Top 5 Knee Injuries for Kids and Teens

Top 5 Knee Injuries for Kids and Teens

Whether your child participates in after-school sports or just loves the monkey bars, some of the most common injuries they will have are knee related. Most children will recover from a knee injury within a few days, but it’s important to know what the most common knee injuries are and when to see a professional.

Check out our list of the top 5 knee injuries in kids and teens.

1. Sprains

The knee is a complex joint made up of ligaments, tendons, cartilage and bones. Sprains involve damage specifically to the ligaments that make up the knee. Most sprains are caused by damage to the anterior cruciate ligament or the medial collateral ligament, commonly referred to as the ACL and MCL. Tearing one of these ligaments completely can result in much more serious injuries.

Common signs of a knee sprain include:

  • Swelling around the knee
  • Pain in the knee when moving
  • Inability to stand or put weight on that leg

2. Strains

Strains, much like sprains, are a very common knee injury in children and young adults. However, knee strains are caused by damage to a muscle or tendon within the knee. These injuries are common in sports such as soccer, where sharp turns, cuts and pivots place a huge strain on the muscles and tendons that make up the knee. If your child has bruising around the knee and similar symptoms to a sprain, they may have experienced a knee strain.

3. Cartilage Tears

Cartilage tears in the knee often happen in conjunction with knee sprains. They can occur when making side-to-side movements or when rapidly changing speed, and they are regularly accompanied with tenderness, swelling, and a feeling of tightness around the knee. In some cases, a piece of cartilage can break off from the end of a bone and cause long-term knee pain. Though these injuries can require treatment in adults, cartilage tears may heal on their own in children and teens.

4. Fractures

Knee fractures are characterized as broken or cracked bones in the knee and are usually accompanied by a dislocated patella, or knee cap. Simpler fractures can be corrected with a cast or a splint, but fractures accompanied by a dislocated patella often require surgery to fix. Children with knee fractures often experience particularly intense knee pain. The Orthopedic Institute can help your child recover from a knee fracture, regardless of the severity.

5. Tendonitis

If your child is particularly active, they may be prone to tendonitis. Tendonitis occurs when the tendons in the knee become irritated, and it is often caused by overuse of the tendons, poor training or a combination of the two. Your child may have tendonitis if their knee hurts when walking, resting, bending or lifting. Treatment for tendonitis can involve physical therapy, medication or surgery.

Regardless of what knee injury your child has experienced, you should schedule a visit with a physician if they are experiencing significant pain, swelling, tenderness, and redness or if the injury is accompanied by a fever.

If you suspect your child could have a knee injury, schedule an appointment or stop in to one of our orthopedic walk-in clinics.

4 Reasons a Walk-In Physician Is Beneficial for Your Student Athlete

4 Reasons a Walk-In Physician Is Beneficial for Your Student Athlete

Being a parent to a student athlete makes for an exciting, busy and sometimes nerve-racking life. Watching your athlete run past home plate, catch the winning touchdown or spike the ball over the net is exciting—but when it comes to sudden injury, your heart probably skips a beat.

Luckily, the services of an orthopedic walk-in clinic can be a big help in remedying this. Here are four reasons why.

At-the-Moment Convenience

Having kids can fill up a schedule fast, but having student athletes can fill up a schedule even faster—especially when it comes to injury. Luckily, orthopedic walk-in offices are often available to you when injuries occur—after regular clinic hours. Orthopedic Institute’s (OI) walk-in hours range from 3 to 7 p.m., weekdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Saturdays, so you can rest more easily that specialists are ready to care for you student athlete in a timely manner. OI also hosts morning student-athlete clinics on the third floor of its facility Saturdays through Oct. 21, 9-11 a.m. You can check in your student athlete between 8:30 and 10:30 a.m.

Prevent Emergency Room Bills

Having student athletes can get expensive—from paying for equipment to the gas to drive them to practice or attend games—but injuries don’t have to be. Emergency room bills are an expense you can sometimes cut by seeing a walk-in physician for non-emergency situations. Sprains and fractures are not uncommon for student athletes and can be treated by one of OI’s walk-in physicians and can save you the ER visit.

Cut the Middleman

While an ER is always available, moderate or non-severe injuries might not get preferential treatment on being seen when emergency medical situations are present in other patients. If you are not the highest-risk patient in the waiting room, you will likely see a longer wait time. And if your student athlete is referred to a specialist, an appointment may not be available for a few days following your ER visit. OI’s walk-in clinic is designed to handle these types of injuries and offer direct contact with an orthopedic specialist when you stop in. 

See a Specialist

Speaking of specialists… Two common injuries athletes suffer from are sprains and knee injuries—physicians at OI are specialized in sport injuries, with physicians that can treat ACL and other knee injuries, as well as foot, ankle, hand, wrist, elbow, back, neck, shoulder and knee injuries. When your athlete gets hurt, go somewhere that offers specialization to ideally see a faster recovery time.

What Is DRG Stimulation and How Can It Help Your Pain?

What Is DRG Stimulation and How Can It Help Your Pain?

Chronic pain in the lower body is a relatively common problem, especially among patients with neuropathic pain, or pain caused by damage to the nervous system. DRG Stimulation is a revolutionary form of pain management that can target and prevent pain signals from being transmitted. 

Learn more about your DRG (yes, you have one) and this revolutionary new treatment option for pain. 

What is the DRG?

The dorsal root ganglion, or DRG, is an easily accessible group of nerve cell bodies in your spine that is tasked with transmitting pain signals from the lower half of your body to your brain. Damage to your DRG can cause serious and persistent neuropathic pain that does not respond to traditional treatments, such as spinal cord stimulation (SCS). DRG stimulation is a way to specifically target and manage this pain.

What is DRG stimulation?

DRG Stimulation is a form of targeted neuromodulation similar to spinal cord stimulation (SCS) procedures. Neuromodulation is the strategic electrical stimulation of certain parts of your nervous system to modify any abnormal neural pathways. The key difference between spinal cord stimulation and DRG stimulation is that, while spinal cord stimulation targets the spinal cord, DRG Stimulation targets the dorsal root ganglion in particular.

DRG stimulation is performed by implanting thin wires connected to a generator on your DRG. The generator is controlled by the patient and sends electrical pulses through the wires to specific regions of your DRG. This signal interrupts pain signal transmission to your brain and helps to alleviate pain.

How Can DRG stimulation help my pain?

For people with neuropathic pain, DRG stimulation can effectively block pain signals without the need for medication. The key benefit of DRG stimulation is that it provides specific and targeted pain relief to the lower body. Compared to spinal cord stimulation, DRG stimulation is associated with fewer instances of paresthesia, or tingling in the lower body. Additionally, pain relief through DRG stimulation doesn’t diminish over time, and – because DRG stimulation requires less energy – there’s more time between generator charges.

Sheku’s story

As a lifelong athlete and former University of Sioux Falls lineman, Sheku Bannister (shown here with his wife Amanda) was no stranger to powering through pain. But nothing prepared him for life with chronic pain.

It all started in 2015 when Sheku fell three stories off a roof and severely injured his right foot and ankle, resulting in plates and pins—and chronic pain. Over one year after surgery he still didn’t have relief and was beginning to lose hope.

“I was in a dark place. The medication wasn’t working. It was a nightmare,” he said.Sheku was referred to Dr. James T. Brunz at the Orthopedic Institute. “I was fighting to get back to normal,” he said. But fighting didn’t include taking long-term pain medications, especially after watching several family members struggle with drug addiction. When Dr. Brunz suggested DRG Stimulation, Sheku considered his options. “I didn’t want another surgery,” he said. “But I decided  to take things into my hands and talk to the physicians I could trust. Dr. Brunz was one of them.”

“I would recommend DRG Stimulation to anyone—it’s a very good option.”

In March of 2018, Sheku underwent DRG Stimulation. “I don’t know how to express the increase in quality of life, let alone the reduction in pain,” he said. “It’s a day and night difference from before.”

“Dr. Brunz is amazing, but so is the OI staff across the board. Nurses, therapists, office staff… everyone I came in contact with gave me nothing but acceptance and care. They were always willing to find an answer. I’d given up on myself, but they never did.”

“The pain didn’t just affect me—it affected my family, friends… everything. It’s so nice to get back to being Sheku again.”

Since the DRG Stimulation procedure, Sheku has been able to get back to life with his wife and kids. He’s also passionate about his motivational YouTube channel dedicated to helping others overcome obstacles.

If you have had chronic pain in your lower body for six or more months, you may be an ideal candidate for DRG Stimulation with Dr. James Brunz.

10 Causes of Leg Cramps

10 Causes of Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are a pain, literally! It may not always obvious what causes them, but the pain associated with leg cramps makes them nearly impossible to ignore. The Orthopedic Institute team has compiled a list of 10 common causes of leg cramps to help you understand and avoid this pesky problem.

1. Dehydration

Have you been drinking enough water? Dehydration is one of the most common causes of leg cramps. A cramp is an involuntary contraction of a muscle. The fluids in your body allow your muscles to relax, but—when those muscles are dehydrated—they get irritable and prone to cramping. Staying hydrated, especially during physical activity, is an excellent way to avoid leg cramps.

2. Overuse

In addition to dehydration, leg muscles can also cramp from overuse. When doing particularly intense physical activity, the nerves in your spine can become overexcited and fire involuntarily, contracting your muscles and causing a cramp. Those with more sedentary lifestyles may experience muscle overuse from more mild activities such as walking, hiking, gardening. Resting your legs and stretching often will help you avoid cramps from overuse.

3. Fatigue

Your muscles need time to recover. If you use them for extended periods of time without proper rest, the potential for leg cramps is greatly increased. As the muscles in your leg become tired, they become less efficient and require more nutrients than they would if they were rested. Avoid muscle cramps from fatigue by giving your muscles proper rest and conditioning them for any prolonged use.

4. Excessive Sitting or Standing

Bodies are meant to move, so staying in one position, regardless of whether you’re sitting or standing, puts you at greater risk for muscle cramps. Standing for too long can cause your muscles to fatigue, which will increase the likelihood of a cramp. Sitting can leave muscles in the same position for an extended period of time, which can lead them to spasm and cramp. If you sit or stand all day for work, try to alternate between sitting and standing so your body is not in one position for too long.

5. Medications

Certain medications prescribed to treat Alzheimer’s, high cholesterol, asthma, Parkinson’s and osteoporosis have a tendency to cause muscle cramps. If you’re experiencing leg cramps due to medication, talk to your doctor about your pain and possible medication alternatives.

6. Potassium Deficiency

Potassium in the cells of your leg muscles helps the brain tell the muscles when to start and stop contracting. When you have a potassium deficiency, these signals are not relayed properly, and muscle contractions may be prolonged, causing a cramp. Bananas are high in potassium, so adding them to your diet will help maintain proper potassium levels and avoid cramps.

7. Poor Circulation

Poor circulation in your legs can prevent your leg muscles from getting all the oxygen they need to function. This can lead to leg pain, muscle spasms and cramps. Walking, stretching, and wearing compression stockings can all help manage poor circulation in your legs and prevent cramping.

8. Excessive Alcohol Use

The nerves in your leg can be damaged by alcohol abuse. Excessive drinking can alter the levels of thiamine, folate and vitamins B6, B12, and E, which are all needed for your nerves to function properly. This is called alcoholic Neuropathy and can be the cause of leg cramps. Avoiding alcohol can restore the nutritional health of your muscles and stop your legs from cramping.

9. Pregnancy

Women in the third trimester of pregnancy often experience leg cramps, especially in the evening hours. In this case, cramps can be caused by the additional weight of the baby, changes in circulation, and pressure from the baby placed on the nerves in your legs. Regular exercise, leg and or foot massages, and stretching are all ways to prevent leg cramps.

10. Multiple Sclerosis

One of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis is spasticity, a condition which causes certain muscles to be continuously contracted. Multiple sclerosis causes damage to the central nervous system, which can cause spasticity and lead to cramping in the legs. You can manage leg cramping caused by multiple sclerosis through maintaining a healthy diet, stretching and massaging your legs and treating them with hot and cold therapy.

Discussing “Avocado Hand” with Dr. David Jones

Discussing ”Avocado Hand“ with Dr. David Jones

To say the avocado is “having a moment” is bit of an understatement. What’s brunch these days without a little bit of smashed avocado on a piece of toast? The fleshy fruit rich in healthy fats is more popular than ever, but in addition to surging prices, avocado fans may have one more thing to worry about. The number of injuries caused by improper handling and cutting of avocados is on the rise.

More people injure themselves while cutting avocados more than any other food. Why? Because people think it is a good idea to swiftly bring the largest blade in their home down toward their open palm to remove the avocado’s pit.

It looks easy, but obviously isn’t. If it were, #avocadohand wouldn’t be trending. No guacamole is worth stitches or an ER visit. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop eating the green delicacy.  We’ve got a Q&A below with one of the region’s top hand specialists, Orthopedic  Institute surgeon, Dr. David Jones, who will help us navigate the proper way to cut an avocado (and other fruits) and what to do IF you do cut yourself:

1.  Have you seen an increase in your clinic of patients with #AvocadoHand?

Yes, unfortunately it is not rare to see individuals with significant cuts to their hand or fingers as a result of carelessly cutting avocados.

2.  What is the proper way to safely cut an avocado and other fruits?

Probably the most important tip is to avoid holding the avocado while cutting toward your hand.  Keep the avocado on the cutting board, keep your fingers clear and rotate the avocado while cutting it.  Give thought to where the knife will plunge if it slips.  Use an appropriate medium sized sharp knife so that you don’t have to press hard to cut the avocado.  Avoid stabbing the pit to remove it, but rather quarter the avocado and then remove the pit with a spoon.

3.  If you find yourself with a nasty cut, what should you do?

Hold pressure to control the bleeding.  The hand has a robust blood supply so the bleeding can often be dramatic.  Wash the hand with soap and water.  Apply a Band-Aid or gauze wrap.  If the cut extends all the way through the skin you should seek medical attention.

4.  How can I tell if I should head straight to the ER, or can wait and call to make an appointment with you?

If there is difficulty controlling the bleeding or certainly if the tip of the finger is white and does not pink back up after you press on it, you should seek immediate care in the ER.  Otherwise, if the finger has good blood flow and the bleeding is controlled seeking care in an urgent care or walk-in clinic is appropriate.  A common problem we see with these injuries is a relatively minor appearing cut on the surface can damage major structures like nerve, arteries and tendons which are just beneath the skin in the hand and fingers.

So the cut gets neglected and there is delay in recognizing that one of the deeper structures has been injured which makes the repair and recovery much more difficult.  So if you have the misfortune of sustaining a cut to the hand or fingers make sure you check that you can feel light touch along both sides of the finger tips and bend each knuckle of the finger that was cut.  If there is any doubt, it is better to be evaluated sooner rather than later so that if surgery is necessary to can be done in a timely fashion.

5. Final question…do you prefer your guacamole smooth or chunky?

Definitely chunky!

Our fellowship trained hand surgeons can help you with “avocado hand” and other hand problems. Make an appointment with Dr. Jones or Dr. Curd today!

Tech-Related Workplace Injuries (and How to Prevent Them)

Tech-Related Workplace Injuries (and How to Prevent Them)

The constant presence of computers in the workplace has made many of our lives easier. Emails take the place of meetings, video conferences take the place of long, cross-country trips, and extensive print research is accomplished with one search in Google. But like most new trends, there are some downsides.

Take a look at our list of the most common, tech-related workplace injuries, as well as tips on how to avoid them.

Repetitive Strain Injuries

Repetitive Strain Injuries, or RSI, are some of the most common injuries in today’s tech-infused workplaces. If you spend most of your day repeating the same motions over and over, such as typing or using a touch screen, you could be at risk of placing too much force on our muscles or joints. Some common tech-related types of RSI are carpal tunnel (numbness or tingling in the hand or arm caused by a pinched wrist nerve) and trigger finger, (inflamed tendons in the finger causing a finger or thumb to lock when bent).

These conditions become much more likely the more often you repeat the same activity over and over, without taking breaks. Be sure to not only get up from your desk at least once an hour, but also shake out your hands and wrists for a minute or two. If the pain persists, visit our hand specialists at Orthopedic Institute.

Hearing Loss

Ear buds are everywhere these days. As many workplaces move away from individual offices and towards an open concept layout, using headphones is a new form of professional manners. And of course, ear buds are by far the most popular choice. The problem is that ear buds, more than over the ear headphones, are causing widespread hearing damage. Not only that, but this hearing loss is irreversible.

Even moderate volume can cause hearing loss if you listen to it for too long. Follow the 60/60 rule: Keep your volume below 60% for less than 60 minutes per day.

Muscle Pain and Headaches

Work can be stressful. We all know that. But we may not realize the physical effects that constant stress can have on your body. When you’re stressed, your body produces excess hormones that affect muscle tension and pain sensitivity. So not only will you experience pain from holding your muscles tight all day, you will feel that pain even more intensely than normal.

And of course, lack of sleep and staring at a computer screen all day can lead to persistent headaches.

The best ways to relieve the pain are to relieve stress in your life. Start by getting sleep! Be sure to turn off your electronic devices at least an hour before bed to make sure you maintain healthy sleep patterns. Similarly, small changes such as exercise and massages can help keep stress levels down. If muscle pain persists, call us to discuss options such as acupuncture and physical therapy.

Stay aware of the way computer, tablet and cell phone usage is impacting your body, and you can keep yourself healthy as well as productive.