Let’s “Jam” About Jammed Fingers

Let’s “Jam” About Jammed Fingers

A jammed finger is one of the more painful annoyances people can encounter in their everyday life. Whether the injury is sports-related or just an at-home accident, it can leave you with surprisingly intense pain that can make it difficult for you to complete your daily routine. While they do not generally require medical intervention, you may find yourself wondering why your finger hurts so much and how to make it feel better.

Read on for more information about what jammed fingers are, how they occur and what you can do to treat them. 

What is a jammed finger?

A jammed finger is a strain on the knuckle or joint of one of your fingers, often the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint. This strain often causes a significant amount of pain and swelling to the respective finger. People with jammed fingers will find their finger and knuckle area to be red and swollen. They also tend to have difficulty holding things using the offending finger.

How do jammed fingers occur?

Jammed fingers are a particularly common sports injury, often occurring when an athlete attempts to hit or catch a ball and absorbs the full force of the impact in the tip of their finger, sending the shock down through their knuckles. From pick-up basketball games to yard work and everything in between, jammed fingers can happen any time through a simple blunt force blow to the fingertip.

What can I do to treat my jammed finger?

A jammed finger can be incredibly frustrating to put up with, which is why many people turn to the internet for potential pain relief solutions. Here are a few of the best tricks in the book:

  • Ice: Applying ice to your jammed finger for 15 minutes each hour should limit your swelling and reduce the pain.
  • Elevation: Elevating your jammed finger above your heart will limit the blood flow to the finger and reduce swelling.
  • NSAIDs: The best method of pain management for jammed fingers are NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

If your pain persists following these home remedies, it may be a sign that you are dealing with more than a jam. If you are unable to straighten your finger, if the finger looks deformed or if a slight touch causes intense pain, make an appointment or stop by our walk-in-clinic for a consultation.

Is the Bone Broken or Fractured?

Is the Bone Broken or Fractured?

Many people have the misconception that broken bones and fractures are different injuries. In reality, “fracture” is a clinical term and “break” is a lay term, but the two have the same meaning. Both words refer to a loss of integrity in the bone that can range from a simple hairline crack to a complex injury with multiple bone fragments. Additionally, people tend to believe that, if they can move their bone, it isn’t broken. This is not true. Any swollen, bruised, painful joint that has been injured should be evaluated and X-rayed to assess for a fracture. If you have an injury that fits this description, stop by our walk-in-clinic for a consultation. Even if you’ve injured the same bone as someone you know, your treatment options could vary greatly.

Your treatment options depend upon a number of things—most significantly, the location and severity of the break. At the Orthopedic Institute, we’ll clearly explain the options and provide you with the best possible recovery from your injury.

Check out these key signs that a broken or fractured bone needs surgery: 

Are the Bones Pulling Apart?

In order to fix a broken or fractured bone, it needs to be held in position long enough to heal itself. Normally this can be accomplished by carefully aligning the broken bone and wrapping affected limb in a plaster cast. However, in some cases, the bones attempt to pull apart, which prevents the break from healing properly and causes complications.

Does the Bone Break Skin?

When a broken bone breaks the surface of the skin, it is called an “open fracture.” In these situations, the bone needs to be moved back inside the body and realigned through surgery. These types of fractures are particularly serious because they open the wound and the bone itself up to the possibility of infection.

Does the Fracture Involve Joints?

Fractures that involve joints are called intra-articular fractures, and they generally require surgical intervention to correct. These fractures should not be taken lightly, as they often result in long-term complications. Joints are meant to fit together neatly, so they don’t rub or grind when you move. A fracture that damages a joint could potentially leave the surfaces uneven and cause them to grind on one another.

Are the Bones Displaced?

When a bone breaks and the two ends of the broken bone become significantly misaligned, it is called a displaced fracture. When the bone is broken into many pieces, it is referred to as a comminuted fracture. These fractures are complex and cannot be healed with a cast alone. Surgery is required to piece the bones back together so they can heal properly. Comminuted fractures can happen to any bone, but they are most common in the elbow, wrists and legs.

If you or your family member has a serious injury and you’re worried the bone may be broken or fractured, the experts at Orthopedic Institute are here to help, so make an appointment or stop by our walk-in-clinic for a physician consult.

3 Causes of Stiff, Painful Fingers

3 Causes of Stiff, Painful Fingers

We use our hands every day, so putting up with intense finger pain can be impossibly frustrating and have a significant impact on our ability to do everyday tasks. If you are dealing with pain and swelling in your hands and fingers, the cause may not be immediately obvious

Read on for 3 common causes of stiff, painful fingers. 

1. Trigger Finger

The tendon in your finger that controls it movement are surrounded by a protective sheath. This sheath allows the tendon to pull and retract smoothly. “Trigger finger,” also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition where your tendon’s protective sheath becomes inflamed or irritated, which prevents the tendon from moving smoothly and can cause your finger to become locked in a bent position. Trigger finger is more common in women than in men, and individuals with careers or hobbies that require repeated or long-term gripping are at an increased risk of developing trigger finger.

2. Arthritis

If you’re experiencing pain and stiffness in your hand, you may be suffering from arthritis. Arthritis comes in many shapes and sizes, with two of the most common types being osteoarthritis—the wearing away of cartilage in your hand due to injury or age—and rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease. Regardless of the type of arthritis, it’s important to see a specialist as soon as possible if you think you may have developed it. Complications from arthritis can lead to bigger problems down the road if left unchecked, and early intervention is key. The pain and swelling you feel can often be managed using NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin, but if your pain is persistent, see a hand and wrist specialist for an evaluation as soon as possible to discuss your treatment options. For more information on arthritis pain, read this great explanation from the Arthritis Foundation: Sources of Arthritis Pain.

3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused by increased pressure on the nerve that runs through the carpal tunnel in your wrist. The nerve, called the median nerve, controls the movement of all of your fingers except your pinky and, when the median nerve is under pressure, these fingers can feel pain, numbness or the sensation that they are asleep.Carpal tunnel is common amongst people who type at their computer and can also result from excessive mobile phone usage.  In some cases, carpal tunnel can be treated by applying heat, immobilization of the wrist or through medications and inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs.

If you’re experiencing stiffness or pain in your fingers, make an appointment with one of our wrist and hand specialists, Dr. Curd and Dr. Jones, at the Orthopedic Institute.

“Your Back Is Crooked:” Straight Talk About Curved Spines

“Your Back Is Crooked:” Straight Talk About Curved Spines

There are several different types of spinal curvature. They can occur together or separately, and can easily be confused for one another. We’ve provided a brief explanation of some of the most common types of curved spines so you can get a better idea of your specific situation.

Read on for common signs that you might have a curved spine:

Do you have scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition characterized as a sideways curvature in your spine. Usually occurring during puberty, it can be associated with hip and spinal pain later in life. Left untreated, the effects of scoliosis tend to worsen and can stress your spinal discs, cause compressed nerves and lead to arthritis of the discs and spine joints due to the spine’s abnormal structure. Think about it like this: it is much easier for gravity and weight to pull down a flimsy curved wire than a perfectly straight wire. The same is true for spines!

There are two broad categories of scoliosis:


Idiopathic scoliosis is scoliosis that has no known cause. In children, there are three types of idiopathic scoliosis: infantile, juvenile and adolescent. The age of the child at diagnosis determines the subtype. In adults, idiopathic scoliosis is simply pediatric scoliosis that was not defined or diagnosed until adulthood.


Non-idiopathic scoliosis in children is generally either congenital, meaning an abnormality in their spinal development, or neuromuscular. Neuromuscular conditions, such as cerebral palsy, can cause the nerves and muscles responsible for maintaining the balance and alignment of the spine to fail, often leading to pelvic obliquity and kyphosis. In adults, non-idiopathic scoliosis is usually degenerative or related to arthritis. This type of scoliosis is caused by wear and tear on the discs in the spine that causes it to curve over time

Scoliosis curves greater than 50° will likely get bigger over time and should be monitored by an orthopedic professional. If you notice that your shirts tend to be more wrinkled on one side, that the hemline of your dress is off or that one of your shoes is more worn down, consider making an appointment with a spine specialist.

Do you hunch forward?

Everyone hated to hear “Stop slouching!” as a child but, if you hear it now, you may have developed a forward curvature in your spine known as kyphosis. Thoracic kyphosis is an exaggerated forward curvature of the upper back. It can be caused by weaknesses in the spine that allow it to compress or crack. In children, an exaggerated kyphotic curve in the thoracic spine could be associated with Scheuermann’s kyphosis. Sometimes called “Scheuermann’s Disease,” it is caused by anterior wedging of multiple vertebrae in the thoracic spine, which runs from the base of the neck down to the abdomen. In severe cases, kyphosis can cause significant pain and disfigurement.

Do you arch your back significantly?

A significant arch in your back could be a sign of swayback. Swayback is a type of spine curvature that positions your shoulders behind your hips as opposed to keeping them centered. Swayback is simply an exaggerated case of lumbar lordosis— a curvature in the lower back that increases pressure on your spine, leading to pain and (if left untreated) a limited ability to move.

Do you have posture problems?

A  number of factors can contribute to poor posture, including stress, work environment, pregnancy and obesity. But the most common culprit is your sitting habits. If you have posture problems, take steps to address the underlying causes and position your spine correctly. To get started, check out our blog 3 Exercises To Strengthen Your Shoulders & Spine. We all sit too much. Stand up and move!

Whether you have a curved spine or simply poor posture, the spine experts at the Orthopedic Institute can help you manage it. Make an appointment today to see one of the members of our Comprehensive Spine Team

Back Pain in Kids: What Parents Need to Know

Back Pain in Kids: What Parents Need to Know

The back is a complex and critical component of the human body, so being worried about back pain is a completely rational response. Because most people generally associate back pain with old age, parents are often greatly concerned when their children complain of back pain. Kids are tough, but how are you supposed to know what to do when they experience back pain?

Check out our guide of common causes for back pain in kids, so you know when to worry: 

Common Causes

The vast majority of back pain reported by children is temporary and easily managed. Here are some of back pain’s most common causes:

Back Muscle, Tendon and Ligament Injuries

Injuries to the muscles, tendons or ligaments in the back are the number one cause of back pain in children—especially if kids are involved in high-intensity sports such as gymnastics and football. These injuries are often referred to as “soft tissue injuries.” Most parents don’t realize that sprains are injuries specific to ligaments, whereas strains are injuries to tendons and muscles.

Overuse Injuries

Children tend to be incredibly active. Between sports and regular play, they use their muscles in more ways than we could possibly list here. If you have a particularly active child, their back pain has likely been caused by simple overuse of their back, which they should recover from quickly.

Muscle Fatigue

Following long days of sitting in desks and carrying heavy book bags at school, children can begin to feel muscle fatigue. The strong strap muscles in the back help to keep us erect and standing tall throughout the day. The fatigue of these muscles, caused consistent strain throughout the school day, can lead to pack pain in students.

When to See a Specialist

One of the most important things to know about back pain in children is what back pain signs are cause for concern. Here are a few key signals that your child’s back pain may be something more serious:

Pain, Weakness or Numbness in the Legs

This is one of the most serious signs that your child’s back pain may be something more. If your child is experiencing pain, weakness or numbness in their legs, they may have a disc herniation, a epidural abscess or, in extreme cases, a tumor. If your child is experiencing these symptoms, bring them in to see a physician at the Orthopedic Institute.

Pain Persists Over Time

Another sign that your child’s back pain may be something more serious is persistence over time—especially following a traumatic injury. Pain that lasts beyond several weeks may be a sign of a more serious, ongoing spinal issue that needs surgical intervention.

Doesn’t Respond to Pain Relievers

When your child’s back pain doesn’t respond to common pain treatments, such as rest, ice and NSAID pain relievers (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.) it may be a sign that their back pain is more significant than a common play-related injury. If your child experiences significant pain that is unaided by pain relievers, you should consult with a physician—especially if that pain keeps them up at night.

Back Pain Accompanied by a Fever

If your child’s back pain is joined by a fever, it may be indicative of an infective process. If the back pain is ruled to be caused by an infection, your child may be prescribed antibiotics to help their body combat the infection. Spinal infections are also common amongst intravenous drug abusers.

Back Pain with a History of Cancer

If your family or your child specifically have a history of cancer, it should be a key consideration when experiencing back pain. Back pain caused by cancer is often accompanied with unintended weight loss. If your child experiences back pain that is unrelenting and worsens at night, see a doctor as soon as possible to ensure that they don’t have a tumor or metastasis to the spine—especially if that pain is accompanied by unexplained weight loss.

If you want your child to see someone about their back pain right away, the Orthopedic Institute’s Walk-In Clinic can help. Find out why a walk-in visit may be beneficial. Otherwise, make an appointment to see our pediatric back specialist Dr. Wingate

5 Treatment Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

5 Treatment Options for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If you’re experiencing pain, numbness, or tingling in your wrist, you may have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).  CTS is a common condition that, according to American Family Physician, affects 3 to 6 percent of the general adult population. Having CTS can be frustrating, but there are a number of different treatments available to help you manage the condition.

Check out our list of 5 treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome: 

1. Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly referred to as “NSAIDs,” are drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen that help to relieve pain in the short term by decreasing inflammation around the nerve in your wrist. While these drugs won’t improve the condition of your CTS, they will help manage the pain it causes.

2. Ice Therapy

One common home remedy for carpal tunnel syndrome is using an ice pack or soaking your wrist and hand in an ice bath for 10-15 minutes an hour. When using an ice pack, limit your session time to no more than 15 minutes and add a layer of protection between the ice and your skin. The cold ice works to restrain blood excess blood flow and swelling in your wrist that can cause you pain.

3. Wrist Splinting

Wrist splints hold your hand and wrist in a natural position, preventing the wrist from moving and causing pain. Some people with moderate cases of CTS use this option as a way to manage pain during flare-ups. Start by wearing the splint at night, and see if that manages your pain. If you still don’t see results, wear the splint all day, but note that constantly wearing a splint can contribute to weakening muscles and stiff joints.

4. Open Surgery

In an open carpal tunnel release surgery, surgeons cut the transverse carpal ligament to release pressure on the nerve in your wrist and alleviate many of the symptoms of CTS. Open surgery is generally only performed in patients with severe symptoms, such as loss of feeling in your wrist, loss of strength in your thumb or loss of coordination in your fingers.

5. Endoscopic Surgery

In endoscopic surgery, surgeons use a small flexible telescope, called an endoscope, to look inside your carpal tunnel after making a small incision in your wrist. The surgeon then cuts the transverse carpal tunnel ligament to release pressure in your wrist.

CTS pain is frustrating and debilitating, but there are highly successful options available. We want to help you with your pain now, so check out our Hand Therapy Program or make an appointment to meet with one of our hand specialists, Dr. Curd or Dr. Jones

10 Facts About Microdisectomy for Leg Pain & Weakness

10 Facts About Microdisectomy for Leg Pain & Weakness

microdisectomy is a relatively common procedure used to alleviate leg pain, weakness and, occasionally, pain in the lower back. For some patients, back surgery can be a frightening concept—so we’ve put together a list of facts that you should know about the use of microdisectomies to correct back pain and weakness.

Read on for 10 facts about microdisectomies for leg pain and weakness.

1. The Procedure Can Be Minimally Invasive

While there are different surgical methods for microdisectomies, they are generally minimally invasive—often utilizing a surgical microscope and performed through a small one inch incision in the lower back.

2. It Removes the Herniated Portion the Disc

After making the incision in the spine, the surgeon removes the membrane over the nerve root and carefully retracts the nerves from the herniated disc in order to remove the source of pressure on the nerve root.

3. It Usually Offers Immediate Relief from Leg Pain

The purpose of a microdisectomy is to remove a small portion of the herniated disc in your spine that is placing pressure on the nerve root. Removing pressure on the nerve root will often completely remove the source of the pain and patients generally feel pain relief immediately following the procedure.

4. Recovery May Take Months for Neurological Symptoms

When the nerve root is damaged by the herniated disc, it may lead to numbness, weakness or other neurological symptoms in the leg or foot. Following the surgery, it may take months for the nerve root to fully heal and for these symptoms to subside.

5. You Should Try NSAIDs and Physical Therapy First

Patients should generally only consider surgical intervention when alternative treatment options, such as oral steroids, NSAIDs and physical therapy have failed to address their pain.

6. The Procedure Is Up to 95% Effective for Sciatica Pain

According to the Spine Institute of San Diego,  the success rate of micodisectomies approaches 95% for appropriately chosen patients. This translates to high rate of success and pain relief for those experiencing pain, weakness or numbness in their legs.

7. Most People Leave the Hospital Within 24 Hours

Because the procedure is minimally invasive, many patients who undergo a microdisectomy are able to go home within 24 hours of their procedure—often on the same day.

8. It is Sometimes Referred to as “Microdecompression”

Some people refer to a microdisecotomy as a microdecompression due to the procedure’s decompression of the nerve root.

9. A Microdisectomy is Different Than a Disectomy

While disectomies and microdisectomies are both surgeries involving the partial or complete surgical removal of an intervertebral disc, they are two separate procedures. The “micro” in microdisctomy refers to the use of microscopic magnification, which allows for smaller incisions and a less-invasive surgery overall.

10. Roughly 5% of Patients Develop a Recurrent Herniation

While microdisectomies have an incredibly high rate of success at alleviating leg pain in patients, one of the most common complications is a recurrent disc herniation—which may require another procedure to correct.

If you suspect that you may be in need of a microdisectomy to alleviate pain, weakness or numbness in your legs, make an appointment today to meet with one of the members of the comprehensive spine team at the Orthopedic Institute.