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Orthopedic Associates' Blog


What are the Causes and Treatment Options of Carpal Tunnel?
What are the Causes and Treatment Options of Carpal Tunnel?
By: Dr. Bell If you drive a desk for your job, you may know what it’s like to live with the pain of carpal tunnel. Even though many people are familiar with carpal tunnel, a lot of people are not quite sure exactly what causes carpal tunnel and what can be done to alleviate it. Let’s examine what causes carpal tunnel and what treatment options are available. What Causes Carpal Tunnel? The carpal tunnel is quite literally a tunnel that runs from your forearm to your hand. (NCBI) Inside the tunnel are your median nerve and nine tendons. The median nerve provides sensation for the front of your thumb, index, middle finger and parts of your ring finger. It also controls small muscles where your thumb connects to your palm. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when a problem leads to pressure on the median nerve. (NCBI) This is why many patients with carpal tunnel experience pain, numbness, and weakness in the affected muscles. Some may also experience pain in their forearm between their hand and elbow. What Treatment Options Are Available for Carpal Tunnel? There are ...

How frostbite affects your extremities
How frostbite affects your extremities
By: Dr. Randal Aaranson The winter cold can have a devastating effect on your skin, especially sub-freezing wind chill. Frostbite is essentially the freezing of skin and tissue and can occur within a matter of minutes. Frostbite typically affects the skin and tissue of exposed areas, such as your nose, cheeks, ears, hands, and feet. One of the common misconceptions is that frostbite only affects exposed skin. Even covered extremities, such as hands and feet, can be at risk of developing frostbite because of the relative temperature under gloves and shoes. Can you get frostbite in St. Louis? You may wonder, “Doesn’t frostbite only occur in extremely cold places, like the Dakotas and Canada?” Unfortunately, the risk of frostbite can be present in any sub-freezing temperatures. St. Louis’ winter wind chill temperatures often register at below the freezing point. A 10- to 15-minute walk to the train station without the proper winter clothing can put anyone at risk for developing first-stage frostbite, a condition called frostnip. Symptoms of frostbite Since frostbite is the freezing of tissue, the initial symptoms are pain and tingling sensations ...

Common sports injuries: mallet finger
Common sports injuries: mallet finger
By: Dr. Robert Bell Have you ever seen a basketball player or quarterback jam their finger and the finger looks crooked? No, the finger isn’t broken or dislocated, but it’s obvious that the finger has an accordion-type shape from tip to hand. This is a condition called mallet finger and is more common than you might expect. Mallet finger occurs “when the tendon that straightens your finger (the extensor tendon) is damaged.” (ASSH) When a player’s fingers collide with a fast-moving basketball or a football helmet, forcible contact of the fingertip can tear the extensor tendon that helps straighten the finger. In some extreme cases, the force is strong enough to also detach some of the bone connected at the end of the extensor tendon. A torn extensor tendon renders the finger incapable of straightening on its own strength without the tendon’s support. Symptoms and signs of Mallet Finger A telltale sign of mallet finger is a drooping appearance of the fingertip. Additionally, concentrated pain, swelling, and even pooling blood under the fingertip are also often symptoms of mallet finger. Some patients who experienced ...

What’s Cubital Tunnel Syndrome and how do you treat it?
What’s Cubital Tunnel Syndrome and how do you treat it?
By: Dr. Robert Bell Cubital Tunnel Syndrome isn’t a common name but you may be very familiar with its effect. It can manifest a sharp, tingling pain and weakness in your forearm that extends down through your wrist, hand, and ring and small fingers. Cubital Tunnel Syndrome is the second most common nerve compression condition in the forearm region after Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. (NCBI) The ulnar nerve runs from the lower neck region to the tip of the hand. The cubital tunnel is a narrow region under a protrusion of bone called the medial epicondyle on the inside of the elbow joint. (AAOS) You may be more familiar with this area by its common name of the “funny bone”. Causes of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Cubital Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the ulnar nerve becomes entrapped, irritated, or compressed in the inside portion of the elbow joint. There are several known causes of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, such as: Overuse of the elbow region - Repetitious movements of the elbow, like playing a sport, using a hammer, or working ...

4 everyday stretches to avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
4 everyday stretches to avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
By: Dr. Bell Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs through overuse and tension of muscles through your wrists and forearms. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that carpal tunnel is the primary cause for almost half of missed work time among U.S. employees. (Arthritis.org) Our Orthopedic Associates team compiled these four stretches to help you avoid Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Shake your hands Pretend you just washed your hands and can’t find a towel to dry them. What do you do? You air-dry your hands by shaking them. Use that same technique by shaking your hands for one minute every hour. This helps relax your median nerve and flexor muscles to prevent cramping. An easy solution can be always air-drying your hands instead of using a hand towel, which may be better for your health with the germ-filled history of hand towels. Wrist flexes Extend your arm at shoulder height directly straight away from your body. Lock your elbow and place your palm facing downward. Spread out your fingers and place your other palm on the back of your extended hand. Gently push down on the extended ...

Three most common fall-related winter injuries
Three most common fall-related winter injuries
By: Dr. James Burke The winter months present greater risk for injuries than any other season simply because of snow and ice. The pace of everyday life doesn’t always see a slippery sidewalk or driveway as a potential injury waiting to happen. One of the worst winter accidents is a fall due to snow or ice. One out of every five falls cause a serious injury, such as a broken bone or a traumatic brain injury. The risk is even greater for elderly citizens with over 2.5 million elderly people treated receiving emergency medical treatment each year because of a fall. While falling on ice can cause a myriad of potential injuries, including a wounded pride, here are three of the most common injuries due to falling during the winter. Sprained or broken wrist The falling sensation can cause us to instinctively reach out and try to brace the fall. With an uneven icy surface underneath us, the displacement of weight can often cause a wrist injury, even a completely broken wrist. Hip fracture Walking on uneven icy surfaces can sometimes cause our feet to ...

3 Common Office Injuries and How to Prevent Them
General orthopedics covers essentially anything having to do with the health of the musculoskeletal system. But in addition to this general field, many orthopedic surgeons also have narrower specialties, such as occupational medicine. Occupational medicine is the branch of preventive care and treatment that deals with workplace health and safety. These safety concerns don’t just apply to workers in industrial settings, either, as many employers and employees assume. There are plenty of ways to get hurt even in your average office setting. Here are three of the most common workplace injuries you should be aware of, as well as some tips on how to prevent them: Carpal Tunnel Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common hand and wrist conditions affecting office workers. Caused by pressure to the median nerve in the wrist, its symptoms include pain, numbness, weakness and tingling in the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is often set off by repetitive motion, especially motion in which the wrist is bent so that the hands are positioned lower than the wrists ...

What are the warning signs of a broken wrist?
You’re on your way to work this morning when... Boom! You slip stepping off the curb. Your Starbucks cup and laptop bag go flying as you instinctively stretch out your hand to stop your fall. As you gather your dignity and work items, you can’t help but think: “Hm, that didn’t feel right.” You look down at your wrist and everything looks normal, but something doesn’t feel right. A little voice inside your head says you might have just hurt your wrist, it maybe even broken. How do you know whether your wrist is okay? Do you know the warning signs of a broken wrist? There are several symptoms of wrist injuries that may be indicators of a broken wrist: Swelling If your wrist is severely injured, you will experience a noticeable amount of swelling around the damaged area. It may also be warm and sensitive to touch. Pain opening/closing hand If your wrist is broken, you may experience significant pain that increases when you try opening or closing your hand. Even if you don’t have any pain opening or closing your hand, a small ...

3 Common Surgical Techniques for Repairing Broken Wrists
It’s wintertime in St. Louis, which means snow…and ice. A simple slip and fall on the sidewalk can be a big bruise to your ego. It’s also one of the leading causes of broken wrists. The most important bone in the forearm leading into the wrist joint is the radius. The radius is designed to rotate and flex with the wrist’s motion. The part of the radius that extends into the wrist is called the distal radius. The distal radius is the most vulnerable to fractures from falling because it covers over 75% of the wrist’s surface area and bears the most weight when you put your hand down to catch yourself during a fall. Initial Diagnosis of Wrist Injuries Orthopedic specialists often diagnose wrist injuries using x-rays. If doctors are concerned about collateral damage throughout your wrist, they may also order CT (Computed Tomography) or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans. These scans allow doctors to inspect and assess other parts of the wrist joint, ligaments, and other minor bones, such as the scaphoid, that might have been affected during impact from ...

Helping Hands: How Grandparents Shape Lives
"Happy or sad I think that grandmothers are the wisest, most understanding people in the world (excluding, of course, grandfathers)." -Jane Moore, age 10

 Richard and Helen Exley (Eds.), To Grandma and Grandpa As the Baby Boomer generation shifts into the role of “grandparent”, more and more research is being done on the social, financial, and developmental impact that grandparents have on their grandchildren. In the past, parents were given the majority of the credit for the emotional and physical evolution of their kids, but the increased research indicates that grandparents play an equally important role in early-adult-education.

 Additionally, According to AARP, because of trying economic circumstances and increased military deployment, 2.6 million (up 8% from the previous year) grandparents are the primary caregivers for America’s youth. Even if you are not a primary caregiver, you have the ability to influence your grandchildren’s development beyond what you had initially thought.

 The unfortunate thing is that as Boomers age into the role of “grandma” or “grandpa”, so do their joints. It’s important to keep a pulse on your physical health so you don’t miss ...