Stiff Neck – An Underlying Spine Disorder?

Stiff neck causes pain and discomfort when attempting to move your neck. It is often due to injury to the soft tissues and ligaments at the neck region. It is usually accompanied by pain and soreness in the neck, shoulder and arm. Symptoms can last for quite a fair bit of time and it can be relieved using medication or a warm compress. For cases whereby the symptoms go away in a couple of days, there isn’t much of an underlying issue. Stiff neck can occur when you wake up after having slept in an awkward position for a long time. Sometimes, stiff neck can be an indication of an underlying spinal disorder.

We must first know the basic anatomy of our neck. Our neck is divided into 2 regions namely the anterior and posterior. There is a part of our spine that moves through our neck and that is the cervical spine which is effectively made up of 7 vertebrae. Any slight problems in our spine can ultimately lead to neck pain since they are interlinked. There are 2 common spinal disorders which are Cervical Herniated Disc and Neck Arthritis.

Cervical herniated disc is one of the leading causes for neck pain and indicates an injury to the cervical spine. Pain in the neck is caused by the disc pinching onto the cervical nerve, causing pain to flow down the nerve pathway down to the neck. Some patients may also experience numbness at the neck region.

Another common cause is due to cervical osteoarthritis which is a degenerative joint disease or otherwise known as neck arthritis. Cervical osteoarthritis are characterised by the presence of bone spurs which may impinge onto a nerve. When impingement happens, the pain will radiate down the nerve onto the neck region, creating in neck pain similar to the cervical herniated disc.

It can also be due to cervical spondylosis which is another degenerative disease that is increased by previous injuries. Cervical spondylosis can result in neck pain and stiffness and is due to the wear and tear of the cartilage and bones of the cervical vertebrae.

There are many causes for stiff neck and it could indicate an underlying spinal disorder due to the mechanism for both neck arthritis and cervical herniated disc. The best way would be to seek a doctor immediately if you frequently encounter a stiff neck.

First Aid for Elbow Fracture

First Aid for Elbow Fracture

Our elbow is an integral component of our arm and it acts in the same manner as a door hinge, providing uninterrupted movements such as lifting and support. It also provides rotational capabilities for the forearm as well as the hand, allowing the arm to be in a position where actions can be performed swiftly. Fractures to the elbow means that the forearm bones which consists of the radius and ulna is broken, either due to a direct trauma from falls or exertion of too much force onto it. Elbow fractures will cause unwanted elbow pain and prevent normal daily actions from being accomplished and can cause severe disruptions to our daily lives. As such, fractures must be treated with utmost care to prevent long term complications.

Do not move the patient

Do not attempt to move the patient at all. Any slight movements under the intention of identifying a fracture can possible damage the surrounding soft tissues as well as cause shock which is life-threatening. In minor cases, the patient may be able to move part of his elbow but in serious cases where bone fragments are aplenty, the sharp fragments can cut into the nerves.

Immobilisation

In any cases, try to immobilise the patient using available tools such as a thick tree branch that is washed prior to minimise infection. Using this splint, immobilise the area above and below the fracture and this will help to prevent the bone as well as the fragments from moving about, reducing the chances of them injuring the soft tissues and causing internal bleeding.

 Stop the bleeding

If there is any visible bleeding present, try to stop it by applying mild pressure to the area without causing additional trauma towards the fracture. When possible, use a sterile bandage but a clean piece of cloth will often suffice in desperate times.

 Sling the arm

Slinging the arm will help to better support the fractured elbow and reduce any additional stresses and movements at the elbow joint. Slings can be made from simple materials such as clothes and towels if you are unable to find any sterile sling bandages. Always sling the injured elbow higher than the heart to reduce swelling and bleeding.

Elbow fractures can range from minor ones to complicated ones which will possibly lead to long term complications. The first aid rendered to the patient will often have a huge impact on the recovery of the patient and improper first aid rendered can cause more problems.

 

Age-related Orthopaedic Conditions

Age related orthopaedic conditions frequently decreases the ability to remain mobile, cause discomfort and pain and reduces the ability to lead a quality lifestyle, requiring alterations to daily activities. Ageing is a process which is spontaneous and cannot be avoided. However, age-related problems can be avoided if proper nutrition and care is provided.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder indicated by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissues. Osteoporosis can be grouped into systemic and local. Local osteoporosis is due to fractures, rheumatoid arthritis, tumours, muscular paralysis or tendon ruptures. Our bone is frequently undergoing remodelling, forming new bone cells in the process. However, osteoporosis causes an imbalance between this bone forming, causing low bone mineral density and poor quality of bones which are easily fractured.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is another orthopaedic problem associated with ageing. Degeneration of ligaments and joints can cause arthritis. Patients suffering from arthritis suffer immense pain. They can also have deformed joints and even loss of motion. Osteoarthritis can happen in any synovial joints, but it occurs most often in frequently used parts of the body such as the hands, feet, knee and hips.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome can occur in elderly patients. This is due to the irritation of the median entrapment nerve compressing on the carpal tunnel. Rheumatoid arthritis can trigger carpal tunnel syndrome as well due to the inflammation of the flexor tendons, causing compressive stresses on the carpal tunnel.

Cervical spondylosis

Narrowing of the intervertebral foramina disc can cause irritation at the cervical nerve roots. This is often between the C4/5 vertebrae and can cause stiffness and sensory-motor impairment. Patients can also frequently experience a triad of tenderness over the neck area.

Genu valgum

Genu valgum or knock knee is often due to osteoarthritis in the knee. Osteoarthritis will cause deformation to occur on the knee, causing them to touch each other while straightened, and increasing asymmetrical wear on the cartilages at the medial and lateral joints. Genu valgum will lead to an increase in pain during activities and stiffness.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is a medical condition that affects the feet and it causes extreme pain that is amplified after periods of inactivity. The pain is likened to as being stabbed repeatedly in the feet. The onset of pain is largely due to long periods of immobility of the feet such as a long day of using the computer. As the activities around the leg increases, the pain will decrease.

Degenerative orthopaedic conditions are common in the elderly. However, most of the conditions can be improved through physiotherapy or by leading an active lifestyle, working out the limbs and joints more often. When things get serious, pain relief medication may need to be consumed to maintain the level of pain in a tolerable range.

Possible Home Fixtures and Installations for Elderly Rehabilitation

Elderly rehabilitation is the process of regaining the physical and mental abilities of an elder person that were lost when they were sick. Rehabilitation is needed to improve the quality of life and allowing them to lead a more fulfilling lifestyle. Most elderly do not wish to spend their rehabilitation period in a hospital due to the high cost. Instead, they wish to do it in the comfort of their home. Rehabilitation should always take place in a safe and conducive place that is stress free and comfortable. This would also mean that you need to make changes in your home to allow for a better recovery. Let’s take a look at some possible home fixtures and installations that can help in the rehabilitation process.

 
Anti-slip flooring in bathrooms

One of the most dangerous places for the elderly at home is the bathroom. Small amounts of water can cause your beloved grandparents or parents to slip and fall, leading to serious consequences. While one would suggest limiting the number of times to visit the bathroom, you cannot really control the call of nature. Therefore, an installation of anti-slip flooring is a great investment. They greatly reduce the chances of one falling and are also easier to clean.

Grip handles in bathrooms

Grip handles are another fixture that should work hand in hand with the anti-slip flooring. While anti-slip floorings are excellent in creating a rough surface between your sole and the floor, they cannot provide the support needed to move around. Grip handles can provide a form of support to assist the elderly move around in the toilet.

Emergency cord

Emergency cords should be installed in the bathrooms if budget permits. This is similar to those in the handicapped toilets of most shopping malls. When your loved one is in distress, he can simply pull the emergency cord and a siren will notify your family members while the door will auto unlock. This will allow instant notification of accidents and emergencies. No matter how good your anti-slip flooring is, accidents still do happen and assistance must be meted out in the shortest possible time.

Elderly rehabilitation should take place in somewhere that is familiar to your loved ones and it gives them a sense of security and love. Although having an elderly at home may cause inconvenience to you, the family bonding you gain is priceless. Installing some fixtures at home can help you prevent accidents to a great extent, ensuring that your own private life will not be disturbed.

4 Common Orthopaedic Injuries in Elderly people

According to studies, orthopaedic injuries are the leading cause of injuries in elderly people. Common injuries include fractures to the hip, pelvic, spine, shoulder and forearm, head injuries and soft tissue injuries. In the elderly especially, there has been an observed pattern to orthopaedic injuries. Firstly, it is the fear of injuries followed by the actual injury and subsequent medical attention and the eventual loss of mobility and the need for specialised care. Let’s discuss about some of the common orthopaedic injuries in the elderly so that we can all try to prevent it from happening to our loved ones at home.

As we live in an ageing society, the risk of injuries is at a higher scale compared to previously. In this day and time, 30% of those hospitalised are the elderly. Ageing causes the weakening of the musculoskeletal system and the inability to maintain an independent function.

Fractures

Fractures happen more commonly in the elderly for many reasons. Firstly, there is a reduction in bone mineral which leads to eventual fractures of the spine and wrist. This is significantly in post-menopause females. Next, the vision of the elderly is not that great compared to the young and healthy ones. With an impaired vision, it is inevitable that unexpected events will occur. This coupled with weak bone structures are the best combination for fractures.

Dislocations

The shoulder joint is the most easily dislocated mainly due to the extreme flexibility property. This is also the increased risk of dislocation due to the breaking of a fall using a shoulder. Severe pain is often experienced immediately and a depression will usually be formed in the lateral shoulder. Shoulder dislocations will require a period of immobilisation for at least a period of 6 weeks.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterised by low bone mass and decreased bone density. It occurs due to the inability for new bone formation to catch up with existing bone loss and an eventual weakening of the bone. This is especially common in the elderly due to the inefficiency of bone forming due to ageing as our bone mass peaks at 30 years of age and starts to go into decline after that.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent type of degenerative disease and occurs more commonly in the elderly. Osteoarthritis affects the synovial joints as well as the spine, finger, ankle and knee joints. Osteoarthritis will have a negative impact on the daily activities of the patient and simple chores such as tying shoelaces or button a shirt may seem to be a tedious task to accomplish.

Orthopaedic injuries are the main culprit of injuries in elderly patients due to a combination of factors such as impaired vision which leads to falls and subsequent fractures and dislocations. Although degenerative diseases are mostly unavoidable, preventive steps can be taken when you are still young such as the intake of sufficient calcium before bone mass peaks to prevent complications when you are old. Stay happy and healthy folks!