Physiatrists: What Can a Physical Medicine Doctor Do For You?

Physiatry can be defined as Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). It is a medical specialty that focuses on diagnosis and treatment of chronic and acute pain, weakness and numbness. Physiatrists are doctors that have completed four years of medical school with a specialty focus in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Individuals suffering from bone, joint, muscle, ligament, nerve and spinal cord impairments may benefit from working with a physiatrist.

Once you have been diagnosed either by a medical doctor such as an orthopaedic surgeon or primary care physician, a physiatrist can offer a number of non-surgical interventions to treat your symptoms. What exactly can a physiatrist do to treat your physical impairments?

Treatment Services Offered by a Physiatrist

  • Injections (spinal and other types) using fluoroscopic guidance
  • Spasticity management
  • Joint injections
  • Trigger point injections
  • Nerve conduction studies (NCS) and electromyography (EMG)
  • Medication prescription
  • Prosthetics
  • Orthotics

In addition to medical interventions, physiatrists also work with a team of other medical and non-medical professionals to ensure the best treatment plan. Focused on improving the overall quality of life of their patients, physiatrists aim at restoring the patient’s functional ability. Physiatrists often work with orthopaedic surgeons, social workers and physical therapists to coordinate a comprehensive approach to treatment.

Benefits of Working With a Physiatrist

  • Treatment is focused on the whole person, not just the symptom
  • Coordinated approach to take into consideration the treatment recommendations of other professionals
  • Address pain and weakness with non-surgical interventions

Whether your physical impairments are the result of an injury, medical condition or disability, a physiatrist can help develop a treatment plan to meet your individual needs. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to see which physiatrists in your area will be covered under your plan.

Looking for a Physiatrist in the St. Louis area? Click here for more information on Dr. Andrew Wayne of Agility Orthopaedics.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Improving Quality of Life

With hundreds of specialties and subspecialties in medicine, it can be hard to determine whom to see when you have a medical issue. There are several overlapping specialties, especially when it comes to treating conditions of the bones, joints and muscles. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is one area of medicine that focuses on many parts of the body.

What is Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation?

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) is an area of medicine that focuses on restoring and  improving an individual’s functional ability. With a focus on improving quality of life, PM&R can be used to treat a wide range of physical impairments. These impairments include but are not limited to conditions of the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, brain, spinal cord and nerves.

What is a Physiatrist?

A Physiatrist is a medical doctor that has a trained focus in the speciality area of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. A Physiatrist has completed four years of medical school beyond an undergraduate degree. Further, a physiatrist completes a four-year residency in the area of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Physiatrists offer a variety of procedures to help patients suffering from bone, joint, muscle and nerve issues. These issues could be the result of an injury or medical condition/disease. Some of services offered by a physiatrist include:

  • Spinal injections
  • Joint injections
  • Nerve conduction studies (NCS) and Electromyography (EMG)
  • Spasticity management
  • Trigger point injections for muscle disorders

In addition to specific medical procedures, physiatrists often work in conjunction with a team of medical professionals to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for each individual. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, orthopaedic surgeons, primary care doctors and neurologists often work closely with physiatrists to ensure optimal care for the patient. In addition, physiatrists often involve non-medical professionals in the development and execution of the treatment plan. These professionals often include: social workers, therapists and vocational counselors.

 

 

Summer Sports Safety: Top Ten Tips

With summer fast approaching, excitement is in the warming air. This is the time of year when people are itching to get outside and get active. Whether through sports, summer camps or just hitting the playground, kids and adults are increasing activity levels. But don’t get sidelined with an injury before the season gets underway.

An increase in physical activity also means an increase in injuries, especially orthopaedic injuries. Visits to urgent care and emergency rooms tend to spike as people are spending more time outside, engaging in athletic activities. You can help prevent the most common summer sports injuries by following some simple tips.

Top Ten Tips for Summer Sports Safety

  1. Hydration: Make sure you are drinking plenty of liquids. Water is great but it is also good to take in fluids that contain electrolytes.
  2. Wear a helmet: Helmets aren’t just for contact sports. If you are riding a bike, scoot, roller blades or a hover board, make sure to protect your head with a helmet.
  3. Wear gear that fits: It might seem obvious but you would be surprised how many people wear protective gear that does not fit properly. Gear that is too big or too small may not adequately protect your body in a collision or a fall.
  4. Sun Safety: Pads and helmets are great for protecting your bones but what about your skin? Be sure to apply sunscreen all over and to reapply every few hours.
  5. Know your limits: While playing sports in the heat of summer, your body is more prone to fatigue easily. Be sure to take breaks and listen to your body. This might mean cutting a practice short or sitting out more than normal.
  6. Check playground equipment: Do not trust that all playground structures are safe. Faulty equipment as well as structures that are not age appropriate can be an issue. Cruise the playground for a safety check before letting your kids loose.
  7. Swimming safety: There are many safety concerns if you plan to swim or your kids plan to swim this summer. Make sure a lifeguard is on duty, wear a life vest if needed and never leave children unattended near the water.
  8. Stretch: No matter what sport or physical activity you enjoy during the summer months, be sure to properly stretch, warm up and cool down.
  9. Know when to stop: If you start to feel pain during an activity, STOP! What might start as a small injury, strain or sprain could get worse if you push yourself. If you experience pain that worsens or does not get better, seek an evaluation by a doctor.
  10. Proper footwear: What you put on your feet is very important, especially during the summer. Do not wear sandals or attempt to go barefoot if you plan to exercise or engage in a sport.

Don’t let an injury slow down your summer fun! Take precaution and avoid preventable injuries so you and your family can get the most out of this fun time of year. As always, if you do sustain an injury, be sure to see a qualified physician such as an orthopaedic surgeon.

Baseball Injuries: Prevention Tips for Youth Catchers

Baseball Injuries

Spring training brings feverish excitement as the baseball season begins. But along with the renewed enthusiasm for the sport comes an increase in common baseball injuries. From upper body to lower extremities, no limb is safe when it comes to injury.

If you are a catcher or have a child that plays this position, there are several baseball injuries that can bring an abrupt stop to the season. The range of physical activity during a game or practice varies significantly for a catcher. Both the upper and lower body are put to work, creating strain on legs, knees, back, shoulders and elbows.

Common Injuries for Catchers

Knee Injuries:

The position that a catcher takes during a baseball game puts an enormous amount of stress on the knees. Therefore, it is not surprising that catchers are prone to some common knee injuries. These injuries include but are not limited to: meniscus tears, muscle strains and tendonitis. The severity of these injuries varies greatly but often, catching them early can mean the difference between a short recovery and a season-ending issue.

Shoulder Injuries:

The shoulder is a very complex joint. Therefore, it is no surprise that there are a number of baseball injuries that can occur for a catcher. Some of the most common types of shoulder injuries for a catcher include: superior labrum anterior to posterior (SLAP) tear, bicep tendinitis, rotator cuff tears, shoulder instability and scapular rotation dysfunction.

Elbow Injuries:

With every throw a catcher makes, stress occurs to the shoulder and elbow. Overuse injuries are very common for pitchers and catchers alike due to the repetitive motion of the throwing arm throughout practices and games. Some of the most common baseball injuries resulting from throwing include: ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries, ulnar neuritis and valgus extension overload.

When it comes to baseball injuries, there are several ways to get hurt if you are a catcher. As you can see, most of the injuries listed above result from overuse. But there are a number of ways to prevent many of these baseball injuries.

Preventing Baseball Injuries in Catchers

  • Follow guidelines limiting number of innings and number of throws per game for a catcher.
  • Work with coaches on proper form and technique.
  • Participate in proper conditioning exercises. The stress put on the body of a pitcher can be reduced with proper strengthening techniques. Be sure to work with your coaches and trainers to ensure the correct exercises.
  • Overuse injuries can be prevented if you listen to your body and allow for proper recovery time. What might start out as a small injury can easily develop into something more serious if you do not allow time to heal.

Don’t let a baseball season slow you down this year. Take the proper steps to prevent an injury so you can get the most out of your year.

 

Common Winter Orthopaedic Injuries and Prevention

Winter is coming and along with it, a seasonal trend of orthopaedic injuries. Common winter orthopaedic injuries can mean a big damper on your holiday spirit. But the change in the weather does not need to mean a trip to see your orthopaedic surgeon. There are plenty of ways to avoid many of the most common winter orthopaedic injuries.

Here is a list of the most common winter orthopaedic injuries:

  • Hand fractures resulting from a fall often on ice or a slippery wet surface.
  • Distal radius (wrist fractures) often associated with attempting to break a fall with outstretched hand. This type of injury can also result from a skiing, ice skating or snow boarding fall.
  • Ankle fractures can easily occur when an individual falls or twists the ankle. Orthopaedic surgeons often treat individuals that have fallen from a ladder while hanging holiday lights or decorations.
  • Knee injuries, including a torn meniscus or torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), are common for winter sports enthusiasts. Skiers and snowboarders can be at higher risk for this type of injury in the winter months especially when the body is fatigued at the end of a long day on the slopes.

How can you avoid the above common winter orthopaedic injuries? Follow a few simple tips and your chances of sustaining an injury should decrease over the next few months.

  • Wear proper footwear. Your feet are the first thing that hit the ground when you venture out from the house. Be sure that you have tread on your shoes and good ankle supports especially if the ground is covered in ice or snow.
  • Make sure to salt sidewalks and parking lots. Even the smallest spot of ice can land you flat on your back in a split second.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. This is important especially at night. Be sure to hold hand rails when going down slick stairs and always look before you step.
  • When participating in winter sports, always be sure to wear proper protective gear, including a helmet.
  • Properly hydrate. The body can easily become dehydrated in the winter despite the fact that temps are chilly. Whether shoveling the snow or hitting the slopes, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Allow plenty of time. Rushing and walking quickly can increase the likelihood that you might fall on a slippery surface. Be sure to allow extra time when leaving the house.

If you do succumb to one of the common winter orthopaedic injuries, be sure to seek the treatment of a board certified orthopaedic surgeon.

Bunions: Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatment

If you have a bunion, you know how painful and uncomfortable it can be to get through your daily routine. Bunions form at the base of the big toe creating a deformity in the joint. As the big toe pushes against the next toe, it causes the joint to protrude, often appearing red and swollen.

Bunions can be painful and can create limitations in your daily life. In addition to limited movement in the big toe joint, the pain can worsen depending on the type of footwear you choose.

How can you find relief if you suffer from bunions? There are a number of options, both surgical and non-surgical. Making an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon that specializes in foot and ankle is a great way to determine the best treatment options for you. After a physical examination and possibly an x-ray, the orthopaedic surgeon can help you develop a treatment plan.

Here are some of the common ways to treat bunions:

  • Use ice to hep reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Find and wear shoes that are comfortable, supportive and allow plenty of room for your toes. Wearing shoes with a wider toe box will alleviate cramping.
  • Arch supports or orthotics that insert into your existing shoes can also help by distributing weight evenly on your feet.
  • Cortisone injections along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can provide temporary relief by reducing swelling.
  • Surgical treatment options include straightening the toe out by removing some of the bone and/or removing inflamed tissue surrounding the joint.
  • A surgeon might elect to realign the bone or in some cases even fuse the bones in the joint together permanently.

Suffering from bunions does not have to be an accepted part of your life. If you have bunions that cause pain and limit your daily activity, make an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon to get a clear diagnosis and a treatment plan.

 

Top Running Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Running season is in full swing and that means it is prime time for a variety of lower body injuries. Running injuries can happen to the novice athlete as well as a seasoned runner. If you are a runner or thinking about becoming a runner, it is important to know how best to avoid injury.

Some of the top running injuries include:

  1. Shin splints are a painful type of injury that often result from overuse. Also known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), shin splints are often marked by a feeling of pain on the inside portion of the tibia.
  2. Plantar fasciitis is a sharp, tight sensation on the bottom of the foot. Plantar fasciitis can result from overuse as well as not wearing supportive footwear.
  3. Runner’s knee, Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS), is another common running injury. It is characterized by pain felt under the kneecap caused by an inflammation in the tissues where the patella meets the femur.
  4. Illiotibial band syndrome can be confusing for some runners as the symptoms can seem like a knee injury. The illiotibial band runs from the pelvis down to the knee. Pain from this syndrome can range from the hip, down the leg and around the knee area.
  5. Stress fractures resulting from running are very common and painful. Frequently characterized as an overuse injury, stress fractures develop due to the repetitive, high impact nature of running.
  6. Ankle sprains can easily happen for a runner no matter how experienced you are. Sprains result from a twisting or rolling of the ankle joint that stresses the ligaments of that joint. Symptoms include swelling and inability to bear weight on the foot.

Running injuries range dramatically in severity and duration. Some injuries can take months to recover from while others can be treated effectively over a few weeks. Preventing running injuries is definitely easier than treating them so make sure you take proper precautions no matter how experienced you are as a runner.

Preventing running injuries can be fairly simple. Being prepared with supportive footwear is one of the most important things you can do. Make sure you are fitted for the correct size and with a shoe that offers good support.

Another key for preventing running injuries is fueling your body. In addition to hydrating before, during and after a run, you should also take in a balance of protein, carbs and leafy greens. Keeping your body strong and hydrated during a run prevents fatigue that can lead to poor form.

Be sure to stretch before and after your run to prevent sore muscles. Further, space out your runs rather than running multiple days in a row. The high impact nature of this sport makes it likely to develop overuse injuries quickly.

Running injuries are very common. If you do suffer from an injury, you can try treating it at home with rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E.). However, if your injury makes it painful to walk or if it has not gotten better after a few days, it is best to seek evaluation from an orthopaedic surgeon.

 

Injuries at School: Consulting an Orthopaedic Surgeon

Back to school is an exciting time for kids and parents alike. Children look forward to reuniting with their friends and getting back into their favorite fall sports. But back to school also signifies a spike in some common orthopaedic injuries for many kids.

As a parent, it can be difficult to determine how serious an injury is. If your child is hurt at school, you likely did not observe the incident and therefore may not have an accurate picture of the severity of the injury. So how do you know if your child’s injury is more than just a playground oops? Consider the following questions?

  1. Is your child able to move all of his or her body parts? This is especially important when it comes to a potential head/neck injury. If your child is not able to move all body parts, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.
  2. Is your child experiencing numbness or tingling? Again, in cases or head or neck injury, this is a red flag and must be assessed immediately.
  3. Can your child bear weight on the injured body part? Inability to stand or walk can signify a sprain or broken bone in the lower extremity. If this is the case, an orthopaedic surgeon can easily evaluate the injury and determine the best treatment.
  4. Is the body party swollen or disfigured? Many orthopaedic injuries mirror one another with symptoms. As a parent, it is tough to distinguish the difference between a sprain, broken bone or torn ligaments. For this reason, it is important to have an orthopaedic surgeon examine your child to diagnose and treat an injury that includes swelling or a body part that looks disfigured after an injury.
  5. Can your child put pressure on the injured body part? This questions is similar to asking if they can bear weight on the injured body part. With the upper body, it is important to see if your child will let you put moderate pressure on the injury and if they can move it without pain.

If a back to school injury has gotten your child down and out, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. It can be difficult to know whether or not the injury warrants a trip to the emergency room, urgent care or a visit to an orthopaedic surgeon. If you have any doubt at all, it is better to be safe than sorry.

 

 

 

 

Treating Shin Splints: Five Tips for Successful Recovery

Shin splints are a very common and painful injury. Frequently associated with running, this condition is often thought of as an overuse injury. If you have developed pain along the inner edge of your tibia, it is possible that you have shin splints.

Suffering from shin splints can make the most simple daily activities painful. It may be beneficial to see a doctor such as an orthopaedic surgeon to rule out other issues such as stress fractures or tendinitis. Once you have appropriately identified the cause of your pain, it is possible to treat the issue at home.

There is not a quick fix to alleviate the pain caused by shin splints. However, trying these five simple steps can gradually bring relief.

  1. Use ice or a cold pack at various times throughout the day. Applying ice to the affected area for about 15-20 minutes at a time, can help with the pain. Remember, it is never safe to apply ice directly to the skin. Use a cloth or towel as a barrier to protect your skin.
  2. Rest your legs. Shin splints are often associated with starting a new exercise routine and doing too much too quickly. It can take weeks to recover from this injury so you will need to be patient and trust that rested the impacted area is the best course of action to treat the issue.
  3. Some medications can address both pain and swelling. Ibuprofren, aspirin and naproxen can be effective in treating both of these symptoms associated with shin splints.
  4. Physical therapy exercises can also be helpful in treating shin splints. Simply stretching the muscles in your legs can help with tightness and make activities such as walking less painful. Increasing flexibility in your legs can make a big difference. Additionally, working with a certified massage therapist to increase blood flow can be beneficial.
  5. Picking supportive footwear, especially footwear with orthotics, can be very helpful in treating your shin splints. For some people, footwear can be at the root of the issue. If you have been exercising with footwear that is not supportive, it is possible to develop a variety of injuries, not just shin splints. Therefore, choosing the correct footwear is both preventative and corrective.

If you think you are suffering from shin splints, be sure to see a doctor such as an orthopaedic surgeon to get a proper diagnosis. Specifically, a foot and ankle fellowship trained surgeon will have expertise in this area of the body.

 

 

Shoulder Arthritis Symptoms and Treatment

Shoulder arthritis can be an extremely painful and limiting condition. Whether you have been diagnosed with a type of shoulder arthritis or suspect your might have this affliction, you are likely suffering from one or more key symptoms.

There are a few different types of shoulder arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type. It is also known as degenerative joint disease. This type of shoulder arthritis develops over time as smooth cartilage wears away, causing rubbing between the rough ends of the bones. The end result is a very painful, restricting condition.

Symptoms:

The main symptoms of shoulder arthritis are pain and decreased range of motion. The shoulder is a complicated part of the body. Arthritis may not be limited to one part of the shoulder. Some people have pain and limited motion in the ball and socket joint of the shoulder. Other people experience pain in the joint where the collar bone and scapula meet.

In addition to pain and loss of motion, some people also experience a grinding sensation in the shoulder when doing certain activities. This can be painful as well as irritating. Further, some individuals report feeling weakness and/or stiffness in the shoulder.

Treatment:

If you have been experiencing any or all of the symptoms in your shoulder for an extended period of time, it is wise to seek the opinion of an orthopaedic surgeon. Specifically, it is advisable to see a surgeon that is fellowship trained in shoulder and elbow.

Once you have been given a diagnosis, your orthopaedic surgeon can review the options for treatment of your shoulder arthritis. Surgery might be an option but there are other non-operative treatments that could help. Here are some of the steps that could help relive symptoms of shoulder arthritis.

  • Rest and modifications of  specific daily activities
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections
  • Ultrasound
  • Anti-inflammatory medications

If you think you are suffering from shoulder arthritis, do not ignore the symptoms. Seek treatment and explore your treatment options.