Non-Surgical Osteoarthritis Treatment for Knee and Back Pain

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Causes of Abnormal Gait

There are a number of different causes of abnormal gait. Some are due to by trauma while others have a less obvious reason at the root. Doctors can use abnormalities in the way you walk as a starting point to diagnose a wide range of medical issues, from injury to arthritis and more. If you notice a change in the way you move that you are not able to control, see a doctor to find out the type of problem you have and begin to work to fix it.

Injury to the hips, knees, or foot is the most common cause of a limp that alters the way you move your leg. This can happen due to sudden trauma, like from sports or a car accident, or long-term problems like genetic factors that lead to joint breakdown. Pain may cause you to favor a knee over the other or lean one side when you move around. Sometimes this is a minor problem that goes away with rest and time, while other instances require medical evaluation and possible surgical intervention. Post surgery, physical therapy may resolve lingering issues.

Other people have gait abnormalities that arise from physical issues not related to accidents, falls, or other damage. For example, when it comes to the hips and the knees, the joints may turn inward or outward. Some people have legs of two different lengths. Both of these types of situations can affect balance, which affects walking, running, and other motor skills. It’s also possible to develop an infection inside the bone, which can eat away at the structure and damage its integrity, leading to loss of strength and abnormal walking patterns. Finally, neurological conditions starting within the brain, which controls all movement, can cause many different problems with motor control.

Many limps and aches and pains in the legs can easily be traced to their causes, like accidents and arthritis. However, some are not so easily explained. Any abnormality in the way you move needs to be evaluated by a doctor, especially one that arrives suddenly, without explanation, and doesn’t clear up in a reasonable time frame. This is even more true for young children, whose young joints may turn inward or outward but go unnoticed for a long time before they become fully mobile. Additionally, any pain severe enough to alter movement may signal something serious, such as an infection in the bone. Taking the time to have changes checked makes it possible for you and your doctor to work to fix any health issues before they become long-term problems.

October 8, 2014

Increased Potassium And a Lower Stroke Risk

As we get older, risk inevitably increases for various health crises, especially those related to the heart and high blood pressure. Since we can’t stop the march of time, it’s natural to turn our attentions to what we can control in order to decrease other personal risk factors that raise the chances of developing one or more of these potentially deadly conditions. In addition to maintaining an active lifestyle and healthy diet, a recent study has shown that older women who increase potassium intake enjoy a decreased mortality rate from stroke over those who consume less of the nutrient.

In the United States, strokes are the fourth leading cause of passing away, with 800,000 suffering one each year and about 130,000 of those patients ultimately passing. Since risk increases with age, among other factors, there’s great interest in simple lifestyle changes and adaptations that older women can adopt to lower their chances of suffering an event. While a balanced diet and regular exercise have always been recommended parts of a healthy lifestyle, it’s only recently published findings of an 11-year study that show the positive effects of higher potassium intake for women.

There are several things to note about the study’s findings. First, the women who benefited the most ate high amounts of naturally potassium-rich foods rather than loading up on supplements. This includes foods like bananas, avocados, white beans, and spinach. Even yogurt and coconut water are great sources of the essential nutrient. Second, while women all women with a higher intake had a decreased mortality rate over those with a lower intake, only those with low blood pressure had a lower incidence of blocked arteries in the brain. This diet method is most beneficial before high blood pressure sets in because the nutrient lessens the effects of salt, which increases blood pressure.

The best way to take advantage of this research is to eat foods that are naturally potassium-rich while keeping salt intake low. Make healthy choices at home and at restaurants by avoiding options with hidden sodium, such as fried and canned items. Keep a list of good choices handy when shopping, including white beans, fresh spinach, and bananas, which make a great snack. Increase water intake whenever possible and keep a regular exercise routine. While it’s difficult to overcome some cardiac risk factors, new information about potassium-rich meals does make it possible for women to lower their risk of death due to stroke significantly.

September 9, 2014

Labral Tear

A labral tear is a type of damage to a ring of cartilage called the labrum that acts as a sort of seal around a ball and socket joint. In humans, this can occur at either the hip or the shoulder. This can happen over time or due to an injury from sports or other physical activity. Depending on severity, treatment may be as simple as resting the affected limb. In some cases, surgery may be necessary for full recovery.

In the hip, the very fibrous labrum forms a sort of gasket to help hold the femur in the cup shaped acetabulum. The same is true at the shoulder, where the bones are the humerus and the cup shaped glenoid fossa. When a labral tear occurs, the seal is broken. In some serious cases, such as with extreme trauma, this allows for a subluxation or dislocation, where the bone is entirely removed from the joint. In most cases, however, repetitive motions cause minor wear. This leads to symptoms like pain, clicking, decreased range of motion, or a catching and locking sensation.

A doctor will diagnose damage to both locations the same way. A physical exam is first, though small a small labral rip can’t be seen this way. Your doctor may order x-rays and a CT or CAT scan to assess the extent of the damage. For small damage, the most likely treatment is rest and avoidance of the repetitive motions that caused the damage. Symptoms can be managed with over the counter medications. Physical therapy may be suggested, especially for athletes. For more severe damage, a type of surgery called arthroscopy can be used to repair the cartilage. It is minimally invasive and the injury is fully repaired following just a few weeks of recovery.

Damage to the cartilage surrounding ball and socket joints is a fairly standard risk of many different sports. Weightlifters and basketball players may suffer this sort of damage to the arm, while dancers, soccer players, and football players see it often in the legs. Fortunately, mild occurrences only require a bit of rest for recovery and even serious incidents call for minimally invasive surgery. As with all overuse physical damage, however, lifestyle modifications may be necessary to prevent recurrence. Those afflicted should follow all medical instructions and complete physical therapy as directed in order to ensure a full and safe comeback.

August 14, 2014

Bursitis of The Hip

There are many medical conditions associated with the hip joint, and one of the most uncomfortable is bursitis. It can cause both stiffness and pain, and is the most common affliction associated with both. While there can occasionally be an associated infection, the disorder is most often the result of a minor injury and fortunately, recovery is possible within days without major medical intervention.

A bursa is a sac of fluid intended to cushion the bones of a joint and reduce friction. In the groin area, there are two to help cushion the femur. One is near the iliopsoas muscle and one is near the trochanter of the femur. When they become inflamed, the condition is called bursitis, and the result can be a sharp pain, a dull ache, or stiffness. Some people feel it more intensely after sitting and standing up, or indicate that walking for too long can irritate it, while others find night is worse. It can happen due to an impact injury or strain, such as having a small fall on a bike in San Diego or elsewhere or overdoing it while pedaling. it’s also common in older women.

To diagnose inflammation of the bursae, a doctor will perform a physical examination. Additionally, she’ll take a verbal history to note the nature of the discomfort, asking whether night is worse, if the ache is sharp or dull, and if walking for too long can irritate it. She will need to rule out other conditions like osteoarthritis or possible fractures. To do this, she may order tests such as x-rays or an MRI. Gathered together, all of this information will allow her to diagnose the condition. Treatment is generally simple and usually includes lifestyle modifications to avoid any movements that cause irritations as well as over the counter medications to manage inflammation and discomfort in the hip. Sometimes cortisone injections may be used and are can provide a successful outcome.

Inflamed bursae near either the iliopsoas, trochanter, or both are one of the most common causes of discomfort in the groin area. Since the fluid filled sacs are responsible for providing cushions and reducing friction in the joint, it’s easy to see why an injury to the area could quickly induce stiffness and soreness. Older women and anyone who has recently suffered a light strain in that area should consider seeing a doctor to diagnose the condition. Fortunately, it usually heals up quickly and can be managed with certain medications, though occasionally physical therapy is called for. In most cases, patients will be back on their feet within a few days to a week or more.

July 17, 2014

Neuromuscular Training After ACL Surgery

The anterior cruciate ligament is critical to the structure of the knee. ACL surgery to repair this vital part of the joint leaves many patients facing a long recovery period, even longer for those looking to return to sports or an active lifestyle. While physical therapy is necessary for healing after any surgery, neuromuscular training after this particular kind of operation can help athletes avoid future injury while also speeding healing.

Knee injuries are common in contact sports, both professional and amateur. Even those who keep a casually active lifestyle are susceptible to stretching and tearing the structures that support the ball and socket joint. Doctors are able to perform operations to repair the damage. For many, this reconstruction allows a return to regular activity, but not without careful consideration for the potential of reinjury. Together with the patient, the medical team as a whole puts together a comprehensive program detailing the medical, surgical, and physical therapy components needed for the patient to regain complete range of motion without loss of strength.

Usually, neuromuscular training after ACL surgery is a large part of the program. These types of exercises and movements focus on developing dynamic joint stability, something that can be lost when the anterior cruciate ligament is damaged and weakened after an operation. Under the supervision of a physical therapist, patients use plyometrics to learn the safest ways to jump, land, and pivot as they regain strength in the joint. This helps regain or retain agility and balance without loss of strength in the healthy leg. Athletes and casual weekend warriors alike benefit from plyometrics, as relearning safer ways to perform common movements both improves sports performance and prevents injury.

After any surgery, a healthy diet, a low stress environment, and plenty of sleep are essential for healing. These elements are especially important when dealing with the vital support structures of the body, like the knee. However, physical therapy that focuses on developing agility and balance while protecting the joint from future injury without loss of strength is key for athletes safely returning to the field after an operation on the anterior cruciate ligament. Careful adherence to the prescribed recovery program will ensure dynamic joint stability, which is essential for those determined to make a permanent return to prior physical activity levels. Work together with surgeons and physical therapists to develop a comprehensive plan for full recovery.

June 18, 2014

What Being Apple or Pear Shaped Could Mean For Your Health

It turns out that body shape affects more than just what types of clothes look more flattering than others. In fact, new research published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism indicates that the way you tend to carry fat on your frame may be an indication of overall health or propensity for different types of diseases. While former beliefs held that fat concentrated around the hips was “safer” than fat concentrated around the waist, new information dispels that myth and provides an explanation of health risks as they relate to apple and pear types.

When fat is concentrated around the thighs and butt, a person may be referred to as a pear. This type is usually heavier around the hips, with more gluteal fat and a narrow abdomen. On the other hand, a person who resembles an apple will have more stomach fat and may be more narrow in the hip region than they are in the buttocks. This distribution is determined by several factors, including body composition, hormones, and genetics.

Previously, it was thought that those with fat concentrated around the midsection were at higher risk for heart disease and diabetes than those with more fat around the buttocks and thighs. However, new research from The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism refutes these beliefs. It’s been shown that those with more gluteal adipose tissue show increased risk for metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease, insulin resistance, and lower levels of good cholesterol. Another factor to consider is that different areas store different types of fat. Different levels of hormones are released within the body dependent on the types and amounts of fat stored, which makes targeting this fat challenging.

Fortunately, though the risks of bodily inflammation and metabolic syndrome may be increased due to shape factors beyond our control, the best way to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes remains within grasps. Weight loss is the number one way to maintain health regardless of natural waist size or gluteal fat. A healthy diet balanced in fruits, vegetables, and proteins, combined with regular exercise, will go a long way toward reducing overall risk of metabolic syndrome. Additionally, try to maintain low stress levels, which will help control how much of the stress hormone, cortisol, is released within the system. It’s a benefit for your current enjoyment and for your future health.

May 21, 2014

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a disease that affects the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. It afflicts mostly women. For many, treatment of this painful syndrome is delayed as it can be extremely difficult to diagnose. While there is no cure, management of the chronic condition is usually done through various methods including medication and lifestyle changes.

Fibromyalgia, or FMS, is a disease characterized mostly by pain, though it also causes sufferers to feel extremely tired, as well. Painful sensations are felt all throughout the body, making it difficult to pinpoint an exact source of the symptoms. Tingling in the muscles or joints may be present, as well. The sensations may last for days or weeks on end and may come and go in response to stress or other psychologic or environment factors. Because discomfort can be so widespread and confusing, many patients endure for a long time before seeking treatment at all.

Even after making an appointment with a medical professional, there may still be a long road before diagnosis of FMS is achieved. Since so many illnesses and genetic diseases affect the nerves and cause similar discomfort, there are many unknowns to rule out before the syndrome is considered. However, there are four key factors that commonly go together to facilitate the diagnosis. They include depression, presence of several of 9 tender points, widespread pain lasting three months or more, and fatigue. When a doctor confirms the presence of these four criteria, a diagnosis of FMS is likely.

Treatment varies from person to person. Some people experience constant discomfort requiring medications for management at all times. Others deal with flare ups of the condition that occur at random or in response to the environment or mental stimuli, like stress. For those people, more conservative treatment is possible. Lifestyle changes such as exercise or therapy may be more appropriate. Regardless, patients will be encouraged to work closely with medical professionals to manage the disease and adjust treatment plans as needed.

While the disease is very common, there are also still many unknowns at play in how it works and how it’s treated. For those suffering the painful condition, exhaustion and discomfort often bring life to a full stop. Management of the pain and depression associated with chronic illness are the two key points of treatment for the medical teams working with patients dealing with this disease.

April 23, 2014

Stasis Ulcer

A stasis ulcer, also sometime referred to as venous or varicose, is a wound that occurs when a valve in a vein fails to function correctly. They are most common in the lower extremities and can be a source of extreme pain. There are several methods used to treat the condition. However, it is known to be an especially problematic issue, as it commonly returns in the same location in many afflicted patients.

This type of skin lesion happens most often in the lower part of the legs, on the sides rather than the front or back. It occurs due to something called a venous insufficiency, which is when blood does not return to the heart in the way that it should. Instead, it backs up and pools in the vein. It causes itchy, red skin over the affected area, followed by swelling. Eventually, the fluid accumulation causes an open sore.

Stasis ulcers are caused by poor blood circulation, valve failure, or a combination of both. For some people, this can happen for reasons unknown. However, there are several risk factors that may increase the chances of developing the condition. Among them are obesity, smoking, jobs that require long periods of sitting or standing, or an overall lack of physical activity.

When the first signs of swelling or itchy red tissue are noticed, it’s important to call a doctor immediately. Smaller lesions are easier to heal than larger ones, so a faster response will improve the chances of proper healing. The open wound will be treated by keeping it clean and covered with a proper dressing. Petroleum jelly may help to keep the dressing from sticking. After the initial sore is healed, it’s essential to try to reduce the chance of recurrence. Most doctors recommend compression stockings which should only be taken off to sleep and bathe.

These types of open wounds on the legs not only cause severe pain, but also pose a serious infection risk for patients who suffer from them. Those afflicted will need to follow up with medical professionals for regular reviews of their skin condition in order to monitor closely for any new lesions. Since almost 50% of patients see a recurrence within five years of initial onset, they must work together with doctors to catch and treat new lesions quickly for proper healing.

March 26, 2014

Bunion?

There are several factors that determine whether or not a person will develop bunions, or hallux valgus, in his or her lifetime. Regardless of why they develop, most people who suffer from the condition do find them to be painful. For those prone to developing this type of foot issue, there are several different methods used for prevention and treatment, as well as various ways to deal with the discomfort associated with the bump on the side of the foot.

A hallux valgus is a bump of bone on the metatarsal that develops at the base joint of the big toe, on the inside of the foot. It grows bigger over time, and this growth pushes the big toe inward toward, causing it to rub against the second toe and also changing the shape of the foot. The area around the bump may become swollen and sore, causing pain with walking and other daily activities.

Several factors determine whether one is prone to the condition. People whose gait rolls the foot inward instead of out tend to develop the bony bumps more frequently. Those with a foot shape that places a lot of pressure on the joint of the big toe are also likely to develop them. Women are more likely than men to suffer from the condition due to wearing shoes with high heels, which leave their toes constricted for long periods, again placing pressure on the big toe.

Those seeking treatment for the condition and the associated pain should see a podiatrist. If the condition exists but isn’t causing any discomfort, it may not be necessary to do any treatment at all. If the foot is sore and impeding daily activities, the podiatrist may suggest one or more approaches to the problem. First, the doctor could suggest wearing wide shoes with plenty of room for the toes. They should also have a supportive sole. She may also suggest custom orthotics or a splint for additional support and lifestyle changes including complete avoidance of narrow shoes and high heels. Anti-inflammatory medications and ice can be used to treat pain and swelling. Some have found success with ultrasound therapy. In rare cases, surgery is an option.

For many people, bunions are a painful fact of life. If you know that you’re prone to the condition, you can do your best to avoid discomfort by choosing footwear with a wide toe box and supportive sole. For those already dealing with the issue, combat soreness with anti-inflammatory medications and ice for swelling. At the current time, these are the best methods available for coping with the often chronic condition.

February 25, 2014

Calf Pain

Pain in the calf can occur for several reasons. There are two different muscles located in the back of the lower leg, and each may suffer injury. Additionally, cramps may occur for reasons other than acute injury. While in most cases the cause is minor and treatable, there are times that discomfort in the back of lower leg area is a sign of a bigger underlying problem.

The calves are made up of two muscles. The first and larger is the gastrocnemius, which is divided into two parts, called the medial and lateral heads. The second is smaller and flat and lies under the gastrocnemius. This is called the soleus. They taper together and merge at the bottom of the calf. Connective tissue then joins them with the Achilles tendon, which connects to the heel bone, called the calcaneus. The plantaris attaches nearby and is often grouped with the gastrocnemius and soleus.

Many common conditions are known to cause pain in the calves. A calf strain, for example, can occur quite easily in sports or even from a bad landing in a slip and fall accident. A more severe injury is a complete tear, or muscle rupture. Knee injuries that cause an uneven gait could lead to soreness in the calves over time, as well. On top of these injuries, vigorous physical activity can also lead to cramping, lasting from a few seconds to up to fifteen minutes or more at a time.

More dangerously, discomfort of unknown cause in the calves could be a sign of a bigger underlying problem. It may be a sign of a blood clot in the deep vessels of the back of leg area, partially blocking circulation. It may cause part of the leg to swell, or feel like a bruise. This is called a deep vein thrombosis, and it must be treated by a doctor. Rarely, it’s possible that a tumor, called a sarcoma, may form. If not caught by a doctor and treated with appropriate therapy, medications, and surgery if necessary, it may spread to the lymph nodes.

Most average, active people will suffer only minor cramps and strains of the calves in their lives, the kind easily healed with rest. However, there are several more serious conditions and injuries that can cause discomfort to the lower portion of the leg. In some cases, it’s a symptom of a bigger underlying problem. It’s important to always take painful sensations in the calves seriously and bring them up with a doctor.

January 28, 2014