By Dana Burrows, DPT
Does your child play on more than one team in the same sport? Do they play year-round without any down time? Do they complain of pain or discomfort in their knees, shoulders, elbows or feet during or after playing their sport? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then they may be at high risk for an overuse injury.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) defines overuse injuries as, “damage to a bone, muscle, ligament, or tendon caused by repetitive stress without allowing time for the body to heal.” These injuries are more common in kids because the rapid changes in their growing bodies are less resilient to stress. Open growth plates, intense training, high expectations of performance, and lack of flexibility and strength all contribute to overuse injuries. They account for 50% of all youth injuries.
The AAP identifies 4 phases of overuse injuries:
- Pain after physical activity
- Pain during activity but doesn’t affect performance
- Pain that restricts performance
- Long-term persistent pain during activity and rest
So what can you do to help your child avoid overuse injuries?
- Encourage them to play more than one sport to challenge different muscle groups and skills. Specializing in one sport too early in life is one of the biggest contributors to overuse injuries.
- Use their age as a guideline for how much time per week they should spend in a sport – no more hours in a sport than their age. A 7 year old should spend 7 hours or less participating in 1 sport – practice, games, and/or additional training. More than this, and they are 70% more likely to be injured, according to a study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
- Include cross training and focus on skill development during the off-season. The AAP recommends 3 months off from a specific sport (can be split throughout the year), but they should keep doing something physical in the down time.
- Make sure your young athlete gets enough rest so their body can heal. They should take at least 1 day off every week and get 8-10 hours of sleep every night.
- Focus on having a well-rounded athlete who enjoys being physically active
- Teach your child how to listen to their body and communicate to you and their coaches about any changes.
- Address aches and pains before they affect performance. A little prevention goes a long way in keeping an athlete playing the sport they love.
A pre-season or in-season evaluation by a Tulsa Bone and Joint sports medicine physician or physical therapist can identify risk factors for injuries and make recommendations to keep them healthy and continuing to play the sports they love. Our orthopedic urgent care is available for assessment of any sports injury. Tulsa Bone and Joint physicians, physical therapists, and athletic trainers work as a team with you to keep your athlete healthy.
By Molly Cook, OTR/L, CHT
Osteoarthritis at the first carpometacarpal joint, or base of the thumb, can cause pain with use of the thumb. When the cartilage wears away from overuse or with time, the bones that create the joint at the base of the thumb can rub and cause pain. The amount of force put through to the base of the thumb is multiplied greatly when pinching or gripping with the thumb.
What can you do to reduce the pain at the base of the thumb?
- Use heat to reduce pain
- Maintain good range of motion
- “Work smarter, not harder”
-Use other parts of your arm to lift or carry objects when possible, which will reduce the use of the thumb, lessening the wear and tear as well as the pain
-Use tools and equipment to better utilize the larger joints of the upper extremity, reducing the force required from the thumb
-Possible tools/equipment include: rubber grippers to open jars, automatic can openers, gel ink pens, any many more.
What do we do in therapy to help reduce pain at the base of the thumb?
- Teach you how to prevent flare-ups and how to best decrease pain during a flare-up
- Fit you with custom-fit orthosis – helps to provide support and better positions the thumb during use of the hand
- Teach you home exercises- stretch tissues that become tightened and strengthen muscles that become weakened with osteoarthritis at the base of the thumb
If you would like to schedule a hand therapy appointment in Tulsa or Owasso, give us a call at 918-392-1552.
By Megan Burkdoll, OT
In the midst of this pandemic, have you transitioned from your work office to your work-at-home office? Did you feel prepared for this transition, or are you still trying to get comfortable in your home office?
As the months tick by, maybe you have started to notice the toll that your new workstation has taken on your body. The once tiny twinge of pain in your elbows has since turned into a nagging pain or near constant “funny bone” sensation. Maybe that pain in your elbows and wrists has led to a tingling in your fingers.
These sensations are not something that you should let linger and grow. Instead, these sensations are red flags from your body that are begging you to make a change. Your body is made of a network of nerves that send information about your environment to the brain. These nerves branch from the spinal cord and can become entrapped, causing damage over time. As symptoms progress, you may start to notice numbness, tingling, and weakness that make it difficult to perform work, household chores, or leisure activities. You may become hesitant to participate in activities due to fear of dropping items from your hands.
Nerves can become irritated or undergo damage by repetitive movements, sustained positions, trauma, tight muscles, scar tissue, or swelling. These symptoms are common with conditions known as carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome.
Repetitive use may include activities such as frequent typing or lifting. Resting your arms on the edge of the desk or sleeping with the elbows bent are two common examples of sustained positioning, which often lead to nerve irritation.
Although we commonly associate carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome with people who spend a significant amount of time at a desk, many highly active people are also at risk for developing these conditions. We also see these conditions in nurses, hair stylists, mechanics, gym buffs, or even the new mom who experienced increased swelling in her hands during pregnancy.
If you notice signs of pain, numbness, tingling, or changes in the temperature of your fingers, it is best to seek treatment early. Early intervention or “conservative management” may reverse symptoms and eliminate need for a surgical approach.
Tulsa Bone and Joint has a team of Occupational Therapists on site at both the Tulsa and Owasso locations. Our occupational therapy team will perform a detailed assessment that takes into account your lifestyle, habits, routines, and your personal goals. They address your personal factors, analyze your activities, and provide a uniquely targeted program of activity modifications, ergonomic adjustments, and exercises for symptom management. As always, we continue to serve with excellence and are determined to keep moving life forward!
If you are interested in scheduling an evaluation with our occupational therapy team, give us a call at 918-392-1552.
By Ashley Mumma, PT, DPT
We have known for some time that healthy exercise is good for you. But often times, physical therapists run into people who worry that exercise will damage their joints. Now, thanks to relatively recent research, we know the process through which exercise prevents cartilage breakdown.
Motion is lotion, and loading joints through an appropriate amount of exercise can improve cartilage health and reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.
Here’s how it works:
- Joints are important organs of the musculoskeletal system. They enable individuals to maintain posture, to position their body relative to their surroundings, to move, and to place objects
- When performing these tasks, joints commonly encounter forces that are several times the body weight. Joints are made up of various structures and tissues, which, from a functional point of view, act together. Joints are made to deal effectively with the mechanical loads encountered over many years of life, ideally without suffering damage.
- Articular cartilage provides the weight-bearing surface of synovial joints. The role of adult articular cartilage is to maintain mechanical competence. Cartilage also provides an almost frictionless gliding surface, so it is capable of transferring loads during motion. In order to be able to meet complex mechanical demands without undergoing wear and tear, articular cartilage displays unique adaptable properties.
This relatively recent research demonstrates that exercise may work to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis. The knowledge that exercise protects cartilage is a game-changer!
Hopefully, this research will change the belief that exercise will damage joints and help folks understand that loading their joints throughout moderate doses of exercise can positively influence cartilage health and reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.
Physical therapy works to strengthen joints that have been weakened by damage and inflammation. Physical therapy exercises can help reduce joint pain and stiffness, as well as improve range of motion, making you more mobile.
Tulsa Bone & Joint is thrilled to welcome Dr. Steven Gaede and Dr. Christopher Covington. Both physicians have worked together previously and bring an expertise of neurosurgery to our team. Dr. Gaede and Dr. Covington are treating patients at our main campus in Tulsa at 4812 S. 109th E. Ave in Tulsa (South Building, Spine Center of Tulsa Bone & Joint) as well as Tulsa Bone & Joint Bartlesville (4140 Southeast Adams Road in Bartlesville).
Dr. Christopher Covington is a neurosurgeon specializing in spinal reconstructive surgery and microsurgery for lumbar disc disease and cervical disc disease. Dr. Covington is trained in the use of CyberKnife, X-knife, the operating microscope, stereotactic radiation of brain tumors, stereotactic brain surgery, computer enhanced guidance systems, micro spinal surgery and spinal instrumentation for cervical, thoracic and lumbar fixation.
Dr. Steven Gaede is a neurosurgeon specializing in lumbar and cervical disc disease including spinal fusion, microsurgery and minimally invasive surgery, as well as peripheral nerve surgery including carpal tunnel. A native of Bartlesville, Dr. Gaede is pleased to continue serving patients from Bartlesville and the surrounding areas.
Welcome aboard, Dr. Covington and Dr. Gaede!