Health Tips

Walking and Sports – What Could Happen?

Enjoying time outside, whether engaging in your favorite sports or taking a nice afternoon hike, may seem like your usual summer plans. However, the twists and turns of being outside can catch you by surprise and may result in injury or an emergency. If you’re an active, outdoor person, the information below can help you stay prepared for walking-related or sports injuries.

1: Walking

Walking brings many benefits, such as weight management, muscle strength and improved circulation. Walking has also been proven to strengthen your heart and boost your immune function. However, it only takes a rock or an acorn, and you’re caught off guard with a twisted ankle or a swollen foot.

What can happen on a walk?

Whether enjoying a brisk walk or a stroll, keep in mind a few pointers:

  • Watch your step. Stepping on a foreign object can cause a fall.
  • Make sure your shoes fit you well and are well maintained. If your shoes no longer fit, are worn out or are too large a size, you are more susceptible to accidents.

How to Handle Injuries from Walking

  • If you experience a walking injury, avoid putting pressure on the affected area for two to three weeks or until manageable.
  • Icing the injury for 20 minutes a few times a day can also help with recovery.
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medication can help with the pain and swelling.
  • Need to move around? Crutches will be your new best friend for the next few weeks.
  • Keeping pressure on your injury with a bandage or elastic sleeve can help with the healing process. Just make sure it isn’t applied too tightly as you don’t want to cut off circulation.

On the other hand, severe injuries that involve joint swelling or extreme pain need immediate medical attention. And, experiencing back or neck pain, especially if there is pain that runs down the arm or leg, warrants immediate medical attention.

2: Sports Injuries

Summer sports, such as soccer, tennis, cycling and running make a great source of exercise and camaraderie, but they can also be a source of injuries. There are two types of injuries you can sustain: Acute injuries happen suddenly, while chronic injuries develop over time. Some of the most common sports injuries include:

  • Sprains - This is the result of a stretch or tear of a ligament near a joint and is most often caused by falling or by a twisting motion. Symptoms are pain, swelling, and bruising.
  • Runner’s knee - This can be common to runners and anyone who does a lot of walking, biking, or general knee bending. Symptoms include pain behind your kneecap, especially when you bend your knee.
  • Dislocations - These happen when the ends of your bones move out of their normal position. Symptoms include extreme pain, swelling, and not being able to move the area.
  • Achilles tendon - These injuries are common in sports that require a lot of running. Symptoms include swelling in the area or if the area is warm to the touch.
  • Broken bones - A fall or blunt force can cause sudden pain, swelling, numbness and tenderness around the area. Go to the emergency room for suspected broken bones.

How to Avoid Sports Injuries

Although accidents can happen to anyone at any given time, exercising caution can go a long way when trying to avoid sports injuries. The following tips are reminders to keep you safe during your next hike or soccer game with friends:

  • Make sure you stretch before and after you exercise.
  • Always use proper protective gear, such as a helmet for cycling or when at bat for baseball or softball.
  • Stay hydrated. Stopping for a drink every 20 minutes during your activity is good practice.
  • Be mindful about the environment you’re in, watching for objects that could be falling hazards.
  • Keep a first-aid kit stocked with items you may need for minor injuries.

How to Handle Sports Injuries

If you get injured while playing a sport, stop right away. Riding out the pain of waiting to see if it will subside while still engaged in the sport may only worsen your condition. Most minor sports injuries can be managed at home and should get better in a few days, but for injuries that bring you swelling and pain, it’s best to seek medical attention.

Knowing how to perform basic first aid can also help prevent injuries from getting worse. However, if the injury is severe or life-threatening, call 911 immediately.

When to See a Doctor for Sports Injuries

Don’t delay seeking medical help when you have an emergency. Go to the doctor right away the moment your injury causes extreme swelling, bruising or pain.

Safe Orthopedic Care

The providers at Precision Sports Medicine & Orthopedics are here for you. Providing our patients with outstanding compassionate care when and where they need it is why we’re here. In addition to medical solutions, we strive for a heartwarming, healing experience. Your safe care is our #1 priority.

If you need help for your injuries, please don’t delay. Call us today at 888.417.4954 and make that appointment!

American Academy of Family Physicians
Harvard Health

Don’t Shrug Off Shoulder Pain

You may not give your shoulders much thought until a stiff, aching joint makes activities like carrying groceries or buckling a child into a car seat nearly impossible. The shoulder is capable of a wider and more varied range of motion than any other joint in your body, yet its flexibility is what makes it vulnerable to instability and injury.

Protect Your Shoulders

Use these tips and exercises to help avoid shoulder pain and injury before they occur:

  1. Don’t carry heavy shoulder bags. If you must lug heavy contents, use a backpack.
  2. Listen to mom’s advice. Standing up straight promotes good posture, preventing future problems.
  3. Take regular breaks at work if your job involves repetitive motion or sitting at a computer all day. Briefly stretching your back and shoulders during the workday can help, too.
  4. If activity causes soreness or stiffness, give your shoulder adequate rest before engaging in the activity again.
  5. Ease into a sport you’ve been away from for a time. For instance, don’t spend hours on the tennis court if you haven’t played since last summer. Tennis players, swimmers and ballplayers have the highest risk of shoulder injuries.

Shoulder Pain Exercises

Exercise and stretch regularly to keep your shoulder muscles and joints strong. Here are a few exercises we recommend.

1: Seated Scapular Retraction

Seated at the edge of chair, find neutral posture. With elbows bent at 90 degrees squeeze the shoulder blades together while keeping the chin neutral or slightly tucked. Two sets of 10.

2: Cane Stretch for Range of Motion

Laying on either the floor or a bed, hold a cane (or golf club or dowel roll) with a wide grip, allow the cane to slowly fall back overhead using the nonpainful shoulder as the guide. Repeat this movement 10 times with a three-second hold.

3: Pendulums

Stand at the edge of a bed, placing one hand on the edge for support and bending from the hips to allow the painful shoulder to hang. Make small circles in one direction and then switch to the opposite direction. Two set of 10 each direction.

The providers at Precision Sports Medicine & Orthopedics are here for you.  Don’t shoulder the pain alone; call us today at 888.417.4954 and make that appointment!

Know Your Numbers

Over the years you have probably memorized a lot of numbers – Your home phone number, cell number, social security number, home address, and maybe even your driver’s license number or bank account. While these numbers are important, so are a few more that can tell you how healthy you are or if you need treatment for certain medical conditions.

You should know what your blood pressure is because high blood pressure, which has no symptoms, can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack or kidney failure. Normal blood pressure should be 119/79 or lower. A reading of 140/90 or above is a sign of high blood pressure. High blood pressure can be controlled by making healthy lifestyle choices and taking medications if necessary.

You can find out if your current weight is healthy by calculating your body mass index, or BMI, which is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight. A BMI of less than 18.5 is considered to be underweight; normal is 18.5 to 24.9; overweight is 25 to 29.9; and 30 or higher is considered obese. Obesity can increase the risk for certain cancers, depression, gallbladder and heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Even a modest weight loss of 10 percent of your current weight can help lower your risk for developing diseases associated with obesity.

Triglycerides are a kind of fat found in your blood that your body uses for energy. An elevated triglyceride level can increase the risk for heart disease. Normal triglyceride levels are: less than 150 mg/dL; borderline-high, 150 to 199 mg/dL; high, 200 to 499 mg/dL; and very high, 500 mg/dL or higher. High triglycerides usually don’t cause symptoms but can be lowered through diet and lifestyle changes.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced by the liver and found in certain foods. Elevated cholesterol can lead to narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup and cause chest pain, heart attack or stroke. Total cholesterol level should be less than 200 mg/dL. A total cholesterol that is 200 to 239 mg/dL is borderline high; 240 mg/dL and above is considered high. Cholesterol can be lowered through lifestyle changes and medications.

The sugar that the body uses for energy is called glucose. Elevated glucose levels can indicate diabetes, a chronic disease that occurs when the body fails to process sugar correctly. Normal results for a 75-gram oral glucose tolerance test would show a fasting level of 60 to 100 mg/dL, a one-hour level of less than 200 mg/dL, and a two-hour level of less than 140 mg/dL. A two-hour level of 140 to 200 mg/dL would indicate pre-diabetes, and a level over 200 mg/dL would be a sign of diabetes.

Do you know your numbers?  Do you hate those numbers?  Your heart health can’t wait!  For more information about cholesterol, triglyceride or glucose tests, as well as healthy blood pressure and weight ranges, call CVA at 855-93-HEART and make that appointment today!

Heart Disease is the No. 1 Killer of Women

You may know that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the U.S. So, what is different for women?

  1. One in three women will develop heart disease in their lifetime.
  2. More women die of coronary heart disease than men, and fewer women survive a first heart attack.
  3. Ninety percent of women have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke. Healthy lifestyle choices can make a positive difference.
  4. Risks for heart disease increase with age, especially after menopause, but can actually happen at any age, such as with pregnancy-related complications or many ovarian cysts.
  5. Heart attack symptoms can be as subtle as arm, neck, jaw or back pain, shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting or dizziness/lightheadedness.
  6. Women are less likely to receive guideline-recommended therapies, such as aspirin, and less likely to have interventions such as stenting. Talk with your doctor about heart disease.

Take care of yourself by not ignoring symptoms, getting an annual screening/checkup and asking questions about your heart health.

The providers of Cardiovascular Associates and here for you and want you to know, YOUR HEART HEALTH CAN NOT WAIT!  Call 855-93-HEART and make that appointment today!

Heart Attacks in Winter

Winter means cooler temperatures and the holiday season, but did you know it also brings an increased risk of heart attack?  Studies show the risk of dying from a heart attack is greater in the winter than at any other time of year, with cardiac mortality at its highest in December and January. While the reasons for the increase in heart attacks are complex – including changes in hormone, stress and exertion levels – you can take steps to reduce your risk.

There are several reasons heart attacks are more frequent in winter.  First, during the winter months, changes in hormonal balances put individuals at greater risk for cardiovascular problems.  In addition, the colder temperatures cause arteries to tighten, restricting blood flow, reducing oxygen to the heart and causing blood pressure to increase, all of which can set the stage for a heart attack, especially in plaque-clogged arteries.  During winter months people tend to exercise and do yard work and other physical activity earlier in the day.  Since blood pressure rises naturally in the morning, increased exertion early in the day can contribute to heart attacks.  The flu season also may play a role in the increased number of heart attacks. The influenza virus may trigger inflammation of the heart, which may cause a heart attack.

The holidays may play a role in the increased number of heart attacks. People overindulge in food and alcohol, which often leads to weight gain and contributes to the risk for heart attack.  Alcohol has its own heart risks, increasing blood pressure, contributing to abnormal heart rhythms and increasing the risk of depression.  The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can also be a source of stress, with many people pressed for time and money.  Anxiety and depression tend to increase during this time of year, further increasing the risk of heart attack.

Though there are several reasons heart attacks are more common in winter, you can take steps to reduce your risk. First, avoid over-exertion and talk to your doctor about appropriate physical activity.  Winter chores such as shoveling snow can be particularly strenuous.  If you must shovel snow, take frequent breaks and be sure to bundle up and stay warm.  Experts recommend dressing in three layers: an inner layer that wicks away moisture, a middle layer that insulates the body and a top layer that repels rain and water.  If you are over 50 or have a history of health problems, get someone to shovel the snow for you.  If you are sore after shoveling snow, take symptoms seriously, as signs of a heart attack may be mistaken for a pulled muscle.

The holidays provide ample opportunities to eat and drink, but try to do so in moderation.  Avoid caffeine and nicotine, both of which can exacerbate heart problems, and consider taking at least 400 IU (international units) of vitamin D each day.  Low levels of vitamin D have been found more often in heart attack patients.  Finally, be sure to get your flu shot, which can cut your risk of heart attack in half.

In any season, the best medicine to ward off heart attacks is prevention: Cultivate heart-healthy habits, such as regular exercise, weight control, and a diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables.  Also, know your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.  Finally, to combat the holiday blues, take solace in the company of friends and loved ones.

The providers of Cardiovascular Associates and here for you and want you to know, YOUR HEART HEALTH CAN NOT WAIT!  Call 855.93-HEART, make that appointment today and let’s make a plan together to protect your heart this winter!

Hip Fractures

Hip fractures send more than 300,000 Americans age 65 and older to the hospital each year. While hip fractures can be treated, the injury can lead to severe health problems and reduced quality of life.

Most hip fractures occur because of a fall, especially among adults over the age of 65 with osteoporosis, a condition where bones become weak. In addition to advanced age and osteoporosis, other risk factors associated with hip fractures include lack of calcium and vitamin D in the diet when younger, physical inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use and certain medications. Environmental factors such as loose rugs or a cluttered living space could increase the chance of falling.

A hip fracture causes pain in the outer upper thigh or groin area as well as the inability to bear weight on the side of the injury. The hip area may become stiff, show signs of bruising or swelling, and a significant level of discomfort could occur after any attempt to rotate or flex the hip. Most hip fractures are diagnosed following an X-ray, which also shows where the fracture occurred in the hip.

Treatment is determined based on the patient’s overall health and age as well as the location and severity of the fracture. Most hip fractures are treated surgically using one of three methods:

  • Inserting metal screws into the bone, if it is properly aligned, to hold it together as it heals.
  • Replacing part of the femur, the long bone that extends from the pelvis to the knee. This method, called a partial hip replacement, calls for removing the head and neck of the femur and replacing them with a metal prosthesis.
  • Replacing the upper femur and pelvic bone socket with a prosthesis. This is called a total hip replacement.

Patients typically do better if they undergo surgery soon after the hip fracture occurs. They may be encouraged to get out of bed the day after surgery with help from a physical therapist, who also will work with patients to help them regain strength and start walking again. After a hip fracture, most patients are hospitalized for approximately one week and may then be either discharged home or referred to a nursing home if they are unable to live independently. Physical therapy rehabilitation usually takes approximately three months.

People at risk for hip fractures can take steps to reduce their chances of falling.

  • Men and women over the age of 50 should make sure they get enough vitamin D and calcium in their diet.
  • Engage in weight-bearing exercise to help strengthen bones and prevent falls.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and do not smoke.
  • Wear shoes with non-skid soles and avoid high heels and shoes like sandals and bedroom slippers that flop when you walk.
  • Check your home for trip hazards like throw rugs, electrical cords and clutter.
  • Make sure your home and outside walkways are well-lit so you can see where you are walking.
  • Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about whether assistive devices may be needed to help you keep your balance.

The providers and staff at Precision Sports Medicine & Orthopedics wants you to know that your hip pain can’t wait!  Call 888.417.4954 to make that appointment with one of our offices today!

Flu or Cold?

You’re coughing, running a fever and ache all over. Is it a bad cold or the flu?

Both are caused by viruses, but not the same ones. They both spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. When the viruses land on surfaces like counters, elevator buttons, stair rails or telephones, another person can get the virus on their hands and then infect themselves when they touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

Colds and flu are both highly contagious and have many symptoms in common, but the flu is a serious illness that may have life-threatening complications. In general, a person with the flu will have fever that’s usually between 102ºF and 104ºF. The fever can last 3-4 days. Flu symptoms come on suddenly and may be severe. You’ll experience muscle aches, a headache, sore throat and feel very tired and weak. Some people feel extremely exhausted. Another symptom is a cough that can be severe. Gastro-intestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are more common in children than adults.

Cold symptoms, which usually are milder than those of the flu, appear within one to three days of being exposed to the cold virus. If you have a cold, then you may have a fever under 102ºF along with a stuffy nose, cough, headache and loss of appetite. You may experience chills and sweats along with some aching muscles.

What if you get the flu or a cold?

If you do get the flu or a cold, the best advice is to get plenty of rest, drink lots of liquid and avoid using alcohol and tobacco. You can take over-the-counter medicines to relieve symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, nasal congestion and cough.

CAUTION: Do NOT give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, especially a fever. In some cases, this has caused a serious complication known as Reye’s syndrome.

Anti-viral medications may be prescribed for cases of the flu. These medicines may shorten the time you feel ill. Some of these medications only work with certain types of influenza viruses. To be effective, these need to be taken no later than 24 to 48 hours after you first develop symptoms.

Some people are more at risk of developing complications of the flu. These include young children and people older than 50. Other at-risk groups include:

  • Residents of nursing homes or chronic care facilities
  • People with chronic disorders such as diabetes, heart, lung or kidney disorders
  • People with a weakened immune system including those with HIV, leukemia or taking medications following an organ transplant
  • Women who are pregnant and in their second or third trimester
  • People who work in a healthcare facility

If you fall into one of these groups and develop symptoms of the flu, call your doctor immediately.

If you develop complications including trouble breathing, a very high fever, a severe sore throat, a cough that produces a lot of green or yellow mucus, or you feel faint, call your doctor.

Preventing colds and flu

In the case of viruses like the cold and flu, the best line of defense is prevention. While there isn’t a vaccine for cold viruses, an annual flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months. It’s especially important for those at risk of developing serious complications from the flu to receive the vaccine. These at-risk groups include children under the age of 5, those over the age of 65, pregnant women, American Indians and Alaskan natives and people who have serious medical conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, diabetes, neurological conditions, kidney disease, liver disease and those with a weakened immune system.

Each of us should help prevent the spread of viruses by taking these steps:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then put the tissue in a trash container. You also can cough or sneeze into your elbow if a tissue isn’t available.
  • Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes to stop the spread of germs.
  • Wash your hands often using soap and warm water. You should wash for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice). Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used when soap and water aren’t available.
  • Try to avoid contact with those who have symptoms of the cold or flu.
  • Stay home when you are sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you remain at home until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without taking a fever-reducing medication.

If you do become sick with the cold or a flu, watch for signs of worsening symptoms such as symptoms that last longer than 10 days, trouble breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain.

For children these may include:

  • Fever higher than 103ºF or a fever that lasts more than three days
  • Bluish skin color
  • Earache or drainage from the ear
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but come back with a fever or more severe cough
  • Vomiting or abdominal pain
  • Changes in mental state such as not waking up, irritability or seizures

In adults, look for:

  • Fever above 102ºF that lasts for days and is accompanied by fatigue and body aches
  • Fainting or feeling faint
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Severe sinus pain
  • Swollen glands in the neck or jaw

You should contact your doctor or seek emergency medical care if you have any of the symptoms listed above since they may indicate a serious medical condition.