Ski season is in full swing — but an injury can put you out of commission until next year’s first snowfall. Here’s how to stay safe on the slopes all winter long.
While many people huddle inside during the winter months, away from “bomb cyclones” and blizzards, a select few know that the best way to beat wintry weather is to embrace it — on the ski slopes, that is!
As any seasoned skier will tell you, however, their beloved sport does come with the risk of injury. Fortunately, taking some simple precautions before you hit the slopes can help you stay in peak condition regardless of how many tumbles you take.
We’ve outlined some of the most common injuries that afflict skiers, and what you can do to prevent them.
A number of injuries can affect the medial collateral ligament (MCL), but the most common by far is an MCL tears. In skiing, MCL tears most often occur when the skier falls while attempting to slow or stop in a snowplow position, in which the tips of the skis are pointed toward each other. To avoid injury in this position, make sure to always keep your weight balanced. In addition, sticking to runs with which you’re comfortable can reduce the need to enter the snowplow position at all.
A variety of falls on the slopes can result in a tear of the anterior cruciante ligament (ACL). It most commonly happens after a forward fall, during which the inner edge of the front of the ski becomes embedded in the snow, trapping the leg in the process. It can also occur when the top of the back of the boot pushes the tibia (the weight-bearing bone in the leg) forward, away from the femur. On other occasions, it arises when the skier leans back on the skis, loses balance, and falls backward. Strengthening the hamstrings, wearing proper bindings, and using shorter skis can all reduce the risk of sustaining an ACL tear.
Like torn ligaments, fractures are most commonly caused by falls while skiing. The wrist and ankles are particularly susceptible to breaks. To help avoid broken bones, always wear adequate protective gear and practice proper techniques for falling. Increasing cardiovascular endurance and developing the surrounding muscles can also be beneficial.
Most shoulder dislocations happen when skiers fall, either directly onto the shoulder or onto an outstretched hand or arm. This injury results in heavy, immediate pain, significantly restricts the shoulder’s range of motion, and can leave it misshapen. Since dislocations are caused by sudden trauma, they can be difficult to anticipate, but strengthening the rotator cuff muscles, especially if you have previously dislocated your shoulder, can lower the risk of a dislocation. As with other common skiing injuries, employing proper form will also minimize the possibility of a dislocation.
Aside from protecting the spinal cord, the spine ensures the strength and stability of the back. It is made up of various bony segments called vertebrae separated by pieces of fibrocartilaginous tissue called intervertebral discs, any of which can be injured while skiing. Some ways to avoid spinal injuries include using spine protectors, sticking to trails on which you are comfortable, using proper equipment, and learning the technique for “safe” falls.
While some ski injuries are immediately apparent, others can be more subtle, slowly progressing with time. Fortunately, the talented team of specialists at New York Bone and Joint has extensive experience working in sports medicine and can quickly diagnose and treat any of these common problems. If you think you may have suffered an injury during your latest trip to the mountain, call us today to schedule a consultation, or if the injury has been recent, stop in to our Orthopedic Urgent Care!
Professional athletes aren’t the only people who suffer from unstable shoulders. We’ll walk you through the most common causes of — and treatments for — this condition.
Because professional athletes have undergone intense training to mold their bodies into peak physical shape, it’s easy to assume that they’re immune to the common injuries that affect the rest of us. Recent news, however, has shown that no one is completely protected from injury. For example, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers — two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL — have both shown that they are suffering from significant shoulder injuries, with Rodgers missing the remainder of the season due to a broken collarbone.
In fact, shoulder damage is one of the most common injuries for NFL players and laymen alike. Since the shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, it’s especially prone to problems. For most of us, however, shoulder injuries are caused by gradual wear and tear rather than sudden trauma. While these injuries don’t ultimately result in chronic instability, they can hasten the degeneration of the cartilage in the shoulder, which then can leave the shoulder unstable. Fortunately, these problems can be effectively treated with the help of a qualified orthopedic specialist such as Dr. Main and Dr. Gershtenson, and a rigorous rehabilitation program.
What Is Shoulder Instability?
Shoulder instability is a chronic condition that leads to frequent dislocations of the shoulder. It occurs when the end of the humerus (the ball of the shoulder joint) separates from the glenoid (the socket of the shoulder joint). These dislocations can be either partial or full.
Shoulder instability has a variety of causes. In many cases, it’s simply a product of previous shoulder dislocations, since a traumatic dislocation often causes tears in the stabilizing cartilage and ligaments. A shoulder is more likely to be dislocated again if it’s already been dislocated. Unusually loose ligaments in the shoulder can also heighten the risk, especially if they’ve been loosened by repetitive motion and strain, as often occurs in football players, swimmers, and tennis players.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
There are several symptoms of a chronically unstable shoulder. One of the most common is frequent subluxation, or repeated partial dislocations. Often caused by overhead motions, these subluxations create a brief feeling of pain and a slipping sensation in the shoulder. In more severe cases, full dislocation may occur, resulting in intense pain and visible abnormalities like bumps in the shoulder. Shoulder instability can also result in a “dead arm”, or a feeling as though a nerve has been pinched.
While you can perform some tests on your own, self-examinations can further aggravate the shoulder — so it’s best to let a professional diagnose your condition. In addition to consulting your medical history, a doctor may move your shoulder into specific positions to test the stability of the joint. If these movements cause pain or further displace the shoulder, it’s likely unstable, and X-rays and an MRI might be needed to determine the extent of the injury.
Non-traumatic shoulder instability can often be treated nonsurgically, through rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy. If the instability is the result of trauma and it creates a Bankart lesion (a tear in the cartilage), then arthroscopic surgery is usually necessary to stabilize the joint and prevent recurrent dislocations, which can otherwise lead to degeneration and premature arthritis.
Physical therapy largely consists of various stretching and strengthening exercises that rebuild the joints, ligaments, and muscles and restore their range of motion, stabilizing the shoulder in the process. These exercises are often targeted to strengthen the rotator cuff and the scapular muscle, and can be aided by resistance bands. In addition, your physical therapist will teach you how to properly use your shoulder, reducing the chance of painful subluxation and dislocation while you heal.
If you’re concerned about your shoulder, our team of best-in-class orthopedic physicians at CompOrtho are here to help. With our extensive experience, we have the knowledge and ability needed to help you at every stage of treatment, from diagnosis through rehabilitation. If you’re searching for a reliable and compassionate provider, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.
Cortisone shots can potentially provide long-lasting relief from pain and inflammation in the joints.
Many injections can greatly reduce pain and inflammation caused by musculoskeletal injuries or chronic conditions such as arthritis, significantly shortening recovery timelines and providing lasting relief. One shot we particularly recommend to patients entails an injection of cortisone into a damaged joint. We’ll tell you what you need to know about this tried-and-true treatment for pain and inflammation in the joints.
What Is a Cortisone Shot?
A cortisone shot is an injection composed of a corticosteroid medication and a local anesthetic. Used to relieve pain and inflammation, it’s most commonly injected into a joint, often in the shoulder, hip, or knee. These shots are often one option in a comprehensive treatment plan for chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, tendinitis, or rotator cuff impingements or tears.
How Long Does a Cortisone Shot Last?
A cortisone shot’s effectiveness depends on the severity of the patient’s condition. In most cases, pain and inflammation will marginally increase for about 48 hours following the injection, and will decrease precipitously thereafter. In some cases, a single injection can provide relief for as long as several months.
Generally, cortisone shots should only be given two times per joint per year. Repeated cortisone injections can damage the cartilage in the joint.
What Are the Side Effects of a Cortisone Shot?
Cortisone shots are typically safe in moderation, but since they infrequently lead to serious complications, they should be taken under a doctor’s supervision. Be sure to let your doctor know if you suffer from diabetes or other any other conditions affecting your blood sugar levels, as well as any medications that you are currently taking.
Most cortisone shots have some minor side effects, including a temporary uptick in pain and inflammation in and around the joint, and a thinning and lightening of the skin around the site of the injection. In some cases, however, they can result in a sudden spike in blood sugar if you’re diabetic and have poorly controlled blood sugar levels. .
What If the Cortisone Shot Doesn’t Work?
Cortisone shots provide a source of temporary relief from inflammation and pain. They will not solve the underlying problem, and pain may gradually return as the shot’s effectiveness subsides. As a result, cortisone shots should be administered as part of a more comprehensive treatment plan that may include physical therapy or surgery.
Fortunately, our team of orthopedic specialists at Comprehensive Orthopaedics has several years of experience in treating joint problems. Regardless of your specific condition, we’ll work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that provides lasting relief from your symptoms.
A new treatment that aims electrical pulses at irritated nerves around the spinal cord appears effective at relieving chronic lower back pain and sciatica, a preliminary study suggests.
The minimally invasive procedure, called image-guided pulsed radiofrequency, eased lingering pain in 80 percent of 10 patients after a single 10-minute treatment. Ninety percent were able to avoid surgery.
“Given the very low risk profile of this technique, patients suffering herniated disc and nerve root compression symptoms may undergo a safe and fast recovery, going back to normal activities within days,” said study author Dr. Alessandro Napoli. He’s an interventional radiologist at Sapienza University, in Rome, Italy.
“In fact,” he added, “one of the dramatic advantages of this technology is that we can perform it in a day-surgery setting, without anesthesia, and [patients] go home the same day.”
Napoli’s study is scheduled for presentation Wednesday at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting, in Chicago. Studies presented at scientific conferences typically haven’t been peer-reviewed or published, and results are considered preliminary.
About 8 in 10 people suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives, according to study documents. This pain can be due to a herniated disc in the lower spine. Sciatica is radiating leg pain caused by a pinched nerve in the lower spine, which also may be due to a herniated disc.
Also called a slipped or ruptured disc, a herniated disc occurs when the spongy material inside a spinal disc squeezes through its tough outer shell because of aging or injury. This material can press on surrounding nerves, causing pain and numbness or tingling in the legs, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
Conservative, nonsurgical approaches typically ease symptoms of a herniated disc over time, according to the AAOS. These treatments include rest, gentle exercise, pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, cold or hot compresses and physical therapy.
However, about 20 percent of those with acute low back pain don’t find relief through these measures. That leads some to decide on surgery to remove disc material pressing on their spinal nerves. For these people, Napoli said, image-guided pulsed radiofrequency treatment may become a viable option if larger studies reinforce his findings.
Napoli’s research included 80 people who had experienced at least three months of low back pain from a herniated disc that hadn’t responded to conservative treatments.
Image-guided pulsed radiofrequency treatment uses computed tomography — a CT scan — to help physicians insert a needle to the location of the herniated disc and surrounding nerves. A probe that’s inserted through the needle tip delivers pulsed radiofrequency energy to the area over a 10-minute period, resolving the herniation without touching the disc, Napoli explained.
More than 80 percent of the 80 study participants were pain-free a year after a single treatment. Six people required a second treatment session.
Pulsed radiofrequency has been widely used in pain medicine for other types of chronic pain, Napoli noted.
He said the treatment works by “eliminating the inflammation process” in nerves surrounding the herniated disc, hindering painful muscle contractions. “The aim was to interrupt this cycle and give the body the chance to restore a natural healing,” he added.
Dr. Scott Roberts, a physiatrist with Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Del., said the new findings showed “an impressive drop in pain and improvement in function.” However, he noted that the research didn’t include a control group for comparison with people not given the treatment.
“With no control group, we don’t know how much of the improvement we’re seeing would have happened anyway,” Roberts said. “I was very encouraged by [the study] because its results are significant, but it’s far from conclusive without a control group.”
What is a boxer’s fracture?
A boxer’s fracture is a break in the neck of the fifth metacarpal bone in the hand. It gets its name because the injury is common in inexperienced boxers.
The metacarpal bones are the intermediate bones of the hand found inside the flat of the hand. They connect the bones of the fingers (the phalanges) to the bones of the wrist (the carpals). The fifth metacarpal is the metacarpal of the fifth (pinky) finger. The neck of the metacarpal bone is where the main shaft of the bone starts to widen outwards towards the knuckle.
Boxers are not the only people who can get a boxer’s fracture, but usually the injury results from direct injury to a clenched fist. The force fractures the neck of the metacarpal bone below the pinky.
Your doctor will need to distinguish boxer’s fractures from other metacarpal fractures, which break the shaft of the metacarpal, or fractures of the base of the small finger. These injuries may need different treatments.
Metacarpal bones, in general, are some of the most commonly fractured bones in the hands. A large percentage of these qualify as “boxer’s fractures.”
What causes a boxer’s fracture?
Usually, a boxer’s fracture happens when you punch a wall or another solid object at a high speed. You also might get a boxer’s fracture if you fall hard on your closed fist. The neck of the metacarpal bone is its weakest point, so it tends to fracture here.
What are the symptoms of a boxer’s fracture?
Symptoms of a boxer’s fracture can include:
- Painful bruising and swelling of the back and front of the hand
- Tenderness of the back of the hand in the region of the fractured fifth metacarpal
- Bent, “claw-like” pinky finger that appears out of alignment
- Limited range of motion of the hand and of the fourth and fifth fingers
Your knuckle may also not have its normal bumpy shape. Your symptoms may vary in severity depending on the complexity of your fracture. You might have only mild pain, or the pain might be more severe.
How is a boxer’s fracture diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, how you injured the hand, and your past medical problems. Your doctor will also examine your hand carefully, checking for tenderness, strength, misalignment, range of motion, breaks in the skin, and other features.
An X-ray of the hand can clearly confirm a boxer’s fracture.
How is a boxer’s fracture treated?
Your treatment depends on how severe the fracture is. Initial treatment might include:
- Washing any cuts that are present in the skin
- Getting a tetanus shot if you have a cut and haven’t had a shot for several years
- Resting your hand for a few days
- Keeping your hand above the level of your heart for a few days
- Icing your injury several times a day
- Taking pain medicine (prescription or over-the-counter)
- Wearing a splint for several weeks
Before your doctor puts your hand into a splint, he or she may need to put your bones back into alignment. Usually, you’ll receive a local anesthetic to keep you from feeling any pain, and your doctor will physically manipulate the bones back into place. In some cases, your doctor might have to open up your hand surgically to get the bones back into alignment.
You also may need to work with a physical therapist for a while as your fracture heals. You’ll learn exercises to strengthen the muscles of your hand and keep them from getting stiff.
If you have an unusually severe boxer’s fracture, you may need immediate and more complicated surgery. For example, if your bone has broken through the skin, or if it has broken in several places, you will probably need surgery. You might also need surgery if you have a job or significant hobby that requires a lot of fine-motor movement of the hand, like playing the piano.
Even if you don’t need surgery right away, you might need it at some point. If your hand doesn’t heal as well as expected, surgery might be an option.
What are the complications of a boxer’s fracture?
An untreated boxer’s fracture can lead to a decrease in your ability to grip, limited range of motion of the finger, and an abnormal looking finger. With proper treatment, these complications are usually minor, if present at all.
What can I do to prevent a boxer’s fracture?
Avoid fistfights and punching solid objects to prevent many cases of boxer’s fracture. If you box, make sure you use the correct technique and the proper equipment.
How to manage a boxer’s fracture
Your doctor may give you some instructions about how to manage your boxer’s fracture, such as:
- Keep your bones strong by eating a healthy diet with enough vitamin D, calcium, and protein
- Stopping smoking, to help your fracture heal more quickly
- Keeping your splint from getting wet
Your hand will be very easy to reinjure for 4 to 6 weeks after your splint is gone. You may need to use a hand brace if you return to contact sports during this time. Talk with your doctor about what makes sense for you.
When should I call my healthcare provider?
Call your doctor if:
- You have numbness or tingling in your fingers
- You fingers look blue
- You have severe pain or worsening swelling
- Your splint gets damaged and you need a new one
A boxer’s fracture is a break in the neck of the fifth metacarpal bone in the hand. It usually happens when you punch an object at a high speed.
- Symptoms of a boxer’s fracture include pain and swelling of the hand, limited range of motion of the pinky finger, and misalignment of the finger.
- Your doctor can diagnose your boxer’s fracture with a medical history, physical exam, and X-ray.
- You might need treatment with simple rest, ice, pain medicine, and splinting.
- You might need surgery for your injury if it is severe.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
- Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
- Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
- Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
- At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
- Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
- Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
- Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
- If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
- Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.
Seniors with a fractured hip need surgery as soon as possible or they could suffer life-threatening complications, a new Canadian study concludes.
Having surgery within 24 hours decreases the risk of hip fracture-related death. It also lowers odds of problems such as pneumonia, heart attack and blocked arteries, the researchers found.
“We found that there appears to be a safe window, within the first 24 hours,” said lead researcher Daniel Pincus, a doctoral student with the University of Toronto.
“After 24 hours, risk began to clearly increase,” Pincus said.
U.S. and Canadian guidelines recommend hip fracture surgery within 48 hours of injury, but it’s likely that many people don’t receive care that quickly, he noted.
In the United Kingdom, guidelines call for surgery within 36 hours, but hospitals often fail to get patients promptly into the operating room, Pincus added. Rates range from 15 percent to 95 percent among U.K. hospitals, according to the report.
Oftentimes, there’s no operating room or surgeon available, or other patients are awaiting surgery, Pincus explained.
“There’s a triage system and these patients historically were not prioritized,” he said. “Sometimes there’s medical reason for the delay, but that’s very rare. We’re starting to realize there’s almost no reason why a patient should be delayed.”
Delay also likely occurs because doctors approach these elderly patients with a good deal of caution, said Dr. Harry Sax. He is executive vice chair of surgery for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
“The perception is that if you’re old and you’ve broken your hip, that you’re going to have a lot of other [health problems],” said Sax, co-author of an editorial accompanying the new study. “Therefore, I need to spend several days running tests on you to try to make sure I can get you through the hip fracture surgery. ”
To see how this delay affects the health of patients, Pincus and his colleagues evaluated data on over 42,000 people treated for hip fracture at 72 hospitals in Ontario between April 2009 and March 2014. The patients’ average age was 80.
The investigators compared patients based on whether they had surgery before or after 24 hours.
Overall, about 12 percent of hip fracture patients died within the month following their surgery.
However, patients who got surgery within 24 hours were 21 percent less likely to die during the following month, compared with those who had a delay in surgery, the findings showed.
Those patients also had lower complication rates. They were 82 percent less likely to develop a blood clot in the leg veins (deep vein thrombosis); 61 percent less likely to have a heart attack; and 49 percent less likely to suffer a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism). They were also 5 percent less likely to develop pneumonia during the month following surgery.
“The problem is the longer you sit in bed, the more likely you are to get pneumonia and blood clots. The unfixed bone is continuing to flick off little bits of fat, which can go to the lungs,” Sax said. “The delay doesn’t necessarily make things better. It could make things worse.”
People with an elderly relative facing hip fracture surgery should ask the health care team to get their loved one into surgery as soon as possible, with as little additional testing as possible, Pincus and Sax said.
“A prompt evaluation to make sure there’s nothing quickly correctable should be done, but otherwise the patient should move to the operating room as quickly as possible,” Sax said.
Families should ask doctors about every test, scan or screen that delays the surgery, Sax said.
“The question needs to be, what is the information that you’re going to gain and how would that change your management of this patient,” Sax said. “There are very few things you find with all this expensive testing that you can do anything about.”
The patient would be best off in a hospital that has a specific program to manage elderly people with hip fractures, Sax added. These programs have a team of surgeons, geriatricians, anesthesiologists and other professionals well-versed in the procedure.
“If you can find a hospital that does that, the chances are your outcomes are going to be better,” Sax said.
The study was published Nov. 28 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
For more on hip fractures, visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
SOURCES: Daniel Pincus, doctoral student, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Harry Sax, M.D., executive vice chair, surgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; Nov. 28, 2017, Journal of the American Medical Association