Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome be a Work-Related Injury?

Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome be a Work-Related Injury?

According to OSHA, repetitive stress injuries (RSI) constitute one of the most costly occupational health problems affecting Americans. Carpal tunnel syndrome belongs to the group of common RSI, however, the question whether or not it is a work related injury is often dubious.

What is CTS? 

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is compressed and inflamed. The symptoms include but are not limited to pain in the hand, tingling, numbness, and wrist weakness. There are multiple factors that may contribute to developing this condition, including age, arthritis, gender or anatomic factors. However, certain cases may be associated with particular activities, such as repetitive hand motion, strong gripping, typing, using vibrating tools or awkward hands positioning. All of these create a damaging pressure on the median nerve.

Is carpal tunnel syndrome a work related injury? 

Any worker who is required to use their fingers or wrist in a repetitive motion on a regular basis is at high risk of developing CTS. Painters, mechanics, assembly-line workers, cashiers and many other occupations are prone to suffer from this condition at some point. However, it is still an object of debate whether a particular case qualifies as a workplace injury since it has been proven that repetitive motion injuries are not the only cause leading to carpal tunnel syndrome. Factors like obesity, diabetes or prior wrist trauma may cause carpal tunnel syndrome as well. Sometimes, medical evidence along with review of the work environment are necessary in order to determine whether or not a specific case is actually work related. Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that carpal tunnel syndrome has been the leading disability due to the amount of employees that must take time off from work.

Treatment 

There are many ways to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, varying from self-care like putting ice packs on the affected area, to wearing wrist braces and hand splints, attending physical therapy and taking anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin or ibuprofen. If the symptoms persist regardless of the treatment methods, surgery may be necessary. This will take pressure off the median nerve and bring relief to the symptoms.

If you feel you may be suffering from CTS, or to learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome, contact us today.

 

Sprains: A Common Injury in Young Athletes

Sprains: A Common Injury in Young Athletes

Out of all youth injuries that are related to playing sports, sprains and strains are by far the most common. The two injuries are similar in type – they are both either warped stretches or tears. The difference between them is that a strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon, while a sprain is the damage of a ligament.

Sprains are most often caused by trauma, such as an acute overstretch from a sudden twist or turn. These injuries are commonly seen in ankles, but any ligament can be affected. There is no way to prevent sprains with 100 percent certainty, however there are steps that can be taken to reduce the odds of one occurring.

Get into the habit of stretching properly after each workout session. Do not do so beforehand as the stretching of cold muscles can do more harm than good and can inhibit strength gains. Stretching not only improves the flexibility of the muscles, it also improves the flexibility of the connective tissue, including ligaments. You should also incorporate exercises into your routine that improve balance. Since impact or stretch trauma are the two primary causes of sprains, improving your balance will reduce your risk of falling or having to overcompensate in order to avoid doing so.

If a sprain is not treated correctly, or is left untreated, it can potentially lead to lasting problems. For example, an untreated wrist sprain can be a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, which may require surgery to correct to prevent the condition from resulting in significant, lasting nerve damage. If your child has been affected by a sprain, it is imperative that you seek proper treatment. Determining the severity of the sprain is vital, as this will affect the treatment regimen.

Should you have any further questions on sprains, or if you suspect your child has a sprain, please give us a call.

Comprehensive Orthopedic Care: Fracture of the Calcaneal

Comprehensive Orthopedic Care: Fracture of the Calcaneal

A broken foot is serious, but perhaps the most serious is a fracture of the calcaneal: the large bone that forms the foundation of the rear part of the foot, more commonly known as the heel bone. This bone has a thin, hard, outer shell covering softer spongy bone on the inside.  A break here causes the bone to collapse and become fragmented, lending to the seriousness of this kind of injury.

How do they occur?

A calcaneal fracture is usually the result of a traumatic event such as:

  • Falls: Common in falls with sudden impact, like from a ladder or a slip on some black ice.
  • Auto-accidents: Typically in a head on collision, especially if the person braces their foot on the floorboard before impact.
  • Sports injury: Heel fractures are more common in long-distance runners and can become worse with the stress of the foot hitting the ground over time.
  • Osteoporosis: Individuals with osteoporosis are more easily prone to breaks as their bones are fragile.

Calcaneal fractures can also occur in conjunction with other types of injuries, such as an ankle sprain.

How are they Diagnosed?

Signs and symptoms of heel fracture include:

  • Severe pain
  • Bruising
  • Unable to bear weight
  • Swelling
  • Heel deformity

Diagnosis of a calcaneus fracture involves a thorough examination which usually requires an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity of the fracture. In some cases, an MRI or CT scan may be required.

Receiving proper treatment requires a correct diagnosis on the type of fracture. There are several different types of calcaneal fractures that may occur, including:

  • Intra-articular fractures involve damage to the cartilage between the joints. These are considered the most serious type of heel fracture.
  • Avulsion fractures are when a sliver of bone is split off from the calcaneus due to pulling from the Achilles tendon or another ligament.
  • Multiple fracture fragments, also known as a crushed heel injury.
  • Stress fractures, resulting from overuse.

How are they Treated?

Some fractures can be treated without surgery by simply utilizing the following:

  • RICE: Rest, ice, compression and elevation.
  • Immobilization: placing the foot in a cast to keep the bone from moving.

Traumatic fractures often involve surgery which may include:

  • Percutaneous screw fixation: This surgery involves reducing, realigning, and attaching fractured pieces of bone with metal plates and screws.
  • Open reduction and internal fixation: Metal screws are used to attach larger fractured bones.

Recovery time can be lengthy, involving physical therapy to help regain strength and restore function.

If you have recently suffered a foot or heel injury or calcaneal fracture, contact us today. We will diagnose and properly treat your injury to get you onto the road to recovery.

When is a Meniscus Tear Repairable?

When is a Meniscus Tear Repairable?

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, one of the most common knee injuries is a tear in the meniscus. These rubbery pieces of cartilage act as shock absorbers in the knee to cushion and stabilize the knee joint. There are two menisci in each of your knees: one on the inside of the knee and one on the outer side.

Treatment of a meniscus tear depends on a number of factors, including the type of tear, its size and where the tear is located on the meniscus. Most meniscus tears result either from trauma or are degenerative. Traumatic tears come about from a twisting of the knee, often while engaged in sports and physical activity. Degenerative tears can occur as the body ages and tissue gradually breaks down over time.

The outer one-third of the meniscus has a rich supply of blood flow, which is important for any part of the body to heal. The inner two-thirds, however, have little to no blood flow. Nutrients from blood are necessary for the body to heal naturally, so when there are tears in the inner part of the meniscus, surgical trimming and removal of the torn piece is generally the best option.

Tears in the meniscus that are located near the outer edge of the knee are typically the result of trauma and are longitudinal – basically following parallel to the long side of the meniscus. This makes these injuries the best candidates for surgical repair.

Arthroscopic surgery for such tears can be very successful at repairing the damage. This is a minimally invasive treatment, as only a few small incisions in the knee are needed. A miniature camera is inserted in one incision, and surgical instruments are inserted in the others, allowing the surgery to all take place within the knee. The tear is closed by stitching the torn pieces together.

Recovery time from a meniscus repair is longer than for surgery where part of the meniscus is removed because the tissue must heal together, requiring 3-4 months away from sports. However, you can expect to fully return to your previous level of activity once healing is complete.

If you have sustained a knee injury or are experiencing knee pain, contact us at Missouri Orthopedics and Advanced Sports Medicine. Dr. Irvine has extensive experience in treating knee pain and injuries, and is trained in the most advanced techniques in arthroscopic surgery.

General Orthopedic Care – Caring for Broken Bones

General Orthopedic Care – Caring for Broken Bones

There are many ways a bone can be injured or broken. Car accidents, contact sports, falls, and workplace accidents are some of the most common ways bones sustain injuries. Regardless of the cause, broken bones should be treated as soon as possible to avoid complications. The best way to treat an injury to a bone is to ensure proper alignment and stabilization.

Leaving a bone break or injury untreated can result in complications including bone deformity and permanent nerve damage. An untreated break may also cause damage to surrounding muscle and ligaments. These complications occur because bone is living tissue that attempts to heal itself in stages:

  • The trauma of the break damages blood vessels within the bone resulting in bleeding inside the tissue. Within hours this blood forms a clot. The blood clot associated with a broken bone contains specialized cells known as fibroblasts.
  • In a few days, these cells begin to manufacture granulation tissue. This tissue begins to form a web of cartilage and fibrocartilage and is known as the soft callus stage. This stage may last from about four days to as long as three weeks in most cases.
  • At this point cells known as osteoblasts begin to make new bone tissue. Usually, this process begins at about two to three weeks and ends at about six to eight weeks. This is known as the hard callus stage and depending on the location and severity of the break, may continue for months.
  • The final process is remodeling. Specialized cells called osteoclasts begin to break down excess bone in the fractured area, reducing the size of the callus and replacing it with hard, compact bone tissue. As this happens, the bone returns to its original size and shape. During this time, the bone functions as well as before the break; however, the process of complete remodeling can take years to complete.

Because bone begins to heal itself almost immediately after an injury, it is vital to see a doctor as soon as possible in order to assure correct healing and avoid complications.

When you visit our office for a broken bone, an X-ray of the affected area would be done to determine the type and severity of the break. For the majority of simple fractures, the bone is able to be gently manipulated back into place. If a more complex or severe break is found, the bone may require stabilization with pins, screws, or plates. Once the bone is back to the correct alignment, immobilization with a cast, splint, or in some cases, traction is essential in order to minimize pain and allow the bone to continue to repair itself in the correct position.

Once the bone is stabilized, recovery and rehabilitation can begin. Dr. Irvine and his team will devise a plan to suit your specific needs. A proper rehabilitation program promotes blood flow to assist in healing and maintaining muscle tone, while also reducing stiffness and helping prevent blood clots.

No matter what the cause, Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine is here to help. Our clinic can diagnose and treat all types of breaks to get you back to your day-to-day activities. Contact us if you suspect you may have a broken bone or other orthopedic injury. We provide prompt, professional care to minimize further damage and get you back to a healthy, active lifestyle.