Biggest Reason Teens Injure Their Spines: Not Wearing Seat Belts

Biggest Reason Teens Injure Their Spines: Not Wearing Seat Belts

(HealthDay News) — Two-thirds of spinal fractures suffered by American children and teens occur in car crashes when they aren’t wearing seat belts, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed data on more than 34,500 U.S. patients younger than 18 who suffered spinal fractures between 2009 and 2014. Teens aged 15 to 17 accounted for about 63% of the spinal fractures, two-thirds of which occurred in motor vehicle accidents.

These findings show that around the time teens get their drivers’ licenses, young drivers and passengers are at highest risk for spinal fractures in car crashes, according to the authors of the study published online recently in the journal Spine.

The investigators also found a strong link between not buckling up while in the car and increased risk of spinal fractures.

“Nearly two-thirds of pediatric spinal fractures sustained in [motor vehicle accidents] occurred in children who did not use belts,” Dr. Vishal Sarwahi, from Cohen Children’s Medical Center, in New Hyde Park, N.Y., and colleagues wrote in a journal news release.

Spinal fractures in children and teens were associated with a 3% death rate, with many deaths occurring in unrestrained drivers and passengers, the researchers noted.

Another study finding was that the risk of severe or multiple injuries and death was more than twice as high (nearly 71%) when children and teens didn’t wear seat belts than when they did (29%).

Wearing seat belts was associated with lower rates of multiple vertebral fractures, other types of fractures in addition to spinal fracture, head and brain injuries, and a more than 20% lower risk of death in car crashes.

The researchers also found that 58% of the young spinal fracture patients were male, and that spinal fractures were most common in the South (38%), likely because a lack of public transportation results in more vehicles on the road.

The percentage of U.S. drivers wearing seat belts has risen steadily over the years, but teens and young adults remain less likely to use them, the study authors noted.

The findings highlight the need to take steps to increase seat belt use by younger drivers and passengers, such as targeted approaches using technology and media awareness campaigns, the researchers suggested.

“Ensuring our new, young drivers wear protective devices can greatly reduce morbidity/mortality associated with [motor vehicle accidents] and can help save lives, and spines,” the research team concluded.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on seat belt use by older children and teens.

SOURCE: Spine, news release, May 14, 2021

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EXPLORE WHAT A TFCC TEAR IS AND HOW IT’S TREATED

EXPLORE WHAT A TFCC TEAR IS AND HOW IT’S TREATED

Triangular fibrocartilage complex tears are painful and can affect a person’s ability to use their hand or wrist. But what is a TFCC tear exactly? And how is this injury treated? Understanding what this injury is and how to identify its symptoms can help you resume a pain-free life faster. Explore our guide to TFCC tears and learn how a wrist specialist can help you regain mobility in your wrist.

What Is a TFCC Tear?
The triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) connects the hand and forearm bones to form the wrist. Your TFCC is made up of several ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. It helps your wrist move and stabilizes the forearm when gripping something with your hand or rotating your forearm. A TFCC tear is any injury or damage to this area. There are two types of TFCC tears:

  • Type 1: These tears result from a physical injury. This often occurs when a person overextends their wrist or falls on their hand with it extended.
  • Type 2: These tears occur gradually and can result from damage due to aging or an underlying health condition, gout or rheumatoid arthritis.

TFCC tears commonly cause pain in the wrist. The pain may be constant or only appear when you apply pressure to your wrist or move it. Other symptoms of a TFCC tear can include:

  • Weakness or stiffness in the wrist
  • A limited range of motion in the hand or wrist
  • Wrist swelling
  • Loss of grip strength
  • A clicking or popping sound when you move your wrist

Athletes who regularly put pressure on their wrists — like tennis players or gymnasts — have a higher risk of developing a TFCC tear. You are also at a higher risk of a TFCC tear if you have previously injured your wrist.

TFCC Tear Treatment
If you suspect a TFCC tear, the first thing you should do is temporarily stop doing any activities that cause wrist pain to allow the injury to heal. You might need to wear a cast or splint to prevent your wrist from moving. Your wrist specialist will also likely recommend physical therapy. This involves doing gentle exercises to rebuild strength in your TFCC. If non-surgical treatments don’t provide any relief, you may need surgery to repair the tear.

Surgery to treat a TFCC tear involves a minimally invasive procedure called a wrist arthroscopy. During the surgery, your doctor will make several small incisions on the wrist’s outer edge to repair the damaged portion of the TFCC. Sometimes, they may also shorten the ulna — a long bone in the forearm — to alleviate your symptoms. You must wear a cast for a few weeks after the procedure to allow the area to heal.

Recovery usually takes a few weeks for TFCC tears that don’t require surgery. However, it may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months before you regain full use of your wrist if you do need surgery. Doing physical therapy and avoiding activities that strain your wrist can help speed up your recovery time.

 

Your Guide to Injury-Free Hiking

Your Guide to Injury-Free Hiking

Before you take off on the trail, follow these precautions to protect yourself from injury.

Hiking is a wonderful way to exercise any time of year. Not only is it a great aerobic, heart-healthy workout, you get to enjoy the beauty of nature rather than being cooped up in the gym. But as with any exercise program, orthopedic injuries can happen if you aren’t careful.

Ankle sprains and knee injuries are common among hikers. Hiking on slippery slopes or uneven terrain may force your natural gait out of sync, causing a twisted ankle, hyperextended knee, torn ligament or tendon, or a bad fall that breaks a bone. So before you map out your hiking trail, take some precautions to prevent an injury.

How to Prevent Hiking Injuries

A sudden injury can cut short an enjoyable hike. To ensure a safe trek, follow these five tips before and during your walk.

Get the Right Shoes. Preventing hiking injuries starts with proper footwear. Specially made hiking boots that support the foot and stabilize the ankle help protect against ankle sprains. Sporting goods stores carry a good selection of hiking boots, so you should be able to find a well-fitting, comfortable pair. If you have a pair of older hiking boots, inspect the tread. A worn-down tread provides little stability and means it’s time to invest in new boots. Ill-fitting boots may also cause blisters that are not only painful, but could also lead to infection.

Use a Trekking Pole. When hiking, rocks and bumps can throw your balance off-kilter. But striding with a trekking pole helps steady your body as you navigate jagged landscapes, thereby minimizing the risk of a knee or ankle injury. Depending on whether you’re going up or down a trail, you can adjust the length of the trekking pole to maintain your balance and take pressure off your knees.

Lighten Your Load. Depending on the length of your hike, you may need food and water to fuel your trek. But if you overload your backpack, you’re likely to tip over and wrench your knee on a rocky trail. Pack only what you need and keep the backpack as light as possible.

Strengthen Your Muscles. To prevent knee injuries, strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint. That includes the hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, and calf muscles. Strong muscles support and stabilize the knees as you hike over uneven ground. You can also add extra support by wearing a knee brace.

Take it EasyMuch of the pleasure of a hike comes from strolling at a brisk but comfortable pace. If you become tired or overheated, it’s time for a break to rest and recharge. If you lose your balance and twist your ankle or knee, rest for a few minutes until the discomfort subsides before you restart your hike. Pain that persists, however, may indicate a serious injury that should be evaluated by an orthopedist as soon as you’re off the trail.

Take Care Hiking Downhill. Going uphill may seem more arduous, but hiking downhill can be harder on the knees. Hiker’s knee, also known as runner’s knee or patellofemoral syndromeoccurs when the kneecap (patella) and femur (thigh) bone shift out of alignment, causing a dull ache at the front of the knee. When going down steep inclines, go slowly, take longer strides, and remain upright, keeping your torso over your hips and knees.

Hiking Injuries? Visit an Orthopedist

Severe knee or ankle pain following a hike should be evaluated by an orthopedist. At Comprehensive Orthopaedics, our doctors have treated many orthopedic injuries and can get you back on the trail!

How to Reduce Joint Inflammation

How to Reduce Joint Inflammation

Pain and swelling due to joint inflammation can often be remedied with at-home treatments and lifestyle adjustments.

When your joints become damaged due to an injury or chronic condition like arthritis, blood rushes to the area and your immune system releases chemicals to fight the inflammation. This chain reaction causes swelling and pain in the joints.

If it’s in response to an injury, joint inflammation may quickly recede with at-home treatment. On the other hand, it may take a bit longer to address the chronic inflammation caused by arthritis.

Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage cushioning the joint wears down over time, resulting in the bones rubbing against each other. Pain, stiffness, and a cracking sound when the joint moves are all symptoms of the condition. Chronic inflammation caused by arthritis is typically treated with pain medications, corticosteroid injections, hot and cold therapy, and physical therapy to improve muscle strength and flexibility. Depending upon the severity of the joint deterioration, a joint replacement may be recommended.

However, less severe joint inflammation can be managed with simple remedies and lifestyle changes. With the measures discussed here, you can reduce pain and swelling with at-home treatments.

5 Ways to Reduce Joint Inflammation

Here are five methods you can try to relieve your discomfort.

RICE method. If you think your joint inflammation is due to a sudden injury, the RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) method is the first line of treatment to reduce pain and swelling. See an orthopedist if the pain and swelling don’t diminish after RICE treatment.

Oral Medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, either over-the-counter or prescribed, can reduce joint pain. Ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, and Celebrex are all classified as NSAIDs. For arthritis, you may need a prescription anti-inflammatory.

Diet. What you eat can either increase or decrease inflammation. A diet high in processed foods, fried foods, refined sugar, and saturated fats found in corn oil and margarine is not only bad for your overall health, but tends to exacerbate inflammation, as well. When planning meals, follow the Mediterranean diet principles, which lean toward fish, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, beans, whole grains, and nuts. Limit your intake of red meat, poultry, cheese, yogurt, and sweets. Not a fish eater? Take a fish oil supplement made of omega-3 fatty acid twice a day at a dosage of 2.6 grams to fight inflammation.

Exercise. Although arthritis pain may make the thought of exercise unbearable, movement can actually help reduce inflammation. Talk to your doctor about the best exercises, but following a low-impact aerobic workout for at least 30 minutes five days a week along with some resistance training can be therapeutic. Combined with diet, exercise will lower your weight, which cuts down on the stress placed on your joints — especially the knees and hips.

Reduce StressElevated stress levels contribute to inflammation, as was documented in a 2017 study that found stress markers increased when psychological stress was heightened. Meditation, yoga, biofeedback, and getting enough sleep each night are proven methods to lower your stress levels.

Don’t Suffer From Inflamed Joints

At Comprehensive Orthopaedics, our orthopedic surgeons have helped hundreds of patients overcome the pain of inflamed joints due to injury or arthritis. We offer both surgical and non-surgical solutions for your joint pain.

How to Tell the Difference Between an Ankle Fracture and an Ankle Sprain

How to Tell the Difference Between an Ankle Fracture and an Ankle Sprain

Do you have an ankle sprain or an ankle fracture? Learn how to spot the signs for each condition.

Considering how much weight our ankles carry and the mobility this hard-working joint provides, it’s not surprising that ankle sprains and fractures are quite common. Sports injuries, car accidents, and bad falls can wrench the ankle joint out of alignment and result in either a fracture or a sprain. But how do you know which one it is?

Severe pain, swelling, and impaired mobility all indicate significant ankle trauma. An orthopedic specialist can determine with an X-Ray or other imaging tests whether your ankle is sprained or broken. But before you book your appointment, here are some clues as to which injury you may have suffered.

Ankle Sprain Vs. Fracture

Both injuries cause similar symptoms — pain, swelling, and an inability to put weight on the joint. At the same time, there are some key differences. It’s important to know these differences and get a quick diagnosis so you can receive the proper treatment.

Ankle Fracture. Your ankle consists of three main bones: the tibia (shinbone), fibula (lower leg), and the ankle bone (talus). All three join together at the ankle to give the joint its wide range of motion. Ankle fractures occur most often due to a car accident or a severe fall that breaks or chips one or all three bones. A swollen, painful ankle is a sign of an ankle fracture, particularly if the area over the ankle bone is tender to the touch. If you’ve fractured your ankle, you may also experience numbness in your toes and notice your ankle appears misshapen. An ankle fracture is usually accompanied by a cracking sound.

Ankle Sprain. Holding the ankle bones together is a network of flexible but strong ligaments. When those ligaments are stretched or twisted beyond their normal range of motion, they can become strained, partially torn, or completely torn. Soreness, tenderness, bruising, swelling, stiffness, and pain when trying to put weight on the ankle are signs of an ankle sprain. Depending on the severity of the sprain, you may hear a popping sound, although in most cases there is no discernable sound. If you feel pain when you touch the soft part of the ankle, it’s most likely a sprain.

How to Treat Ankle Fractures and Sprains

An immediate diagnosis of either a sprain or fracture prevents the injury from worsening and doing more damage to the ligaments or bones. Do not delay treatment if you think you’ve broken your ankle, or your ankle sprain doesn’t improve in a day or two.

Treatment for an ankle sprain begins with the PRICE method: Protecting the ankle from further harm, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. You may need to wear to a brace to support the ankle and use crutches to take weight off the joint as you heal. Over-the-counter pain medications can alleviate the discomfort. Mild sprains clear up in about two weeks, but it may take longer for more significant sprains to heal. Surgery is not recommended unless there is a severe ligament tear. Physical therapy can also help restore flexibility and range of motion to the joint.

How an ankle fracture is treated depends on whether the bone is stable — meaning it’s broken but not out of alignment — or knocked out of place. A stable fracture can heal in about six weeks immobilized in a cast. If the bones are shattered into small bits and/or out of place, surgery may be necessary to attach the bones together with plates, screws, rods, or wires in a procedure known as reduction. Similar to ankle sprains, treatments for fractures include PRICE, taping around the ankle or a boot to stabilize the joint, crutches while walking to reduce pressure on the ankle, and physical therapy to strengthen and increase flexibility in the joint.

Treat Your Ankle at Comprehensive Orthopaedics

Ankle injuries can be especially debilitating. Fortunately, the physicians at Comprehensive Orthopaedics have years of experience in diagnosing and treating orthopedic injuries like ankle sprains and fractures. We use the latest equipment and techniques to quickly heal your ankle. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Preventing Orthopedic Injuries At Home

Preventing Orthopedic Injuries At Home

After a year of working from home, Americans are seeing a rise in back and shoulder injuries. Here’s how to address these common orthopedic problems.

As the pandemic continues to reshape daily life, many people are recognizing the drawbacks of setting up an in-house office. Working from the couch or kitchen table may be more convenient and less stressful than a long commute, but it’s taking a toll on our orthopedic health.

At-home workers report a rise in back, shoulder, and neck pain, according to one study. Hinge Health also surveyed about 900 employees and found that nearly half (45 percent) reported back and joint pain since switching to their home office.

Yet there are simple ways to avoid orthopedic injuries while working from home — it just takes a few updates to your home-based workstation.

Unfortunately, most home offices lack the perks that support your spine, namely an office chair and a computer with a separate keyboard. In fact, the Hinge Health survey found that only 48 percent of respondents reported having a comfortable desk chair at home. And only about 40 percent said they had a computer monitor with an external keyboard. This means you’re likely hunched over a laptop as you sit at a kitchen chair or stool that provides little to no support for the spine.

Another issue is the lack of activity while working from home. When sprawled out in your house or apartment, you’re more likely to sit and work all day instead of taking coffee or lunch breaks. While walking around an office may not seem like a lot of exercise, it does force you to occasionally unlock stiff muscles.

Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a new office chair and desk for your house. Instead, you can make your home workspace more ergonomic with a few tweaks:

Align Your SpineAligning your spine doesn’t mean keeping your back straight; it means maintaining your spine’s natural S-curve as you sit. A straight-backed kitchen chair won’t do that, but it will if you wedge a rolled up towel behind your lower back. Your feet should be flat on the floor, with your thighs parallel to the floor and knees even with your hips. If your feet don’t reach the floor because the chair is too high, rest your feet on a footrest or even a pile of books.

Get an External KeyboardIf you make one investment while working from home, it should be an external keyboard and mouse for your laptop. A laptop with a connected keyboard isn’t the optimal ergonomic setup because you’re forced to look down, which puts pressure on the spine and throws the neck out of alignment. With a separate keyboard and mouse, however, you can arrange your workspace similar to your office desk by propping the laptop on a riser or pile of books with the keyboard below.

Adjust Monitor Level. Position the top of your monitor at or slightly below eye level so your eyes view the middle of the screen when looking slightly downward. You should be able to comfortably view the top third of your screen without looking down. Hold your neck straight; if you have to bend your neck too far up or down, you need to change the monitor height. To get the right monitor height, prop it on a riser or pile of books, or adjust your chair height if you can. In addition, place the monitor about an arm’s length away from you, with your elbows positioned comfortably at your sides. Be aware of your wrist placement, as well. A flat keyboard or a keyboard where the bottom row is raised helps keep your wrists in a straight line.

Take a Break. Taking frequent breaks to walk around prevents your muscles from stiffening up and getting sore. Much of the orthopedic injuries caused by working from home are due to repetitive actions. Disrupt that cycle by moving whenever you can.

Taking Care of Your Orthopedic Health at Home

Experiencing back and shoulder pain while working from home? The specialists at Comprehensive Orthopaedics are ready to examine you and recommend exercises and other ways to make your home office more comfortable.

Whether working in an office or at home, you have the power to combat orthopedic pain. Contact us today for a consultation.

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