At POA, our entire staff is dedicated to helping our patients and people of all ages in the communities we serve maintain healthy, active lives – and our blog is intended to help us do just that. From sharing timely health information and tips from our team to giving you a glimpse into the impact we are making across the Delmarva Peninsula, we invite you to stay connected.
Do you have numbness, tingling and pain in your hands and arms? If so, you could have carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve (one of the major nerves in your hand) is squeezed or compressed as it travels through a passageway on the palm side of your wrist (actually called the carpal tunnel). This nerve is responsible for movement and feeling in your thumb and first three fingers.
So, what causes carpal tunnel syndrome?
The condition could be hereditary, but there are other factors that can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. Repetitive hand movement can cause inflammation of the tendons and swelling that puts pressure on the nerve. Illnesses such as hyperthyroidism, arthritis and diabetes can cause the syndrome, as well as the swelling from pregnancy. Women and the elderly are more likely to develop the condition.
A lot of times the symptoms first appear in the hands at night. Symptoms will gradually increase as the condition worsens, but shaking the hands and wrists might relieve the pain.
Once diagnosed by a doctor, there are a variety of treatments to try. Wearing a brace or splint, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, changes in repetitive hand and wrist activities, nerve gliding exercises and steroid injections are all treatment options. If the condition has progressed, surgery might be another option.
Playing tennis is a great way to get outside and exercise for people of all ages. Like with any sport, however, there is a risk of injury when playing tennis. Shoulders, wrists and elbows are easy targets for injury from overuse.
Tennis elbow is common among tennis players. It is the inflammation of tendons connecting the muscles in the forearm to the outer part of the elbow. Rotator cuff tears can also happen in the shoulders, typically gradually and over time as the player serves and swings. Because of the hard surface of the court, ankle sprains and back pain are also common complaints.
So, what can you do to prevent these tennis injuries?
- Get the right gear – Choose a racket that is the right size and weight for you. Having the correct grip size and string tension can help prevent tennis elbow. Also, make sure you choose tennis shoes and socks that have cushion to reduce the stress of pounding on the court.
- Focus on your technique – Work with a professional to make sure your technique is not leading to habits that cause injury. Don’t arch your back too much while serving and pay attention to how you’re landing on the court.
- Warm up – Do dynamic stretches to warm up your muscles. Shoulder strengthening stretches can also prevent common tennis injuries.
- Rest! – Take a break when you’re tired and make sure you’re giving your body rest in between playing. Overexertion can lead to overuse and injury.
If the spine wasn’t an important part of your body, there wouldn’t be a saying to express something of priority as “the backbone.” Keeping your backbone healthy is important to your overall health and wellness. Back pain is a common reason people come to see us at Peninsula Orthopaedic Associates, but there are things you can do in your everyday life to make sure your spine is healthy and pain-free.
- Sleep properly – Sleeping in the right position is crucial to your spine health. Sleeping on your stomach puts a lot of pressure on your spine; sleep on your side to ease that pressure. If you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees to relieve pressure. Invest in a supportive mattress and pillows that allow your spine to rest in a comfortable and aligned way.
- Exercise – Movement is great for spine health, whether it’s range of motion, strengthening or aerobic! Stretching and bending keep your spine from getting stiff and strengthening exercises (especially core work) help the muscles around the spine be supportive. Also, with exercise comes weight loss, which decreases stress on the spine.
- Work on your posture – Don’t slouch. Standing and sitting tall can prevent a lot of back pain, keeping your spine balanced and aligned. Choose an ergonomic chair for the office and take breaks every hour to walk around and stretch out.
Stretching can introduce many benefits to your physical health. Not only does stretching increase flexibility, but stretching also reduces muscle tension and soreness, reduces the risk of injury to the tendons, joints and muscles, enhances body awareness and increases the ability to perform skilled movements.
But, are you stretching correctly? While there are lots of benefits to stretching, if done incorrectly, it can cause injury. Make sure to keep the following tips in mind when stretching.
- Warm up – People think stretching is the warm-up, but a lot of times a deep stretch should not be the first thing you do. Before going into an intense stretch, do a general warm-up to get those muscles working!
- Breathe – Make sure you are breathing during your stretches. Slow and relaxed breaths during your stretch allow the body to relax, improve blood flow and remove lactic acid from the muscles.
- Dynamic stretches vs. static stretches – Focus on dynamic stretching (stretching while moving) during your warm-up. This will prepare your muscles for your main activity. Static stretching can be done after your workout to maintain flexibility and decrease next-day soreness.
- If you feel sharp pain, stop! There’s a difference between the ache of tight muscles and sharp or intense pain that can indicate injury, like torn tissue.
Looking for a low-impact exercise that’s good for your joints? Find your way to a local pool at the YMCA or community center.
Swimming is a great option for exercise that’s easy on the joints. The buoyancy of the water supports body weight and reduces stress on the joints, while letting you still get a great workout in. Whether you have arthritis, lower back pain, a sprain or are recovering from hip or knee replacements, swimming is a great way to get back into shape. Many seniors find this to be a great low-impact exercise, to be enjoyed regardless of age. You can also try a heated pool to reduce joint pain.
Not only is swimming great for your joints, but it has other crucial health benefits. Swimming uses many different muscle groups and the water provides resistance for those muscles to work against. This allows you to build lean muscle and can lower your metabolism. Due to the resistance your muscles face, you can burn 400 to 500 more calories an hour exercising in the water.
Swimmers have also been shown to have lower heart rates (swimming is great for your heart), improved blood pressure, improved breathing and better circulation.
Did you know what you eat could help ease the pain of arthritis? While there is no magic diet that will cure arthritis, eating certain foods (and avoiding others) can help decrease inflammation, increase bone strength, boost the immune system and benefit overall health.
So, what should you be eating?
Broccoli contains sulforaphane, which has been shown to slow the progression of arthritis (specifically, cartilage damage in the joints). It is also high in vitamins K and C and calcium!
Eat fish that are high in omega 3 fatty acids, such as tuna, salmon, trout and mackerel to reduce inflammation throughout the body. This type of fatty acid has also been shown to benefit heart health and brain function.
Olive oils have anti-inflammatory properties that can decrease pain and stiffness.
Studies have shown that people who regularly incorporate garlic into their diet showed fewer signs of early osteoarthritis. Just don’t forget to brush your teeth after!
Oranges and other citrus fruits (grapefruits and limes) are high in vitamin C, which has also been shown to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Also, vitamin C gives the immune system a boost, which is always good.
And, which foods should you avoid?
Staying away from saturated fats, trans fats and omega 6 fatty acids can help with inflammation, as well. Reducing sugar, salt and moderating alcohol consumption are other diet choices to consider when trying to ease your arthritis symptoms.
Busy work schedules don’t leave much time for hours of exercise during the week. This is why a lot of us end up being weekend warriors. We might squeeze a couple of short workouts in during the week, but we all know many of us save our more intensive exercise for the weekend.
So, how can you incorporate safety into your lifestyle?
1. Exercise during the week
Inconsistent exercise leads to injury. Even if it’s just 30 minutes every other day, exercising during the week will help your overall fitness and make your weekend workouts more productive (and more fun)! Go for a walk, take a jog or spend some time on a bike. Also, make sure you’re stretching.
2. Ease into it
Especially when learning a new sport or activity, take your time to learn the proper techniques. You can’t expect to jump full force into something new. Work your way up to becoming a master. Talk with a trainer for helpful tips and for feedback on your technique. Easing into it also means warming up and cooling down!
3. Stay hydrated
Up your fluid intake before and after exercising. We’re talking water – NOT coffee and soda. Also, make sure you’re eating a well-rounded diet. Your body needs fuel to keep up with your intensity.
4. Listen to your body
If you’re busy during the week, you might feel like this is your only time for activity. But, listen to your body. If it’s telling you to stop, there’s a good reason for it (especially if you exercise infrequently). If you’re recovering from an injury or have pushed yourself too hard, take a break. There will be other weekends.
So why should you drink a glass of milk today? Because it promotes healthy bones! We want to help stop bone disease before it starts.
Milk is a prime source of calcium, vitamin D and potassium. Calcium is important for building strong bones and vitamin D helps your body absorb that calcium. Your body does not naturally produce calcium, so it’s important that you get it from other sources. When we think of calcium our minds go straight to milk, but there are lots of other foods you can eat to get your daily dose. Besides dairy products, you can get calcium for strong, healthy bones from leafy greens, seafood, legumes and fruit.
Not only does calcium help build strong bones, but it also helps maintain them. Osteoporosis (the brittle bone disease) is a condition that threatens the health of your bones, making them much more susceptible to fracturing and breaking. The United States sees more than two million osteoporosis-related fractures each year.
There are two ways you can reduce your risk of osteoporosis: building strong, dense bones before the age of 30 and limiting bone loss as an adult.
So, how can you reduce bone loss in adulthood? You guessed it – drinking milk! Regular exercise and getting adequate vitamin D, vitamin K and calcium all help keep your bones from becoming porous.
At our Bone Wellness Center, we offer our patients comprehensive diagnostic evaluations and a wide variety of treatment options, including bone density testing, diet and nutritional guidance, exercise therapy, fracture care and surgical intervention, as well as prevention and education.