Search for tag: "orthopedic injury"
Resistance bands are a great exercise and physical therapy tool—but can sometimes be dangerous. Emergency physician Dr. Troy Madsen talks about the types of eye injuries caused by exercise…
April 6th, 2021
Interviewer: Are you working out from home with exercise bands? Well, you might want to watch out for this injury.
Dr. Troy Madsen is an Emergency Room physician at University of Utah Health. And a lot of us are trying to get in some exercise at home, and we might reach for those exercise bands. But, Dr. Madsen, I understand that there could be some risk working out with those exercise bands. Tell me more about that.
Dr. Madsen: You know, Scot, I have used exercise bands, and this is a risk I've never really considered, but apparently there is an increase in risk and injury to the eye that has been something that's been noted since the pandemic started. So what we're seeing, I think, more and more people are not going to the gym, they're working out from home, and a great tool is a resistance band. If you've ever used this, it's like a giant elastic band. You know, these things are huge. You put it around your foot, and then maybe you're leaning back or doing something with your leg, all kinds of different things, stretching, strengthening.
Well, at the University of Miami, they actually published their experience with seeing multiple patients come to the Emergency Department with injuries to their eyes from these resistance bands. So the title of this article is "Ocular Trauma Secondary to Exercise Resistance Bands During the COVID-19 Pandemic," published in the "American Journal of Emergency Medicine."
And you can imagine how this can happen. I don't know if this has ever happened to you, but let's say you wrap it around your foot, and you're stretching your leg out, and that thing is really tight. And then, maybe you've got socks on or something, and it slips off your foot and flips back and hits you in the eye.
Interviewer: Oh. Ow. Oh.
Dr. Madsen: Yeah, sounds miserable. Sounds absolutely miserable.
So they reported their experience in the "American Journal of Emergency Medicine," and they talked about 11 patients they had seen, and these were not minor injuries to the eye. So they said 11 patients, 14 eyes, so that means several of these patients had both eyes injured. Eighty-two percent of these patients had a hyphema.
So a hyphema is a pretty big deal. That's where you get blood behind the cornea. And, you know, if you ever look in the mirror, you see the cornea, you see your iris, the colored part of your eye. The cornea is the clear part over the top of that. And if you ever see blood there, it just looks like just this red line that's filling up behind there, that's a pretty big deal. That's a serious injury.
And then, vitreous hemorrhage in 36% of these patients. That's blood back behind the iris, back in kind of the main part of the eye. That can really affect your vision. Potentially, if it causes enough damage, potentially have long-term effects. Same thing with a hyphema if it's not treated.
So these are not minor injuries, but they saw a number of these, and just given the number they've seen, they reported on it in the "American Journal of Emergency Medicine" to make people aware that things are happening with resistance bands.
Interviewer: All right. So not happening to, necessarily, a large number of people that we know of, but is in the realm of possibility of happening apparently.
Dr. Madsen: Exactly. And I think the reason they published this and their conclusion was, if you're using a resistance band, wear glasses or consider wearing goggles. I mean, it may seem like overkill. It is something that emergency departments are seeing. This is one emergency department's experience. I'm sure it's happening elsewhere. I have to be honest. I have not seen this in the ER yet, but if we talk to some of our ophthalmologists, my guess is that they probably have. So it's out there, it's happening. You know, takeaway, be aware of it and consider wearing some glasses or goggles if you're using a resistance band.
Interviewer: Yeah, or consider just making sure that you're looking at how you're using it, and "If it was to slip right now, would it slip back and snap me in the eye?" And is there an adjustment you can do in your form that would, you know, prevent that from happening?
Dr. Madsen: Yeah, exactly.
Types of eye injuries caused by exercise bands and how to protect yourself.
For many athletes, a little pain comes with the territory. But sometimes, that seemingly minor injury could actually be a sign of something significantly more serious. Athletic trainer Travis Nolan…
March 3rd, 2021
Interviewer: Travis Nolan is an athletic trainer that works for the University of Utah Health Orthopedic Center and also works with high school athletes here in the valley. And the question today is if an athlete gets a fracture, should you always go get that x-rayed? Now, I threw on a trick word there, Travis. I said "always," right?
Travis: Yes, yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: So maybe not always. But first of all, you were saying that you've got stories of people who got a fracture, didn't get it x-rayed, didn't get it taken care of, and then it really impacted them later in their life. Give me an example of how that might happen.
Travis: I ended up coming in over this summer just to do some check-up on the school I work at and things like that, and this athlete pops in my room. And he wasn't really thinking about it much. He was doing some lifting and just experiencing some slight pain in his wrist. And he's like, "Hey, man. Is this normal? I took a little follow-on a couple of weeks ago." He actually did ended up going to see somebody. He was instructed to come back in if it wasn't getting better, and the athlete didn't do that. And so after evaluating it, I was pretty concerned for a fracture still present in his wrist.
And so we sent him back in. And I guess, long story short, since that second referral, getting him back into a doctor again, he has actually had four different surgeries on his wrist trying to restore normal function and trying to properly heal the bone that broke. And so he ended up breaking his scaphoid bone. And for those that have broken it or know about that bone, I'm sure they know the complications that can come from breaking that bone, and then it not healing properly because that bone can lose blood supply. And when that happens, it's called necrosis. And so part of that bone can sort of die off. He, to this day, still has trouble playing athletics. It has affected him in class, in school, writing, typing, so many aspects of his life, carrying things, lifting a backpack. And so he is definitely one of my big advocates when I have to tell other athletes to go get an x-ray, and he'll back me on that a lot of the time, so yeah.
Interviewer: So, for young high school athletes, are there some fractures that tend to occur more often that if it does occur, that is definitely a reason you want to go see somebody, ask for an x-ray? What are those kind of common fractures that could really give you problems down the road if you don't take care of them almost immediately?
Travis: Yeah, the ankle. So whether or not it's from twisting your ankle, getting it caught up in a pile, or if you're a basketball athlete, very common to come down on top of somebody's foot after you jump up into the air, and then any kind of fracture around the ankle bone. So whether it's a small chip off your tibia or fibula, those are sort of common when it comes to spraining your ankle. And most of the time, why doctors recommend x-rays for ankle sprain is because you can get . . . whether it's a small piece of your ligament sort of pulls off a little piece of bone, that's a common area to fracture as well.
The other area of the body that is another big one to go get checked out is called the base of your fifth metatarsal. So that's on the outside of your foot there. And that's a special bone because it's sort of just like the one on our wrist where if we don't catch it in time, it can also go through that sort of necrosis. And it's called a dancer's fracture, actually, because it happens in dance quite frequently. And so that's one of those areas where if you do have pain on the outside of your foot sort of near the . . . we call it the base of our fifth metatarsal. If you have pain in that location, that's a very important one to go get evaluated and x-rayed because it can go through that necrosis process.
And then also, they actually are seen quite often in the military. They're called marcher's fracture. So it's at second or third metatarsal in your foot, and that's the same thing. It's going to be those repetitive stress motions. So whether it's marching, running, jumping, that's another very common area in athletics or the sports world to see a fracture in.
Interviewer: So I noticed that these common fractures in athletics that you believe should be x-rayed seem to be around the wrists, ankles, and the feet, the smaller bone.
Interviewer: Yeah. So those are the ones that if you don't get them looked at, x-rayed, follow your doctor's instructions can really kind of mess things up in the future for you not only in athletics, but in regular life as well. And I'd imagine a lot of those you don't even know that there's a fracture. You probably . . . just pain. You thought maybe just strained something or sprained something. Is that accurate?
Travis: When athletes have a bigger emotional response, it's pretty easy to convince someone, like, "Hey, we should go get an x-ray on this," like, "You're in a lot of pain right now." It's more time those athletes that they're able to tolerate it. They're sort of pushing through it, they're playing with it still, or they come in and they're, like, "Dude, this is something I can deal with." And you have to have that conversation and you have to educate them on, "Hey, look. It's not about you missing a couple of games." This is about your long-term health, especially for those important areas, whether it's the scaphoid, the base of the fifth. There are some areas in your body where if you don't get them checked out and treated properly, they will cause long-term complications. You will have to get multiple surgeries on them in order to try restore normal function in your body.
Interviewer: And if the athlete is experiencing that, how much time do they have to go get the x-ray? Now, I know at University of Utah Health, we have a walk-in orthopedic center, which is great because you could just walk in, tell somebody what's going on, and they could do an x-ray right there. If they need to have a couple of days in order to arrange that, did you have a couple of days to do that or you really want to get it checked sooner than later?
Travis: Yeah. So can you wait overnight? Sure. Should you wait the entire weekend and then maybe go get it checked out on Monday? Those are some things that I probably wouldn't recommend unless you've been advised and it's already been evaluated by somebody, but make sure you're getting evaluated by a professional that can give you recommendations on, "Hey, this is one of those high-risk areas and this is why I would go get an x-ray tonight instead of waiting over the weekend."
For many athletes, a little pain comes with the territory. But sometimes, that seemingly minor injury could actually be a sign of something significantly more serious. Athletic trainer Travis Nolan explains what types of injuries you can ice and rest, and which should be seen by a professional.
For runners, athletes, and other active people, shin splints can be a common soreness or pain that you learn to work through. Stress fractures can have similar signs and symptoms and shin splints,…
February 12th, 2021
Interviewer: If shin splints have been bothering you for more than a few weeks, it could be more than shin splints. Athletic trainer Travis Nolan, why do you recommend a professional evaluation of chronic shin splints by a physical therapist or an athletic trainer if it's been something that's been going on for more than a few days?
Travis: You can very easily mix up shin splints with a stress fracture. They give very identical signs and symptoms. They cause the same sort of dysfunction. It's something that, most of the time, athletes can easily push through it and they can sort of tolerate and deal with the pain and it doesn't necessarily take them out of practice. But eventually, when it does take them out of practice, that's when you see them in a clinic. And then at that point, it's like, "Oh, man, you have a full-blown stress fracture. This has progressed, and now we need to hold you out for . . ." whatever it may be, four to six weeks, ". . . in order to let that stress fracture heal up."
So sometimes those situations can be avoided. They can be caught early, implemented restorally, and then you're not missing as much time from athletics if you get those stress fractures checked out sooner rather than later.
Interviewer: And what exactly is a stress fracture and how is that happening? What's going on there?
Travis: So a stress fracture is more so like a stress response from the bones. So it does go through certain stages. That stress response is also almost exactly what shin splints are. It's sort of a stress response in your shin. It's an inflammation and irritation of the periosteum or the covering around your shin bone, your long bone right there in your shin.
And so, basically, it progresses from that sort of first stage of just inflammation, it's bugging you, you only sort of notice it during that practice, and then it can progress to you start noticing it after practice. It doesn't just go away right away after practice like it usually did. And you've noticed it for a good amount of time after practice.
And then it's going to progress to now you're noticing it multiple times throughout the day. It's not just during athletics. It is before, it's during, and it's after. So it never really goes away.
And then it's going to slowly progress even further to that constant pain, sharpshooting almost, along the bone. And that's when you get closer to that stress fracture.
That beginning area is going to be sort of shin splints. So making sure you're treating your shin splints appropriately and doing the right thing so they don't progress and get worse.
Interviewer: So is a stress fracture basically the bone developing cracks in it because of repeated force?
Travis: Yes, exactly. Anything where you're just constantly sort of . . . it's those impact forces on the ground. Also, you have to look at your frequency, intensity, and duration of athletics. And especially pre-season, that's when we're in that sort of stress fracture area and the concern for it. It's more in the pre-season time because that's when your body is getting back used to sort of those impact activities and different things like that. So not just chalking it up to, "Ah, it's not much."
And going to get those things evaluated, making sure they aren't those stress fractures or fractures. Because that's when you're going to miss longer time from athletics. Going and getting an evaluation and sitting out for a week to let your body heal up, get rid of that inflammation process, and then you're back into athletics, instead of letting it get to a full-blown stress fracture where you are eventually missing four to six weeks.
The difference between a splint and a fracture and when you should seek a professional evaluation.
Is a pulled hamstring—also called a strained hamstring—something you can treat on your own, or should you see a doctor? Athletic trainer Travis Nolan shares how to determine when you…
December 7th, 2020
Interviewer: You pulled your hamstring. You might have been playing a competitive sport, you might have been just playing something with your friends, you might have been running around with your dog, and you feel a pain in the back of your leg. It's possibly a pulled hamstring. Is that something you can handle on your own, or is it something that you really should seek help for? We're going to find out the details on how to heal a pulled hamstring today.
Travis Nolan is an athletic trainer at University of Utah Health. Travis, how does somebody know if they pulled their hamstring? What are the symptoms? Where would you feel the pain and that sort of thing?
Travis: Usually, the signs and symptoms are going to be sudden onset of pain in the posterior thigh or sort of in that back thigh musculature just below your buttocks. And so you're going to have a sudden onset of pain, most of the time sharp, very pinpoint, and local, so you can pretty much point to one spot in that area. It's not going to be your entire muscle belly. And also decrease of motion, decrease in strength in that muscle belly.
Those are some of your immediate signs and symptoms that you're definitely going to notice right away.
Interviewer: And if somebody does pull their hamstring, is that something that they can then take care of on their own, or should you really see somebody?
Travis: Most of the time, when you do have a strain or a pull, you can actually take care of that on your own. You can take care of that at home, as long as you know what you're doing and know your exercises.
And really, the biggest guiding principle through rehab with a strained or a pulled hamstring, it's going to be listen to your body. Listen to those pain levels and don't push through any kind of pain, because that is essentially your body trying to tell you, "Hey, we're trying to heal this area, and you are making it worse for us." And so you're just going to prolong your recovery and prolong your rehabilitation process by pushing through pain.
Interviewer: So if somebody has already pulled or strained a hamstring, and they've seen a professional, and they have some stretches or some exercises, and this feels much like the last time, then they could just get those exercises and stretches and proceed as normal.
If it's a first-time situation, would you really recommend going to see a physical therapist or an athletic trainer to get those exercises and stretches?
Travis: I would recommend for the first-time patients to go and get those exercises and stretches, a little bit of guidance, because sometimes those exercises, to a person, might seem a little tricky. They might seem complicated. And when patients run into that, even unknowingly, they can sort of get this noncompliance with their rehab program. It can be frustrating when you don't know exactly what you're doing.
And so when you're doing things appropriately and correctly, it's going to feel a lot better, and you're going to feel like you're actually making progress with this, and then you're not just going to maybe quit, because it's like, "Oh, man, it's not getting better. The pain is continuing."
So, yes, I would definitely recommend for those first-time people that maybe don't even know if it is a hamstring strain and maybe they're struggling trying to determine if that is what's going on, definitely go get it checked out by the right professional.
Interviewer: And those exercises and stretches, does that actually speed up the healing time?
Travis: Yes. By actually completing rehabilitation, so exercise, stretches, and using some modalities and these things you can find at home, such as ice, heat, different things like that, it is going to accelerate your healing process.
And most importantly, if you are an athlete or maybe just a recreational athlete, you will need to complete some exercises in order to build strength back in your hamstring, get the same length back in your hamstring that you had previously. Because there will be scar tissue formation from the injury, and that scar tissue formation is not only going to affect our range of motion, it's also going to affect the muscle strength and the sort of force production that our muscle is able to generate. And so, by doing rehab and exercises, you are going to return back to the level that you were previously before your injury.
Interviewer: So doing nothing, just resting, not necessarily the best idea.
Travis: No, not necessarily the best idea. Will it get better? Yes, it totally will. Will it return to the same level of function prior to your injury? Most likely not if you're just hanging out and sort of resting, and that's all you do in order to heal it.
Interviewer: And then if somebody has already been in and they pulled or strained it, and they have implemented the exercises and the stretches, how long does it generally take if you're being good about that and icing and heat to recover?
Travis: So the recovery process for a strained/pulled hamstring is quite varying, honestly. And that is probably one of the most debated things in research when it comes to pulled hamstrings and things like that. Specifically, when we're looking at athletes, there's the return-to-play timeline. It can range, honestly. And research has shown it can range from 7 to 50-plus days.
And so it really depends on the progress of the individual person. Everyone heals differently. As well as sort of the initial injury. Was it a Grade 1 hamstring strain? Was it a Grade 2 hamstring strain? And then it also all depends on sort of the level of athletics or the level of sort of recreational stuff that you're trying to get back to. That can sort of determine your return-to-play timeline, if you will.
Interviewer: And if somebody wants to have their hamstring pull looked at, the walk-in clinic at University of Utah Health would be a great option. If that's not an option, just any physical therapist or athletic trainer, would they be able to help with a hamstring pull like this?
Travis: Yes, definitely. And I know there are a lot of physical therapists that you can schedule appointments with, go see, get this checked out. And so, yes, this is definitely something that getting in to somebody, in my opinion, especially for the general population, it's only going to accelerate your healing process and your recovery time and getting back into those activities that you actually love doing.
How to determine when you should seek help for pulled hamstrings, why it is essential to do the proper stretching and physical therapy, and how long it takes for hamstring strains to heal.
For young athletes, injuries happen—from sprained joints in sports like soccer or track, to dislocated shoulders on the football field. Orthopedic specialist Dr. Julia Rawlings talks about…
August 12th, 2020
Interviewer: Three common injuries that young athletes might get and what to do about them. Dr. Julia Rawlings practices primary care sports medicine and pediatric emergency medicine at University of Utah Health. Wanted to talk about three injuries that a young athlete might get and what to do about those. And the three injuries we're going to cover are shoulder, ankle, and hand. So Dr. Rawlings, shoulder injuries, what type of athlete normally gets those?
Dr. Rawlings: Yeah. So we see acute shoulder injuries, again, meaning from a trauma or something that's happened that day, typically from contact sports. So football rugby, soccer, skiing, those are all pretty common sports where you can see shoulder injuries.
Interviewer: All right. And when should a shoulder injury be something that would concern somebody enough that they might want to see a doctor such as yourself?
Dr. Rawlings: So definitely if you dislocate your shoulder, which hopefully the person would be pretty quick at getting help for that. But if the shoulder is popped out of place, we definitely want that to be seen as quickly as possible. If there's any problem with actually moving the arm using the shoulder, then that should be seen. Especially in a younger person, then we would want to get an X-ray. A younger person is more likely to break a bone than to tear a tendon like the rotator cuff, and so we would want to see those people sooner rather than later.
Interviewer: Number two, the ankle. What types of athletes suffer ankle injuries?
Dr. Rawlings: So anybody that's running on an uneven surface. So if you've got grass, turf, you're trail running, or if you're playing basketball and you could step on somebody else's shoes, you have the high possibility of rolling your ankle and getting an ankle injury. So I would say the most common thing we see is you get an ankle sprain from rolling your ankle inward, or sometimes, especially in younger patients, we'll actually see broken ankles instead of an ankle sprain.
Interviewer: And as far as ankles are concerned, is it pretty obvious if I'm going to have to go see a doctor as opposed to if it's something that I think is going to just get better on its own in a couple of days?
Dr. Rawlings: You know, I don't think it's always that obvious actually.
Dr. Rawlings: I have definitely seen people come in that they've just kind of been hobbling around for a week and they end up having a broken bone. So I think sometimes people just assume it's a bad sprain. So I would say, again, if you're having a hard time putting weight through the leg and you can't walk, that's a good time to be evaluated. If you twisted it, it gets swollen but you can walk around on it, it's unlikely to be a broken bone, more likely to be a sprain. Although some people, especially kids, are pretty tough and they'll walk around on broken bones. So the smaller bone in the ankle, they'll walk around with a broken bone. So yeah, if you can't put weight through it, you should come in. If it gets really big and swollen, you should come in. And in general, if you're pretty active, even if you have a bad sprain, we like to see those just because they do really well with physical therapy, and you're at risk for re-spraining your ankle if you don't get the appropriate motion, strength, and balance back in your ankle.
Interviewer: You had mentioned with the shoulder that younger athletes are more likely to break a bone than tear a muscle. Is there a younger athlete consideration to ankle injuries as well?
Dr. Rawlings: Yes. So especially really young kids that have growth plates that are open still, they're more likely to break a bone just because the bone is weaker than the ligaments. Once you kind of get to the early teen years, you're more likely to sprain an ankle probably until you get to be older, where you get some osteoporosis and stuff, but generally those are traumas from just ground level falls and things like that in the older population.
Interviewer: All right. Three common injuries that young athletes might face and what to do about them. What about the hand? What kind of athlete is facing hand issues?
Dr. Rawlings: Yeah. So again, I typically see these in people that are doing contact. So I'm thinking specifically of football, they have a lot of contact with their hands. I've seen a fair amount of injuries in the walk-in injury clinic from rock climbing, people that will kind of have a sudden pop in their finger. And again, I guess one thing that's important to mention is that just because we're sports medicine physicians, we're actually musculoskeletal medicine physicians, so we see a lot of patients in the injury clinic that were not playing sports. People that were, you know, hammered their thumb . . .
Interviewer: Done it.
Dr. Rawlings: . . . or, you know, were doing housework or just walking. This is not a sports clinic, this is a musculoskeletal injury clinic, so there's all types of ways that we see people injuring their hands and are not necessarily related to sports.
Interviewer: So on a hand injury, is that something that you probably would want to have seen sooner than later? I'd imagine, especially since there's a lot of joints there, it would be.
Dr. Rawlings: Yeah, that's something that's pretty easy for us in general to get an idea of what's going on in the injury clinic. We can make sure you don't have a broken bone. A lot of the fractures we can actually reduce, meaning make them straighter, in the injury clinic and then get you set up with the appropriate follow-up, either with the non-operative sports medicine provider or with our hand specialist.
Interviewer: All right. Perfect. Thank you very much for giving us an insight on some injuries that young athletes might face and also reminding us that what you do there goes beyond athletes. It could go to somebody who fell off a ladder, for example, and hurt their shoulder, might want to come in as long as, of course, you know, they didn't hit their head and get a concussion or something like that.
Dr. Rawlings: Correct.
Interviewer: Right? Yeah.
Dr. Rawlings: If have bones, muscles, and ligaments and they're injured, we're happy to see you.
Three most common injuries in young athletes and why some of these injuries should to be seen by a doctor sooner than later.
It can be common for a finger to swell up due to an insect bite or injury, but what if it swells up suddenly without any known cause? Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones goes through the steps to determine what…
July 16th, 2020
Interviewer: So your index finger is swollen. It's not a bee bite. It's not an insect bite. It's not anything that you're injured, and you're not really sure what it is. Is it normal?
We're in the studio with Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones, the expert in all things normal. That's how I always introduce her.
Dr. Jones: You usually introduce me as all things woman.
Interviewer: Oh, that's right.
Dr. Jones: But this is a good topic to think about.
Interviewer: Okay. Yes. So, Dr. Jones, my mother, because I think our audience by now thinks I'm just not normal, but my mother has this problem that's been recurring for over a month now that I don't think it's normal, but you be the judge on that and you help me decide. So her index finger . . .
Dr. Jones: Just on one hand?
Interviewer: One finger of one hand is swollen. And she thought it was maybe just an insect bite. She didn't injure it, but it's swollen. It's sometimes painful. Not all the time. It just varies. And we don't know what it is.
Dr. Jones: This is a great question because it's a paradigm for how we begin to think about a problem. This is not a girl's problem first of all. At least I don't think it is. It may be a problem that's more common in women, but this is not a girl's problem. So it's not my area of expertise. But what I am, having been trained as a physician, is an expert in thinking about how to solve problems. So, first, tell me more. It's been a month?
Interviewer: It's been about a month.
Dr. Jones: It's sometimes painful, but not all the time?
Interviewer: Yes. And so about a week ago . . .
Dr. Jones: Yeah.
Interviewer: . . . I asked her, I'm like, "Is it getting better? Have you tried icing it?" And she goes, "No." And so she ices it, and she noticed it just got so much worse . . .
Dr. Jones: Okay.
Interviewer: . . . to the point where she couldn't even bend it.
Dr. Jones: Right. So that's part of the questions. What makes it better and what makes it worse? So what makes this worse is icing it or making it cold. Does it have a color? Is it pale or is it red or is it the same color as the rest of her finger?
Interviewer: You know what, from how I can see, it looks normal. It just looks like, you know, when your skin is too stretched out because it's been swollen so it looks, I guess, shiny, right?
Dr. Jones: Okay. And the pain, is it sharp? Is it tingly? Is it achy? What is the kind of pain?
Interviewer: As she describes it to me, it's kind of tingly and it aches.
Dr. Jones: Aches, okay. So are you normal? And the answer is no. That normal is defined as something that happens to 95% of people, and this doesn't happen to 95% of people. Now, the other question is, and you can give me a range for your mother. Is she over 50 or under 50?
Interviewer: She's over 50.
Dr. Jones: Okay. Great. So this is an older person. Now, do I think this is an infectious problem? It's been happening for a month. It hasn't gotten a lot better, but it hasn't gotten a lot worse and there was no instigating cut or bite or anything. So we don't think it's infectious. Is it a contact thing? Meaning did she get her finger into something that causes a superficial contact, kind of like poison ivy or poison oak or something in the kitchen? Well, it's possible, but this is a month and it's continuing on. Now, what has she done? She went to see somebody?
Interviewer: She did. She finally went to see her family physician, surprisingly enough gave her painkillers. That's obviously not working.
Dr. Jones: Gave her what kind of painkillers?
Interviewer: I'm not too sure.
Dr. Jones: So something that's worthwhile trying are any of the prostaglandins inhibitors, and that would be aspirin, Motrin . . .
Interviewer: She has tried aspirin.
Dr. Jones: . . . Naprosyn, all in that kind of category of things that decrease inflammation. That's a good thing to try. Narcotics would not be indicated or useful on this.
So when someone has one finger that feels like this, you begin to think about, "Is this tendonitis?" In other words, does she have something in her tendon sheath that's inflamed that's hurting her finger? Because then it would be more or less irritated depending on how much she used it. And it could get swollen. So people who have tendonitis in their finger, sometimes their whole finger is swollen. And it could have been aggravated, and she is a woman who's used her hands a lot in the past. You've told me that she has been a chef. So tendonitis or inflammation of the tendon sheath of that finger can make the whole finger pretty swollen.
So is it life-threatening? Does she need to go to the ER today? This is the way doctors think. No, she doesn't need to go to the ER today because she's been doing this for a month. Is it going to be treated with painkillers? No, but anti-inflammatories would be helpful. And a three to four-day course of ibuprofen or Naprosyn, that she takes two to three times a day to see if that makes it better, would be useful.
If that doesn't get better, this is an important finger for her. So what kind of doctor would she see? Well, she's been to her primary care doctor. Now, the primary care doctor thought this might just go away. And so you think you've done a great job because they don't come back, and you don't know that actually you did a bad job and you don't know whether they're not any better. If she goes back to him, then he starts thinking, like I am, about a different set of things, like tendonitis or something like that.
So who deals with the hand? This doesn't sound like an orthopedic problem, but they know about stuff that affect joints and fingers. So an orthopedic doctor who does hands would be an expert to see.
The other kind of person who deals with finger and skin that gets swollen and joints that get hurt when you bend them are rheumatologists. They're specialists in joints and skin and fingers. Because sometimes people can get a weird result of a pinched nerve and the radial nerve feeds the thumb and the first digit and the middle finger and half of the ring finger. And so sometimes that could be a neurologic problem in the hand. But this could be a tendonitis of her tendon sheath that it just isn't getting better.
But you've got a swollen single finger and it's been going on for a month and it sometimes hurts a fair bit, but sometimes it doesn't hurt so much, but this is an important finger. So this is not normal. You need to probably go back to the doctor, and you may need to see a specialist for this particular problem.
What's causing my finger to swell up?
Knee injuries are extremely common for young athletes in any sport. Whether it comes from a hard hit or a bad pivot, many knee injuries can be serious and may need immediate treatment. Sports…
July 7th, 2020
Interviewer: How to handle a knee injury. Dr. Julia Rawlings practices primary care sports medicine and also pediatric emergency medicine, and she is one of the physicians that you would find at the walk-in orthopedic clinic at University of Utah Health. I wanted to talk about knee injuries and young athletes actually. What are some common ways that young athletes can injure their knees? What specific sports or activities do you see?
Dr. Rawlings: Yeah. So it's really common to have a knee injury when you're playing sports, particularly contact sports. But severe injuries, including the ACL, don't always have to be from contact. So we typically see knee injuries that are acute, meaning they happen from a trauma, when you're doing an activity where there's either contact or you change directions quickly, so you're pivoting, you're shifting, you're changing your weight, and the knee can kind of buckle on you and get injured. In people that do more endurance-type sports, like cross country runners, we tend to see more chronic knee pain just from overuse.
Interviewer: Got you. So you kind of covered some of the common injuries to the knee. What could be handled at home without a clinic visit? And then we'll get to when you should perhaps consider coming in.
Dr. Rawlings: Yeah. So starting with an acute injury, meaning that's something you were out doing your sport, you were doing something, and all of a sudden you felt the knee pop, or you twisted it, or something happened. A couple of clues that I would give to go ahead and come in to be seen is, one, if you're having a hard time walking on your leg, then we would really like you to be seen sooner rather than later. We'd like to get X-rays and make sure there's nothing that's broken and then do a good examine and check out the ligaments and the meniscus of the knee.
Another clue is if your knee gets pretty swollen, then that means that there's something significant going on in your knee that should be seen sooner rather than later. Two more other clues, things that I like to ask people about and look for. If your knee feels like it's buckling under you, it's giving out when you walk, then there's the potential that every time it buckles, that we're doing more damage. And in that case, we'd like to get you on crutches and get you into a knee brace. Or if the knee is getting stuck or locked, meaning you can't bend it or you can't straighten it very well without kind of forcing it, those are all things that we'd want to see you sooner rather than later for.
Interviewer: And then when somebody comes into the clinic with some of those more serious symptoms, as you said, what does the clinic do?
Dr. Rawlings: Yeah. So if you have, say, a big swollen knee and we're worried about bigger injuries to the ACL or to the meniscus, something like that, what we would generally do is start off with X-rays, make sure there's nothing that's broken, and then we would do our exam, get a feel for what we think is going on, and then generally get you set up in a knee brace that's appropriate for the injury you have, plus or minus crutches. And then often, patients with significant injuries we'll get set up for an MRI to check out the soft tissue structures, which we can't see on X-ray, and get a definitive diagnosis. And then depending on what we see on our exam, we'll either get you set up with one of the non-operative sports medicine providers for follow-up or our sports medicine surgeons. My practice myself is I typically just let people know what their MRI shows, and then depending on what they need done, I'll then schedule the appointment with the appropriate follow-up person.
Interviewer: And when people come in, how often would you say that they could just come into the clinic and that's kind of it? It's just going to take a little bit of rest, and they're going to recover from their injury.
Dr. Rawlings: You know, it depends a little bit, I think, on the age demographic. So we do see a fair amount of people that come in with an acute knee injury that have just flared arthritis, and they don't actually have an injury to the ligament or something that we would need to do an MRI or surgery for. And those patients we really treat with physical therapy, maybe a steroid injection, and kind of getting them back to functioning, hopefully, so that we can prolong the longevity of their knee. In those cases, then, yeah, all they need really is just that visit in the orthopedic injury clinic and then a follow-up appointment down the road with a primary care sports medicine person or a sports medicine surgeon.
Interviewer: Are there any final thoughts you would want a listener to know about the clinic, or knee injuries, and how to handle that or take care of it?
Dr. Rawlings: I think definitely when in doubt, especially when it's an injury that's happened within the last day or two, come on in. We'll be happy to take a look at it. And if you're getting a chronic injury from training for a marathon, or in kids, they can often get growth plate injuries, again, if they've happened in the last three months, we're happy to see you in injury clinic for more of a chronic developing problem as well.
Knee injuries are extremely common for young athletes in any sport. Whether it comes from a hard hit or a bad pivot, many knee injuries can be serious and may need immediate treatment. Learn what symptoms you need to be on the lookout for to make sure your athlete can get back in the game.
Accidents happen, even during this time of physical distancing. Where do you go for a broken bone, sprain, or other orthopedic injuries? Dr. Julia Rawlings explains how the University of Utah…
April 1st, 2020
Interviewer: When should you consider University of Utah Health's Orthopaedic Injury Clinic over perhaps a visit to the ER or urgent care, or is it something you can handle on your own? That's what we want to find out today.
Dr. Julia Rawlings is a primary care sports medicine and also practices pediatric emergency medicine, but it's that sports medicine doctor that we really want to talk to today. So the first thing I want to find out is what are some of the common orthopedic injuries a person should consider using the Orthopaedic Clinic versus an ER or urgent care?
Dr. Rawlings: The Orthopaedic Injury Clinic is a great place to go if you have an acute injury, meaning that you have had an injury that you've sustained recently. We're actually willing to see people that have had an injury anytime in the last three months, but preferably not something that's chronic and going on. We'd rather you go ahead and make an appointment with a regular physician during regular hours, although it can be at the Orthopaedic Center.
Specifically, things that are good for the Injury Clinic. So we see a lot of injuries from the ski slopes. We see people that have been playing different sports, or running, biking. We see some football injuries. Anything that's kind of acute. Anything that could go to an urgent care can go to the Orthopaedic Injury Clinic if it's a musculoskeletal injury.
A couple of things we don't see at the Injury Clinic. We don't do stitches there. So if you're bleeding and you think you need stitches, an urgent care or the emergency department would be more appropriate. Also, if your bone is pretty crooked, it's probably a better idea to go to the emergency room. We can do some local numbing medicine to set some easy broken bones, fingers, and things like that, but larger fractures would need to be seen in the Emergency Department for sedation.
Interviewer: And what kind of diagnostic tools do you have there that kind of makes you the choice for some of these as opposed to perhaps an emergency room or an urgent care?
Dr. Rawlings: Yeah. So the Injury Clinic is fantastic because we have access to x-ray on-site, and we can see those images back as soon as they are done. And depending on the time of the day, we actually can often get the reads back from a musculoskeletal radiologist within a few hours. Sometimes those reads don't come back until the next day. We don't have the capability to do CT scans at the Injury Clinic. We do have access to scheduling MRIs in the building, but that's not done the same time as the visit.
So one great thing about the Injury Clinic is you get kind of a full package. So you get your x-rays. You could get an MRI set up. We have all of the braces and everything that you would need, crutches, things like that. And then, we can get you set up with a specialist, whether that's a sports medicine surgeon, foot and ankle surgeon, or one of our non-operative primary care sports medicine physicians. We will actually make that appointment for you while you're there for follow-up.
Interviewer: So the clinic, it sounds like a better option than perhaps making an appointment. It can be difficult to get in sometimes with an orthopedic doctor at times. So this clinic, it's primarily walk-in, is that how it works, or do you have to make an appointment?
Dr. Rawlings: It is walk-in. It's a little bit tricky right now with coronavirus going on, but, typically, it is walk-in. They are switching to appointments during this period of time, but that's going to be very temporary. Generally, it is walk-in, first come, first served.
Interviewer: How can a person decide if an injury is something that they can treat at home or they can just try to see if it's going to get better versus coming into the clinic or seeing a professional?
Dr. Rawlings: Yeah. So we're always happy to check anything out if you're not sure. A couple of tips that just come to my mind. One is if you have an injury that's bad enough you can't really walk on it or bear weight on it, that's something that should be seen, probably get an x-ray, make sure you haven't broken a bone. Or if you really can't move your shoulder or can't move your arm in some way. If you twist your ankle, and you're walking on it okay, and it gets a little bit swollen, that's something that you could probably wait on at home and see how you do. But, yeah, if you have a hard time moving a body part, that's a good time to go in.
Interviewer: All right. Are there some injuries that really you do want to have looked at, otherwise it could affect you and your mobility in the future?
Dr. Rawlings: Yeah. So there are definitely, particularly injuries that involve the joints. We often like to get a sooner look at what's going on rather than a later look, just because things can happen down the road that can lead to arthritis if they're not treated early. That being said, a lot of musculoskeletal injuries aren't emergencies. Meaning, even if you get something like a torn ACL, which is considered a pretty big injury in the sports world, if you're diagnosed several days after that happens, in general, that's okay. It's not something that absolutely needs to go to the emergency department or into the Injury Clinic even the same day you have it. You'd really be okay to get yourself a pair of crutches from the garage and come in a couple of days later.
Interviewer: For the particularly injury-prone that might have some crutches?
Dr. Rawlings: Exactly. There are a lot of people with crutches in their garage from siblings, so.
Interviewer: Any final thoughts that you have when it comes to the walk-in Orthopaedic Clinic? It's such a great resource. I was able to utilize it. I had a shoulder injury. I'm not even going to go into how that happened because it was not cool, it was not athletic. But it was great because I could go in, they were able to look at it, make sure that I didn't, you know, do any permanent damage, which I didn't, and then, you know, gave me a reference to go to a physical therapist to do some exercises to rehabilitate it, so.
Dr. Rawlings: I think it's a fantastic clinic. I mean, it's staffed by people that are trained in musculoskeletal medicine, so we have a little bit of an advantage over lots of the urgent cares that are more kind of general medicine, that we treat a lot of musculoskeletal injuries. We can get you set up with physical therapy pretty easily. And one or two days of the week, we actually have a physical therapist with us in-clinic. So if your injury is appropriate for that, we can even get you started on physical therapy the night that you come in. So I think it's a fantastic resource.
Where do you go for a broken bone, sprain, or other orthopedic injuries?
The difference between a wrist sprain and a wrist fracture can mean a big difference in treatment. On today’s Health Minute, Dr. Troy Madsen explains how to easily identify the difference and…
April 4th, 2018
Announcer: The Health Minute, produced by University of Utah Health.
Interviewer: Wrist sprain or fracture? Dr. Troy Madsen, how can a person tell the difference?
Dr. Madsen: Well, sometimes, you know, wrist fractures are pretty obvious. You fall down, you hit your wrist, you look at it, it's deformed, it's swollen, you know you need an x-ray. But then there are other times you're asking yourself, "Do I really need to get an x-ray of this? Is it broken or did I just sprain it?
So typically, with fractures, it's going to hurt on the bone. Usually, there's swelling. It's not often I've seen fractures where there's just no swelling there. So typically, you're going to have at least some swelling, and usually that swelling is not going to get better or doesn't get much better after a couple of days.
So if you're on the fence and you're thinking, "Well, everything looks fine. It's not deformed. Is it sprained? Is it broken?" it's okay to maybe give it a day or two. If it's still hurting a lot, it very well may be broken and you need an x-ray to check that out.
Announcer: To find out more about this and other health and wellness topics, visit thescoperadio.com.
Patients with chronic tendon injuries now have more options for treatment, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP,) and stem cell therapy. On this Health Minute, sports medicine specialist Dr. Nick…
May 18th, 2017
Announcer: The Health Minute, produced by University of Utah Health.
Interviewer: A new way to treat chronic tendon injuries. The physical therapy and the stretching and the icing isn't helping. Dr. Nick Monson says patients now have other treatment options that are showing some promise.
Dr. Monson: Yes. One option is something called PRP, platelet rich plasma. There's also another treatment option which is in the same family which is called stem cell therapy. These are both areas of a lot of excitement. The research on them is still forthcoming.
Often it involves a blood draw. We take the blood off of a patient. We spin that blood down. We take the healing components of that blood and actually reinject that into the tendon. But often what it seems to do is cause an inflammatory reaction in the area, which kind of stimulates the healing in the area and has provided a lot of relief for our patients.
Announcer: To find out more about this and other health and wellness topics, visit thescoperadio.com.
Dr. Tom Miller speaks with Dr. Joy English, professor of orthopedics, who says a growth plate fracture is common among children and teens and may not always be visible on an X-ray. If your child…
February 7th, 2017
Dr. Miller: Can you have a fracture without seeing it on an X-ray? We're going to talk about that next on Scope Radio.
Announcer: Access to our experts with in-depth information about the biggest health issues facing you today. The Specialists with Dr. Tom Miller is on The Scope.
Dr. Miller: I'm Dr. Tom Miller, and I'm here with Dr. Joy English. She's a professor of orthopedics here at the University of Utah.
Joy, do you always see a fracture on an X-ray, or can you actually have a fracture without being able to see it on an X-ray? And if that's the case, what's that called? What is that?Fractures and X-Rays
Dr. English: So that's actually a very common question, I guess. Very often, I would say most often, I get asked that question by parents. So one of the more common fractures that isn't seen on an X-ray is a growth plate fracture.
Dr. Miller: Who gets those?b>
Dr. English: So growth plate fractures can occur in any child that has growth plates, which is where you grow from on the ends of the bone, and usually that's kids and adolescents ages up to about 15 to 17.
Dr. Miller: But what happens after 17 with that growth plate? Does it just fuse with the rest of the bone and you don't see it any longer? Is that right?
Dr. English: Yeah, that's about right. So as soon as the child is done growing, those two ends of the bone close together and they look exactly like the rest of the bone.Growth Plate Fractures
Dr. Miller: So, are children more susceptible to growth plate fractures, these types of fractures than adults? I mean adults don't have growth plates per se, but are children then more predisposed to fractures, I guess would be the question.
Dr. English: I don't know that they're more predisposed to fractures, but there is this thought that the growth plate is a weaker part of the bone and so it is very common to actually get a fracture through the growth plate, especially when kids are growing.
Dr. Miller: So back to that question. I mean you could take an X-ray and perhaps not see a fracture that you would typically see in an adult, but you might make the assumption or the prediction that there is a fracture there. Is that correct?
Dr. English: Yeah, and part of the reason that it is very difficult for us to see fractures through the growth plate is because the way that the growth plate looks on in X-ray is the same as fractures look in an adult. And so when we look at the bone on X-ray, the bone looks bright white, but the area of the growth plate appears dark black, or darker than the rest of the bone. In adults, a fracture appears exactly the same way, so it's a dark area amidst a bright white bone. And in children, the growth plate, even though it looks that way, it may be normal.
Dr. Miller: So you have to make this diagnosis many times, I suppose, based on your clinical judgment.
Dr. English: Exactly. So even though we see a dark line amidst a bright white bone, I can say that's a normal appearing growth plate, but if your child is tender directly over that growth plate after an injury that can cause a break, then a lot of times we would diagnose you with what is called a Salter-Harris I, or a growth plate fracture.Should My Child Get an X-Ray for a Fracture?
Dr. Miller: So I suppose for the parent who takes their child to see a physician, gets an X-ray, and is told that that X-ray is normal, but the child continues to have pain in an area where, you know, they fell or hurt themselves, maybe they should seek additional advice.
Dr. English: That's correct. I think that's very good advice. And often a lot of emergency medicine physicians or urgent care physicians are very good actually about placing your child into a splint or a cast, even if they don't see a fracture on an X-ray. And I would trust that that's the right thing to do, especially for a week or two, until they can follow up and have a repeat examination.
Dr. Miller: So if you make this clinical diagnosis of a fracture in a child, basically would you treat it the same for the same length of time?
Dr. English: Yeah, I would definitely treat it for a period of between four and six weeks, depending on where the growth plate fracture is located.
Dr. Miller: So, bottom line, if you have a child that's had an injury say to the wrist or to the leg and that area is painful and swollen, and even if the X-ray appears normal to a radiologist, you might want to have that checked out by another physician, especially a sports med physician or an orthopedist.
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You sprained your ankle, could you have a fracture and do you know what to do about it?
You’ve sprained your ankle. Maybe you twisted it during a run. Maybe you suffered a minor fall while skiing. It hurts and is swollen and needs some relief. Are you supposed to put it on ice or…
July 18th, 2018
Announcer: Health information from expects, supported by research. From University of Utah Health, this is TheScopeRadio.com.
Interviewer: This week's listener question is with Dr. Emily Harold. She's a sports medicine expert from the University of Utah and the question is: "Ice or heat for a sprained ankle?"Treatment for a Sprained Ankle
Dr. Harold: That's a very good question. I get this question a lot in clinic. So, typically, ice decreases blood flow to an area, which causes less swelling, whereas heat will bring blood flow to an area which can cause more swelling. Usually, in the first two to three days after an injury, we would recommend ice only. You put the ice on for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Make sure you put something between the ice and your skin so you don't freeze your skin because you can then get freezer burn. Take the ice pack off and once your skin re-warms, you can re-ice the area. So you could ice it as many times as you want during the day as long as you follow those rules.Three Days After Injury
Once it's been about three days, you can put heat on the injury. Especially for muscle injuries, that tends to help warm up the area and make it a little easier to walk and get around during the day. The heat is also 15 minutes, put the barrier between the hot pad and your skin and let your skin go back to normal temperature before you would use heat again.
Typically, the rule of thumb for us is after three days, you would ice after you do an activity and you would heat prior to doing the activity. That way, you bring the blood flow before the activity and warm up the area. And then after you are done, you put the ice on the decrease on the information that might develop afterward.
Interviewer: How long is it until we can stop icing or putting heat on it?
Dr. Harold: Typically, I let pain be the guide. For a lot of people, within a few days, they don't need to ice or heat the injury anymore, although for some people that have some persistent pain that will last for a few weeks. And they tend to heat before activity and ice at the end of the day.Still in Pain After One to Two Weeks?
Interviewer: When is it time to go to the doctor if this doesn't stop?
Dr. Harold: If it's been about one to two weeks and you don't feel there's any difference in your pain, then I think it's time to be evaluated.
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Are you supposed to apply ice or heat to a sprained ankle?
A jammed finger can be a common sports injury, and it's usually nothing to worry about. But, if pain in your finger lingers, you probably should have a physician check it out. Dr. Tom Miller…
March 24th, 2021
Dr. Miller: You jammed your finger? Is that just it or is it something else that you ought to worry about? We're going to talk about that next on Scope Radio.
I'm Dr. Tom Miller and I'm here with Nikolas Kazmers, and he's a specialist in hand surgery and orthopedic surgeon here at the University of Utah, in the Department of Orthopedics. Nik, a lot of times we get jammed fingers and we stub them on stuff, or we play sports and we smack the ends of them, and then the joints swell up in the fingers. Most of the time, maybe we don't think about that as we should. What's the downside of not coming in to be seen for a jammed finger?
Nikolas: More often than not, when somebody jams their finger, that swells and it's painful, usually it's just that, just a jammed finger.
Dr. Miller: Usually.
Nikolas: Usually. Occasionally, it can represent a more significant injury, such as a fracture, or broken bone, or dislocation, basically where the joint comes apart. And that warrants further treatment.
Dr. Miller: Maybe there's really no way to know that.
Nikolas: That's right. Early on, the finger hurts, it's swollen, you don't want to move it. Whether it's something like just a jammed finger, whether there's no more significant damage than just that. But you're exactly right. If there's a more serious injury, oftentimes that looks exactly the same for the first few days or even first few weeks.
Dr. Miller: So should everyone with a jammed finger be seen by a physician and have an X-ray, or is there a way to tell whether your jammed finger might be worse, to the point that it ought to be evaluated for a fracture dislocation. How do we do that?
Nikolas: Good question. I don't believe every jammed figure needs to come in for evaluation, but any patient that's concerned should seek further evaluation. It's relatively easy to get an X-ray to make sure that there's no more serious underlying injury for that. Every patient knows their body and knows their pain tolerance more than any physician out there does. So I think that can be an important guide. If things seem abnormal, aren't working normally for you, it's definitely worth coming in for a quick evaluation.
Dr: Miller: How about duration? If it goes on beyond a certain number of days, would you advise that that be taken care of? I believe that if you wait too long, then you might have your irreparable damage and not being able to move that finger like it should be moved in the future.
Nikolas: That's true. I've had patients who have, unfortunately, not sought medical attention immediately, and they turn out to have a fracture or dislocation, say, eight weeks down the road. At that point, it's very difficult to treat. If this was something that we had seen a week or two after the injury, it would have some excellent treatment options. But down the road, we lose some of those options, and that can affect the outcome, meaning the patient is more likely to have a stiff finger, more likely to have pain, or if the fracture is within the joint surface itself, they might have a higher chance of getting arthritis down the road as well.
Dr. Miller: So let's say they come to see you or the patient is referred to by one of their family practice docs, you take an X-ray, you find out that there's a dislocation. What do you do, actually?
Nikolas: The first step would be to realign that or what we call reduce it, where you realign the joint. Depending on if there's a fracture or not or exactly which joint is involved, the treatments can vary somewhat. But there are certainly more treatments available if we catch this early than down the road. It's usually less invasive if we deal with these injuries early rather than late as well.
Dr. Miller: Now, this might be a crazy question, but what would be the most common ways people jam their fingers? Playing baseball, I think, might be one of them.
Nikolas: Yeah, baseball is a common one. Baseball or football. Sometimes just motor vehicle type of collisions.
Dr. Miller: So it sounds like the bottom line is if you have a jammed finger and it's sore after several days, you out to have it checked out, get an X-ray, and then make your way to a specialist on hand surgery, or someone who's very competent in dealing with these kinds of dislocation. If you don't do that, you could end up with arthritis and immobility and the finger is the worst, way too long.
Nikolas: I would definitely agree with that, and if it's just a jammed finger without any of these other more serious injuries, it would be great to meet with us anyhow, because these joints tend to get stiff even without a fracture, without a dislocation or more serious injury. And we can have you meet with a certified hand therapist to work on a therapy program, splinting, we can work on pain control measures, swelling control measures. So, even if there is not a more significant injury, we still can help these patients.
Learn how to tell when your jammed finger may require a doctor's visit.
Chronic tendon injuries affecting shoulders, elbows and knees have long been hard to treat. But, beyond rest, stretching and icing, physicians have developed new treatment techniques in recent years,…
January 24th, 2017
Dr. Miller: Rest, ice, and stretching are not the only ways to repair tendon injuries. We're going to talk about some of the new treatments next on Scope Radio.
Announcer: Access to our experts with in-depth information about the biggest health issues facing you today. The Specialists with Dr. Tom Miller is on The Scope.
Dr. Miller: Hi, I'm Dr. Tom Miller and I'm here with Nick Monson. He's a physician here at the University of Utah in the Department of Orthopedics. He's a non-operative physician and he specializes in sports medicine. Nick, what's the story? I understand there are some new treatments out there to help with folks who have tendon injuries that have become chronic.
Dr. Monson: Well, one of the things that we've been really looking at over the last decade or two is the usage of ultrasound and the ability to find issues within tendons or joints or different areas of the body by an in-office imaging modality which is ultrasound, kind of like looking at babies. But now, rather than just looking at babies, you can actually look in and see a tendon. Then, what you can do is you find that area of pathology or the area of irritation within a tendon. You can actually see it with the ultrasound, which makes it much easier for us to actually find approaches to attack that area of issue in patients.
The areas develop typically from overuse. It also happens because tendons just notoriously don't have a great blood supply to them, and blood is what brings the healing factors to our body. So when you don't have that healing component coming to the tendon, it has a hard time healing. That's the way that we've addressed it.
Dr. Miller: So how do you use the ultrasound to guide treatment? And what are these treatments that you're using now?
Dr. Monson: Yeah. So one option is something called PRP, platelet-rich plasma. There's also another treatment option which is in the same family, which is called stem-cell therapy. These are both areas of a lot of excitement. The research on them is still forthcoming. In the orthopedic usage of it, or in the tendon issues, we've seen that it does seem to provide benefit for patients. It's a discussion I have with them. It's not always the perfect option. But for a lot of patients, it's something that we can offer where, ultimately, it involves a blood draw.
We take the blood off of a patient. We spin that blood down. We take the healing components of that blood and actually reinject that into the tendon under visualization of ultrasound so we can find that area that looks like it's irritated or has the issue. We directly inject into that area using that PRP injecdate that we've harvested from the patient by a blood draw. Then we can stimulate regrowth of the tendon as the theoretical purpose of it. But often, what it seems to do is cause the inflammatory reaction in the area, or it just kind of stimulates the healing in the area, and has provided a lot of relief for our patients.
Dr. Miller: Which tendons do you usually look at when you consider this therapy, or which tendons do you most frequently treat?
Dr. Monson: It can be done on any tendon that there is noted pathology in. So if you see an area of issue, it can be done in just about any tendon. Tendons that we typically think of, of having frequent issues are the shoulder, so the rotator cuff. We think about tennis elbow, so that's on the outside of the elbow. Golfer's elbows, on the inside of the elbow. We'll do it there. We see it in knees, particularly for people that have something called jumper's knee which is at the tendon of the knee. Achilles' tendon. Even in like the plantar fascia, this can be done.
Dr. Miller: These tendon injuries, they're not short-term injuries. Would these be folks that have chronic problems with the tendons that would be over weeks or months, perhaps?
Dr. Monson: Certainly. Yeah. Yeah. So that's usually, somebody will come to see me. They have a new injury, we'll work them through the things that we have the best evidence for, what we know works. Things like rest, avoiding aggravating activities, pain modification, medications. Then also, eccentric exercises are very important. We have good research showing that those are helpful.
Dr. Miller: What are eccentric exercises?
Dr. Monson: Yeah, so those are the exercises where the muscle is fired but it's actually lengthening at the same time. So we're lengthening a tendon and muscle unit while there is force.
Dr. Miller: Well, for stretching.
Dr. Monson: Yes, correct.
Dr. Miller: Okay. So how do you use the ultrasound to guide your therapy?
Dr. Monson: So the ultrasound, first of all, identifies the lesion. So then I know exactly where I need to go. The second thing you can do is the ultrasound will actually, if I place a needle into a patient, I can follow the course of the needle the entire time. I can see the surrounding nerves. I can see the surrounding blood vessels and I know exactly where I'm at. First of all, it's very effective for safety or avoiding those structures that we don't want to hit. But second of all, it helps us target very directly where we want to be within a tendon and make sure that we're in the correct spot.
Dr. Miller: Now, I'm assuming before you enter, you have a patient undergo this type of treatment, you have gone through the standard therapy. So they've gone through a physical therapy. They've done the stretching. They've done the icing, and they're just not getting results.
Dr. Monson: Correct. There's one other procedure that we've added to this as well. It's a needle procedure as well. So that means that it's not done in an operating room, but it is done in a procedure room where we, again, identify that area of concern. We're able to use a specialized needle tip that it pulsates at the very tip of it very quickly, about 17,000 times per second.
Dr. Miller: That's fast.
Dr. Monson: We're talking about a millimeter of movement. Yeah, it's fast. It's not a lot of movement. It's enough that it actually, you think of it as kind of pulverizing the tissue in there. It's emulsifying the tissue is the term that we use. It's the same technology that cataract doctors, or eye doctors, use to remove cataracts out of patients. It breaks up the tissue, removes it from the body, and then leaves the healthy tissue around it. This is a newer treatment, probably in about the last five years that this one's been out. For the same tendon issues that we just talked about, this is another treatment option for patients that's been very promising so far.
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Have a sports injury or a broken bone? An orthopedic injury clinic may be better for you than the emergency department to avoid long waits and higher costs. Dr. Tom Miller speaks with Dr. Joy…
December 13th, 2016
Dr. Miller: You have a sports injury or a musculoskeletal injury, should you go to the ED or not? We're going to talk about that next on Scope Radio.
Announcer: Access to our experts with in-depth information about the biggest health issues facing you today. "The Specialists" with Dr. Tom Miller is on The Scope.
Dr. Miller: Hi, I'm Dr. Tom Miller and I'm here with Dr. Joy English. She is a sports medicine physician here at the Department of Orthopedics, and she's going to tell us a little bit about the new Orthopedic Injury Clinic. You don't really need to go to the ED, do you, if you have a sports injury?
Dr. English: You definitely don't. And I would recommend that for most injuries, it's actually best to come on into our Orthopedic Injury Clinic rather than waiting in the emergency department with long wait times and high copays as well as high cost from the emergency department.
Dr. Miller: Not only that. But if you go to our Orthopedic Center, you're going to see a specialist that is trained in and treats musculoskeletal injuries, correct?
Dr. English: That is correct. So everybody that works in our Orthopedic Injury Clinic is a staff member in the Department of Orthopedics at the University of Utah.
Dr. Miller: When did this clinic open? It's relatively new and it's kind of a new idea across the country, I believe. Isn't it?
Dr. English: Yeah, I think it's definitely a new concept, especially within the Department of Orthopedics or specialty care. So we opened in the middle of September and it looks like, so far, we've actually had a lot of patients and a lot of patients with good experiences.
Dr. Miller: Well, Dr. English, this isn't your first rodeo. Tell us a little bit about the first injury clinic that you set up.
Dr. English: Yes. So after my fellowship here at the University of Utah, I began work at Washington University in St. Louis. There, we started an orthopedic injury clinic that grew pretty quickly, initially seeing something like 100 patients a month and now seeing something like 600 patients a month.
Dr. Miller: Oh, that's massive growth. Over what period of time?
Dr. English: Within about a three-year period of time.
Dr. Miller: Wow. So that took a lot of people out of EDs and having to wait and actually coming to a place that was designated for that type of injury. That's really interesting.
Dr. English: Yeah, it's wonderful because patients can see you in the Orthopedic Injury Clinic but then they can also follow up with you afterward. It also helps streamline care so it's very easy for me to get a hold of one of my colleagues if you have a fracture or an injury that needs to be seen by another orthopedic physician. It's very easy for me to get you into them and get you referred to them. And if it's something that's non-operative, then you can follow up with the same provider that saw you originally, which is really nice for continuity of care.
Dr. Miller: Talk a little bit about the types of injury, then, that you're going to see in this type of a clinic.
Dr. English: The majority of injuries that we see are fracture care or breaks of the bone. We see sprains of ligaments. We see muscular strains. We see a lot of just kind of bumps and bruises, making sure that it's not anything more significant.
Dr. Miller: Now, it's not just strictly related only to sports injuries, correct? You do other types of injuries or do you just take care of sports-related injuries?
Dr. English: Yeah, we definitely take care of other types of injuries as well. I would say, for the most part, we see musculoskeletal injuries. So with regard to things like concussion, we don't see much of that in the Orthopedic Injury Clinic and that's because it may be staffed by an orthopedic physician that may not see concussion all too often.
Dr. Miller: That's a good point. What about falls, like an elderly fall?
Dr. English: We definitely see falls. I've actually seen quite a lot of those recently because I think some of the guys and ladies in our Internal Medicine Department and specifically, in our Geriatrics Department, have used us pretty frequently, and I think it's a really good place for some of these folks.
Dr. Miller: Now, are there certain orthopedic injuries that you do defer to the ED because of a higher level of care?
Dr. English: Yeah. So if you are wondering if you should be seen in the Orthopedic Injury Clinic, I think a good rule of thumb is if the bone is sticking out of the skin, it's probably not the correct place to go. And also, if you see a pretty significant deformity, we may not be the right place for you either. But other than that, we can take care of most things.
Dr. Miller: Well, I would think that maybe motor-vehicle trauma might go to the ED rather than to the Injury Clinic. Many times, these people are transported, or patients are transported by ambulance. So how does the ambulance know to come either to your clinic or to the ED?
Dr. English: So usually, if you're in an ambulance, you're headed to the ED. I don't know that you necessarily have a say in that. But I would say, one thing that we do actually see are some motor-vehicle collision injuries that are a week or two out that aren't getting any better.
Dr. Miller: That makes sense. That makes sense.
Dr. English: So those are usually much more stable injuries and can be seen at an outpatient clinic rather than the emergency department. You know, so if you think you need a higher level of care, it's not a bad idea to err on the side of caution and go to the emergency department. But if you feel that your injury can be taken cared of in an outpatient setting, I think it's reasonable to come on in.
Dr. Miller: Now, is there an age limit to the patients in your clinic? Or do you, for instance, do you see pediatric patients there?
Dr. English: We do see pediatric patients that are ages five and older. And no age limit for the higher end.
Dr. Miller: And do you repair fractures on site?
Dr. English: It depends. So some fractures that require reduction or putting the fracture back into place can be easily done in our clinic. Others are a little bit more complex. So again, if you see that there is a significant angle to the bone when you experience an injury, it's not a bad idea to go to the emergency department, or you can always come and see us. And if we feel that it's something above our level of care that we can provide there, we'll get you over to the ER at Utah.
Dr. Miller: How about the hours of care?
Dr. English: So we operate currently Monday through Thursday from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. And on Friday, from noon to 6:00 p.m. We don't have any weekend hours as of yet, but that's a direction we think we're headed in.
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An ultrasound allows doctors to look at structures beneath the skin. Muscles, tendons and nerves all can be seen in real time to help with a diagnosis. Dr. Tom Miller talks to Dr. Daniel Cushman…
November 22nd, 2016
Dr. Miller: Diagnostic ultrasound. We're going to talk about that next on Scope radio.
Announcer: Access to our experts with in-depth information about the biggest health issues facing you today. The Specialists with Dr. Tom Miller is on The Scope.
Dr. Miller: I'm Dr. Tom Miller and I'm here with Dr. Daniel Cushman. He's a sports medicine physician in the Department of Orthopedics at the Orthopedic Center here at the University of Utah. Daniel, welcome. Tell me a little bit about ultrasound-guided diagnosis of musculoskeletal disorders. I know this is a new technique, relatively new. It's been around for a long time but it's finding more applications these days.
Dr. Cushman: Definitely. Ultrasound is kind of a non-invasive way of looking at structures underneath the skin. It doesn't do a great job for things like bones which we have X-rays for, but if you're talking about something above the bone like a tendon or a muscle or those kinds of things, we can see those very well with ultrasound.
Dr. Miller: Does it assist you in your clinical diagnosis?
Dr. Cushman: All the time. For example, somebody hurts their shoulder, we can get a good look at those tendons, the rotator cuff tendons with ultrasound or if somebody's wrist is hurting we can look at the tendons there. Sometimes we can look at nerves particularly to see if they're being pinched somewhere.
Dr. Miller: It would help you, let's say, looking at a shoulder with an ultrasound, that might help you determine whether there was a full thickness tear or partial tear or even no tear.
Dr. Cushman: Exactly, and that's something that on exam when we're examining patients it's not something that's as obvious as it seems it should be. A lot of the time we can have patients who have completely torn their rotator cuff and they don't really have too many problems and then the opposite is true where somebody has done almost no damage to rotator cuff but they're in severe pain.
Dr. Miller: This would also help you decide on the guidance of treatment, right? Whether they go to physical therapy or whether you rest the shoulder for time.
Dr. Cushman: Exactly.
Dr. Miller: It just gives you a better sense of your diagnosis I suppose.
Dr. Cushman: All the time.
Dr. Miller: The other thing that's interesting is you're doing this right at the clinic visit, so this sort of obviates the need for having an MRI.
Dr. Cushman: Yeah. Definitely. A lot of the time I'll just simply grab the ultrasound machine with my patient in the room and it just takes a little bit of gel and that's pretty much it.
Dr. Miller: So this also maybe has a lower cost than the standard sort of other imaging techniques that we have.
Dr. Cushman: It's significantly lower and I don't know the exact numbers but probably somewhere in the range of a tenth the price of an MRI if you're looking at a shoulder for example.
Dr. Miller: Is it as good as good as an MRI for looking at, let's say again, a shoulder?
Dr. Cushman: Yes. That's really dependent more on the person doing the exam. If somebody has had a lot of experience with ultrasound, studies show they're about as good as an MRI. If somebody is not as experienced, then it's really only as good as the person who's doing the exam.
Dr. Miller: What other areas of the musculoskeletal system do you use this on? How about Achilles tendons or . . .?
Dr. Cushman: A lot of the time we can tell without having to use the ultrasound machine what the problem is but other times it's very helpful and so Achilles tendons, we do use it on occasion. There are there are some times where we think we know the diagnosis and this really either confirms it or shows us that something else is causing the problem and so it's helpful in that regard.
Dr. Miller: How about in the hip?
Dr. Cushman: In the hip joint there's a couple of uses for that pretty commonly. People who have had hip replacements where they can't really do an MRI afterwards and they still have some pain, a lot of times some of the hip replacement surgeons will have us take a look at the tendons that are going over the the prosthesis.
Dr. Miller: Sometimes patients will come in with pain and you've told me previously that you can use the ultrasound to sort of find out where that pain arises from or is there a structure along the nerve that is actually causing the pain. So for instance you might think it's . . . the patient may tell you that they have pain at the wrist or the end of the arm but actually the generation of that pain is higher up and you've learned that from the ultrasound.
Dr. Cushman: Yes, exactly. One of the one of the disadvantages of something like an MRI is you can really only do one segment at a time so you can only look at the neck or you can only look at the shoulder. You can't really do both at the same time. With an ultrasound, if you're thinking maybe a nerve is causing this, you can trace it all the way from the finger, all the way up the arm to the shoulder, to the neck and get a pretty full view of the entire nerve or whatever structure you're really looking for.
Dr. Miller: How many specialists like yourself are versed in using ultrasound as a diagnostic tool nowadays?
Dr. Cushman: Here at the U, there's probably about four or five of us at least in our department and it's getting more and more popular because it's such an easy test for patients. Patients generally love it by comparison to having to do an MRI or going back and additionally it's so much cheaper for the patient.
Dr. Miller: It also gives you real time feedback so that you don't have to wait for test results coming back from radiology.
Dr. Cushman: Definitely. A lot of the time, one other thing I was going to mention was that when patients say, "It hurts when I do this," and they move their arm or they move their leg, we can actually look at it while it's moving as opposed to an MRI or an X-ray, which only shows a static picture.
Dr. Miller: Do you think in the future that more orthopedic surgeons and sports specialists will be trained in this technique so that it's pretty common throughout the specialty?
Dr. Cushman: I think so. I think it's becoming kind of a second set of eyes for people to look under the skin.
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