Our Blog

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.

Does your thumb ever bother you from texting too much?

May 16th, 2018

You aren’t alone. Here’s some insight on “texting thumb” – more commonly known as “gamer’s thumb.” In fact, “texting thumb” and “cell phone elbow are the two most frequently searched tech-related conditions in the U.S.”

Texting thumb might sound humorous, but it can be painful and serious. In fact, pain related to the thumb is the most frequently searched for tech-related injury, with monthly searches close to 100,000, according to a report by ImagineMD. This repetitive stress injury is caused by tapping, gripping, and swiping too much, while using a video game controller or a screen on your smartphone.

Thumb strain is generally placed into two categories: thumb arthritis or trigger thumb. Trigger thumb occurs when a tendon that controls thumb motions becomes overworked and constricted, while thumb arthritis is centered on the joint where the thumb connects to the wrist. Both trigger thumb and thumb arthritis can be painful, but trigger thumb is temporary and less severe, while arthritis of the thumb is serious and can require surgery.

Here are some tips for what you can do to help fix texting thumb:

  • Let your thumb rest.
  • Change how you type on your phone, such as switching between hands regularly or let your thumb take a break by typing with your pointer finger while holding your phone with your other hand.
  • Use ice to ease the pain.
  • Our team may suggest a cortisone shot in particularly dire cases. This can help loosen things up a bit but also requires a visit to the doctor.

If your pain worsens over time, despite earnest efforts to rest your thumbs, we encourage you to talk with our team at POA.

Spring Has Sprung: Returning Kids To Outdoor Sports

April 17th, 2018

Check out these five tips from Sportsinjuries.org to keep your kids safe while returning to outdoor sports.

The snow is melting, the birds are chirping, and everyone is growing tired of those 6am Sunday morning hockey practices. Sunny days spent at the baseball diamonds and lacrosse fields are just around the corner. During this transition to spring sports, it can be easy to forget some important things for our young athletes. In order to ensure a smooth transition to spring sports, we have a few tips for a safe and fun return:

  1. Check all equipment: Kids grow at a fast pace. It may have been a few months since they have laced up their cleats or put on that lacrosse helmet. Make sure you check all of their gear, from cleats to gloves, for proper fit and any wear and tear before the beginning of the season. It is also to make sure any new pair of cleats or footwear is broken in properly before used in a practice or game to avoid blisters or sores.
  2. Inspect field conditions: Outdoor fields may not be in optimal condition at the beginning of the spring season, especially in regions with more extreme winters. Have a parent, coach, or referee inspect the playing field for debris, divots, and other uneven playing surfaces. Ensuring that young athletes are playing on safe surfaces is an easy way to decrease the risk of non-contact injuries such as ankle sprains or ACL tears.
  3. Start off slow: Off-season conditioning is certainly helpful, but athletes coming from a different winter sport might not be in peak condition for their spring sports. Have athletes participate in strength and conditioning geared towards the demand of their spring sport. Always start slow and gradually increase the intensity and demand of a training program in order to avoid overuse injuries.
  4. Perform a proper cool down: A cool down and light stretching after workouts is helpful in loosening up those muscles while they are warm and limber from training. Sport-specific muscles that haven’t been used in a while will likely be a bit sore. For example, a spring baseball player’s throwing arm might be tight after using it primarily for stick handling and shooting in ice hockey all winter. For this reason, it is important to stretch before and after any athletic activity to prevent muscular strains and aches.
  5. Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated: The cooler, cloudy days of early spring can be misleading, but the sun’s damaging UV rays can penetrate through clouds. Always wear sunscreen, even if it doesn’t seem like a sunny day! Remind and encourage athletes to drink water before, during, and after practices or games. As the season gets warmer, be able to recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion may start as muscle cramps and progress to heavy sweating, cold or clammy pale skin, a fast and weak pulse, general weakness, nausea and vomiting, and fainting. Any athlete experiencing these symptoms should be removed from play and moved to a cool area. If unrecognized, heat exhaustion may progress to heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include a high body temperature (above 104°F), hot or red dry skin, a rapid and strong pulse, and possible unconsciousness. Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency. If you suspect a heat stroke, call 911 immediately and move the athlete to a cool area.

The return of spring sports and warm weather is exciting for both parents and athletes. Remember to check in with your athletes and encourage them to talk to you about any potential injuries. By following these tips, we hope you have a safe and fun spring season!

Elizabeth Matzkin, MD, Caroline Hu, BA and Emily Brook, BA

Source: StopSportsInjuries.org

Yoga Poses for Balance

January 19th, 2018

We can all improve balance thru daily practice – especially if we incorporate yoga, and these three poses, into our fitness routines. Tree pose, standing pose and warrior pose are each extremely effective postures to help you build, improve and maintain your balance. So, take a look and try working these into your weekly routine.

Tree Pose

  1. Start by standing and then shifting your weight onto one leg.
  2. Position the foot of your non-standing leg on the inner thigh or at calf-level. Be sure to avoid placing it at the joint of the knee.
  3. Be sure to keep your hips level and your ankle, hip and knee in line with the opposite leg.
  4. Slowly raise your arms until they are above your head and activate your core.
  5. Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds.
  6. Switch to the other leg and repeat the sequence.

Standing Pose

  1. Standing with your feet hip-distance apart, ground all the corners of your feet into the floor.
  2. Bring your navel up and in towards your spine while lengthening your tailbone towards the floor.
  3. Bring your shoulders down and away from your ears, pulling them back.
  4. Reach the top of your head towards the ceiling.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat.

Basic Warrior Pose

  1. Stand with your arms at your side and feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Exhaling, take your feet about 3 feet apart.
  3. With your one foot turned 45 degrees inward, rotate your other foot out 90 degrees, toes pointed to the top of your mat.
  4. Making sure your pelvis is facing the front of your mat, align your heel in the front and foot in the back, pressing your weight evenly through both feet.
  5. Exhaling, place your right knee over your right ankle, making sure your shin is perpendicular to the floor.
  6. You can keep your palms together or put your arms up, reaching and lengthening.
  7. Reach the crown of your head towards the ceiling and shift your gaze up.
  8. Pull your shoulders back and away from your ears and push thru the outer edge of the foot that is behind you.
  9. Breathe while you hold the pose, then releasing, exhale and lower your hands to the mat.
  10. Switching legs, repeat the sequence.

For more poses, click here to visit Yoga Journal’s pose library

Ever Wonder How The Lack Of Sunshine In Winter Can Impact Your Bone Health?

January 10th, 2018

Let’s take a look. Vitamin D, often known as the sunshine vitamin, plays an important role in our bone health and is mostly made by our body through its exposure to sunlight. This is somewhat unique because most of our vitamin D consumption comes from the sun, as opposed to the consumption of our other essential daily vitamins, which largely comes from the foods we eat. The truth is, having too much or too little vitamin D in your body can affect the amount of calcium in your bones and may take a toll on your overall bone health over time. For example:

Low levels of vitamin D can lead to decreased bone mass (osteoporosis), which can increase your risk of fractures.

Too much vitamin D can lead to calcium deposits in the kidneys (kidney stones), or calcium build-up in other soft tissues like the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

When you stop to consider that more than 90% of a person’s vitamin D requirement tends to come from casual exposure to sunlight, this can pose some unique challenges for those of us in environments where the winter months bring limited exposure to the sun. With shortened days and colder outdoor weather, we often lack the exposure to ultraviolet light that is needed for enough vitamin D to be made in our body this time of year.

You can get vitamin D naturally from a few foods, including egg yolks or fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel. In the US, some brands of these foods are fortified with vitamin D to help us prevent the risk of vitamin D deficiency in our general population, including milk, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, orange juice, yogurt and margarine.

Our Advice:
This winter, increase your vitamin D intake and keep your bones strong by reading nutritional labels and picking out a few products during your regular grocery store visit that are fortified with vitamin D. And of course, it also never hurts to add a little bit more sunlight to your day when you can!

For questions about keeping your bones in good health this winter, and throughout the year, talk to our POA team.

Simple Tips to Help Manage Your Chronic Pain

December 19th, 2017

Chronic pain has different definitions, depending on who you ask. Some say it is pain that lasts more than 3 months and some say it’s pain that lasts more than 12 months. A definition that does not put a timeline on chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than the expected healing time. Either way, if you have long-lasting pain, you know that it can be unbearable.

Chronic orthopaedic pain can come from many sources, including tendonitis, arthritis, back pain, neck pain, complex regional pain, osteoporosis and even unknown sources. Whether you know what’s causing your pain or not, it can be extremely frustrating to find relief.

Home treatment for chronic pain can include exercise and getting enough sleep. Therapies like massage and yoga might also decrease chronic pain. Over the counter pain medicines, like aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, might also help.

At POA, we often use a combination of treatments for chronic pain, depending on your specific circumstances. Factors we take into account when coming up with the right treatment plan include how long your pain is lasting, how severe your pain is, where your pain is and what is causing your pain.

If you have chronic pain and are having trouble finding relief, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with our team. No one should have to live with chronic pain.

Warming Up for Cold Weather Workouts

December 8th, 2017

Cold weather is here and it’s more important than ever to warm up thoroughly before getting into your workout. When it’s cold outside, your muscles lose heat and contract, which makes everything in your body a lot tighter. Your joints get stiff and tight muscles can lead to decreased mobility. If your muscles aren’t at their maximum mobility, you aren’t using their potential strength and won’t be as ready for action.

In order to make up for these tight muscles and joints, your muscles have to work harder than usual in the cold weather, which can lead to increased soreness and potential injury to the muscle tissue. With limited mobility, your muscles strain and pull under the stress.

Warming your body up prior to your workout will help you:

  1. Increase your blood circulation
  2. Loosen up your muscles
  3. Increase your range of motion

To perform at your highest level and to help prevent injury, we encourage you to amp up your winter warm up. Muscles that have been properly warmed up can carry out exercises in proper form. This leads to better results from your workout and a decreased chance of injury. Warm muscles are more responsive, allowing all parts of your body work as a unified team during your workout.

Make sure you’re doing dynamic stretches and putting in enough time during your warm up. Static stretches aren’t going to help your workout and a recent study even showed that a 5-minute cardio warm up had the same results as no warm up at all. Do a low-intensity, 15-minute warm up for best results. Where warm ups are concerned, long and mellow is better than fast and intense!

Common Ankle Injuries – Not Just for Athletes

November 28th, 2017

While ankle injuries are common in sports, you don’t have to be an athlete to twist your ankle. The most common ankle injury is a sprain, but there are other injuries that can occur as well.

The ankle is where three bones meet: the fibula, tibia and the talus of the foot. The ligaments in the ankle connect the bones to each other and support and stabilize them. The muscles and tendons move the ankle. Take a look below at a few different ways the ankle can be injured.

Ankle sprain – A sprain is damage to the ligaments in the ankle. Oftentimes, sprains occur when the ankle rolls inward, leading to damage in the outer part of the ankle. Ankle sprains are very susceptible to re-injury. Initial treatment of sprains includes rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). Most of the time, sprains will resolve in a few days, but severe sprains can last for a few weeks.

Ankle strain – Strains occur in the muscles and tendons of the ankle. They can either be inflamed because of overuse or torn from a trauma. Inflammation of the tendons is called tendinitis. Symptoms of a strain can be similar to that of a sprain, including pain, inflammation and limited ability to move the ankle.

Ankle fracture – An ankle fracture occurs when there is a break in one or more bones. To determine whether a bone has been broken, a doctor may want to take an X-ray. If a stress fracture is suspected, other imaging scans, like an MRI, might be taken. Scans will help the doctor determine if the ankle needs a brace, cast or surgery.

5 Ways to Minimize Joint Pain in Cold Weather

November 10th, 2017

Many people deal with worsening joint pain in cold weather, while what causes this is unclear. Try the following tips to decrease joint pain during the winter months.

  1. Exercise – Cold weather can make any of us more sedentary, which leads to joint pain. Your joints need lubrication from exercise to prevent pain. Too cold to exercise outside? Come up with an indoor exercise routine. Join a gym, work out at home or exercise in a heated pool!
  2. Eat healthy – Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K and vitamin C can all decrease inflammation and the joint pain that comes with it. Eating healthy will also help you lose weight, which relieves some of the pressure you put on your joints. Avoid the temptation to turn to “comfort food” in the winter months – your joints will thank you.
  3. Wear layers – Keep your joints, muscles and ligaments warm by dressing in layers.
  4. Stretch – To combat joint stiffness, work in a good stretch every day. Try a hot yoga class during the winter to stretch and keep warm.
  5. Get a massage – Some of your pain might be coming from the muscles around your joints. Treat yourself to a spa day and it just might reduce your pain.

If your joint pain continues, schedule an appointment with POA to find out what’s causing your pain and to discuss the best treatment options for you.