Health Tips


DECEMBER 28, 2015

“I hurt my arm and my fingertips are numb!”


Because our nerve pathways run throughout the body, any orthopedic injury can also be accompanied by nerve problems. A nerve that is pressured or stretched too much can be damaged. While nerve injuries can be permanent in the worst scenarios, most are temporary and will heal after some type of medical treatment, or even after just ice and rest. 

Persisting numbness in the fingertips following an arm or elbow injury is cause to see an orthopedic doctor, preferably one specializing in treating the arm area. (Any inflammation through the hand, wrist, arm, elbow, shoulder, neck, or spine can affect feeling in the hands.) If the injury is not severe, your doctor will take steps to reduce inflammation. In most cases such treatment will take pressure off the nerves and restore feeling. A “pins and needles” sensation during the healing period is a sign that feeling is coming back. 

A more severe arm injury can cause equally severe nerve damage. Not only may the injury itself require surgery, but additional surgery to repair the nerve may be required. This can be done by fixing the existing nerve structure or by grafting in a new section in place of a missing segment. Any of these surgeries are best performed by an orthopedic doctor specializing in the arm area. A post-surgery custom physical therapy program will follow this type of injury. 

Numbness or tingling in any part of the body, whether it set in gradually or suddenly, needs medical attention.

NOVEMBER 23, 2015

Cyclists: Keep Your Ankles Healthy! 


The many miles and hills around the South Bay make cycling an exciting way to stay fit, not to mention the gorgeous views. It’s easy to make this a lifestyle, especially with such a large cycling community in the area. With habit, though, comes repetition, and with it must come good form in order to stay pain free. 

The ankles can get stressed after long rides. This can be from improper foot position, having flat feet, having too high of a saddle, riding in soft-soled shoes, having a bent pedal or crank…the list goes on. 

The most common ankle pain complaint from cyclists is pain in the back of the ankle, which often indicates Achilles tendonitis. Severe Achilles tendon problems may require surgery, but In early stages, they can often be remedied with ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and rest. Gently stretching the Achilles tendon is also important. One way to do this is to stand with the ball of the foot on a stair or curb for 20-30 seconds and let the heel hang down, taking care not to overstretch. If the symptoms don’t subside, or the pain has migrated or is getting worse, it’s time to see an orthopedic doctor. 

A board certified orthopedic doctor specializing in ankle problems is usually the best choice for these types of issues. He or she can create a custom treatment program that helps you get back on your bike sooner and can advise you about the most ideal form for your particular body mechanics. If you need custom shoe orthotics, this person is also the most qualified resource. Having the right diagnosis and treatment for your pain, especially if you want to get back to logging miles quickly, takes a qualified medical expert who will listen carefully to your needs and goals, and be your partner as you heal and move into health again.

OCTOBER 15, 2015

Why Low Back Pain Keeps Coming Back 


Pain in the low back affects millions of people each year. Those with minor pain often don't seek treatment, especially if the pain goes away for a while or is only there during certain activities. People with low-level dull pain may learn to tolerate it rather than get help. 

The spine needs a lot of support from the surrounding muscles. When that support isn't working right because of an injury or imbalance, aches, pains, deterioration, and displacement can happen. When it does, it's common sense to refrain from activities that aggravate back pain. This can allow inflammation to subside and along with it, the pain. Taking safe doses of anti-inflammatory medications and using a cold pack can also help. But too often the pain comes back either during a different activity or because the original activity can't be avoided. What's the best way to address the pain when it recurs? 

Starting with the right diagnosis from an orthopedic doctor specializing in the spine is the best first step for effective treatment. He or she can help pinpoint the source of the pain and determine whether there's actual damage to structures, inflammation, or even muscle spasms. The doctor will want to know how bad it hurts, what triggered it, and what causes it to hurt now. A health history is also helpful so that the doctor knows about any special limitations they need to consider while treating you. The doctor will also want to know about your goals and lifestyle for returning to health. This can affect decisions about the speed and type of treatment that's best for you. 

Less severe back problems, especially those that recur, often respond very well to physical therapy and a regular exercise program designed to strengthen the muscles around the affected area. Injections, medications, activity changes, ice, and rest may also be helpful. More severe back problems are sometimes but not always treated with surgery. Many surgeries can be done with newer, minimally invasive techniques that lessen recovery time and post-operative pain.