Simple Ways to Prevent Back Pain at Work and at Home

Research from the American Chiropractic Association suggests 31 million Americans experience lower-back pain at any given time. One in two working Americans will experience symptoms of back pain every year, while 80 percent of the population will have a back problem at some point in their lifetime.

These are rather startling statistics, but the good news is that most back pain is acute. This means it can be traced back to a specific incident – like lifting a heavy box – and typically heals within a few days or weeks. But for some, back pain becomes a chronic issue (lasting three months or longer).

Whether you’re pain-free and looking to stay that way, or you’re experiencing a bout with acute or chronic discomfort, here are some different tactics and techniques you can implement today to prevent back pain at work and at home:

1. Exercise and Yoga

“Most back pain is caused by either force, repetition, or inactivity,” Dr. Samuel Davis, orthopedic surgeon specializing in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spines at Palmetto Bone & Joint explains. “You can reduce your chances of being impacted by any or all of these factors by strengthening your back and abdomen via targeted exercises.”

The goal is to strengthen your core muscles so that they’re less susceptible to being tweaked or strained in the future. If activities like walking, running, swimming, and light weightlifting aren’t possible, try yoga and stretching as good daily alternatives. Targeted activities like these can build muscle strength and mobility. (Though you should never start a new exercise routine without first consulting your doctor.)

2. Healthy Diet

A healthy lifestyle goes beyond exercise. In addition to staying physically active, you also need to pay attention to what you’re using to fuel your body.

If you’re overweight, you’re putting added pressure onto your spine and lower back. This makes you more susceptible to both acute and chronic bouts with back pain. In tandem with exercise, you should improve your diet to include fewer processed foods and more fresh and natural ingredients.

The average American diet is filled with foods that cause inflammation. (This includes refined carbohydrates, sugary sodas, fried foods, red meat, and margarine.) An anti-inflammatory diet, which is what doctors recommend, can eliminate unnecessary inflammation in the body and prevent unwanted discomfort throughout the body (including in the back). Good options include tomatoes, nuts, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, and fruits like strawberries, oranges, and blueberries.

3. Smart Workspace Ergonomics

Whether you’re currently working from home, or you find yourself in a traditional office setup, smarter workspace ergonomics can lower your chances of back pain. Top suggestions include:

  • Use a standing desk to allow yourself to change positions frequently throughout the day.
  • Invest in an ergonomic chair with a backrest that supports the natural curvature of your lower back. It should also feature adjustable armrests and height.
  • Position your computer screen so that the top of the monitor is at eye level.

If you feel your back getting tense while working, get up and move around. Regular movement will prevent your muscles from becoming too stiff.

4. Proper Sleep Position

If you’re prone to back pain, you should pay attention to how you sleep. In addition to getting an adequate amount of sleep and choosing a supportive mattress, you should also be mindful of your sleep position.

Sleeping on your side with knees pulled up toward the chest is considered a fairly safe way to sleep. If you’re a back sleeper, try putting one pillow under your lower back and another under your knees. (It’s best to avoid sleeping on your stomach.)

5. Proper Lifting

Many back injuries are the result of improper lifting (at work or at home). Reduce your risk of injury back following these guidelines:

  • Position yourself as close to the object as possible.
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend at the knees (not the waist).
  • Tighten the muscles in your stomach.
  • Begin the lifting process with your leg muscles (slowly rising to a standing position).

If you find an object is awkwardly shaped or too heavy, don’t try lifting by yourself. It’s better to ask for help than risk injury.

Say Goodbye to Back Pain

Back pain doesn’t have to become something you deal with on a daily basis. By proactively addressing the major causes of back pain at work and at home, you can enjoy pain-free living with less frustration and discomfort. To learn more about advanced non-surgical diagnosis and treatment of back, neck, and joint pain, please contact Palmetto Bone & Joint today!


To Prevent Osteoporosis, Start Early

Osteoporosis is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world. This metabolic bone disease, which is characterized by increased bone fragility, impacts more than 200 million people annually. In total, 1 in 5 men and 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures in their lifetime. 
But there is some silver lining. By starting early and focusing on bone health during childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, it’s possible to dramatically reduce the risk of osteoporosis and/or delay its onset.  

Bone Health and Childhood Development 
Bone growth is one of the more important aspects of a child’s physical development from their early years up through adolescence. And unbeknownst to many, the amount of bone mass an individual obtains during these younger years directly impacts skeletal health throughout their lifetime. In other words, the more bone mass you acquire as a child, the greater protection you have against losing bone mass later in life. 
“We tend to think of young children and teenagers as being strong and energetic, but we have to remember that their bodies are still very much in developmental stages,” says Giridhar Gundu, MD, a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist with Palmetto Bone & Joint . “Now is the time to prioritize healthy lifestyle choices.” 
While most people think about preventing osteoporosis in terms of strengthening bones once you reach your 50s, 60s, or 70s, the reality is that the best prevention plans are implemented decades earlier.  
The Risk Factors for Poor Bone Health 
While every parent and child should be focused on strengthening bones to offset the risk of osteoporosis later in life, certain groups of children face a much greater risk for poor bone health. They include:  
Children with conditions that make it difficult to properly absorb nutrients – like celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and inflammatory bowel disease. 
Infants with low birth weight (including premature infants) who have a below-average bone mass for the first few months of life. 
Children who take certain medications, like steroids, to treat chronic diseases (such as asthma sufferers). 
Children who live relatively inactive and sedentary lifestyles. 
Proactive Ways to Prevent Osteoporosis  
Regardless of whether your child is considered relatively healthy, or your child faces a high risk factor for poor bone health, smart, proactive steps must be taken now to prevent osteoporosis later in life. Here are a few suggestions: 
Children can promote healthy bone growth by consuming the right vitamins and nutrients. In particular, you’ll want to ensure your child is getting adequate vitamin C and vitamin D. For healthy doses of vitamin C, encourage them to eat tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, and citrus fruits. Vitamin D can be found in fish oils and fortified dairy products. (Exposure to sunlight can also stimulate the vitamin in the body.) 
There’s ample research to suggest that regular fitness and physical activity can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures later in life. According to the CDC, children ages 6 through 17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity every day. (Weight-bearing activities like running and walking are especially helpful.) 
Healthy life habits start in childhood and extend into adulthood. To protect bones from premature damage and decline, children should be encouraged to avoid smoking and alcohol consumption, maintain a healthy weight, eat a well-balanced diet, and stay active. As a parent, you can model these behaviors for your child.  

Palmetto Bone & Joint

Bone, joint, and musculoskeletal health are just as important (if not more so) in children as it is in adults. At Palmetto Bone & Joint, it’s our mission to provide both pediatric and adult patients with the services, treatments, and rehabilitation necessary to enjoy optimum health and minimal pain. 

Contact us today to learn more about scheduling an appointment with one of our experienced physicians.


Safety First: How Young Athletes Can Reduce the Risk of Injury

Youth sports are more than child’s play. Getting kids involved from an early age can yield numerous benefits, including physical development, self-discipline, coordination, and even socialization with peers. But if your child is playing youth sports, you need to remember that they face a greater risk for injury than adult athletes with stronger bodies.

The Differences Between Child and Adult Athletes

Children might have a seemingly unlimited supply of energy, but don’t let their excitement and fearlessness fool you. Children are still growing and they can’t be put through the same reps as adults.

As Palmetto Bone & Joint’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist, Dr. Jacquelyn Van Dam explains, “A child is not merely a smaller version of an adult. Their muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons are still in early growth stages. And when you factor in differences in stamina, strength, and coordination, they’re much more susceptible to injury.”

Children also face a greater risk of injuring growth plates, which are areas of developing cartilage found at the ends of long bones. Growth plates are weaker than the surrounding ligaments and tendons. Something as simple as a twisted ankle can lead to something more serious – like a growth plate fracture that disrupts normal bone growth.

Common Injuries Among Young Athletes

Youth sports injuries are usually placed into one of two buckets:

  • Acute injuries. These are injuries caused by sudden trauma – like a collision or twist. They include things like strains, sprains, and broken bones.
  • Overuse injuries. These injuries occur over time. They result from repeated use without adequate rest between playing. Examples include shin splints and Achilles tendinitis. 

Strategies for Preventing Injuries in Young Athletes

As a parent or coach, it’s your job to make sure young athletes don’t push too hard. (They’re often poor judges of managing pain and have very limited patience for rest and recovery.) Here are some helpful tips and strategies:

  • Always have your child go through a pre-participation sports physical to screen for potential problems.
  • Ensure the child knows and abides by the rules of the sport.
  • Equip your child with the proper protective gear for the sporting being played. (For example, a baseball player needs to be equipped with the proper baseball helmet, while a soccer player should wear shin guards.)
  • Encourage your young athlete to stay properly hydrated before, during, and after an athletic competition.
  • Encourage proper stretching prior to athletic performance.
  • Children should never play a sport when they’re tired or in pain.
  • Children should not rely on the sport itself to get them into shape. They should instead be encouraged to train for the sport they’ll be playing.
  • A young athlete should not be exposed to weight-lifting training until their primary care doctor ensures them that it’s safe to begin. (And at this point, proper weight training from a licensed trainer is necessary.)
  • Limit the number of teams and sports your child plays per season. A child who plays on multiple teams faces a greater risk for overuse injuries.
  • Children shouldn’t play a single sport year-round. Regular breaks, as well as participation in other sports, are necessary for both injury prevention and skill development.
  • Steroids should never be used by young athletes. While they are shown to increase muscle mass, they can have serious and sometimes life-threatening complications.
  • Young athletes are discouraged from taking sports supplements unless otherwise directed to do so by a doctor. There simply isn’t enough research on the long-term health effects in children. It’s also important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate these products.

This might sound like a long list of dos and don’ts. However, at the end of the day, it comes down to using common sense. As a parent or coach, trust your gut and do what’s best for the child’s long-term health.

Contact Palmetto Bone & Joint Today

At Palmetto Bone & Joint, one of our primary goals is to provide pediatric patients with the care they need to regain optimum health and freedom of movement after sports-related injuries. If your child has experienced a broken bone, compromised joint, or similar injury to the musculoskeletal system, we offer the latest in technology, diagnostic services, both surgical and nonsurgical treatments, and rehabilitation.

Contact us today to learn about scheduling an appointment!


How the Right Athletic Shoes Can Improve Performance and Prevent Injury

Whether you’re a runner, avid walker, amateur soccer player, or you like to play doubles tennis with neighborhood friends, choosing the proper athletic shoes can improve your performance and prevent injury. The question is, how do you select the proper footwear for your needs?

Why the Right Athletic Shoes Matter

According to a study from the American Podiatric Medical Association, an individual who weighs 150 pounds exerts 63.5 tons of force on each foot over the course of a one-mile walk. And when you consider that the only thing providing a cushion between your feet and the pavement, track, or trail below is the sole of a shoe, it becomes abundantly clear why selecting the right athletic footwear matters.

According to orthopedic surgeon Mark Wilson, MD, a Palmetto Bone & Joint sports medicine specialist, “A properly selected, well-fitting athletic shoe provides support for the foot’s arch, offers ample room for your toes to move without excessive friction, and helps to absorb some of the shock that occurs from repetitively striking the ground with your feet.”

Tips for Selecting the Right Athletic Shoes

Unfortunately, many people choose athletic shoes based on trendy styles and brands, when they should really be looking for shoes that are (a) comfortable and (b) provide the appropriate support.

As you search for the right pair of athletic shoes, you may find the following tips helpful:

  • When searching for the best athletic shoes, always shop stores that cater to your sport. (If you’re a soccer player, go to a sporting goods store that specializes in soccer cleats. If you’re a runner, go to a running store.)
  • To ensure you get the proper fit, work with knowledgeable staff members to measure your foot. (Never assume that you already have the proper size.)
  • Try on shoes at the end of the day, or after a workout, to account for the swelling that naturally takes place during the day.
  • When trying on shoes, walk around the store for an extended amount of time. Try different types of surfaces (carpet, tile, etc.) and movements.
  • The heel counter, which is the part of the shoe that holds your heel in place, needs to grip your heel. If there’s too much slippage here, you have the wrong size.
  • You should have ample room to move your toes around when the shoes are tied. (This includes a ½ inch space between your big toe and the tip of the shoe.)

The Different Types of Athletic Shoes

There are a wide variety of athletic shoe types. The one you select will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of physical activity, the terrain, and other individual details related to your body type. Having said that, here are some of the main types of athletic footwear:

  • Running shoes. These shoes are grouped into three main categories. “Neutral” shoes are for runners with high-arched, rigid feet. “Stability” shoes are intended for runners who have an arch that’s prone to collapsing during running. And then there are “motion control” shoes. This type of shoe is ideal for runners with severe arch collapse, making it the primary choice for people with flat feet.
  • Walking shoes. Walking might seem like a pretty innocuous activity, but it involves a substantial heel-toe gait pattern. Thus you want a shoe that’s stable and able to naturally roll with the foot. If you suffer from pain in the arch of the foot, a rocker sole works well.
  • Trail shoes. For hikers and trail runners, a trail shoe offers extra traction and more stability across the sole of the foot. So while you may not be able to run as fast, this type of shoe is more supportive and forgiving.
  • Court shoes. For those playing volleyball, tennis, or basketball, court shoes are designed to be light, yet “grippy.” They also offer extra ankles support to increase stability and lessen the chances of injury.
  • Cross-trainers. Finally, cross-trainers are designed for individuals who participate in a variety of sports and want a good all-around option that’s safe and reliable. These shoes aren’t designed for excessive running, but are suitable for light use.

Palmetto Bone & Joint is Here for You

At Palmetto Bone & Joint, we’ve proudly served the communities of the Midlands and Upstate South Carolina for more than 25 years. Our goal is to help both adult and pediatric patients rediscover their health and freedom of movement after sports-related injuries.

Please contact us today to schedule an appointment!


Benefits of Using Ultrasound to Diagnose Musculoskeletal Issues

While doctors can learn a lot from a talking with a patient and conducting a physical exam, it often helps to get a look inside the body to see what’s causing discomfort, immobility or other symptoms. X-rays and MRI scans can be useful tools, but they have their limitations. Another type of imaging – ultrasound – offers some distinct advantages.

When we think of ultrasound, we often think of prenatal visits in which an expectant mother gets a first glimpse of her baby, but the technology has multiple applications across many types of medicine, including orthopedics. Ultrasound imaging offers a number of benefits in diagnosing musculoskeletal issues, including arthritis, sports injuries, rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis, bursitis and more. And its uses aren’t just limited to diagnostics. Ultrasound sometimes is used in certain treatments, such as injection therapies and biopsies, to help target treatment to a precise location.

According to Palmetto Bone & Joint’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist, Dr. Alaric Van Dam, there are a number of reasons ultrasound is uniquely suited for use in orthopedics:

1.Ultrasounds are remarkably safe.

Ultrasound, also known as sonography, uses sound waves to develop images of body tissues. No dyes or anesthetics are needed. And unlike X-rays or CT scans, there’s not even a low dose of radiation exposure. In fact, there are no known side effects of the procedure.

2.Ultrasound captures images of soft tissues.

X-rays are excellent tools for viewing bones, and orthopedists can make inferences about what’s going on with the soft tissues around those bones based on what they see in an X-ray image. But to actually see those tissues, you need an imaging tool that’s more sensitive. Ultrasound imaging captures muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and cartilage.

3.Ultrasound works in different positions.

Standard X-ray or MRI machines require a patient to lie down, stand or sit up in a specific position. Lying down for an imaging procedure only captures what your body is doing when you’re lying down.

4.Ultrasound can see what happens when you move.

Some imaging techniques only work when the patient holds still, so only captures static images. With ultrasound, the patient can move during the procedure, so the doctor or technician can see how tissues act or react to certain movement, such as bending, twisting or reaching, for instance. This can be crucial for diagnosing symptoms that affect mobility or that only occur when you’re moving.

5. Ultrasound offers more accurate diagnosis.

Ultrasound produces images in real time and show doctors a much more accurate picture of what occurs in the body during movement. This translates to more accurate diagnosis – and more accurate treatment for patients.

What to Expect During an Ultrasound Procedure

An ultrasound procedure is relatively simple. A doctor or technician will apply a small amount of gel to your skin. He or she then will use an instrument called a transducer, which glides across the skin. The transducer emits sound waves and sends images to a computer based on what those sound waves detect. The doctor may ask you to move your limbs or joints in certain ways during the procedure, so he or she can see what’s happening during those movements. At Palmetto Bone & Joint, ultrasound is one of many tools we use every day to diagnose and treat patients. Learn more as Dr. Van Dam talks about the advantages of ultrasound technology:

Palmetto Bone & Joint is Here for You

Have a bone or joint injury or problem you’d like us to evaluate? Please don’t hesitate to contact our office today!

How to Prioritize Backpack Safety This School Year

While this school year looks different for most families, student safety has never been more critical. And with September 16 being National School Backpack Awareness Day, now is the perfect time to explore the topic of backpacks and how they affect our children.

The Importance of Proper Backpack Use

Have you ever picked up your child’s backpack and been mortifiedby how heavy and clunky it was? While school curriculums are definitely movinginto the digital age, this shift has done little to lighten the load of thebooks our students lug around each weekday.

“Though it may seem like a minor annoyance, carrying around too much weight and/or wearing a backpack improperly can wreak havoc on your student’s body – negatively impacting muscles and joints in the back, neck, and shoulder regions,” says Palmetto Bone & Joint’s Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation specialist, Jacquelyn Van Dam, MD.

In one study, researchers scanned the backs of students between the ages of 11 and 13 carrying backpacks that accounted for 10% to 30% of their body weight. The results showed that kids with heavier backpacks were prone to experience disc compression. They also noticed some lumbar asymmetry, otherwise known as lower back curvature.

In a separate study, published in Science Daily, researchers discovered that heavy loads carried on a student’s back during their formative years can damage soft tissues in the shoulder region. This leads to microstructural damage to the nerves. In minor cases, this damage causes pain and discomfort. In severe cases, it’s shown to limit dexterity of the hand and fingers.

In other words, backpacks are more important than we realize. And if you want to keep your children safe and protect their future health, it’s necessary to choose the right backpacks and provide instruction on how to wear them.

Choosing an Ergonomic Backpack

The first step in improving backpack safety is to select an ergonomic backpack that’s designed to fit your child. When choosing a backpack, look for as many of the following features as possible:

  • The backpack should be as lightweight as possible. (Compare backpacks without any books inside to accurately compare multiple options.)
  • There should be two shoulder straps. (Sling-style backpacks are not recommended.)
  • The shoulder straps should be wide and sufficiently padded.
  • Look for backpacks with as much padding on the back as possible.
  • Backpacks with waist straps provide additional support.

Ultimately, a rolling backpack is the most ergonomically-friendly option. But if your student is averse to using a roller model, looking for a model with the elements mentioned above will provide optimum benefits.

5 Backpack Injury Prevention Tips for Parents

As a parent, you can encourage your child on how to use and wear a backpack to diminish their chances of hurting tender muscles and joints during their formative years. Here are a few useful injury prevention tips to keep in mind:

1. Keep the Weight Down

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a child’s backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10%to 20% of their body weight. When this limit is exceeded,there’s an increased risk of strain or injury.

2. Always Use Both Straps

Always encourage your student to use both shoulder straps when carrying a backpack. This evenly distributes the weight across the entirety of the back, as opposed to having it all concentrated at one pressure point.

3. Keep the Backpack Organized

Items should be organized so that the heavier ones – like large textbooks – are stored at the center or bottom of the backpack. Lighter items should go on top.

4. Encourage Locker Use

If your student attends a school with lockers, encourage your child to make stops in between classes (and before heading home at the end of the day). This limits the amount of weight they have to carry around throughout the school day.

5. Check in With Your Child

Always check in with your child to see how they’re feeling. Don’t ignore any back pain that a child or teenager mentions. Tingling or discomfort in arms or legs is a sign of an ill-fitting or improper backpack. These issues should be dealt with right away.

Palmetto Bone & Joint is Here for You

Have specific questions regarding the best ways to protect your child’s sensitive bones and joints? Palmetto Bone & Joint is here to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office today!


9 Self-Care Tips for People With Bursitis

Bursitis Treatment at Home

Bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa, or small fluid-filled sac, in a joint. All our joints—hips, shoulders, elbows, knees, even heels—contain bursae, which help tendons glide over the bones of the joint. When a bursa becomes inflamed, the joint may swell and become red and warm to the touch. You’ll feel pain, which may be sharp, especially when you try to move the affected area.

Many cases of bursitis improve with home treatment. Learn more about self-care tips for bursitis, including natural bursitis remedies.

1. Rest your joint.

Stop using your affected joint. If you try to ‘push through’ the pain of bursitis, you’ll only cause additional inflammation. If you have bursitis of the shoulder or elbow, use your other arm instead of the affected arm, at least until the pain subsides. If you have bursitis of the hip, knee or heel, you may need to minimize your weight-bearing activities (standing, walking, running) for a while. Whenever possible, rest with your leg elevated.

2. Apply ice.

Ice can decrease inflammation and pain. Apply ice to the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes a time, a few times per day. Ice is most effective when applied during the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury. So, try to ice the affected joint as soon as possible after noticing pain and inflammation. If you have chronic bursitis—that which persists over a period of weeks or months—ice isn’t as likely to be effective.

3. Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.

Aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen are over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They decrease inflammation and relieve pain. Taking these medications as directed on the package every few hours will help you feel more comfortable and minimize the underlying inflammation. NSAIDs can cause an upset stomach and ulcers in some people. If you have kidney or liver disease, a history of heart attack or stroke, or a gastrointestinal disease, talk with your doctor before taking an NSAID.

4. Consider compression.

Occasionally, applying compression to the affected joint can minimize swelling and decrease pain. You can try wrapping the area with a compression bandage or slip on a compression sleeve. Be careful; compression should be firm but not tight. If you feel any numbness, tingling or increased pain, or notice swelling below the wrap or sleeve, remove it.

You only use compression the first day or so after an injury. If you still have pain and swelling after three days, it’s time to see a healthcare provider.

5. Get support.

You’re going to need some help while you’re resting the affected joint. Let friends, family members and coworkers help you with everyday tasks. You might also want to use a cane, brace or splints, depending on the location and severity of your bursitis. If you have bursitis in the hip, you might find it useful to use a cane in your opposite hand; doing so can take some stress off the affected hip. A splint or brace might feel good on an affected knee or elbow (and remind you to rest the area).

6. Try glucosamine or omega-3 fatty acids.

Glucosamine is a substance found in cartilage. Research has shown that over-the-counter glucosamine supplements may help inflammation in bursitis. Do not take glucosamine if you take a blood-thinning medication, as glucosamine can increase the risk of bleeding.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish and flaxseed; you can also find over-the-counter omega-3 supplements. Researchers are still studying omega-3 fatty acid effectiveness, but they seem to decrease the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body. If you take a blood thinner, do not take fish oil or omega-3 supplements without first talking to your doctor.

7. Ask your doctor about bromelain and herbal supplements.

Bromelain is an enzyme that comes from pineapples and reduces inflammation. Do not take bromelain supplements without first talking to your healthcare provider. If taken with antibiotics—which are sometimes prescribed for bursitis caused by an infection—bromelain can increase the amount of antibiotic in the body to dangerous levels. It also increases the risk of bleeding. 

Turmeric, boswellia, and white willow are three herbs that may reduce inflammation. However, all three increase the risk of bleeding. Do not take any over-the-counter supplements without first clearing them with your doctor.

8. Be careful with massage therapy.

Massage can feel good, and myofascial release therapy (a type of massage) may decrease the pain of a sore joint. However, do not massage the affected area if your bursitis is caused by an infection; you may inadvertently promote the spread of the infectious agent throughout the body.

You might not know if an infection is the cause of your pain. When in doubt, skip massage. Instead, rest, ice and elevate the area; take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. If those steps don’t lead to improvement in a few days, call your healthcare provider.

9. Seek medical attention if…

Most cases of bursitis can be managed at home. However, if you experience rapid worsening of pain, redness or swelling, or are suddenly unable to move your joint, seek immediate medical care. (You can call your regular healthcare provider or head to an urgent care clinic.)

You should also call a specialist if you still have significant pain after three weeks or so of rest and home treatment. At that point, medical treatment may be needed to relieve your symptoms. 

If you have tried all of these treatments and are still suffering from pain, then call one of our 3 office locations and we will be happy to schedule you an appointment with one of our specialist to evaluate your condition and determine what treatments might be right for you. 

Shoulder Pain: Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

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Shoulder pain is any pain or discomfort affecting the shoulder or surrounding areas. The shoulder is the body’s most mobile joint and enables the arm to have a wide range of motion. Shoulder pain is very common, and most people will experience shoulder pain at some point in their lives.

The shoulder consists of the upper arm bone (humerus), collarbone (clavicle), and shoulder blade (scapula), along with muscles, ligaments and tendons, nerves, and blood vessels. Any of these structures can become irritated, injured or inflamed resulting in shoulder pain. For example, shoulder pain can be due to minor muscle strains, repetitive use injuries, and repeated overhead motions, such as pitching a baseball game.

A common traumatic cause of shoulder pain is a tear of the rotator cuff, the muscles and tendons that hold the arm bone (humerus) in place in the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff creates the arm’s range of motion. When the rotator cuff is damaged, you may experience shoulder pain or weakness when moving your arm.

Shoulder pain can also result from serious conditions, such as an infection, tumor, nerve condition, arthritis, or even a heart attack. Depending on the underlying cause, shoulder pain may last briefly or persist for weeks. It may feel like a dull ache, or it may be sharp and jolting in a specific area.

Generally, shoulder pain caused by a minor condition, such as a small muscle strain, resolves by itself in a few days or weeks with basic self-care measures, such as icing the shoulder, resting the shoulder, and taking over-the-counter pain medications.

Because shoulder pain can be a symptom of a condition that requires medical treatment, you should seek prompt medical care for unexplained shoulder pain. In some cases, shoulder pain is a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that requires emergency medical care, such as a heart attack or shoulder dislocation. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have a new shoulder deformity or are unable to move the affected arm. Other serious symptoms include chest pain, jaw or neck pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and sweating. Symptoms

What other symptoms might occur with shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Shoulder pain may originate in the shoulder itself or may be caused by conditions that affect other body areas, such as the neck, abdomen, chest, or upper arms.

Additional symptoms that may occur with shoulder pain include:

  • Achiness
  • Back, neck or arm pain
  • Bruising
  • Clicking and other noises when you move your arm
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Grinding or popping feeling
  • Muscle stiffness and weakness
  • Painful movement of the arm
  • Swelling (edema) of the arm
  • Warmth or burning

Symptoms that might indicate a serious or life-threatening condition

In some cases, shoulder pain may occur with other symptoms that might indicate a serious or life-threatening condition, such as a heart attack, which should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you or someone you are with has shoulder pain accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain, pressure or tightness
  • Deformity or serious swelling of the shoulder or arm
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Difficulty moving or inability to move the arm
  • Jaw or neck pain, especially if it occurs with chest pain
  • Neck stiffness after an injury or trauma, such as a fall or motor vehicle accident
  • Severe abdominal pain

What causes shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain can be caused by a wide variety of conditions that cause inflammation, infection, nerve compression, or injury of the shoulder. Common causes of shoulder pain include arthritis and injury caused by excessive, repetitive, or overhead motions that involve the shoulder, such as occurs with baseball pitching or construction work.

A common cause of shoulder pain is a tear of the rotator cuff, the muscles and tendons that hold the arm bone (humerus) in place in the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff also enables the arm’s range of motion. A torn rotator cuff results in shoulder pain or weakness when you move your arm.

Shoulder pain can also be caused by diseases or conditions of the body outside the shoulder area, such as heart attack or gallbladder disease. This is called referred shoulder pain.

Musculoskeletal causes of shoulder pain

Shoulder pain may be caused by injury or disease of the muscles, bones, tendons or ligaments of the shoulder, neck, or upper arm including:

  • Activities involving constant, repetitive shoulder use
  • Arthritis including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout
  • Bone fractures, such as a fractured humerus (upper arm bone) or collarbone (clavicle)
  • Bursitis (inflammation of fluid-filled sacs that protect joints and allow movement)
  • Cervical spondylosis (degeneration of bones and cartilage in the neck)
  • Fibromyalgia (chronic condition causing pain, stiffness and tenderness)
  • Frozen shoulder syndrome (muscles, tendons and ligaments become stiff resulting in painful and difficult movement)
  • Poor posture or keeping the shoulder in an abnormal position for long periods, such as when sleeping
  • Rotator cuff tear or rotator cuff tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons of the rotator cuff)
  • Shoulder joint dislocation or shoulder separation (tearing or stretching of ligaments)
  • Shoulder or upper arm muscle strain
  • Whiplash (sprained or strained neck)

Other diseases and conditions that can cause shoulder pain

Other diseases, disorders and conditions that can cause shoulder pain include:

  • Gallbladder disease such as gallstones
  • Headache
  • Heart attack
  • Infection of the shoulder joint
  • Pancreatitis
  • Pinched nerves
  • Ruptured spleen

Questions for diagnosing the cause of shoulder pain

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your shoulder pain. Providing complete answers to these questions will help your health care provider determine the cause of your shoulder pain. Questions include:

  • In what part of the shoulder do you feel pain?
  • When did the shoulder pain start?
  • How long does the shoulder pain last?
  • Are there any activities that cause the shoulder pain?
  • Are you experiencing any other symptoms?
  • Have you had any trauma to the shoulder?

What are the potential complications of shoulder pain?

Complications associated with shoulder pain and its underlying cause can be progressive. In some cases, shoulder pain may become a chronic condition and affect your daily life. Once the underlying cause is determined, following the treatment plan outlined by your doctor can help reduce any potential complications including:

  • Absenteeism from work or school
  • Disability
  • Permanent nerve damage
  • Poor arm and shoulder movement
  • Poor quality of life
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9 Surprising Facts About Knee Replacement

Knee Replacement Facts You May Not Know

Americans get new knees at a rate of more than 600,000 per year. If you’re one of the many thousands of people planning on knee replacement surgery, consider these fun and helpful facts about knee replacement age requirements, surgical prep, costs, and recovery.

1. Knee replacement surgery is highly successful.

In fact, total knee replacement is one of the most successful surgeries in all of medicine. That’s according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Advancements in implants and surgical techniques is a main reason. For knee recipients, it almost always means relief from knee pain and dysfunction.

2. Knee replacement has no absolute age restriction.

A knee replacement can improve quality of life when your knee is damaged or diseased. Common causes of these knee problems include arthritis and knee injuries. While these conditions tend to affect older adults, younger people can suffer with them too. Most people who get knee replacements are between the ages of 50 and 80. However, the average age has decreased from 68.9 years in 2000 to 66.2 years in 2010. Knee replacement can also be effective for young people with juvenile arthritis and much older people with osteoarthritis.

3. Knee replacement tends to be easier when you prepare for it.

When you take time to prepare for knee replacement, it can really help your healing and recovery. People who are overweight should try to drop some extra pounds prior to surgery. Lightening the load on your new knee will reduce stress on it as it heals. Everyone should take the time to prepare their home before surgery. It will improve safety and comfort once you are home. Take up rugs and other tripping hazards, such as cords. Install grab bars, high toilet seats, and a shower bench in your bathroom. Set up a first-floor living and sleeping area and locate essentials within easy reach.

4. Some knee replacements are minimally invasive.

As techniques have improved, doctors have developed minimally invasive knee replacements. This means doctors can perform total knee replacement using smaller incisions than traditional surgery. Doctors can also perform the replacements robotically which gives even more precision to the surgery with less tissue disruption. People who have this type of surgery tend to have less pain and a faster recovery. The best candidates for this surgery are young, thin and healthy. They also need a strong dedication to rehabilitation. Ask your doctor if minimally invasive knee replacement is an option for you.

5. Knee replacement recovery can be long.

Most people are able to return to normal daily activities after about six weeks of recovery. This includes household activities, work, and driving. Until then, you will need a lot of help, particularly during the first two weeks after surgery. You will gradually add more activities and gain stamina after six weeks. Full recovery and a return to strenuous activities can take several months.

6. Knee replacement recovery involves a lot of walking.

Walking may sound like the last thing you want to do after a knee replacement. But it’s really one of the best things you can do to help your knee heal and regain motion. In fact, you won’t be able to go home until you can use a walker or crutches to walk on your own. Once you are home, walking will be part of your daily rehab program, along with knee exercises. As you gain strength, you will begin walking outside for longer and longer distances. Walking after you have recovered will help maintain the strength and stability of your knee.

7. Most health insurance plans cover knee replacement.

Knee replacement cost is often a concern for people considering the surgery. Health insurance usually covers medically necessary knee replacement. This is true for Medicare and Medicaid as well. Your doctor’s office is used to working with insurance companies. The staff can help you file all the proper paperwork before surgery. You can find out how much money to set aside by calling your insurance provider. They can tell you what your out-of-pocket costs will include. You may have copays, deductibles or co-insurance.

8. Knee replacements are life changing.

Most people have a better quality of life after a knee replacement. You can look forward to returning to your active life and leaving pain behind. Keep in mind other changes are also likely. Your new knee may feel or sound different, which is normal. Kneeling may be uncomfortable, although it won’t harm your knee. However, high-impact activities can be harmful. Your doctor may suggest finding new activities if you are a runner or play sports involving jumping or rough contact.

9. Knee replacements are long-lasting solutions.

Knee implants have mechanical components. Like anything of this nature, wear and tear can affect them. However, more than 90% of knee implants will last at least 15 years or more. Some will last much longer. You can help extend the life of your implant with some simple steps. Maintain a healthy weight to decrease stress on your implant. Avoid high-impact activities to protect it from damage. Stay active and get regular exercise to strengthen the muscles that support and stabilize your knee. You also need to schedule regular visits with your orthopaedic surgeon to monitor the implant.

Signs You’re Ready for Knee Replacement

If you’re thinking about having knee replacement surgery, you’re in good company. Every year, more than a half-million Americans opt for the procedure.

Many people have knee replacements (also called knee arthroplasty) because they have osteoarthritis. This condition occurs when the cartilage (tissue) that cushions the knee joint wears away. As a result, bone rubs against bone, which is quite painful. Other people may need a new knee because they have rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes chronic joint inflammation. Still others may have had an injury causing knee pain and limiting function. These conditions are known to cause gradual worsening of knee pain over a long period of time. It’s not always easy to know when knee replacement surgery is necessary. You and our doctors will take several factors into account in deciding if (or when) joint replacement is right for you. These factors include your X-ray or MRI results, pain level, physical function, personal health history, and weight.

Here are high-level guidelines that can help you prepare for a conversation with your our doctors about moving forward with knee replacement.

Why You Might Say “Now’s the Time” 

Here are seven signs that the time might be right for a knee replacement:

  1. Medications—even stronger anti-inflammatory drugs—don’t help, or no longer help ease your pain. 
  2. Other less invasive treatment options don’t effectively reduce your pain and inflammation. These may include cortisone injections, lubricating injections, rest, and physical therapy. 
  3. You have lots of difficulty and pain performing everyday tasks, such dressing, bathing, getting out of bed or a chair, or climbing stairs.
  4. You need the aid of a cane or walker to get around. 
  5. Your pain is severe day and night. The pain is there even when you’re not using your knee, such as when you’re sitting still or lying down. 
  6. Your knee has become deformed from injury or arthritis. It bows in or out. (However, in some cases, severe deformity can make surgery more difficult. If you start to feel severe deformity, talk with our doctors sooner than later.) 
  7. You are between 50 and 80 years old. Most people who get knees replaced are in this age range. (However, age is not necessarily a deciding factor. Surgeons successfully perform knee replacements on patients of all ages.)

Why You Might Say “Not Yet” 

Here are a five reasons knee replacement might not be right for you—at least for now:

  1. You still have time to give more conservative treatments a chance to work. These options include rest, ice, heat, muscle-strengthening exercises, and pain medications. 
  2. Your pain is bearable, and medications are helping. 
  3. You can still get around and do your normal activities without much difficulty. 
  4. You have weak thigh muscles that wouldn’t be able to support a new knee joint. Or, you have open sores or ulcers in the area that could easily become infected after surgery. 
  5. You are very overweight. Extra weight puts more pressure on your knees, and may move parts of the artificial knee joint. This can lead to pain or further surgery.

Have a Conversation With Our Doctors

Before you make up your mind about having your knee replaced, talk with our doctors about the possible risks of surgery. These can include infection, loosening of the knee replacement parts, and movement limitations. Also, talk about any health conditions you might have that could make the operation and your recovery more difficult.

It’s also important to have realistic expectations for how quickly you will recover from the surgery. It can take several weeks to several months to feel back to normal after a knee replacement. You’ll also need to commit to physical therapy and exercise. Your doctor can talk through the factors that can speed up or slow down recovery, and help you decide if the timing is right.

Under the right circumstances, a knee replacement can significantly boost your quality of life. More than 90% of people who get new knees are able to resume their normal activities shortly afterward and are happy with the results, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. And pinpointing a good time to have a knee replacement is a key part of having success with the procedure.