4 Habits to Help Reduce Risk of Orthopaedic Conditions

In sunny Singapore, we tend to engage in sporting activities throughout the year. As the amount of sports activities increases, the risk of orthopaedic injuries will increase likewise. Studies have concluded that 80% of orthopaedic conditions involved the upper extremities such as the arm, shoulders and elbows whereas 20% of them involved the lower extremities such as the knee and ankle. Injuries will prevent us from continuing to be involved in our favourite activity for a period of time and this can be frustrating. What are some good habits to help you reduce the risk of orthopaedic injuries? What are some precautions you should take?

Warming up

Our body is not in the most ideal state for action most of the time. If you do a sudden sprint, you can expect to pull your hamstring and cause pain and discomfort. Therefore, proper warming up is crucial to reduce the risk of injuries. You need to prepare your body for an intense activity but doing an action that is less intensive for a few minutes to allow your body to adapt. Warming up provides heat to the body which will help to loosen up the tissues in your body such as the ligaments and tendons.

Wearing protective gears

Contact sports often require the usage of protective gears to protect you. For example, soccer requires the compulsory usage of shin guards. Although shin guards can hinder running movements and cause discomfort to players, they are useful in preventing injuries to the shin. Also, rugby players wear uniform with padding at the shoulder region to prevent injuries when they are tackled down. While players are better off without these protective gears, they know that they cannot do without them.

Knowing when to stop

Knowing when to stop is the difficult thing for most athletes out there. There is only a thin line between stupidity and bravery. Some players think that they can finish the game despite being injured via the usage of pain relieving sprays. However, the exact extent of injury is unknown and it could be a serious one which will cause more serious complications if further aggravated.

Cooling down

Cooling down sessions help to decrease the heart rate in a controlled manner and relax the muscles. Exercising causes the body’s temperature to be increased and a proper cool down session will revert back to the normal body temperature down and prevent the building up of lactic acid which will cause muscle soreness.

Knowing when to stop is probably the most difficult yet important decision you should make. Observe the 4 habits mentioned above and you will definitely have your risk of injuries significantly decreased.

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.

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.