Bunions: Cause & Treatments

Bunions are bony humps that form at the base of the big toe. When this happens, the big toe will curve towards the other toes and cause the base of the toe to push towards the first metatarsal bone. It usually occurs at a joint and the entire body weight will be acting on it. This will result in tremendous pain and discomfort.

Causes

As we grow and develop, more pressure is acting on the foot due to the need to support the body’s entire weight. Therefore, it gets worse as age increases. Bunions is hereditary and will run in the family due to the fact that foot type and shape is hereditary. In some cases, bunions will develop with existing medical conditions such as arthritis. Women are also at a higher risk of suffering from bunions due to the fact that most women wear tight and ill-fitting high heeled shoes, pushing the foot bone into awkward positions for long periods of time.

Non-surgical treatment

Non-surgical is targeted to reduce pressure on the big toe and provide pain relief.

  • Wearing wide and comfortable shoes with sufficient space for toes to wriggle. The insoles should also provide good arch support.
  • Custom made orthotics will help to distribute the body’s weight equally throughout the foot and reduce any unnecessary pressure acting on the big toe.
  • Pain relief medication will provide instant pain relief for patients and bring down the swelling.
  • Ice is a cheap and effective method to reduce swelling and provide pain relief.

Surgical treatment

If non-surgical treatment does not provide adequate pain relief, daily activities such as walking can be severely hindered. In such cases, surgery may be the only option left. The main aim of bunion surgery is to straighten the curved toe bone and provide pain relief.

  • Bunionectomy is a bunion specific surgery and involves removal of part of the affected metatarsal head.
  • Osteotomy involves the cutting of bones located in the toe to prevent bone spurs from sticking out and re-alignment the soft tissues around the toe joint.
  • Resection arthroplasty is reserved for more serious cases and involve the removal of bone located at the end of the first metatarsal joining the metatarsophalangeal joint.

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. A good pair of footwear is often all that is needed to prevent one from getting bunions. Selecting a pair of functional shoes over one that is aesthetically pleasing is a much sensible choice.

Neck Sprain: Cause & Treatments

The cervical vertebrae of the spine consist of seven bones that are connected to each other by strong fibrous tissues such as the ligaments, tendons and muscles. A sprain occurs when one of these tissues are stretched beyond its limit. This can happen during a sudden movement such as a car accident, causing the neck to bend to the extreme.

The neck is an extremely smart structure that is designed to house and protect our backbone – the spinal cord. The spinal cord provides support to our head and consists of millions of nerves that acts as signals and transmitters to relay messages from our brain to the rest of our body. However, it is also one of the weakest component of our body and the extreme flexibility that allows you to bend and touch your toes also leaves it vulnerable to impact.

Causes

There are several possible causes for a neck sprain:

  • Spending too much time in an awkward position such as hunching when using a computer for long periods
  • Sleeping in an awkward position without adequate support from a proper pillow
  • Sudden forceful impact such as during a car accident, causing whiplash
  • Working for long periods in the same position such as painting a ceiling for hours

Treatment

Our ligaments, tendons and muscles are designed to heal itself in a short time if it is minor.

  • Applying a cold pack will help to reduce inflammation, allowing the body time to heal. Ice pack should be applied every hour for the first 24 hours as this is the acute stage
  • Applying a heat pack will enhance blood circulation, allowing efficient blood exchange. Old blood containing dead cells will be drained off while new blood carrying large amounts of nutrients and oxygen will help to speed up the healing process
  • Anti-inflammatory medication will help to bring down the swelling and provide pain relief
  • Massaging the neck area will help to dissipate any blood clots that are formed and promote blood circulation
  • Hydrotherapy is a novel treatment method that uses salt to release muscle sprains. Magnesium which is found in the salt will reduce the rate of calcium binding following a muscle contracting
  • Acupuncture is a TCM technique stimulates specific acupuncture points to manipulate the flow of energy and provide restoration of joint mobility to the neck

Neck sprains are usually causes by activities that requires long periods of prolonged movement of the neck.

Bennett Fracture: Cause & Treatments

A Bennett fracture happens when the bone located at the base of the thumb dislocates and breaks. It can be due to a sudden trauma during high impact sports or accidents. A Bennett fracture will result in swelling of the thumb, pain and the inability to use the thumb. In this article, we will look at the causes and treatments for Bennett fractures.

Causes

The causes of a Bennett’s fracture can differ. However, it happens when the metacarpal bone located in the arm fractures and breaks. This can be due to any kind of forces that will result in a huge impact sufficient to break it.

Treatments

Treatment is classified into non-surgical and surgical. For minor cases where the bones are not misaligned, non-surgical will be more than sufficient. The initial stages of treatment will involve the famous RICE therapy – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Resting involves immobilising the injured hand and preventing any stresses on it. During this period, the patient is not allowed to participate in any activities. Several times a day, the injured thumb will need to be iced in order to bring down the swelling. To prevent swelling and loss of blood, compression finger sleeves may be worn. This will also help to retain body heat and enhance blood circulation. Lastly, the injured thumb needs to be elevated above the heart to drain away excess blood. Bracing and casting may be required depending on the activity level of individual patients.

Surgical treatment is also classified into invasive and minimally invasive. In minimally invasive surgery, a surgical wire will be inserted through a small incision aided by cameras. However, this method is highly dependent on the stability of the injury and the alignment of the metacarpal bone. If the bones fragments are scattered, an invasive surgery will need to be carried out in order to remove these bone fragments. A small screw will be used to hold the fragments together until they heal on their own. One popular surgical treatment is the Kirschner wire fixation. The K-wires are made up of surgical grade stainless steel and are temporary fixation tools. The pins are drilled into the bones and act as an anchor point for skeletal traction.

Unlike other injuries, Bennett’s fracture cannot really be prevented due to the various uses of the hand and the fingers. However, this fracture can be avoided to a certain extent using medical tapes to tape the thumb and index finger together.

 

 

 

Hamstring Muscle Injuries: Cause & Treatments

Hamstring injuries are a common occurrence in athletes. They are usually known as “pulled hamstring”. Sports requiring frequent sprinting such as soccer, rugby and basketball poses a higher risk of a hamstring injury. Hamstring injuries happen when the muscle location at the back of the thigh is injured in the form of a strain. Fortunately, this type of injury respond well to nonsurgical treatment. In this article, we will look at the causes and treatment methods for a pulled hamstring.

The main cause of a hamstring injury is due to overloading of the hamstring muscle. The hamstring is a tendon which is essentially a thick bundle of fibers. During a normal scenario, the tendon contracts and shortens and expands and extends. In unusual situations, this tendon contracts and extend due to the presence of an additional load or strain. When this situation happens, the hamstring is pulled, resulting in a hamstring muscle injury.

Treatment will vary depending on the severity of the injury. Most hamstring injuries can recover with nonsurgical treatment. The first treatment administered will be the RICE protocol – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Resting involves the usage of walking aids such as crutches to avoid placing weight on the injured leg. During this period, the patient is not allowed to participate in any activities. Several times a day, the injured leg needs to be iced in order to bring down the swelling. To prevent swelling and loss of blood, compression garments will need to be worn. This will also help to retain body heat and enhance blood circulation. Lastly, the injured leg needs to be elevated above the heart to drain away excess blood. Once pain and swelling has subsided, a series of physical therapy sessions will be planned for in order to regain strength and range of motion to slowly help return back to sports.

If nonsurgical treatment does not help, surgery will be required. This is usually for cases where the hamstring tendon has been completely torn from the bone. To repair the torn tendon, the hamstring muscle must be located and placed back to its original location. Due to this injury, the body naturally forms scar tissues at the injury site and this must be removed as well. After that, the tendon will be reattached back using biodegradable sutures. This is followed by an intense rehabilitation period lasting at least 3 months.

Patients with hamstring injuries are able to fully recover after completing their rehabilitation plan. Most are able to return back to their pre-injury level and enjoy their favorite sport.

 

Olecranon Fractures: Treatment & Management

Our elbow is a complex hinge joint made up of three different bones. It can also perform various functions. The elbow is able to bend and straighten up, rotate and turning up and down. When you try to bend your elbow, the sharp tip protruding out is called the olecranon. Olecranon fractures are injuries that affect the particular bone.

Treatment

After a patient suffers from an Olecranon fracture, the first thing a doctor will administer is ice and pain relief medication followed by elbow immobilization. The doctor will then determine if surgery is required depending on the extent of the fracture.

Nonsurgical treatment

Patients who do not have a severe fracture will not be required to undergo surgery. Nonsurgical treatment is fairly straightforward. The patient will need to immobilize the fractured elbow using a splint or sling during the healing process. The patient will also need to visit the hospital once a week for X-ray imaging to monitor the healing process. If there are no protruding bone fragments, movement will resume after a month. During the healing process, a physiotherapist will be assigned to teach basic strengthening exercises. If the fracture shifts during this process, the patient will eventually surgery to piece the bones together.

Surgical treatment

Surgery will be needed for patients who have serious fractures such as an open fracture or displaced fracture. In a displaced fracture, the fracture is out of place. This is due to the strong attachment of the bicep muscles to the olecranon. Once the fracture is out of place, the elbow will be unable to straighten at all. An open fracture on the other hand means that the bone fragments have cut the skin, leading to an increased risk of infection. This is a much more serious condition and patients will be administered with antibiotics and tetanus shot. An incision will be made at the back of the elbow where the surgeon will piece the bone fragments together again. Large pieces of bones may be joined together using pins, wires, screws or plates and these metal implants can be permanent or biodegradable.

Management

Following surgery, rehabilitation will be required in order to regain the elbow to its previous condition. As the healing process is lengthy, bone resorption could have taken place. As such, the region is much weaker. A physiotherapist will thus concentrate on regaining bone mass and muscular strength in the elbow.

Scoliosis: Symptoms & Treatments

Our spine is the structure that gives our body its shape and provide support to it. The entire spinal column consists of multiple small bones stacked together. The spine is designed to be curved naturally although it looks straight when it is viewed from the front. In fact, there are two S-curves at the spine. Scoliosis is a medical problem arising from the abnormal curvature of the spine. Patients who suffer from scoliosis have got spine that looks curved even when viewed from the front. Research has shown that scoliosis are more prevalent in females than males and affects 3 out of 1000 people.

As mentioned above, patients with scoliosis have an abnormal curvature of their spine. As such, this is the most common and obvious symptom. The curving of the spine occurs at an extremely slow pace and thus is easy to miss out until it really becomes severe. The easiest way to be spotted with it is during periodic medical examinations during primary and secondary school. In some patients, scoliosis may also cause their head to the slanted to one side or one of the shoulder to be slightly higher than the other side. In serious cases, the heart and lungs cannot work efficiently and this will lead to the shortness of breath and chest pains.

Treatment of scoliosis really depends on how severe it is towards the patient. Treatment is classified into 3 general groups: observation, bracing and surgery. In patients with mild symptom, they will only be observed for a period of time to spot any changes of the curve getting worse.

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form of scoliosis. If the curve is small when first diagnosed, it can be observed and followed with routine X-rays and measurements. If the curve stays below 25 degrees, no other treatment is needed. You may return to see the doctor every three to four months to check for any worsening of the curve. Additional X-rays may be repeated each year to obtain new measurements and check for progression of the curve. If the curve is between 25-40 degrees and you are still growing, a brace may be recommended. Bracing is not recommended for people who have finished growing. If the curve is greater than 40 degrees, then surgery may be recommended.

Although there is currently no cure for scoliosis, there are good treatment methods that are effective. As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure.

Ligament Tear: Symptoms & Treatments

Our knee is supported by 4 main ligaments – anterior ruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), lateral collateral ligament (LCL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). Each of the ligament plays a different role in ensuring the stability of the knee. However, due to various reasons, the ligaments can be torn. Rupture of the ligament can be a partial one or a full one and this will affect the treatment administered. A ligament tear will also bring about instability in the knee and the inability for it to bear weight, causing problems when walking. In this article, we will look at some of the symptoms and treatments for ligament tears.

The role of each ligament differs:

The role of the ACL is to stabilise the knee joint by restriciting forward back backwards movement of the knee. It is designed to prevent the tibia bone from moving in front of the femur. The role of the MCL is to protect the knee against any sudden and/or unwanted forces that is directed at the side of the knee. It restricts the sideway movement of the knee. The LCL works in conjunction with the MCL to restrict sideway movement and it protects against sudden forces that is directed at the inside of the knee. Lastly, the PCL works together with the ACL to control forward and backward movements of the knee.

An injured ligament will bring about symtoms that are similar to each other:

·As a general rule of thumb, a partially torn ligament will not bring about a pop sound while a fully ruptured one will produce a pop sound. A fully torn one will also create instant instability and the knee will give way.

·Swelling will occur and the injured knee may start to turn purple due to the lack of proper blood flow to the area. Swelling occurs due to a build up of blood from the injured ligament.

·The knee will be unable to function properly and you may feel that you are unable to control it.

·Tenderness will onset when you touch the knee.

The first step in treatment is to pay the PRICE:

·Protect the knee from further movements

·Resting the knee immediately following injury for at least 48 hours. If you need to move around, consider using crutches or walkers to prevent bearing weight on the injured knee.

·Ice will bring down swelling and reduce inflammation. Always try to ice the area every hour by using a cold compress or simply by wrapping knee in a towel and applying it locally.

·Compress the knee with a bandage to reduce swelling and prevent excessive movements.

·Elevate the knee to above your heart level to reduce swelling. This will cause excessive blood to flow away due to gravity towards your heart.

Relationship between Gout and Joint Pain

Gout is a medical condition that can cause sudden intense painful attacks at the joints, causing swelling and redness of the joint tissues. It usually attacks the joint of the big toe but this does not rule out the attacks on other joints. Gout usually affects men with 9 out of 10 patients being men. Once gout starts to attack other joints, it leads to inflammatory arthritis. In this article, we will look at the relationship between Gout and Joint pain.

Gout happens due to an excessive accumulation of uric acid. Uric acid is formed when the body breaks down an aromatic organic compound called purines. Purines are found in foods such as livers, beans, mackerel and beer. Overconsumption of such foods will lead to a high level of purines, resulting in too much uric acid. The body’s natural mechanism of dealing with uric acid is by passing them out through urination but when this urination process is less efficient, hyperuricemia occurs, leading to gout.

Gout happens through 3 basic stages:

Asymptomatic hyperuricemia

This is the onset of gout. In this first stage, the patient starts to have an excessive accumulation of uric acid in the body but no other symptoms or problems are present. It is also in this stage that the problem can easily be reversed by significantly reducing the amount of purine-rich foods.

Acute gouty arthritis

When no actions were performed to limit the consumption of purine-rich foods, the uric acid levels will increased and lead to the formation of uric crystals in the spaces between the joint. Due to the crystals and high acidity, sudden onset of intense pain will occur and this can lead to swelling in the joints. Attacks will be infrequent and can be spaced weeks or even months apart from each, but as time passes, the attacks will become more and more common.

Chronic tophaceous gout

This stage is the most serious and will only happen after 10 years. A patient will only reach this stage when he makes no attempt to seek treatment and gout has caused a permanent damage to the joints and kidneys.

There is an exponential relationship between gout and joint pain, leading to sudden onsets of pain attack and swelling. However, reaching from one stage to the other takes time and during the periods, it can be treated by medication and reduction in consumption of purine-rich foods. Gout will cause a lot of trauma and severely affect patients.

6 Various Physiotherapy Methods

Physiotherapists are experts in their own fields, just like how a surgeon is in his. From strains to sprains and bruises to fractures, physiotherapists are able to restore the body back to optimum performance. In less serious injury cases, physiotherapists are able to help you recover without surgical intervention whereas for serious ones, they can help you to recover faster after surgery. Let’s look at some physiotherapy methods and techniques below.

Hands-on

Physiotherapists like to get their hands dirty, literally. Physiotherapists love to do things manually, such as hands-on approaches. Common examples include stretching, massaging and compressing. Manual therapy is the foundation of any treatment plan prescribed by physiotherapists and they believe it will help patients to recover faster and better.

Physiotherapy with drugs

Sometimes, physiotherapy needs to be performed in conjunction with medical drugs. For injuries such as muscle strains, it appears to be more beneficial if the patient is prescribed muscle relaxant drugs and ointment together with interferential therapy which uses electrical signals that produces soft massaging effects to stimulate the body into producing endorphins for natural pain relief.

Physiotherapy with surgery

For injuries that are much more serious, physiotherapy in combination with surgery offers the best results. Physiotherapy starts way before the surgery date as the patient will need to beef up his body and strengthen the various core muscle groups. Post-surgery physiotherapy will involve regaining back the full range of motion, preventing scarring tissues formation as well as regaining full post-injury fitness and condition.

Good ol’ physiotherapy

In minor cases, physiotherapy alone is sufficient to help the patient recover. In cases such as ankle sprains, massaging the ankle under heat will help to warm up the muscles and tissues, increase blood flow and speed up recovery. Neither surgery nor medication is required in this case.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound which is effectively inaudible sound waves are able to penetrate beyond our subcutaneous tissue layer, loosening it to prepare for physical therapy. It supplies a mild touch of heat to expand and warm up the surrounding tissues, increasing blood flow and speeding up the healing rate.

Electrical stimulations

Electrical stimulations when applied in a small dosage and in a controlled manner can help to stimulate the muscles to contract. This is especially important in patients who are suffering from traumatic injuries which cause them to lose their muscular functions. By using electrical stimulations, proper movement and functions can be restored in a speedier way.

Above are 6 physiotherapy methods explained and explored. Physiotherapy is an integral treatment method that often works hand in hand with surgery. Although the actions done may seem simple, they are actually very effective towards restoring full bodily function.

Taking Care of Sports Injuries: Leg Fractures

Beneath our skin is the human skeletal system comprising of 206 bones working in tandem with soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons and cartilage to perform critical bodily functions such as movements and regulations. Making up the skeleton are bones and these bones can be fractured when a large enough external force is acted against it. Leg fractures are the condition whereby either the femur, fibula or tibia bones in the leg are broken. There are many possible causes for leg fractures and the main culprit is often overuse injury.  In this article, we will be discussing about how best to care for sports injuries such as leg fractures.

Splint

Splint is often the first treatment administered to patients with leg fractures. Many people mistaken splint as casts and it is important to be able to differentiate. Splints do not surround the entire fractured bone and is often only padded on one or two sides to provide protection and support. Splint helps to restrict unwanted movements which could further aggravate the fracture and due to its “open” nature, it allows swelling to happen. Doctors will usually apply a splint to the patient for a few days until the swelling has subsided and will then follow on with a immobilisation cast.

Casts

After the swelling has subsided, a cast can then be used. Casts are large, hard bandages made of plaster or lightweight fibreglass which completely immobilise the bone to accelerate healing. The internal padding is made up of comfortable cotton lining which helps to absorb perspiration.

Elevating the leg

Whenever possible, the patient should always try to elevate the injured leg to a position above the heart. This helps to reduce swelling and drain the fluids down and away. Elevating the leg also reduces pain and accelerates the healing process.

Keeping away from water

Utmost care should be taken to keep away from water during this period if it is made of plaster. Water will disintegrate the plaster and render it useless. The water can also react with the plaster and cause rashes to form on the skin.

Using walking aids

Before the bone has completely healed, you should not bear weight on it to prevent further injuries and hinder the recovery process. When you are moving around, you should always use a walking aid such as a crutch to assist you.

Leg fractures are troublesome injuries that have a significant impact on your daily life. However, with the proper care and treatment, recovery time should not take too long and you will not be far off the track.