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.

Ask the Doctor | Good Exercise Options for People with “Bad Knees”

Ask the Doctor | Good Exercise Options for People with “Bad Knees”

Having “bad knees” is a common complaint for patients of all ages. But there are many reasons for knee pain no matter how old you are, and seeing a doctor is certainly recommended to diagnose the cause. While proper treatment is crucial to motility, remaining in an active lifestyle is equally an important pursuit to help ensure longevity of your overall health. In fact, exercise can help stabilize the knee and alleviate some pain issues born of stiffness or due to lack of activity, but exercise can also aid in warding off major health problems such as cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

Of course, the best exercises for knees certainly depend on the source of individual pain, but in general, there are some low impact options that are kinder to compromised knees that can keep you active while you continue to manage or treat your knee pain.

  • Walking for low impact. If arthritis is causing you knee pain, walking might be the solution for you. In fact, a regular walking routine can reduce stiffness and inflammation and won’t generally contribute to worsening chronic conditions. According to the CDC, walking keeps your heart and bones strong and joints working as you age. Just try to build strength and endurance slowly, listen to your body as you limit exercise time and make walking on softer surfaces with flat, flexible athletic shoes a priority.
  • Swimming for cardio. Swimming is an enjoyable activity that’s good for almost everyone–and a great calorie-burning exercise. It alleviates weight placed on the knees and joints, while allowing movement with less pain. Swimming also has the ability to work all your muscles, toning the back, strengthening the stomach and working out arms and legs. For some extra training, many gyms with pools offer water aerobics classes that provide the benefit of a weights or resistance workout without the added pressure on your joints you’d have in a traditional gym session.
  • Try the elliptical.  If you belong to a gym, or are in the market for some home equipment, the elliptical machine is a great option as well. It enables the same motions of running without the impact on the knees. The great thing about the elliptical machine is that it works out arms, too, giving full body benefit while allowing you to decide how long or how hard to train. Additionally, if you’re recovering from a knee injury, it can even improve your knee health by providing an opportunity to build leg strength through the use of resistance settings.
  • Biking. While this workout will require you to consult your doctor about the safety of biking with your particular knee problem, it can be a good option for bad knees. Cycling is even often recommended by doctors as a good recovery option from knee injuries. If the particular motions cause you pain, try adjusting the settings on your bike at the gym or the length of time you exercise to work up stamina and strength slowly. Done outdoors as well as in, investing in a real bike (as opposed to a stationary one) may be one of the most beneficial things you’ll ever do if getting fresh air is something you love.
  • Try Yoga! Yoga is an extremely popular exercise that offers a myriad of benefits for health and fitness, including reduction of chronic pain, the promotion of relaxation and the ability to build strength and stamina. Because it’s often low impact, yoga can be enjoyed by almost anyone and can range in intensity depending on preference and skill level. Yoga helps building core muscles, improving muscle tone and flexibility, and poses can always be modified to provide less stress on knees.

While the above are great ways to stay in shape even if you experience knee pain, Dr. Irvine can advise you on the specifics of your situation for recovery from injury or management of chronic conditions and will ensure optimal safety—and enjoyment–in your exercise routine. Contact us for a consultation today!

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.

Arthroscopy – Not Just to Get a Better Look!

Arthroscopy – Not Just to Get a Better Look!

Most have probably heard the term arthroscopy, even if we aren’t exactly sure what it means. Arthroscopy, like much of medical terminology, comes from the Greek language; Arthro- means joint and -scopy is the act of viewing with a camera or lens.

During arthroscopy, one or more small incisions are made around the joint and a camera is inserted, as well as a variety of tiny surgical instruments. This allows Dr. Irvine to not only diagnose problems by looking around inside the joint with a camera, but he can also treat problems, using burrs, drills, rasps and other surgical instruments to remove and reshape bone, release caught tendons and clean out broken pieces of cartilage.

Why arthroscopy instead of open surgical procedures? Since arthroscopic procedures utilize much smaller surgical incisions, there is much less soft tissue to heal, meaning less pain and a quicker recovery time.

What joints can be treated arthroscopically? While most joints can be viewed arthroscopically, some of the most common candidates for arthroscopic examination and treatment include the knees, hips, shoulders and wrists. Many spinal procedures are now performed arthroscopically, as well as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) conditions.

What conditions can be treated arthroscopically? Here at Missouri Orthopedics and Advanced Sports Medicine, we are using state-of-the-art arthroscopic treatment for many conditions. Evaluation and some treatments can be done arthroscopically for shoulder disease, hip conditions, knee pain and injuries and more.

Procedures like total knee replacements and other more involved surgeries requiring large hardware or prostheses cannot be performed arthroscopically.

To find out more about arthroscopy and all of the orthopedic services we have to offer, please contact us. There’s no need to put up with the pain and limitations any longer!