Arthritis of the Thumb: Symptoms & Treatment

Arthritis is a degenerative medical condition that affects and destroy a joint. There are different types of arthritis but the most common one is that affecting the basal joint and osteoarthritis. Thumb arthritis occurs when the cartilage is removed due to prolonged wear and tear from the thumb joint. It can result in severe pain in the hands, swelling and the inability to perform simple daily actions such as turning a doorknob.

Studies have also shown that thumb arthritis is more common in women than men, especially for ladies over 40 years old. In fact, women above the age of 75 are twice more prone to thumb arthritis than men of the same age.

Symptoms

The first symptom that will occur is pain. Pain will start from the base of the thumb when attempting to use it during actions such as clenching a fit. Simply put, any actions that requires the thumb to apply a force will result in pain. Very soon after, pain will be experienced even when the thumb is not in use. This would then signify an increase in the seriousness of thumb arthritis. Other symptoms may also be experienced by patients and they include:

  • Swelling and stiffness at the base of thumb
  • Loss of strength while trying to grip an object
  • Decrease in range of motion of thumb
  • Awkward finger position towards the base area

Causes

Thumb arthritis are usually the result of a direct or indirect trauma to the joint. The basal joint is designed to provide the thumb a wide range of motion, allowing us to perform a myriad of tasks. It is also with this range of motion that causes instability to it. Cartilage acts as a cushion to support the metacarpal bone and trapezium bone. Due to prolonged usage of the thumb joint, the cartilage wears off and the bones are no longer able to glide smoothly over each other. This will result in friction and the eventual damage of the finger joint.

The damaged joint will respond by growing new bones known as bone spurs. These bone spurs will cause the side of the thumb to have visible lumps. Eventually, the thumb metacarpal will start to slide out of the saddle.

Patients with less severe thumb arthritis will respond well to non-surgical treatment whereas those with severe arthritis will need surgical reconstruction to improve thumb function. An early diagnosis is critical to prevent thumb arthritis from deteriorating.

4 Ways on How to Relieve Hip Pain

The hip joint is essentially a ball and socket joint that is designed to provide a near unrestricted range of motion and withstand this cyclic process and the wear and tear it brings along. Due to the frequency of usage, the hip joint can break down easily. The soft tissues located in the hip will be overused and injuries such as fractures and sprains can then happen, leading to hip pain. We will discuss about some ways to relieve hip pain in this article.

Stretching exercises

Stretching exercises help to keep the target group muscles warm and flexible. Exercises will increase blood flow to the area, bringing more nutrients such as oxygen and aiding repair works. Hip exercises such as bridging can help to relief hip pain. You simply have to lie down on your back and raise your butt off the ground while contracting your abs muscle. Hold in this position for 10 seconds and repeat for 3 sets.

Aquatic therapy

The main benefit of aquatic therapy is the reduced stresses acting on the injured joints. As the name suggests, it takes place in the water. Aqua therapy uses the unique buoyancy of water properties to assist in healing, conditioning and strengthening of the joints, allowing patients to perform the therapy in a painless manner yet significantly aiding the recovery plan. The viscosity properties of water allow a gentle resistance to build up the body’s mechanism.

Medication

During sudden onset of hip pain, pain relief medication is able to produce a temporal solution to counter the problem and allow patients to relax. Medication can only be a stop gap measure as it does not solve the root of the problem and that can only be solved by exercises, physical therapy or surgery.

Ice packs

Ice packs help to bring down swelling and calm irritated nerves and tissues in the hip region. Ice also contracts the blood vessels, reducing the amount of blood flow in the region. This will help to produce a temporary pain relief effect similar to medication but the effective duration is shorter.

Discussed above are 4 ways to help reduce hip pain. Hip pain is inevitable at some point in our lives due to the wear and tear of the cartilage lining. Joint supplements may be able to help alleviate the pain to a certain extent and is best taken when you are still young and active.

Knee Popping Explained

Knee popping and associated pain is an extremely common problem experienced by many and there are many possible causes for it. The only distinguishable way between various factors is the presence of pain that comes along with it. Painless popping is often insignificant whereas painful popping is an indication of something serious underlying. Let’s attempt to solve some mysteries of knee popping.

Usually, knee popping is because the knee cap is loose. This can result from injury or ageing related wear and tear issues. Weak quadriceps muscles can also contribute to this knee popping phenomenon as it is inadequate to support the expansion and contraction motion of the knee.

Bubbles

Painless popping is usually due to the presence of bubbles in the joints. Bubbles are formed when there is a difference in pressure at the joint, allowing for the spontaneous formation of tiny air bubbles. When movements are attempted, the bubbles will be burst and thus emitting a popping sound. This is going to be a closed cycle since bubbles will continue to form due to the pressure difference. The scientific term for it is called cavitation and this is harmless.

Ligaments stretching

We have soft tissues located throughout our joints and movements will cause these tendons and ligaments to stretch slightly. Since they are elastic, they will return back to their original shape after the load is released and this will produce a popping sound, similar to the analogy of a rubber band stretching. This does not cause any soft tissue damage and is harmless.

Mechanical popping

Mechanical popping is due to the presence of an existing injury, commonly a loose cartilage. As the loose cartilage is free to move about in the joint, it will cause a flapping movement when the leg is moving, causing a popping sound. Since it is due to injury, medical attention will need to be sought to repair the loose cartilage.

Arthritis

Arthritis is effectively wear and tear and it causes the cartilage to get thinner and thinner. As the cartilage gets thinner and friction occurs during movement, both surfaces will rub against each other, resulting in a popping sound. It can also be quite painful for some patients to bear.

Since there are different contributions to knee popping, it is difficult to pin point exactly to the exact cause of it. Painless knee popping will not affect your daily lifestyle but painful ones will and can lead to degradation in the quality of lifestyle you can enjoy.

Does Cracking Knuckles Give You Arthritis?

Cracking knuckles is a bad habit most males have. It seems to give them a sense of security and power. So what really causes that cracking sound? Well, our knuckles are covered by the synovial capsule which is filled with synovial fluid. There are also gases that are dissolved in the fluid such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. When the knuckle is cracked, the synovial capsule is stretched and the internal pressure is lowered, creating a bubble which eventually bursts, creating that popping sound. This is also the reason why you are unable to crack your knuckles continuously due to the need for the gases and bubbles to form. However, many people are extremely concerned with relationship between cracking knuckles and arthritis. There are 2 major types of arthritis namely the inflammatory and degenerative types. For inflammatory arthritis, it is largely due to autoimmunity. Degenerative arthritis is those associated with wear and tear and has a closer similarity with cracking of knuckles. Let’s try to clarify those doubts in this article.

Cracking fingers seem to relieve stresses and provide a pleasurable feeling similar to Thai Massages where various joints in your body are cracked by the masseuse. Well, cracking knuckles does not increase the chances of getting arthritis. Various studies have not only conducted experiments on people who crack their knuckles, they also investigated people who frequently crack every few minutes. However, the results concluded that there was no difference in the rates of osteoarthritis with the cracking of knuckles. Not only that, no visible deformation was caused to the fingers due to prolonged cracking. Some research also found out that subjects who crack their fingers frequently have strong fingers compared to the control group. While cracking of knuckles may not seem to cause arthritis, they may lead to other complications. Researchers found out that habitual knuckle crackers are more likely to suffer from hand swelling and loss of strength. Constant cracking will keep stretching the finger ligaments, causing damages to the fingers.  In short, they concluded that knuckle cracking results in functional hand impairment.

While knuckle cracking does not have a directly related to arthritis, it can lead to future problems such as swelling and loss of strength. Arthritis is after all more common in the elderly due to ageing. There are also no benefits to cracking your fingers. Instead, the cons outweigh the pros by a large extent. Try to cut down this bad habit of yours today!

4 Most Common Injuries Incurred in Soccer

Soccer is a high impact sport that is rather safe due to the protective equipment mandated during play. However, injuries still do occur to players and some of them can take up to a year to recover. Soccer is a fast paced game that requires frequent change of directions, sudden stops and twisting actions. Incorrect placement of the feet can cause ligaments to tear when attempting to change direction. Let’s discuss about the most common injuries incurred in soccer.

Muscular strains

Muscular strains are due to the over pulling of a certain muscle or the over contraction of a stiff muscle when it has not fully warmed up. Warm ups and cool downs are extremely important tools to help prepare your muscles for the things that are about to come. Muscle groups that are frequently utilised are the most prone to strains. These include the thigh muscles, quadriceps muscles and hamstring muscles.

Muscular sprains

Muscular sprains on the other hand involve injuries relating to connective tissues such as the ligament. The role of the ligament is to provide stability to the lower body. As mentioned above, soccer requires frequently change of direction and sudden stops. If the playing surface is poor, the risk of injuries is significantly raised. A sudden change in direction with one of the foot firmly planted in the ground will result in a ligament tear, possibly accompanied by injuries to the meniscus as well. Proper warm up prior to the game can help to reduce the risk slightly but this is not significant.

Head injuries

Soccer is an all rounded game that involves the use of various parts of the body, including the head. Although not allowed, some players still tend to raise their foot high while challenging for the ball. If you are using your head to head the ball and a high foot with metal studs is coming towards you, chances are that you will be at the suffering end! Another scenario would be an attempt on goal with a header, only to be thwarted by the goalkeeper’s punch, resulting in head injuries. Minor ones would be some laceration while serious ones can lead to a possible concussion.

Fractures

The part of the body used most in the game is the lower body and thus, the risks of fractures are higher with these body parts. Challenging for the ball and a strong desire to win can lead to undesired effects. Remember in 2002 where David Beckham almost missed the World Cup due to a metatarsal fracture?

Soccer is a high impact game that is on the same level as basketball and rugby but with a much lower injury risk due to the strict rules. However, this does not mean that you have a low chance of injury as the saying goes, the ball is round. Winning is important but not at the expense of yourself.

Top 4 Most Injury Prone Activities for Youths

The period of youth is perhaps the most important part of our lives. Our body starts to mature and we have much more energy than before. We are also more motivated and have a higher desire to try new things, especially athletic activities. However, it is also during our youth that we suffer most injuries and due to that, many of us are unable to participate in competitive sports in the future. There are some activities which are especially prone to injuries and let’s take a look at some of them in this article.

Basketball

Basketball is a competitive high impact activity that is extremely popular with people of all ages. However, a large number of youth requires emergency response because of playing hoops. Common injuries associated with basketball include tears of the anterior cruciate ligament, responsible for the stabilisation of the knee. Being a high impact sport, basketball requires frequent sudden changes in direction and the ACL can tear if the foot is still fixed in a direction and the knee moves in another, causing the ligament to tear.

Skateboarding

Skateboarding is classified as an extreme sports and it is not termed like that for no reason. Skateboarding is an extremely dangerous sport that involves frequent falls from different heights on different parts of the body. Although protective gears such as skate shoes, helmets, knee and elbow padding are strongly recommended, many skateboarders ignore those as they find it not so cool.

Cheerleading

Cheerleading is a popular sporting activity that involves a lot of tossing, flips and catching. All of these motion uses the arms heavily and this is very taxing on the joints and shoulder blade. As such, the risk of injury is very high. An incorrect flipping technique can potentially cause further injury to the spinal cord.

Rugby

Rugby is an intensive and exciting full contact sport that is one of the most dangerous activity out there. Shoulder charging, take downs and sudden twisting actions are common throughout the game. Also, studs on the rugby boots are much longer and thicker than soccer boots in order to provide better grip. However, these studs can sink deep into the mud and during sudden twisting actions will cause the foot to be firmly planted in the ground while the knee changes directions, tearing the ACL, MCL and meniscus.

Discussed above are 4 most injury prone activities for youth. In fact, most activities out there carries a certain risk to them but these risk can be mitigated by wearing protective equipment which aims to prevent injury but this is not foolproof. Injuries are inevitable at some point in time but which the correct preventive measures in place, the risk is significantly lowered.

 

What Should You Know About PCL Ligament Injury?

Our knee is probably the most overused part of our body. We use it every single day without fail and this increases the risk of injury. It is also one of the most flexible parts of our body with the other being our shoulder. To increase the flexibility of a joint, certain functions and strength will have to decrease, making it more prone to injuries. However, there are 4 different knee ligaments that help to stabilise the knee, namely the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament, lateral collateral ligament and posterior cruciate ligament. We will be focusing on the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in this article. Injuries to the PCL are not as common as injuries to the ACL. This is largely due to the higher tensile strength of the PCL as compared to the ACL. The main role of the PCL is to prevent posterior translation of the tibia on the femur. It also helps to provide rotation stability and axis control functions to the knee. Due to its less common nature, injuries to the PCL are usually not managed properly and thus, lead to poor clinical outcomes. Injuries to the PCL are often accompanied by injuries to the surrounding tissues. There are 3 different grades for PCL injuries and they range from grade 1 to grade 3 depending on the severity.

A grade 1 sprain is minor and the ligament is only slightly injured. There are not many complications involved and the ligament is still able to fully perform its stabilising function. A grade 2 injury is a partial tear of the PCL and this will cause the ligament to become loose. A grade 3 injury is a complete tear to the PCL which renders the knee joint unstable. Some PCL injuries can heal on their own and most patients are able to return to pre-injury lifestyles without much adjustments needed.

Injuries to the PCL commonly occur due to a sudden traumatic impact to the front of the knee, causing the PCL to rupture. A sudden twisting action can also cause the PCL to be stretched out of its means and rupture. A grade 3 PCL injury will require surgical treatment to regain full knee stability. Since the ligament is unable to be regenerated, a graft will be required and this is often taken from the hamstring. For grade 1 or 2 PCL injuries, surgical treatments may not be required and immobilisation for a certain period will often be sufficient. However, the patient will need to undergo physiotherapy to build up surrounding muscles and strengthen them to allow them to help shoulder some of the loads.

Recovery from PCL injuries are often lengthy and frustrating for patients, especially those actively involved in sports. However, the recovery period cannot be rushed through or more serious complications may occur.

Sprained, Tears or Fractured?

Sports injuries are inevitable at some point in time of your life. After a hard training session or a game of your favourite sports, there will definitely be those post game aches and pain that you will suffer which are perfectly normal. In unwanted cases, you could have landed badly from a jump or fell awkwardly on your shoulders, resulting in a swollen ankle or shoulder. You try to self medicate but what injury is it exactly? Is it a sprain, muscle tear or a fracture? How do you differentiate them from one another?

Sprains

A sprain occurs when you stretch or partially tear the fibrous tissues or more commonly known as your ligaments. They occur mostly in places such as your ankles and wrists. Ligaments helps to connect the connective tissues from your bones to your joints. There are three degrees of sprains namely the first, second and third degree. Some signs of sprains include pain, bruising, tenderness, inflammation, swelling and immobility of the affected area. Sprains can usually heal on their own but more serious sprains may require surgery. Always see a doctor if the pain is excruciating or you suffer from numbness in the area which could imply something more serious.

Tears

Muscle tear or commonly known as muscle strain implies that you have torn a muscle or a tissue called tendons. They occur most commonly in places such as the hamstring which is located at the back of you thigh. Muscle tear can cause severe pain and inability to walk or carry out normal functions properly. They are commonly caused by over use of muscles, suddenly pulling of the affected tissues and cyclic cycles of muscles.

Fracture

Fractures are probably the most serious as compared to tears and sprains. A fracture implies that there is a broken or cracked bone involved. Fractures are extremely serious injuries and you must seek a doctor immediately. Common symptoms include difficulty in breathing, loss of mobility at the affected area, fingers or toes turning blue due to lack of blood flow and seeing a bone sticking through the skin. There are two types of fractures namely the acute and stress fractures. Simple acute fractures are caused by a sudden hard blow to the bone resulting in the bone breaking, causing injury only to the bone and not to the surrounding tissues. If you see a bone sticking through your skin, you have a compound acute fracture which will cause infection to the surrounding tissues and are much more serious. Stress fractures are normally from repeated stress on your affected area mainly caused by sports or gymnastics.

Now that you know what sports injury you are suffering from, you can do the necessary R.I.C.E actions and seek a doctor if you need to. There are so many different sports injuries and above are only three of them. Always consult a doctor if you are unsure as wrong self mediation can further aggravate the injury.