Osteoarthritis and Knee Problems

Posted in Diseases & Disorders, Injuries on September 30th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

Some people with knee problems have a form of arthritis called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is common in the knee joint. The cartilage in the joint gradually wears away and changes occur in the adjacent bone.

Osteoarthritis may be caused by joint injury or being overweight. It is associated with aging and most typically begins in people age 50 or older. A young person who develops osteoarthritis typically has had an injury to the knee or may have an inherited form of the disease.

Cartilage is a rubbery tissue at the end of bones that allows the joint to move easily. With osteoarthritis, cartilage breaks down over time. The knee can become painful, stiff, and swollen. read more »

Ease Knee Pain

Posted in Exercise, Workouts, & Fitness, Injuries on September 26th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

Knee problems are very common and can occur in people of all ages. There are many diseases and types of injuries that can affect your knees. Some of the most common causes of knee pain include:

  • Overuse of the knees – bursitis, tendonitis.
  • Poor exercise habits such as not warming up or cooling down or inadequate stretching.
  • A strain, sprain, torn ligament or cartilage.
  • A fracture or a dislocated kneecap.
  • Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), rheumatoid arthritis, and other types of arthritis.
  • An infection.
  • A problem somewhere in the body, such as a pinched nerve, which can cause pain that is felt in the knee.

Simple exercises that strengthen your muscles, increase your mobility, and improve your balance can ease knee discomfort and reduce knee strain.

Strengthening muscles around the knees improves support to the joint which takes stress away during everyday activities like climbing stairs, and good balance provides stability in your knees to reduce stress to the joint.

Strengthening the muscles at the front and back of your thighs are known to help with knee pain. Research is also looking at strengthening the muscles on the sides of the hips, called abductors, to lighten the pressure on knee pain.

Help Ease Knee Discomfort

  • Walk on flat ground.
  • Cycling indoors or outside.
  • Tai Chi – a series of flowing, low impact moves.
  • Walking or jogging in water.
  • Pool aerobics.
  • Swimming.

Simple Exercises to Ease Knee Pain
Towel Stretch – stretching:

  • Lie on the floor on your back.
    Bend both knees.
    Bring one knee toward your chest and place a towel behind the knee.
    Gently pull the towel toward you, until you feel a slight stretch in the back of your thigh.
    Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Release. Repeat on your other leg.

Wall Squat – stretching:

  • Stand upright with your back to the wall, and your body touching the wall.
    Slowly slide your body down the wall as far as you can without pain, until you are in a sitting position.
    Look down to make sure you can see your toes. If you can’t see your toes, slide back up and place your feet farther out from the wall.
    Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat twice just once a day.

Tandem Stance – balance:

  • Stand facing the kitchen sink with your hands on the edge of the sink and your knees together.
    Place one foot directly in front of the other as if walking on a tightrope.
    Lift your hands from the sink and try to balance in the tightrope position for one minute.
    Switch feet positions and repeat. Do this once a day.

Before you start any exercise program, get your doctor’s OK, and ask if you need to see a physical therapist.

People who have hands-on physical therapy, where the therapist moves your joints for you, may also cut discomfort when combined with exercise. Research has shown that people who have hands-on physical therapy along with strengthening, stretching and aerobic exercise were much less likely to need knee replacement that those who only exercised.

Some people need to take pain medicine to stay active and control knee pain.
If arthritis causes serious damage to a knee or there is incapacitating pain or loss of use of the knee from arthritis, joint surgery may be considered.


Posted in Injuries on September 10th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), caused by a blow to the head, or bump or jolt to the head that can change the way the brain normally works.

Concussions can also happen when a blow to the body causes the head to move rapidly back and forth. Even a ding, or what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.

Anyone can take a fall, or knock his or her head and get a concussion in any number of ways, but concussions are common in sports and recreation activities to children ages 5 to 18.

Most concussions occur without loss of consciousness.

Children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults.

Athletes who have ever had a concussion are at increased risk for another concussion.

People need to learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion and what to do if a concussion occurs. Proper response to concussions when they first occur can help prevent further injury or even death.

Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
You can’t see a concussion, and some people may not experience and/or report symptoms until hours or days after the injury. Most people with a concussion will recover quickly and fully, but for some people, the signs and symptoms of concussion can last for days, weeks, or longer. Some signs and symptoms of a person with a concussion:

  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Dazed or stunned.
  • Concentration or memory problems – confused, forgetfulness.
  • Clumsiness.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness, even briefly.
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.
  • Can not recall events prior or after being hit or falling down.
  • Headache or pressure in the head.
  • Balance problems or dizziness.
  • Double vision or blurry vision.
  • Sensitivity to light and noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Not feeling right or feeling down.

Prevent Back Pain

Posted in Injuries on May 11th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

The best things you can do to prevent back pain are:

  • Keep your back muscles strong by doing back exercises. Do back strengthening and stretching exercises at least 2 or 3 times a week. Always stretch first. Yoga can help stretch and strengthen muscles and improve posture.
  • Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if you weigh too much. Losing weight can put less strain on your back.
  • For strong bones, get enough calcium and vitamin D every day.*
  • Sit up straight.
  • Stand up straight.
  • Avoid heavy lifting… if you do lift something heavy, bend your legs and keep your back straight.

* Recommended Calcium Intake by Age Group:

  • Birth to 6 months – 210 mg (milligrams) of calcium every day
  • 7 to 12 months – 270 mg (milligrams) of calcium every day
  • 1 to 3 years – 500 mg (milligrams) of calcium every day
  • 4 to 8 years – 800 mg (milligrams) of calcium every day
  • 9 to 18 years – 1,300 mg (milligrams) of calcium every day
  • 19 to 50 years – 1,000 mg (milligrams) of calcium every day
  • 51 plus years – 1,200 me (milligrams) of calcium every day

Good Back Stretches

Posted in Exercise, Workouts, & Fitness, Injuries on May 10th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

These slow stretches help prevent back injuries and make your muscles more flexible.

Hold each position for 20 seconds and repeat 3 times. Good to do before you start your job everyday.

“Oh, my aching back!”

Posted in Injuries on April 24th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

Back Pain

Back pain can range from a dull constant ache, to a sudden sharp pain that makes it hard for you to move. Back pain can start quickly if you fall, or if you lift something too heavy, or it can get worse slowly.

Acute Back Pain
Acute or short-term low back pain starts quickly and lasts less than 6 weeks. Most acute back pain is the result of trauma to the lower back or a disorder such as arthritis. Pain from trauma may be caused by a sports injury, work around the house or in the garden, or a sudden jolt such as a car accident or other stress on spinal bones and tissues. Symptoms may range from muscle ache to shooting or stabbing pain, limited flexibility and range of motion, or an inability to stand straight.

Chronic Back Pain
Chronic back pain is pain that persists for more than 3 months. It is often progressive and the cause can be difficult to determine.

Anyone can have back pain. Things that increase your risk:

  • Being overweight.
  • Poor physical fitness.
  • Getting older.
  • Heredity.
  • Some conditions and diseases – such as arthritis, cancer, tumors, stress, pregnancy, infections, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, kidney stones.
  • Your job – lifting, pushing, or pulling while twisting your spine, working at a desk all day and not sitting up straight.
  • Smoking- – not getting enough nutrients to the disks in your back, smoker’s cough, and people who smoke are slow to heal, so back pain may last longer.
  • Race – black women are 2 to 3 times more likely than white women to have part of the lower spine slip out of place.

Back Exercises

Posted in Exercise, Workouts, & Fitness, Injuries on April 7th, 2010 by marie – Be the first to comment

It doesn’t take much time to improve the strength and flexibility of your back. In just 10 minutes a day, you can perform a few exercises, which can prevent a lifetime of low back pain!

The exercise below strengthens your stomach muscles:
Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Slowly raise your head and shoulders off the floor, keeping your hands across your chest. Work up to 30 repetitions.

The exercise below strengthens your low back:
Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
With arms lying at your sides, tighten stomach muscles, squeeze buttocks, and slowly raise your hips into the air. Hold for 5 seconds and and then slowly bring the buttocks back to the floor.
Repeat 20 times.

The exercise below strengthens your back and leg muscles:
Stand with your back against a wall and your feet slightly apart. Slide into a half-sit. Hold as long as you can; slide back up. Repeat 5 times.

Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise also stretches and strengthens the muscles that support your low back, which combined with healthy eating can also help you maintain your ideal weight. If you’re overweight, the extra pounds add to the strain on your low back. Aerobic exercise like walking, can help you lose weight.

Proper Rest
The best position for resting the back muscles is lying on your back on your living room floor with a pillow under your knees and a rolled up towel under your neck. You can also lie on your side in the fetal position – bend the knees to reduce strain on the low back and put a pillow between your knees, and under your head and neck to keep them level.

Remember to always be careful… what is easy for one person might be strenuous for you. Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Back Safety

Posted in Injuries on December 29th, 2009 by marie – Be the first to comment

A Healthy Back
Your back requires proper care to keep it working. If your back isn’t working right, you will suffer. An injured back affects your ability to move your neck, head, limbs, and your hips.

The muscles in your back are unlike many other muscles in your body – they are almost always in use.

  • The muscles in your back hold your torso in an upright position throughout the day.
  • The muscles in the back assist you every time you pick something up, whether it’s a pen or a concrete block.
  • The muscles in the back support your posture while you sit in your chair, and the muscles in the back even work at night when you sleep.

Good Posture and Bad Posture
Your back is composed of three natural curves that form an S-shape:

  • Cervical curve in the neck area
  • Thoracic curve in the middle back area
  • Lumbar curve in the lower back area

When you use good posture, your three natural curves are properly aligned – your ears, shoulders, and hips are in a straight line – supported by strong, flexible muscles. Without support from strong, flexible muscles, your back loses its three natural curves. Poor posture can lead to pain and serious injury. Good posture helps prevent back strain and pain.

Injuries to the back can be very debilitating, causing you a lot of pain, time away from work, and often requiring physical therapy or even surgery. Everyone whose job involves stressful lifting or awkward postures is at risk for a back injury.

Avoid lifting from the floor whenever possible. If you must lift from the floor, do not bend at the waist. By lifting with your large, strong leg muscles instead of the small muscles of the back, you can prevent back injuries and reduce low back pain.

Some Lifting Techniques:

  • Get as close as possible to the object you are lifting, as if you are hugging the object. Having the object close to your body puts less force on your low back. Don’t bend over the object. Bend your knees, squatting in front of the object, keeping yourself in an upright position while squatting to pick it up.
  • Lift the object slowly and carefully, using your leg and arm muscles to lift, not pulling with your back. Your legs are the strongest muscles in your body, so use them.
  • Keep your head up and look straight ahead while making the lift.
  • While lifting, keep the object as close to your body as possible.
  • Keep abdominal (stomach) muscles tight while making the lift. Don’t hold your breath while tightening your stomach muscles.
  • Turn with your feet, not your back. Your back isn’t built for twisting from side to side.
  • Use the same techniques when you put the object down.
  • If the object is too big or too heavy for you to lift using these techniques, use mechanical assistance or get someone else to help you.

When reaching for objects:

  • Do not reach for an object unless you are sure you’re strong enough to lift it.
  • Use a step ladder to reach objects that are above your shoulder height. Elevate yourself until the object is at least chest level, preferably waist height.
  • Avoid awkward stretches while reaching. This will stress your back and could cause you to lose your balance.
  • Don’t depend on structures to support you, for example, a shelf support, a storage rack, etc. These could easily give way if you pull or tug on them.

Back exercises also play an important role in keeping your back strong, healthy, and flexible. A properly exercised back is less likely to be injured. Your doctor can recommend the best exercises for you, taking into account your physical condition and the type of work you do.

Back Belts
There is a lot of controversy about using back belts to control low back injuries in workers who don’t have an existing injury. According to a report published by the National Safety Council, available scientific data does not completely support nor condemn the use of back belts to control low back injuries.

If you do use a back belt, be aware that you may experience a false sense of security by wearing the belt. You may be tempted to lift loads you wouldn’t otherwise lift. Remember, it’s your back doing the work, not the belt!

Always be alert for situations that could cause a back injury. Be kind to your back. Don’t take unnecessary chances. By following proper lifting and reaching techniques and exercising properly, you’ll help keep back problems behind you!

Correct posture, proper lifting, and a good exercise program are the best prevention for back and neck injuries.

Back Pain Treatment

Posted in Injuries on December 14th, 2009 by marie – Be the first to comment

Acute Back Pain Treatment
Acute (starts quickly and lasts less than 6 weeks) back pain usually gets better without any treatment, but you may want to take acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen to help ease the pain. Exercise and surgery are not usually used to treat acute back pain.

Chronic Back Pain Treatment
Some types of treatments:

  • Hot Packs or Cold Packs or Both – Heat reduces muscle spasms and pain, cold helps reduce swelling and numbs deep pain, but this treatment does not fix the cause of chronic back pain.
  • Exercise – Proper exercise can help ease chronic pain but should not be used for acute back pain. Your doctor or physical therapist can tell you the best types of exercise to do.
  • Medications
    • Analgesic medications – acetaminophen and aspirin or prescription pain medications.
    • Topical analgesics – creams, ointments, and salves rubbed onto the skin over the site of pain.
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – drugs that reduce both pain and swelling, NSAIDs include over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen sodium or your doctor may prescribe stronger NSAIDs.
    • Muscle relaxants and some antidepressants may be prescribed for some types of chronic back pain, but these do not work for every type of back pain.
  • Behavior Changes – proper lifting, pushing, pulling, relaxing, and sleeping can help lessen back pain and put less stress on your back. Eating a healthy diet and not smoking also help.
  • Injections – Ask your doctor about steroid or numbing shots.
  • Complementary and Alternative Medical Treatments
    • Manipulation – Adjust or massage the spine or nearby tissues by professionals.
    • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) – A small box over the painful area sends mild electrical pulses to nerves, may not always effective for reducing pain.
    • Acupuncture – use of thin needles to relieve pain and restore health.
    • Acupressure – Pressure applied to certain places in the body to relieve pain, although not studied well for back pain.
  • Surgery – Usually used for chronic back pain if other treatments do not work. You may need surgery if you have:
    • Herniated disk – When one or more of the disks that cushion the bones of the spine are damaged, the jelly-like center of the disk leaks, causing pain.
    • Spinal stenosis – causes the spinal canal to become narrow.
    • Spondylolisthesis – one or more bones of the spine slip out of place.
    • Vertebral fractures – caused by a blow to the spine or by crumbling of the bone due to osteoporosis.
    • Degenerative disk disease – As people age, some have disks that break down and cause severe pain.

Rarely, when back pain is caused by a tumor, an infection, or a nerve root problem called cauda equina syndrome, surgery is needed right away to ease the pain and prevent more problems.