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Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is one of the more common things we see in an orthopedic clinic. Many sports enthusiasts suffer, but so do people who work with tools and machines and grasp objects for living. Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis for you "ER" fans, is caused by repetitive stress on the muscles on the top of the forearm. Hold your arm in front of you with the elbow bent 90 degrees. Wiggle your fingers like playing a piano, and watch how the muscles in your forearm move while connected to the bump on the outside of your elbow. All these muscles connect to this bump, called the lateral epicondyle of the funny bone, or humerus. Too much repetitive stress causes inflammation and micro tears in the

Shoulder Replacement

As we get older, our shoulder can have the same changes that we often see in the knee and hip. Many of us know someone who has had a hip or knee replaced, and most of these folks do quite well. A stiff, painful shoulder can keep one from doing simple tasks we take for granted. Getting dressed, combing hair, or simply carrying groceries can be impossible. But, there is hope, as shoulder replacement surgery is a safe, reliable, and great option for those people who meet the requirements for this option. As we age, often the shoulder joint will eventually degenerate and simply wear down. The cartilage in the ball and socket joint can grind together, deform, and cause pain that is unrelenting. P

Shoulder Impingement

Find an Experienced Shoulder Surgeon in Fairbanks, Alaska Shoulder Surgeon in Fairbanks, Alaska Shoulder impingement is one of the more common problems we see in people with shoulder pain. Impingment refers to the actual compression or wear that is being done on the rotator cuff tendons when the arm is elevated. Raising the arm above the horizontal plane can actually cause direct pressure being placed on the rotator cuff tendon by a part of the shoulder blade called the acromion. Sometimes in the joint where the end of the collarbone meets this acromion, bone spurs and degeneration can occur. Beneath this joint is one of the tendons of the rotator cuff. Repeated elevation of the arm seen in

Rotator Cuff Tears

The rotator cuff is a composite of tendons from four muscles that originate from the shoulder blade. Unlike other joints of the body, the shoulder joint is completely dependent on the soft tissues of these tendons and a capsule to stabilize the joint. Ligaments, capsule and this rotator cuff allow the shoulder move in motions that other joints cannot do. To tear a tendon in the shoulder can be an extremely painful experience. Most people in their middle age years who have shoulder pain usually have not torn their rotator cuff tendons. Other clinical entities such as impingement, arthritis, and overuse type injuries can cause the pain, and often this is confusing. As we older, attrition and d

Plantar Fasciitis

A common foot malady we see is plantar fasciitis. A frustrating condition that does not have an overnight or immediate cure, plantar fasciitis can truly wreck a person's day because of the pain. The pain classically is on the bottom of the heel that is usually felt on the first step out of the bed in the morning, or when walking again after resting from the walk or run activity. Radiating pain can extend from the heel to the toes across the sole of the foot. What is the plantar fascia? It is a tough, dense band of tissue that connects from the heel bone to the toes. Small micro tears in this tissue, usually around the area of insertion on the heel bone, create the classic heel pain seen on w

Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries can be one of the most challenging and frustrating things we treat in an orthopedic office. Injuries typically are either acute or chronic. Acute injuries are like broken bones, torn ligaments, dislocations of joints, and muscle pulls. Chronic injuries result from repeated micro-type trauma to a structure. Repetitive activities to a certain tendon, bone, or joint can gradually add up to a level of symptoms causing pain and discomfort. Tennis elbow, shin splints, and impingement syndrome of the shoulder are some examples. Many athletes and weekend warriors will experience these aches and pains at some time or another in their career. Unfortunately, as the cure cannot be immed

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes progressive bone loss. The actual translation means porous bone. Unfortunately, this is something that does not appear to be under control, as we see so many people in their senior years afflicted with this. It sneaks up on you, and many times the first signal of its presence is a broken bone. No symptoms or pain, one doesn't realize she has it until it is too late. A major health problem in the US, osteoporosis causes over a million broken bones a year. Studies show 75% of women over 65 will experience at least one fracture at some time or another. These can be painful, crippling fractures of the hip, spine, and leg. Wrist fractures are common during fa

Osteoarthritis

When we talk about arthritis, usually we are talking about osteoarthritis. There are many types of arthritis, as most of us have heard of some of the other types: rheumatoid, septic, and post-traumatic just to name a few. However, to the non-medical individual, arthritis in the standard literature refers to osteoarthritis. This is the type of arthritis we all get as we age and our joints get stiffer and lose flexibility. As we enter middle age, changes in our joints occur that usually we have no control. The cartilage, which covers the ends of our bones and act as the shock absorbers to the joints, begin to break down and in extreme cases disappear. Although the symptoms usually do not appea

Meniscus Tears

The meniscus is a wedge shaped structure that resembles a horseshoe in shape. We have 2 in each knee, and they face each other to act as cushions between the thigh and shin bone. The medial meniscus is located on the inside of the knee, while the lateral meniscus is located toward the outside half of the joint. They are made of a tough cartilage construct, and help nourish parts of the knee. They have an extensive blood supply, but receive nutrients from the joint fluid as well. In athletes, most tears of the meniscus are the result of trauma. In the average layperson, however, tears are caused by compression and twisting forces together across the knee. Often, they are damaged along with in

Hip and Knee Replacement

We have come along way in the knowledge of how to replace worn out joints due to disease, trauma, or congenital deformities. The most common joints replaced are the hip and knee. The first hip replacement was done by a British surgeon, Sir John Charnley, about 40 years ago. He didn't even wear gloves during the procedure I have been told! The first knee was replaced in 1968. Each year about 150,000 knees are replaced in the United State, alone. Why do we replace these joints, and what should we expect? More than likely, you know someone who has had a hip or knee replaced. Statistically, 90% of those people are pleased with the results. That's not too bad, when you understand more fully what

Cartilage Injuries

When we think of cartilage, often we think of the cartilage that gets torn in the knee that requires the common "scope" surgery of the knee. However, there are actually three main cartilages in the body. Articular cartilage is the type of cartilage that covers the ends of bones found in the joints. The cartilage that makes up the meniscus in the knee and intervertebral disks is fibrocartilage, while elastic cartilage makes up the nose and ears. We are going to discuss articular cartilage, and what it does to you when it is injured. The surfaces of joints, covered with articular cartilage, can be susceptible to wear and tear over the years. Itÿs function is to provide low friction surfaces al

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Many people who perform repetitive movements with their hands and wrists suffer from this problem. Most people have heard of it, and many have had the surgery to treat it. It is one of the more common things we see in an orthopedic clinic. The carpal tunnel is found in the wrist, and is formed by the bones and a large thick ligament that spans the base of the hand. This ligament, called the transverse carpal ligament, is the cause and solution to carpal tunnel syndrome. It forms the "roof" of the tunnel. When inflammation forms in the tunnel, it can cause swelling in the soft tissues. Because the ligament is so thick, it does not expand with this pressure increase due to the inflammation. Th

Back Pain

Back pain is something most of us can relate to at some point in our lives. Some studies show 60 to 80 percent of us will have at least one incident of low back pain. In fact, low back pain is the leading compensable cause of injury in the workplace in the United States. Ask anyone who has a back that hurts, and oftentimes you'll see misery on their faces. Indeed, about $25 billion a year is spent on the evaluation and treatment of people with this condition. For physicians and patients alike, low back pain can be an unsolvable problem. Better knowledge of the condition, treatment options and realistic goals are evolving as our understanding increases. I hope this article sheds some light fo

Ankle Sprain

The Dreaded Sprain Ankle sprains are common. especially in a young athletic population. I find it interesting that many people underestimate the length of time and discomfort involved in this injury. Probably due to the fact that the word "sprain" doesn't mean "broken," many folks just simply get frustrated when after several weeks of pain and swelling, the ankle continues to bother them. Ankle sprains are microtears of the ligaments that support the bones of the ankle. Those on the outside of the ankle are most commonly injured, as the foot turns inward on an awkward landing. Tenderness, swelling, discoloration and stiffness are the classic symptoms. Ankle fractures are usually differentiat

ACL Injuries

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the largest ligaments in the knee. It connects the front part of the shin to the back part of the thigh bone, and functions to keep the shin from sliding forward. To tear or rupture the ACL often results in knee instability, and patients will complain of their knee "giving way" while playing sports or participating in certain jobs that require sharp turns or pivots. It is often ruptured by a direct blow to the knee, like in football or skiing. Often, other ligaments or cartilage are damaged at the same time. Most ACL tears, however, do not occur with a direct blow, but rather when an individual plants the foot and

Weight Lifting

How to Start a Weight Lifting Program Weight training has become an accepted means by which to improve our fitness level. Lifting weights adds resistance to our body's natural movements, and this causes the muscles to grow and get stronger. Lifting weights can improve your cardiovascular system, increase flexibility, keep body fat levels down, and enhance endurance. As we age, a weightlifting program can play a vital role in delaying the aging process we all experience. A program can be done with simple free weights or fancy expensive machines. Machines are generally safer, as they can be easier to control and rely less on balancing a given weight freely in the air. Some multiple purpose mac

The Female Athlete

Female participation in sports has exploded in the last 2 decades. How many of us have found ourselves watching women's soccer, basketball, skiing, and other sports that years ago would have been hard to find. The woman's Olympic figure skating is one of the most anticipated events in sports. Participation in recreational sports has seen a phenomenal growth as well. The health benefits are undeniable. Unfortunately, this increased rate of participation has caused a direct increase in athletic injuries. Many of these injuries are specific to the female gender, and some injuries are seen more frequently in women. There are many theories to why women experience up to six times the number of ant

Dehydration

Hydration and the Athlete As we exercise, we produce heat within our body that forces the loss of water primarily through two sources: exhaled vapor and sweat. Anyone who has slept in a tent in Alaska to awake to dripping beads of water can testify to how much water we lose in a simple night of sleep. We can lose up to two liters of water per hour in intense physical activity. We sweat to cool our bodies that have heated up because of the activity. Dehydration can occur when fluid loss exceeds intake. This water deficit can occur before or during the exercise. Fluid deficits can impair athletic performance, as a decrease in sweating due to lack of fluids will actually cause the core body to

Anabolic Steroids

The use of drugs to enhance physical performance has been observed for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks used hallucinogenic mushrooms, and Roman gladiators used stimulants to overcome fatigue. Anabolic steroids first surfaced in the athletic world during the 50's with the Soviet Union and the Olympics. Athletes performed at levels thought unobtainable, body sizes grew exponentially, and abuses are now rampant. It is now a felony for individuals to distribute or possess with the intent to distribute without a valid prescription. Synthetic testosterone derivatives have a capacity to slow down the breakdown process of overworked muscles. This allows a muscle, which has been worked and fat

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