors.

Overall, the researchers counted an average of 18 head hits per game. Offensive players were far more likely to get hit in the head than players in defensive and transition positions (60%, 23% and 17%, respectively), the findings showed. Players attacking from the left side of the goal suffered more head hits than players on the right, possibly because right-handed athletes commonly throw shots from the left zone, the researchers noted.

Offensive center was the most dangerous position in terms of hits to the head. On average, those players took nearly seven blows to the head per game, which amounted to 37% of all head impacts recorded in the study. The second-most vulnerable position, defensive center, averaged two head hits per game, according to the report.

The study authors concluded that “intercollegiate water polo athletes may represent a valuable cohort for studying the acute and chronic effects of repeated head impacts in sport to extend our knowledge of athlete physiology and neurology and to inform evidence-based policies to promote the safety of athletes and the benefits of sport.”

The study was published online May 2 in the journal PLOS ONE. In a previous study, Hicks and a colleague found that 36% of 1,500 USA Water Polo players recalled at least one concussion during their playing career.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on water polo injury risk and safety.

Kid's Sports Injuries: The Numbers are Impressive

Kid’s Sports Injuries: The Numbers are Impressive

Article Featured on Nationwide Children

The Numbers Are Impressive

The picture of youth sports in America is changing. Youth athletes often begin their competitive sports careers as early as age seven, with some youth participating in organized sports activities as early as age four, if not sooner. With an estimated 25 million scholastic, and another 20 million organized community-based youth programs in the United States, the opportunity for injury is enormous.

This is why sports injuries are the second leading cause of emergency room visits for children and adolescents, and the second leading cause of injuries in school. Approximately three million youth are seen in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries and another five million youth are seen by their primary care physician or a sports medicine clinic for injuries. These numbers leave out the injuries not seen by a physician.

What Does This Mean?

Physical activity is necessary for normal growth in children. However, when the activity level becomes too intense or too excessive in a short time period, tissue breakdown and injury can occur. These overuse injuries were frequently seen in adult recreational athletes, but are now being seen in children. The single biggest factor contributing to the dramatic increase in overuse injuries in young athletes is the focus on more intense, repetitive and specialized training at much younger ages.

Overuse injuries such as stress fractures, tendinitis, bursitis, apophysitis and osteochondral injuries of the joint surface were rarely seen when children spent more time engaging in free play. The following risk factors predispose young athletes to overuse injuries:

  1. Sport specialization at a young age
  2. Imbalance of strength or joint range of motion
  3. Anatomic malalignment
  4. Improper footwear
  5. Pre-existing condition
  6. Growth cartilage less resistant to repetitive microtrauma
  7. Intense, repetitive training during periods of growth

What Should Be Done?

Early recognition and treatment of injuries is critical in returning athletes to their sport safely and quickly. Any injury that involves obvious swelling, deformity, and/or loss of normal function (i.e. movement or strength) should be seen by a physician immediately. All other injuries that appear to be minor should resolve themselves within a few days. However, if it does not heal on it’s own, and your child is not back to full participation without pain, it is best to have him/her evaluated by a physician. Nagging injuries that go untreated can turn into chronic problems that require a much longer time away from the sport to allow the injury to heal properly.

If your child does get injured while playing sports, the best treatment plan is R.I.C.E:

Rest

  • Do not use the injured area until seen for further evaluation by a physician
  • If walking with a limp, have the athlete use crutches

Ice

  • Apply ice to the injured area to help decrease pain and swelling
  • Use ice 15 – 20 minutes at a time
  • Crushed/cubed ice or frozen peas/corn works best, avoid using chemical cold packs
  • Always ice for the first 48 – 72 hours after injury
  • Never sleep with ice on the injured area

Compression

  • Elastic wrap/compression sock should be used to reduce swelling
  • Apply wrap beginning below the injured area and wrapping upward
  • Always leave toes/fingers exposed
  • Watch for numbness, discoloration or temperature changes (loosen wrap if needed)
  • Do not sleep with wrap on the injured area

Elevation

  • Use gravity to control swelling
  • Prop injured area higher than the heart

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

ACL Injuries in Children and Adolescents

ACL Injuries in Children and Adolescents

Article Featured on Nationwide Children’s

It has been frequently emphasized that children are not simply “small adults.” Children and adults are different anatomically and physiologically in many ways. Knee injuries in children and adolescents frequently demonstrate these differences.

Read more

Ice or Heat: How to Treat Common Injuries

Original Article By John Donovan at WebMD

That sports-filled weekend was a big thrill. But now it’s over, and you’re feeling it.

Your back aches. Your ankle is sore. You can’t remember where you put the ibuprofen. After all that testosterone-filled fun, it’s time to take stock of your bumps and bruises. You need to see where you stand, physically. If you can stand at all, that is.

Should You See a Doctor? There are no set rules. But in general, see the doctor if:
  • Your injury causes severe pain, swelling, or numbness
  • You can’t tolerate any weight on the area
  • A longtime sore joint is weak
  • When to Treat It Yourself

If none of those apply, it’s probably OK to wait a little while. Do some self-treatment and see how you feel after a few days.

If you’re just sore, it will get better over time, says Kenneth Mautner, assistant professor of orthopaedics at Emory University in Atlanta. Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for your aches and pains.

Ice or Heat?
Most of the time, ice is for comfort rather than true treatment, says R. Amadeus Mason, MD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and family medicine at Emory.

Ice controls pain and closes your blood vessels to ease swelling. It can also limit bruising. Use it during the first 48 hours after you get hurt. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes, then take it off for the same amount of time. Wrap a wet towel or cloth around it so it doesn’t sit right on your skin. A cold water bottle will do in a pinch.

Follow the RICE treatment to do it right:

  • R for rest
  • I for ice
  • C for compression (Wrap something like an elastic bandage around the injured area.)
  • E for elevation (Keep the injured part above your heart, or at least parallel to the ground.)

Don’t use heat for a new injury. It works best to loosen tight muscles and ease aching joints before a workout or game. It can also help with ongoing problems, like tennis elbow.

Wrap or Brace?

An elastic bandage puts pressure on the hurt area, which holds down swelling. That might help you feel better, says Matt Gammons, MD, first vice president for the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine.

Braces are mostly used for long-term problems like knee arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. But if you sprain an ankle, your doctor will put you in one. A brace that lets the joint move a little can help you heal faster.

Don’t use an elastic bandage or a neoprene brace to steady a shaky joint. “If you’re wrapping because your knee feels unstable, that’s not good,” Gammons says. You need a doctor to look at it.

When Can You Get Back Out There?

Rest the area for at least 48 hours. You should be good to go if the soreness disappears and there’s no injury or swelling you can see.

If you don’t give it some time off, that sore muscle or achy joint could turn into what doctors call an overuse injury.

We know these by clever names like tennis elbow, shin splints, and swimmer’s shoulder. You’ll need to see a doctor to get diagnosed and treated if you have problems with the same area time after time.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

What Is Tennis Elbow?

What Is Tennis Elbow?

Article Featured on WebMD

Doctors know the condition as lateral epicondylitis. The rest of us call it “tennis elbow.” The term has entered wide use, though only a small group of people diagnosed with tennis elbow actually get it from playing tennis.

Tennis elbow is a common injury that will usually heal with minor treatment, but you have to give it time and rest.

Where Is the Pain?

Tennis elbow is a pain focused on the outside of the arm, where your forearm meets your elbow.

It’s related to a muscle and tendons in your forearm. Tendons connect your muscles to your bones. When you constantly use your arm in a repetitive motion, the tendons at the elbow end of a certain muscle — the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) muscle — may develop small tears.

The tears lead to inflammation and may put stress on the rest of your arm, making it painful to lift and grip things. Left untreated, it can become chronic (that’s medical-speak for “ongoing”).

Tennis elbow affects up to 3% of the population, particularly adults between 30 and 50 years of age. But less than 5% of cases are linked to tennis.

What Causes Tennis Elbow?

Tennis elbow is a classic repetitive stress injury caused by overuse. Any activity that strains the muscles around the elbow over and over again can cause it. There’s also a version golfers get called “golfer’s elbow.”

In tennis, hitting a backhand puts some stress on your forearm muscles, which repeatedly contract when you hit the ball. If you have poor technique or grip the racquet too tightly, that stress may increase in the tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the elbow. The tendons may get small tears.

The more you do it — and tennis is a game of repeated strokes — the greater the chance for tennis elbow.

You can get it from other racquet sports, such as squash or racquetball. You can also get it from jobs or activities that involve repetitive arm motion, such as:

  • Tree-cutting (repetitive use of a chain saw)
  • Painting
  • Carpentry
  • Playing some types of musical instruments

Butchers, cooks, and assembly-line workers are among the groups that get it often.

Golfer’s elbow differs from tennis elbow in that the pain is focused on the inside of the elbow. But the causes are similar: tendon tears caused by repetitive movement, whether it’s a golf swing, lifting weights, or simply shaking hands.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of tennis elbow is an ache on the outside of the elbow. Over time — from a few weeks to a few months — the ache turns into a chronic pain. The outside of your elbow may become too painful to touch.

Eventually, you may find it harder or more painful to grip or lift things. Sometimes tennis elbow affects both arms.

Treatment

Your doctor may ask you to do some simple actions to see whether you have tennis elbow. These include straightening your wrist against pressure and checking for pain in parts of your arm. He may also order an MRI scan for you.

Tennis elbow can usually be treated with exercise, physical therapy, and medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), Naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin. Talk to your doctor if you have ongoing pain and think you may need to take pain relievers for an extended time.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions ó such as sports injuries and fractures ó to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

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How to Treat a Crick in the Neck

Article Found on MedicalNewsToday

A crick in the neck makes the neck feel stiff and less mobile than usual. Some people report that a crick also feels like something in the neck needs to pop into place.

A crick in the neck can be temporary or chronic. It is often painless but may be connected to the chronic neck or shoulder pain.

In this article, we look at what causes a crick in the neck, as well as what treatment options are available. Read more

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The Difference Between Sprains and Strains

Article by Elizabeth Quinn | Found on VeryWellFit

Sprains and strains, while sometimes used interchangeably, are not the same thing. A sprain is an injury to a ligament, the tough, fibrous tissue that connects bones to other bone. Ligament injuries involve a stretching or a tearing of this tissue.

A strain, on the other hand, is an injury to either a muscle or a tendon, the tissue that connects muscles to bones.

Depending on the severity of the injury, a strain may be a simple overstretch of the muscle or tendon, or it can result in a partial or complete tear.

Sprains

A sprain typically occurs when people fall and land on an outstretched arm, slide into base, land on the side of their foot, or twist a knee with the foot planted firmly on the ground. This results in an overstretch or tear of the ligament(s) supporting that joint.

Common types of strains include:

  • Ankle SprainsThe ankle is one of the most common injuries in professional and recreational sports and activities. Most ankle sprains happen when the foot abruptly turns inward (inversion) or outward (eversion) as an athlete runs, turns, falls, or lands after a jump. One or more of the lateral ligaments are injured.
  • Wrist SprainsWrists are often sprained after a fall in which the athlete lands on an outstretched hand.

Signs and Symptoms

The usual signs and symptoms of a muscle sprain include pain, swelling, bruising, and the loss of functional ability (the ability to move and use the joint).

Sometimes people feel a pop or tear when the injury happens. However, these signs and symptoms can vary in intensity, depending on the severity of the sprain.

Sprain Severity Scale

  • Grade I Sprain: A grade I (mild) sprain causes overstretching or slight tearing of the ligaments with no joint instability. A person with a mild sprain usually experiences minimal pain, swelling, and little or no loss of functional ability. Bruising is absent or slight, and the person is usually able to put weight on the affected joint.
  • Grade II Sprain: A grade II (moderate) sprain causes partial tearing of the ligament and is characterized by bruising, moderate pain, and swelling. A person with a moderate sprain usually has some difficulty putting weight on the affected joint and experiences some loss of function. An x-ray or MRI may be needed.
  • Grade III Sprain: A grade III (severe) sprain results in a complete tear or ruptures a ligament. Pain, swelling, and bruising are usually severe, and the patient is unable to put weight on the joint. An x-ray is usually taken to rule out a broken bone. This type of a muscle sprain often requires immobilization and possibly surgery. It can also increase the risk of an athlete having future muscles sprains in that area.

When diagnosing any sprain, the doctor will ask the patient to explain how the injury happened. The doctor will examine the affected joint, check its stability and its ability to move and bear weight.

Strains

A strain is caused by twisting or pulling a muscle or tendon. Strains can be acute or chronic. An acute strain is caused by trauma or an injury such as a blow to the body; it can also be caused by improperly lifting heavy objects or over-stressing the muscles.

Chronic strains are usually the result of overuse—prolonged, repetitive movement of the muscles and tendons.

Common types of strains include:

Contact sports such as soccer, football, hockey, boxing, and wrestling put people at risk for strains. Gymnastics, tennis, rowing, golf and other sports that require extensive gripping can increase the risk of hand and forearm strains. Elbow strains sometimes occur in people who participate in racket sports, throwing, and contact sports.

Two common elbow strains include:

Signs and Symptoms

Typically, people with a strain experience pain, muscle spasm and muscle weakness. They can also have localized swelling, cramping, or inflammation and, with a more severe strain, some loss of muscle function. Patients typically have pain in the injured area and general weakness of the muscle when they attempt to move it. Severe strains that partially or completely tear the muscle or tendon are often very painful and disabling.

Strain Severity

Strains are categorized in a similar manner to sprains:

  • Grade I Strain: This is a mild strain and only some muscle fibers have been damaged. Healing occurs within two to three weeks.
  • Grade II Strain: This is a moderate strain with more extensive damage to muscle fibers, but the muscle is not completely ruptured. Healing occurs within three to six weeks.
  • Grade III Strain: This is a severe injury with a complete rupture of a muscle. This typically requires a surgical repair of the muscle; the healing period can be up to three months.

When To See a Doctor for a Sprain or Strain

  • You have severe pain and cannot put any weight on the injured joint.
  • The area over the injured joint or next to it is very tender when you touch it.
  • The injured area looks crooked or has lumps and bumps that you do not see on the uninjured joint.
  • You cannot move the injured joint.
  • You cannot walk more than four steps without significant pain.
  • Your limb buckles or gives way when you try to use the joint.
  • You have numbness in any part of the injured area.
  • You see redness or red streaks spreading out from the injury.
  • You injure an area that has been injured several times before.
  • You have pain, swelling, or redness over a bony part of your foot.

Treatment

The treatment of muscle sprains and strains has two main goals. The first goal is to reduce swelling and pain; the second is to speed recovery and rehabilitation.

To reduce swelling it is recommended to follow use R.I.C.E. therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) for the first 24 to 48 hours after the injury.

An OTC (or prescription) anti-inflammatory medication may also help decrease pain and inflammation.

R.I.C.E. Therapy

Rest: Reduce regular exercise or other activities as much as you can. Your doctor may advise you to put no weight on an injured area for 48 hours. If you cannot put weight on an ankle or knee, crutches may help. If you use a cane or one crutch for an ankle injury, use it on the uninjured side to help you lean away and relieve weight on the injured ankle.

IceApply an ice pack to the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day. A cold pack, ice bag, or plastic bag filled with crushed ice and wrapped in a towel can be used. To avoid cold injury and frostbite, do not apply the ice for more than 20 minutes.

Compression: Compression of an injured ankle, knee, or wrist may help reduce swelling. Examples of compression bandages are elastic wraps, special boots, air casts, and splints. Ask your doctor for advice on which one to use.

Elevation: If possible, keep the injured ankle, knee, elbow, or wrist elevated on a pillow, above the level of the heart, to help decrease swelling.

Rehabilitation

The second stage of treating a sprain or strain is rehabilitation to restore normal function. When the pain and swelling are reduced you can generally begin gentle exercise. A custom program is often created by a physical therapist that prevents stiffness, improves range of motion, improves flexibility and builds strength. Depending on the type of injury you have, you may go to physical therapy for several weeks, or do the exercises at home.

People with an ankle sprain may start with range of motion exercises, such as writing the alphabet in the air with the big toe. An athlete with an injured knee or foot will work on weight-bearing and balancing exercises. The length of this stage depends on the extent of the injury, but it is often several weeks.

Rebuilding strength is a slow and gradual process, and only when done correctly can the athlete consider returning to sports. It’s tempting to resume full activity despite pain or muscle soreness, but returning to full activity soon increases the chance of re-injury and may lead to a chronic problem.

The amount of rehabilitation and the time needed for full recovery after a muscle sprain or strain depend on the severity of the injury and individual rates of healing. A moderate ankle sprain may require three to six weeks of rehabilitation and severe sprain can take eight to 12 months to rehab completely and avoid re-injury. Patience and learning to cope with an injury is essential to recovery.

Preventing Sprains and Strains

There are many things athletes can do to help lower their risk of muscle sprains and strains. Start by reviewing these 10 tips for safe workouts.

  • Perform balance and proprioception exercises.
  • Practice rehabilitation exercises.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly.
  • Replace athletic shoes as soon as the tread wears out or the heel wears down on one side.
  • Ease into any fitness routine and get into proper physical condition to play a sport.
  • Warm up before participating in any sports or exercise.
  • Wear protective equipment when playing.
  • Avoid exercising or playing sports when tired or in pain.
  • Run on even surfaces.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.