4 Most Common Gymnastics Injuries

Gymnastics is a full body and physically demanding sport meant for all gender. Due to its stressful and challenging nature, risk of injuries are extremely high. Although most injuries are minor ones, some can be serious and life threatening! This risk is amplified when risky stunts are attempted. I will discuss some common Gymnastics injuries in this article.

Wrist sprains

The wrist is the most heavily used part of the body in Gymnastics. With the extreme twisting speed and jumps, the force acting on the wrist can be double of that of our body’s weight. Thus, the wrist is the most prone to injuries. Wrist sprains are common and the immediate response would be to terminate all activities and get plenty of rest. The intensity of training in future would need to be toned down as the wrist will be more prone to future sprains. To protect and offer better support, a wrist brace should be worn prior to any strenuous activities.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament tear

ACL injuries are common and can happen if the gymnast lands in an awkward position. The ACL supports the knee and provides stability. However, it can rupture if it is twisted suddenly under high forces and that exact force is provided by an improper landing position following a stunt. A “pop” sound will be heard and this is followed by knee swelling. To prevent ACL injuries, a supportive knee brace should be worn. In addition, gymnasts should strengthen their leg muscles to better hold and support the ligaments together.

Foot injuries

Foot injuries are another type of common gymnastics injury. The more frequently occurring one is ankle sprain. Minor foot injuries only suffer from slight swelling while more serious cases will lead to severe swelling and a limit in mobility.  Wearing a protective brace is often required after foot injuries but this can hinder the flexibility of the gymnast.

Back injuries

Injuries to the back can be either a muscle strain, ligament sprain or even spinal disc disorder. Back pain will intensify based on the activity engaged and extension motions will cause the pain to increase. Back injuries are often referred to physiotherapists but they can be more serious underlying. Serious back injuries that are not easy to detect is the spinal disc disorder. The spinal discs will cushion our spine from shocks and if it is injured, the protective capabilities will be compromised.

Gymnastics is a physically demanding and challenging sport activity that is filled with lots of injury risks. There are strict requirements for the gymnast and training often starts young. Unlike most sports, injuries in gymnastics are hard to prevent due to the lack of protective equipment that are flexible and concealable.

Spine Surgery: Orthopaedic Surgeon or Neurosurgeon?

In the event that you require spinal surgery to cure your injured back, the first and most important decision you have to make is to choose between an orthopaedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon. The choice of the right surgeon is extremely important and you have to consider factors such as the experience and success rate of the surgeon. So how different are these 2 doctors?

You will first need to understand that both are able to carry out spine surgery. In the past, neurosurgeons were the only ones that could qualify to perform spine surgery. With the evolution in medical techniques, orthopaedic surgeons are well equipped with the knowledge and skills to carry out spine surgeries for patients as well.

Neurosurgeons are medically trained doctors who have completed at least a 4 to 7 years worth of gruelling neurosurgery residency. Neurosurgeons specialise in disorders affecting the nervous system including the brain, spinal cord and nerves. There is however one distinct part that sets them apart from orthopaedic surgeons. Neurosurgeons are the only people who are able to perform surgery that is inside the dura mater of the spine. If the patient has a tumour in the spinal cord, cysts or spinal cord malfunction, only a neurosurgeon is able to perform the surgery for him.

Orthopaedic surgeons on the other hand are medically trained doctors who have completed a 5 years surgical residency focusing on musculoskeletal disorders such as the bones and joints. Most orthopaedic doctors focus on sports injuries and bone disorders. Some orthopaedic surgeons will choose to focus on spinal injuries and they will have to spend additional few years of their time to complete fellowship training on the spine. Other than the few specialised surgeries that only a neurosurgeon can carry out, orthopaedic doctors are able to carry out other spinal surgeries.

When choosing a surgeon to perform spinal surgery for you, the main question is not to decide on whether an orthopaedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon since both are equally adept to perform the surgery. Instead, you should be asking what is his specialisation. Some are specialised in cervical spine surgeries while some are inclined to lumbar disorders. The important questions you would want to ask is how many similar surgeries have they performed to date and what are the success rates. Spinal surgery being a major surgery, you would want a very experienced surgeon to perform it on you.

Causes and Symptoms of Lumbar and Thoracic Spine Fracture

Spinal fractures are extremely serious injuries. They most commonly occur in the thoracic and lumbar spine and are usually caused by high impact and sudden forces exerted on the spine such as a car accident or a fall from high altitudes. Men are more vulnerable to either thoracic or lumbar spine fractures up to four times than that of women and the elderly are also at a higher risk due to their loss in bone density due to osteoporosis. Our bones have excellent compressive strength and a large amount of energy is required to fracture it. This would also mean that when there is lumbar or thoracic spine fracture, the surrounding soft tissues as well as the spine will definitely be injured as well, and the extent of the injury is directly proportional to the force acting on the back.

Lumbar and Thoracic spine fractures are often caused by high impact and sudden forces as mentioned previously and some commonly examples are automobile accidents, falling from great heights, injuries from high impact sports such as rugby and violent acts such as from a gunshot. Lumbar and Thoracic spine fractures are not only caused by trauma. They can be caused by ageing diseases such as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis reduces bone density and places the patient at a high risk of bone fractures.

Some common symptoms associated with Lumbar and Thoracic spine fractures include severe pain, numbness, heavy breathing, loss of strength and loss of bladder and bowel control. Loss of bladder and bowel control are symptoms of spinal injury and if this symptom is observed, the patient must be sent to the A&E department immediately without further delay. The surrounding tissues will definitely be injured and patients may complain of muscle pain or aches which may sometime even overwhelm the back pain. This is extremely distracting and can possibly “cover up” the spinal injury and result in delayed diagnosis. Depending on the nature of the injury, some patients may even lose consciousness or have a partial memory loss. As a rule of thumb, patients who are involved in automobile accidents are automatically identified as patients with spinal injuries due to the high impact forces sustained during an automobile accident.

No matter how serious the injury is, the patient will require a lengthy rehabilitation process to allow them to regain mobility and reduce the severity of pain. If the injury was too serious, patients may lose some of their senses due to nerve injury.

4 Exercises for Back Pain Relief

Relief from back pain can be obtained from simple back exercises that helps to stretch, loosen and strengthen the back muscles. Our body is designed in a way that the back muscles must work in tandem with the spinal cord and the soft tissues such as the ligaments and tendons. If there are any restriction to the movement, it will cause discomfort and pain for the patient. Back pain is an orthopaedic condition that requires special attention to be given to it. There are some good exercises that can help to provide pain relief and let’s discuss them below.

Myofascial Release

Lie down on a gym mat or on your bed depending on your comfort level as different surfaces will provide different level of pressure. Lay on one side of your body and place an exercise ball beneath it. The ball should be positioned at the muscular region at the side of the spine and slowly place your entire body weight onto the exercise ball. Do not attempt to move about or bounce up and down.

Forward stretch on a chair

Sit down on a chair that does not have any rollers. Place both of your feet firmly on the ground and sit upright. Slowly start to lean forward and stretch towards your toes while keeping your neck in a relaxed position. When you feel tightness in your back, hold in that position for 15 seconds and slowly return to the original position. Repeat this exercise for 10 times and whenever you can throughout the day. This will help to stretch and relax the back muscles.

Knees to chest

Lie down on a soft surface such as a gym mat or on your bed. Maintain a straight posture and slowly bring both of your knees towards your chest. You should be able to feel tightness in your back and hold in that position for 15 seconds. Repeat this exercise for 10 times and whenever you can throughout the day. This will help to stretch and relax the back muscles.

Piriformis stretch

Strong gluteus muscles can help to better support the body’s weight and take some load off the spinal cord. The piriformis muscles is at the buttock region and if the muscles are weak, it can cause pain in the lower back. Lie down on a soft surface and place one leg over the other and pull towards your stomach. You will be able to feel a tightening sensation at the buttock region and hold for 15 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and change legs. Repeat this exercise for 20 times.

Exercises will help to stretch and strengthen the back muscles to provide pain relief. Most exercises require minimal space and can be performed throughout the day whenever you are free. Do not attempt to stretch beyond your limits and remember not to over exert the injured muscles.

Top 6 White Collar Work Injuries

Work is literally a pain in the body. Don’t you frequently experience pain throughout your body when you return home from work? Studies have concluded that white collar professionals are the ones that have the highest medical claims among all occupations. White collar workers and blue collar workers suffer different pain mainly due to their different job scope. White collar workers sit at their desk the entire day and it does not seem to be hard work at all. However, they often reach home with muscle aches everywhere.

Back pain

Sitting on the chair for prolonged periods can cause a lot of pressure and straining on the back muscles. This is commonly termed as mouse shoulder. You can also experience chronic stiffness in the upper back, lower back and spinal cord. Sitting down for too long will cause the spinal discs to compress and cram up as well as causing inflexibility in the hips which will increase stress levels in the lower back.

Typing injury

Typing injury or repetitive stress injury as its name suggests implies pain in the hands that are caused by repeated typing motions and this will cause even simple daily activities to be almost impossible. This is due to the repeated stresses acting on the tendons and ligaments of the hands. This can cause the ligaments to be inflamed and swell up as a result.

Blurry vision

Staring at the computer screen for the entire will put a lot of strain on the eyes and will leave it dry and tired, eventually leading to blurry vision, headache and eye pain.

Repeated stress disorder

Doing repeated motions every single day in the office can cause muscle overuse and lead to ligament and tendon injuries as well as cause muscle aches.

Neck stiffness

Stiffness of the neck is also another common complaint that many white collar workers have. Due to the prolonged periods of computer usage, the neck is kept in a position unmoved due to the need to view the computer screen. The mistake of setting the monitor height at an incorrect height further aggravates the problem.

Migraines

Many office workers also experience migraines during work and this can ruin a day badly. The exact cause for migraine is still unsure but this is largely due to the prolonged staring at computer screens.

All it takes is just some adjustment to office ergonomics that will lead to a vast improvement in terms of posture and working conditions. Setting the monitor screens at the correct height and the screen brightness to the correct setting can eliminate headaches and even migraines. Sitting upright can reduce chances of back problems.

Complications of Cervical Radiculopathy for Middle-aged Men

Cervical radiculopathy is a medical condition that occurs when a nerve in the spine is irritated due to nerve pinching and it leaves the spine. Nerves located in the spinal cords will leave the spine in all directions and they will travel through the body. Although the nerves are commonly affected only at the spinal region, the impact can be felt from other parts of the body as well. Cervical radiculopathy can be caused by different factors such as ageing as well as injuries. We will be concentrating on cervical radiculopathy for middle aged men in this article.

As we age, our spinal disks will deteriorate and become closer to each other. The body’s natural response is to increase bone forming at the site in order to better support it. However, because of the body’s natural response, it causes the spine to be even stiffer as a result due to the increase amount of bone. These additional bone spurs can also contribute to pinching of the nerves and increase the pressure on the nerves. Osteoarthritis also contributes a significant bit to cervical radiculopathy. Osteoarthritis also causes the body to build more bone spurs at the site in order to better support the back. As a result, these bone spurs will create even more pressure. Imagine a patient suffering from osteoarthritis and who is of a particular age. The amount of pressure acting on the spine will be tremendous! Cervical radiculopathy can also cause certain complications in the body.

Upper body pain

Due to the immense pressure and pinching of nerves in the spine, it will cause pain in the upper body. Nerves are responsible for passing information to the whole body. Pinching of the nerves will cause the nerves to signal to the brain that something is wrong with the upper body and that will result in a natural response in the form of pain from the brain.

Loss of sense of feel

Patients suffering from cervical radiculopathy also suffer from loss of feel in certain parts of their body, particularly in the upper region. This is due to the pinching of the nerves which causes certain bodily function and information to be passed incorrectly and inaccurately. As a rule of thumb, if numbness is felt anywhere in certain parts of the body for prolonged periods of time, it is most likely a nerve injury and medical attention should be sough immediately.

Immediate medical attention should be sought for cervical radiculopathy. If left untreated, it can cause even more serious complications and it will eventually affect the entire body.

Introduction to Decompression of Back

There are many reasons why someone suffers from lower back pain. Common reasons include injuries and ageing. Our spine is naturally protected by the vertebrae and cushioning it are the intervertebral disks. The main function of the intervertebral disks is to cushion any impact or shock experienced by the spinal cord and protects it from any damages. However, sudden huge impact can cause the spine to be damaged despite of the protective measures. Ageing also contribute to a significant percentage of people suffering from back pain mainly due to degeneration of the disks due to wear and tear.

There are many methods to treat back pain. One of the more popular methods is the decompression of back or Spinal Decompression. Spinal Decompression is a non-invasive treatment which means that there is no incision or injections required. It is also non-surgical and it’s relatively cost effective as compared to other methods such as surgery.

Spinal Decompression uses the mechanism of traction which straightens the backbone and relieves pressure in the back. The patient will be lying on the back and motorised traction will help to create negative pressure in the intervertebral disks and that helps to relieve the pain. The spine is gently stretched and this stretching motion will change the position of the spine, allowing them to realign to their normal position. Spinal Decompression also increases oxygen flow to the spine, allowing better exchange of nutrients and increasing healing rate.

Being a non-surgical and non-invasive method, the cost of treatment will be much cheaper as compared to surgery. During surgery, the bulging disks will be trimmed to prevent it from pinching onto the nerves which causes pain. Surgery is expensive and ranges from $20000 to $25000. Surgery is also much more dangerous as compared to Spinal Decompression. The usual cost for each Spinal Decompression treatment ranges from $100 to $200 and patients will usually improve within 20 sessions.

However, Spinal Decompression is not meant for everyone. Patients who are pregnant or suffering from current illnesses such as cancer, osteoporosis, neuro-disorders or cognitive dysfunction are not allowed to undergo Spinal Decompression.

Spinal Decompression is a non-surgical, non-invasive and low risk treatment for back pain which most people are able to undergo. Most doctors will often leave surgery as the last resort as it carries the highest risk amongst all treatment options. As such, there is no harm in giving Spinal Decompression a go.

What is Slipped Herniated Disc?

Our spine is composed entirely of bones called vertebrae and providing them with cushioning are small discs called the intervertebral discs. Over time, the intervertebral discs can lose their elasticity and will place the spine at a higher risk of injury. Pain in the spinal disc have many different terms, the common ones being “pinched nerve”, “slipped disc” and “slipped herniated disc”. The truth is, all of the terms refer to the same thing. Many patients who suffer from back pain, leg pain and the weakening of the lower core muscles are usually diagnosed as suffering from slipped herniated disc.

Over time as we age, the disc will lose its water content and become less elastic. If the event that it ruptures, the spinal disc will get pushed out of its normal position and if they pinch onto the spinal nerves, it is called slipped herniated disc. Slipped disc can also occur due to other reasons beside ageing such as traumatic injuries or cyclic loading of the spinal area. When the herniated disc pinches onto the spinal nerves, it will affect the normal signalling process of the nerves and can even stop the signals from being passed.

Some common symptoms of a slipped herniated disc include sharp electric shock pain, muscle weakness, loss of bladder or bowel control and numbness. If the pinching of the nerves by the herniated disc causes high pressure, it can cause weird sensation such as a sharp electric shock kind of pain and the pain can travel down from the neck area to the arms and legs. Since there is a loss of signalling functions, the instructions from the brain can be interrupted and that can cause weakening of the muscles. One common way to diagnose this is to test for reflexes. If there is a lag in reflexes, it is a sign of nerve irritation. Another symptom is the loss of bowel and/or bladder function. Since there is an issue with nerve signalling, the body is unable to properly control the bowel and bladder and can cause them to release substances without you wanting to. It can also be the other way round where you wish to urinate or defecate but you are unable to. Another common symptom is numbness of a particular area for a long time as numbness usually indicates nerve damage.

The loss of body functions due to nerve damages can affect our lives greatly and we should always take all precautions to protect our spine. This can be easily done by the usage of protective equipment during high impact sports as well as lifting heavy objects using the correct method.

Common Basketball Injuries

Basketball is an intensive sport that requires motion such as jumping, running, sudden twisting and leaping and thus, the chances of injuries are quite high. Research has concluded that the chances of a basketball injury is twice as high as compared to a baseball injury. Basketball involves the entire body from the arms, shoulders, wrists, waist, knee, ankles and feet. Basketball injuries are classified under overuse and traumatic and as their name suggest results from either constantly exposing a part to stress without providing sufficient rest and from sudden impact.

Hamstring strains

Basketball involves frequent sudden change in direction, especially when a counter attack is going on. During these sudden burst of speed, the hamstring muscle which is located at the back of our thigh will need to contract to decelerate the motion of the shin bone. As such, it is at a high risk of injury.

Hand and finger injuries

Basketball is played with the hands and the ball is usually passed at high speed. An incorrect receiving method could result in the fingers getting locked and twisted. During the shooting process, the fingers could be fractured if the shot is taken incorrectly or an attempt to prevent a block is made. During the dribbling process, sudden hand changing motion could injure the ligaments in the fingers and hand.

Ankle sprain

An ankle sprain is a common basketball injury and it occurs when the ankle is rolled. Ankle sprains can cause damages to the the anterior talofibular ligament and the calcaneofibular ligament. An ankle sprain can also lead to an ankle fracture and doctors will usually do an X-ray to determine whether it is a sprain or a fracture.

Knee ligament

As mentioned above, basketball involves sudden twisting motion throughout the game. During the twisting process, the foot is still firmly grounded on the floor and if it does not change direction with the knee, it can cause damages to the knee ligaments. When the foot is unable to change direction, it can cause rupturing of the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament.

Meniscus

A knee ligament injury is often accompanied by a meniscus injury. The purpose of the meniscus is to act as a cushioning between the bones and they will absorb the shock from the knee. A serious twisting injury can result in damages to the ACL and MCL as well as the meniscus. This will cause instability of the knee.

Overall, basketball is a fun but intensive game that is not meant for people of all ages and medical condition. People with weak knee should avoid the game or they will need to use protective gears. To prevent most of the injuries, protective gears such as a knee brace, finger sleeves and ankle guards could be used to compress and stabilise the area.

Microdiscectomy Spine Surgery or Physiotherapy?

Located in our spine are intervertebral discs who acts as the cushioning system for the spine. It helps to balance the forces experience by the spine through actions like standing, jumping, lifting and sitting. It also helps to protect the vertebrae and brain by limiting the amount of movement allowed by each individual disc. Repeated actions over time can cause the disc to weaken and sudden impact or trauma can cause shearing of the discs, resulting in the semi-liquid substances to impinge onto the nerves, causing pain. When things get more serious, daily actions such as bowel and bladder control may not be possible and thus, surgery is often recommended by doctors. However, should you really consider surgery or other options like physiotherapy?

Microdiscectomy

During microdiscectomy, a small part of the bone is removed to create a space between the vertebrae which helps to relieve internal pressure, reduce pain and relieve neural impingement. As a small piece of bone is removed, it will not cause any instability issues with it. Neural impingement can cause pain in places such as the leg and after microdisectomy, an almost instant relief can be felt by the patient. As with all spine injury, there is a certain risk level. It is often the last resort as no surgery is 100% risk free. Unless patients suffer from bowel and bladder incontinence or other neural problems, doctors will not recommend surgery and will often suggest physiotherapy to try to find a solution to the problem. However, risk level is still generally low compared to other forms of surgery.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is one of the options doctors will recommend initially together with pain relief medication. Physiotherapy is non-invasive, relatively safe and helps to strengthen the muscles in the body. Through stabilisation and strengthening exercises, some patients are able to find relief and are able to continue to lead a good quality lifestyle without surgery. Strong muscles are able to help take on some of the burden from the spine and distribute the weight much more evenly, reducing the stresses placed on the spine and reducing pain. Even if surgery is required after physiotherapy, it helps to reduce the recovery time as physiotherapy helps to keep them in a tip top condition and with strong muscles and body functions, they are able to recover faster.

When you suffer from spinal pain, you should consider going for physiotherapy first. There is always a chance that you can recover and lead a pain free life without surgery. However, only when things start to become more serious should you consider surgery.