The Major League Baseball season is just getting underway. As the season carries on, we’ll start to see some of our favorite players, especially pitchers, succumb to painful shoulder and elbow injuries. But it isn’t just the professionals who suffer from severe orthopedic injuries. Athletes at every level of performance and in every sport are liable to sprain an ankle or tear a meniscus while engaged in play. The rest of us, too, as we go about our lives can sometimes develop conditions that require treatment by a good orthopedic surgeon or doctor.
If you’re like most people, you have a busy life. You have work to do, kids to feed and bills to pay. There is very little free time in your schedule to surf Google to learn about orthopedic medicine. So let’s take a few to learn about two of these common injuries, how to identify them and what to do about them once you know what they are.
The most common of these conditions is Arthritis, which simply means “inflammation in a joint,” according to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Arthritis affects millions of Americans, though women are more susceptible to it than men. The cause of the condition varies by what kind of Arthritis you’re talking about. Osteoarthritis, for example, very commonly develop as people age because it is caused by simple wear and tear on the joints and muscles. Overuse can also be a factor, which is why athletes often suffer from osteoarthritis in retirement. Other types of the condition such as Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma probably have a genetic component, since they develop when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue. Although these conditions aren’t curable at present and can be quite serious, they’re usually easily diagnosed and very treatable. Orthopedic doctors can prescribe medicines to make severe arthritic pain more manageable and coach you through lifestyle changes to make your daily life easier.
But not all orthopedic conditions are chronic diseases. Sprains and strains can affect anyone, regardless of age or profession, and can be caused by something as simple as a hard fall or unexpected twist of the knee, for example. Since these types of accidents are typical in sports and high-intensity workouts, athletes are more likely to deal with strains and sprains. Before we talk about how to identify and treat these injuries, though, let’s properly define. Sprains and strains are commonly mentioned together, but what distinguishes one from the other?
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, “A sprain can result from a … blow to the body that forces a joint out of its normal position and stretches or tears the ligament supporting that joint. Typically, sprains occur when people fall and land on an outstretched arm [or] land on the side of their foot…” In the United States, ankle sprains are the most of these two injuries; 630,000 cases are reported each year, the NIAMS says.
Unlike some orthopedic injuries, sprains and strains are often easy to treat. Orthopedic doctors, including those at Oastl.com, recommend a common approach known as RICE therapy, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation for Injuries. RICE therapy is used immediately after a sprain or strain occurs and for the two days following, and can severely shorten a patient’s recovery time.
Everyone knows what rest means generally, but in the case of orthopedics, rest means taking time off from any activity that could aggravate your injury. If you sprained your ankle, for example, not walking on it would be a good idea. Applying ice to the injured area is an effective way to reduce inflammation and swelling. Compressing the injured area by wrapping it with an elastic bandage or trainer’s tape is also known to reduce swelling. Elevating the injured area recruits gravity to reduce swelling by drawing blood away from the injury and back towards the heart.
Since these injuries are so common today, it’s important to know just a little bit about them. Orthopedic conditions including Arthritis, sprains and strains are painful and can be serious, but they don’t have to drastically harm your health or affect your quality of life. So long as you can identify them and get the help you need, you can save yourself a lot of grief.