Home Remedies for Joint Pain Relief That Truly Work

Home Remedies For Joint Pain Relief That Truly Work

Joints form connections between bones to help our body parts move. They’re made up of connective tissue and cartilage, and when they become injured or inflamed… ouch! If you are experiencing serious or ongoing pain in your joints, it’s important to see your doctor for a medical opinion and, if necessary, a medical treatment plan. But when it comes to relieving minor joint pain, there’s no need to wait.

From hands and feet to knees, arms and elbows–try these home remedies for joint pain relief. They truly work!

Epsom Salt Soaks

This home remedy has been around for years, but do epsom salts really work? There aren’t any scientific studies to back it up, but anyone who’s tried soaking in a warm, epsom salt bath can speak to how relaxing it can be. Try this type of bath for temporary joint pain relief – and, if necessary, check with your doctor to discuss how long or how often you should soak.

Hot/Cold Compresses

Not only does heat reduce stiffness in painful joints, it can help relax muscles and increase range of motion by stimulating blood flow. On the other hand, cold packs will numb the pain and reduce joint inflammation. Try alternating both – with 15 minutes of heat followed by 15 minutes of cold to ease joint pain even more. Note: Do not use heat if the affected area is red, hot and irritated. Do not use cold compresses if you have circulatory problems.

Turmeric + Omega-3

Several studies have found that turmeric (a yellow spice found in curries and mustard) reduces pain and swelling in arthritis patients. You can also try loading up on inflammation-fighting foods rich in omega-3, such as salmon, trout, olive oil and walnuts. As always, check with your doctor before adding dietary supplements or making a major lifestyle changes. Want more healthy food advice? Check this out: 8 Joint-Friendly Foods to Strengthen Your Mobility.

Topical Creams

Think those over-the-counter creams are just for aching muscles? Think again. Anti-inflammatory topical pain creams like Penetrex or Blue-Emu can help relieve some arthritis pain, too.

Paraffin Wax Baths

Heated paraffin wax can be a great way to soothe arthritis aches and pains in your hands, feet and even elbows. There are many paraffin wax bath products on the market. Ask your doctor which is best for you, and always read the directions carefully prior to use.

Regular Exercise

Technically, it’s not a home remedy. But exercise is one of the best things you can do to stay pain-free and healthy! Joint pain can be a sign from your body that it’s time to get active. Talk to your doctor about appropriate activities that can help build muscle and relieve pressure on painful joints – including stretching, swimming or water aerobics, walking, biking and more.

Severe and chronic joint pain, especially when caused by degenerative conditions like arthritis, needs proper diagnosis and treatment. While the above suggestions may help decrease some inflammation and pain, nothing takes the place of a qualified medical opinion. Make an appointment to see one of our specialists today.

Osteoporosis in Men: The “Silent” Disease Affects You, Too

Osteoporosis in Men: The ”Silent Disease“ Affects You, Too

Think osteoporosis only happens to women? Think again. This “silent” disease affects men, too. According to the CDC, osteoporosis affects about 1 in 20 men over age 65. Osteoporosis can weaken bones to the point that a break can occur more easily. Broken hips are especially serious, causing patients to be unable to live on their own – and significantly raising their risk of dying sooner.

Protect your bones and your long-term health! Learn more about risk factors, diagnosis and prevention tips for osteoporosis men. 

Risk Factors

Men in their 50s do not experience the same rapid loss of bone mass that post-menopausal women, but by age 65 or 70 calcium absorption (essential for bone health) decreases in both sexes. That’s when osteoporosis becomes an increasingly larger risk for men. In fact, 1 in 8 men over age 50 will have an osteoporotic fracture.

  • Age – The older you are the higher your risk
  • Testosterone deficiency
  • Taking certain medications for chronic conditions (corticosteroids, heparin, anti-seizure drugs, prostate cancer drugs, etc.)
  • Low intake of calcium and vitamin D
  • Smoking and excessive alcohol intake
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Heredity and race (white men seem to be at greatest risk)
  • Loss of height or change in posture


One of the reasons osteoporosis is call “the silent disease” is because it shows no symptoms. Patients realize they have it when they sustain a broken bone. What can you do? If you’re over age 50, ask your doctor about screening tests. In addition to X-rays, urine and blood tests, he or she may also order a bone mineral density test. This painless, non-invasive and safe test can identify osteoporosis and determine your risk for fractures.


Both men and women reach peak bone density by their early 20s. That’s why good nutrition and calcium intake is so important for children and adolescents. So, what can you do as you get older? Two words: Live healthy!

  • Avoid smoking and consume alcohol in moderation.
  • Stay active to promote healthy bones and muscles.
  • Ensure an adequate daily intake of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Discuss bone health with your doctor – especially any medications you might be taking that are known to cause bone loss, such as glucocorticoids.

Ready to learn more? Come see the bone health experts at Orthopedic Institute. Our team is trained in musculoskeletal diseases and treatments. We’ll help you understand your risks before you experience a fracture or a major surgery such as hip replacement.

How to Tell When Your Child's Elbow Injury Is Serious

How To Tell When Your Child’s Elbow Injury Is Serious

Kids have a way of getting into all kinds of mishaps. Whether it’s a fall from the monkey bars or trampoline, a collision playing sports or simply wrestling with the dog – elbow injuries are common with children. They can involve three bones: the humerus (upper arm), the radius and the ulna (forearm). Unfortunately,  injuries that occur near the elbow may often require surgery.

Here’s how to tell if your child’s elbow injury is serious.

Home treatment with RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) plus over-the-counter pain medication can relieve minor aches and pains for a strained or “bumped” elbow. 

However, serious elbow injuries will present much differently. If you child complains of elbow pain after a fall and/or experiences any of these symptoms, it’s time to see an orthopedic physician immediately.  

  • Visible deformity in the area 
  • Pain in the elbow and forearm 
  • Tenderness, swelling or bruising  
  • Discoloration of the elbow or hand (signs that circulation is affected) 
  • Limited range of motion/ In children, change of normal use (won’t use the hand or arm to play with toys or bring food to mouth) 
  • Numbness, a “tight” sensation or cool sensation of the forearm, hand or fingers (signs of nerve injury)

During the visit, expect your doctor to order X-rays to evaluate if a fracture has occurred. Because a child’s bones are still forming, your doctor may request X-rays of both arms for comparison. Soft tissue injuries such as ligament strains, sprains or tears can also occur particularly in “hanging” injuries commonly seen in playground accidents. No matter the injury, skilled evaluation can assist you in helping your child to heal as quickly as possible.

Childhood elbow injuries are all-too common and nearly always occur as a result of a fall. In other words, there’s no time to waste. Learn more about our convenient walk-in clinics.

5 Key Symptoms of a Neck Injury

5 Key Symptoms of a Neck Injury

Neck pain is a common problem that about two-thirds of the population experience at some point. After all, your cervical spine and supporting muscles and ligaments support a head that weighs approximately 15 pounds. Due to the flexible but complex structure of your neck, it’s quite vulnerable to injury, both serious and minor. Tracking down the source of neck pain and whether injury is present, though, can be difficult.

To help you out, here are several symptoms that can stem from a neck injury.

General Stiffness

Stiffness is a symptom of many neck injuries. Whether it’s whiplash or a minor strain, your neck may experience some level of stiffness. This symptom alone, though, isn’t reason to worry about neck injury. The remedy could be as simple as icing your neck or doing some stretches. You might also be experiencing symptoms of arthritis.

To help ease neck stiffness, try doing 10-15 reps of these stretches:

  • Tilting your head to each shoulder
  • Rolling your shoulders backward
  • Pressing your shoulder blades together

Want more at-home pain relief ideas? Download our free book: Home Remedies for Back and Neck Pain.

Decreased Range of Motion

Neck injuries can also result in less range of motion – which is often related to general stiffness symptoms above.

If you can’t quite tilt your head all the way in a certain direction—as much as you could before the pain began—you’ve lost range of motion. This can occur after strains and sprains but isn’t cause for alarm if the symptom recedes after a few days. If your range of motion doesn’t return after weeks or you can’t move your head at all, then it’s time to consider a visit to the doctor’s office.

Headaches and Dizziness

When your head is abruptly snapped backward and/or forward with quick force, it can cause what’s known as whiplash. When you experience whiplash, muscles and ligaments stretch beyond their typical ranges of motion. In technical terms, you experience a hyperextension when your neck extends backward beyond its normal limits and hyperflexion when it does so in a forward motion.

Whiplash can result in headaches at the base of the skull, dizziness and blurred vision. Aching and stiffness can also occur. It’s not unusual for symptoms to disappear and then reappear within a few days of the injury.

Sprains and Strains

A sudden jolt to your neck from a hard fall or serious collision, such as a car accident, can result in stretched ligaments and muscles in your neck. Any pain in the back of the neck that worsens with movement or muscle spasms near the upper shoulder can be indicators of a neck sprain or strain, especially if it peaks about a day after the injury occurred. A headache toward the back of the head and decreased range of motion are also signs of a neck sprain or strain.

Tingling and Numbness

One of the more concerning possible symptoms of neck injuries is tingling and numbness in limbs. If you start to feel a numbing sensation or that “pins and needles” feeling in your arms or legs after a neck injury, then it’s best to consult a doctor. Most neck injuries have the potential to produce this symptom but typically only in more severe instances. Usually these symptoms will resolve with non-surgical treatments.

Sources: OrthoInfo, Healthline, Spine Universe

10 Questions with Dr. Eric S. Watson

10 Questions with Dr. Eric S. Watson

We’re digging into the impressive roster of physicians we have here at Orthopedic Institute (OI), letting you get to know some of the team members that make us proud.

Today’s showcased team member is Dr. Eric S. Watson, one of our physicians. Dr. Watson graduated from California State University—Fullerton before attending medical school at Creighton University. He joined the OI team in 2004 and has spent his time offering specialized care in foot, ankle, knee and general orthopedics.

Let’s take a look at why Dr. Watson loves serving his patients and how he approaches work in the orthopedic medicine field.

1. How did you decide to become a physician?

I like to say that, when I was five years old, I broke my femur, was in traction and a body cast and, after that, had always wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon—except that’s not really true. (The femur breaking part is, but my interest in orthopedics started much later.)

I always liked science and always did well in sciences in high school. I went to college and started pre-med—I liked the courses and the science behind it, but I didn’t really know everything that being a doctor entailed. I took a course to be an EMT, and I worked as a tech in the ER—that was really my first patient experience. I really enjoyed it. I liked taking care of the patients. I liked what I was seeing—the medical side of it. When I decided I wanted to go to medical school, I liked orthopedics best. I applied for residency, and here I am.

2. What led you to join the OI team?

I had been working in Kansas City, and my wife was finished with her residency. My family lives south of Las Vegas, and that really was not a place we wanted to raise our family, so we thought maybe we would look up Sioux Falls. Before we moved here, we happened to be visiting when Orthopedic Institute had built its new building. We were with my wife’s family, and they took us by it—they kept dropping hints that we should live here. It was a no-brainer once I interviewed at OI. There is just much more opportunity—you have your own life, your own say.

3. What’s your favorite part of your job?

Obviously, I like the technical piece. I like surgery. I love putting fractures back together. It is also always fun to get to know people. You see them, they come in and they are kind of at their worst. They are having a bad day when they have to meet me, usually. Then they heal and get well. What is really fun for me isn’t the last time I see them in the office, but when I run into them on the street. I see them walking, not limping, and it makes you feel good. I like it when I see people out in the community that I have taken care of.

4. What are the strengths of the OI physician team?

We don’t have any holes—we have got everything covered. We cover every piece of orthopedics. We have joint reconstruction plus revision. We have a tumor guy and a pediatric guy—hand, foot and ankle. There is just nothing we are lacking. I think people would be amazed at what we do here and the things we accomplish. There is almost no need to go elsewhere. I think that is the strength—we have the areas covered, and they are covered by very strong surgeons.

5. What’s the best part of working with patients?

It is really fun to see them come back and resume their life—that is one of the biggest things in orthopedics. It’s concrete. It’s not like having a chronic illness. If someone had a fracture, and you put it back together, they heal. So many people have these injuries and they struggle, but they do well in spite of it. It is awesome. That is what I get the most out of—seeing people excel.

6. If you could tell each patient one thing before they came in to see you, what would it be?

What I would want people to know is that my decision-making is always going to be based on what I would do for myself or my own family.  That does not mean that everyone’s care is going to be the same—it depends on what the overall situation is. I try to look at it from the perspective of what I would want, what I would want for my mom, cousin or kids. That’s how I try to make my decisions.

7. What would you consider your career highlight?

I don’t know—I am not sure if I have had it yet. There is not one patient or one thing that makes a highlight. All of the individuals go into the tapestry, so hopefully your highlight is your career—not one thing in your career. Hopefully it is consistently good care over an extended amount of time. To me, that would be the highlight. That you would consistently do well by your patients.  There are always certain cases that make you feel good, but that’s not the end all, be all. The goal is to do well for everyone you take care of.

8. How do you spend your time when you’re not at OI?

Usually shuttling kids to athletic things. I feel like a chauffeur when I am not here. I’m a soccer and hockey dad. I also like to fish. (I don’t get to fish very often, but I enjoy fishing.) I really enjoy watching my kids play sports and music, too. My oldest enjoys music, so we go to his recitals and performances. To see someone play an instrument, because I have none of that skill, is impressive enough. But then, to have practiced something, get up in front of your peers and people you don’t even know and perform is… Wow!

9. What’s your go-to movie snack?

Junior Mints! I am a bit of a Junior Mints snob. If they are old and kind of chewy, then I am not that big of a fan. But if they are new and fresh and the chocolate is almost like crispy then… good stuff. By the way, I don’t take them in the operating room—no Kramers. (Excuse the Seinfeld reference.)

10. How would you spend your ideal birthday?

A birthday is just a day—it’s nice when people wish you well, but I guess I don’t have a perfect birthday plan. Since I have a wife and four kids, I would rather be doing what the family wants to do. We make a big deal about our kids’ birthdays—we like to make it all about them! I think going through medical school and residency that holidays or special days seem to be de-valued, because sometimes you are on-call for your birthday or Christmas. We still get together for whatever we’re celebrating, but the “day” itself does not always mean that much—and I know my wife is kind of the same way, working in the ER. (They are never closed either.)

5 Everyday Tips for Fighting Off Knee Pain

5 Everyday Tips for Fighting Off Knee Pain

We all experience aches and pains now and again. But it’s about how we treat these pains and respond to them that helps us to truly prevent future ongoing conditions. Knee pain is a particularly common one—but what can you do to fight off this common ache?

Here are just a few examples of how to change up your everyday habits to fight off knee pain.

Injury Awareness

Have you ever been dealt a blow to your knees from a fall, an accident or a tumble during physical activity? If so, you might occasionally experience lingering pain. Sometimes injuries even happen and you don’t realize it. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of common knee pain symptoms that can be a sign of injury. If you experience pain from a confirmed or suspected injury for more than a few days, it could be time to be seen by a physician.

Pre-Exercise Routines

If you regularly (or not so regularly) exercise, odds are you may encounter some aches and pains overnight that might hinder your routine the following go-around. Post-exercise knee pain might be a sign you’re not taking the proper precautions before you begin working out. It may be worth a visit to your doctor to diagnose the problem and heal or treat it through physical therapy. The causes could include a lack of stretching your hip flexors, hamstrings, IT bands, etc., before you begin exercising.

Change Your Jogging Habits

Speaking of exercise, jogging is a fitness routine that highly impacts your knees. For avid runners, knee injuries account for 42 percent of all related injuries. Why is that? A lot of these injuries have to do with how you jog. This primarily has to do with form, foot strike and, commonly, an inherent hip dysfunction. Want a personal take on how your running habits are affecting your knees and feet? Contact us to set up an appointment for a running analysis.

Workplace Stiffness

Sometimes knee pain is a direct result of the nature of your regular job. If you have an office job that entails being at a desk for most of your day, don’t sit for great lengths of time. Time out opportunities to take a stroll around the office on a regular basis to keep stiffness from setting in. Or consider looking for ways to stand and work throughout the day. Many offices have employed “sit-stand desks” to combat these types of conditions from setting in.

Know Your Feet

Your knee pain may be about more than just your knees. Your feet can have a dramatic effect on the wellbeing of your knees. What shoes you choose to wear, particularly during training or exercise, can have a big impact on your knee conditions. Luckily there are ways to pinpoint where you’re going wrong with shoe selection—stopping in to see our pedorthist Reid Herrboldt is a great first step. Want some guidance on the best types of shoes? Contact OI, and our pedorthist Reid Herrboldt will set up a running analysis/walking analysis to see what shoe might be right for you. 

Need to Be Seen?

If you’ve experienced knee pain from an injury, you can set up an appointment to see a physical therapist or specialized D1 trainer to establish an injury-prevention program to strengthen your core, hips, hamstrings and other lower extremities to positively impact your flexibility and strength.

How to Tell When Your Child Needs an Orthopedic Visit

How to Tell When Your Child Needs an Orthopedic Visit

Bumps and scrapes—every kid experiences them thanks to their penchant for physical activity in the outdoors. But when does a bump or a scrape turn into something worth visiting the orthopedist for? Not all symptoms are equally serious, so when should you take your child in to be examined?

Here are a few common symptoms that, if persistent or frequent, can be a sign it’s time to visit the orthopedic physician.

Injury-related pain

This one is the most clear-cut symptom – if your child experiences pain in an area in which he or she encountered a collision in a sporting event or a tumble in the backyard or any other directly associated injury event, it’s likely worth a clinic visit. Most impacts such as these will have immediate symptoms such as redness, soreness or swelling, but if they linger or continue beyond a couple hours, it might be a sign of a more serious injury.

Morning stiffness

As parents, we all have experienced that stiff and sore feeling when we get out of bed. But when our children start to experience it, it could be a sign of illness beyond just “sleeping too hard.” If this stiffness is regular or affects your kid’s day-to-day activities that used to come more easily (even tasks as basic as reaching for a cereal box or brushing his or her teeth), it could be a sign of the onset of juvenile arthritis. If symptoms are frequent or regular, check with your doctor.


When a child has a broken bone it might not always be obvious. Depending on the severity of the fracture, he or she might not exhibit obvious symptoms like searing pain or restricted movement. A fracture is still a serious ailment that needs to be treated quickly, though. One of the easiest ways to tell if a bone is possibly broken is bruising in an area that may have been impacted. If a bruise appears that is accompanied by tenderness or difficulty in moving limbs or joints in the surrounding area, it might be worth a visit to the orthopedist to get an X-ray.

Warmth and swelling

One sign of a joint condition in a child (or anyone for that matter) is a joint feeling warm or appearing visibly swollen. As outlined above, this is normal in the immediate time after an injury, but persistent or unexplained hotness or redness might be a calling card of an inflammation that needs to be treated. If swelling sticks around for more than a few days or keeps returning time and again, ask your doctor about a possible inflammatory condition.

Persisting pain

One-off joint pain can sometimes be attributed to basic growing pains, particularly in pre-10-year-old children, but if the pain is persistent and continues beyond a night or two it might be a sign of lasting ailments, such as childhood arthritis or various types of infections. If pain lasts for a week or more, it’s time to set an appointment with an orthopedic physician to eliminate any serious complications.

In the ER… insist on us. We'll be there.

When to Know If an ER Visit Is Necessary

Visiting the ER or emergency department of a hospital for immediate orthopedic needs can be a traumatic and stressful experience for anyone. But with the right team on the case and the right frame of mind, you can weather an ER visit without adding to the pressure.

Here are five details on ER care to keep in mind, courtesy of the experts at Orthopedic Institute (OI).

Is it a true emergency?

If you find yourself needing orthopedic care that is non-life-threatening and occurs between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., you have the option of calling a clinic, such as OI (605-331-5890). Speaking with a knowledgeable and caring nurse will help you find out more about the seriousness of your injury and potentially get you scheduled with a doctor on the same day, encourage you to come to a walk-in clinic like the ones OI offers or head directly to an ER.

Emergency or urgency?

If you require urgent but not necessarily emergency orthopedic care, a walk-in clinic may be your best option. OI offers OI NOW from 3-7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m.–3 p.m. on Saturdays. Urgent care or walk-in clinics are typically staffed by a professional orthopedic physician assistant (PA). They’re an option when your situation is concerning enough that you don’t want to wait until the next day. The PA will be able to assess your injury and help determine what the best route is for you. You may need to see a physician, and the PA can get the ball rolling with X-rays and, when necessary, an MRI.

Is it after hours?

If you’re in need of orthopedic medical care after typical office hours and you’re not certain a trip to the emergency room is the right way to go, you can call a clinic’s after-hours service (OI’s is at 605-331-5890). The service provider will listen and take a message to quickly transmit it to an available doctor on call. He or she then calls you back to determine how urgent your situation is and whether a trip to the ER is necessary or you should set an office appointment in the next day or two.

Ready to wait?

Sometimes a trip to the ER is necessary—so it’s important to have a grasp on how best to approach it. More than 130 million times a year, people in the United States end up in an emergency room—often with non-life-threatening problems that can mean hours of waiting for treatment. Before seeing a doctor, expect to wait more than 55 minutes, the average ER wait time across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On a busy night or weekend, the wait could end up being several hours, depending on where you live.

Seeing a specialist?

A word to the wise: If you do end up in the ER, most people don’t know that you can choose your own doctor. Your ER doctor may try to keep you within his or her network rather than offer you a choice of a specialist you may prefer, so you insist on seeing the doctor of your choice. Exercising this option can be useful if you regularly see a doctor familiar with your condition or if you have never been seen by a specialist such as an OI doctor, but wish to see one with skill in the area that’s landed you in the ER in the first place. Having the ER call an orthopedic doctor with whom you already have a relationship will get the process started much more quickly than with a doctor who has never treated you before. This will only help get you in and out of the ER as soon as possible and ahead of patients waiting to be assigned a doctor.

3 Ways Orthopedic Care Is a Gift During the Holidays

3 Ways Orthopedic Care is a Gift During the Holidays

The gift of healing. It’s a gift that keeps on giving and can keep you going. During the holiday season, this is one gift that may be critically important and highly useful. We are sometimes so worried about finding that perfect Black Friday deal or the perfect Christmas decorations that we might forget to take care of our own bodies.

Aches, breaks, and dislocations don’t take a break—here’s how orthopedic care can brighten your spirits over the holidays.

Always on call

The holidays don’t mean a vacation from potential orthopedic pitfalls, and, luckily for you, orthopedic caregivers are typically on-call throughout the break to ensure patients are well provided for in the event of an injury or incident. Pain can wear on you in both the physical and emotional sense and can consume your energy and focus. When that pain is alleviated, you can get back to the things you truly care about and were otherwise unable to do.

Because of a team of committed physicians, Orthopedic Institute (OI) is one such facility that has on-call physicians provide healing services from when the first snowflake falls to when the last one melts.

Physicians with passion

You won’t get better care than from physicians and clinic staff who have a drive and a passion for healing. That’s why selecting a healthcare provider with a stellar crew is so critical to your end results. OI’s own team members are drawn to the field of orthopedics for a variety of reasons, including genuine curiosity for medicine, family influences and a nurturing spirit. One thing they all have in common, though, is passion for healing.

Determined follow-through

A commitment to seeing the healing process through to a patient-pleasing ending is another crucial gift when it comes to orthopedic care, particularly during the holiday season. Injury can keep you from taking part in family traditions and things you truly care about, so having a caregiver with amazing follow-through can make all the difference.

OI’s physicians appreciate the opportunity to come alongside patients in their times of need, whether that’s a devastating injury or debilitating pain. They’re committed to walking patients through the process step by step – and the last step is resolution.  OI’s team strives to get patients back to the things that matter most to them through the healing process.

Just remember this season to always be conscious of your health. There is a lot of comfort in knowing that if unexpected injury or physical pain occurs for you or your loved ones, there are caring physicians in your community who are ready to deliver the gift of healing.

5 Outdoor Safety Tips for Parents

5 Outdoor Safety Tips for Parents

Whether it’s the summertime cabin fever that spurs you to send your kids out of doors or the after-school energy burst, there are ample opportunities year-round for your children to clock some outdoors time. And if you remember the importance of safety, these outdoor times can be a positive, healthy experience.

Don’t forget to keep the following tips in mind before you send your kids out the door for some outside time.


When it comes to hitting the outdoors, whether it’s a nature hike, an organized bike ride or just a trip to a local park, it’s important your kids are outfitted with appropriate equipment and gear. First things first – if there’s a chance of rain and it’s going to be an extended time spent outside, make sure they’ve got waterproof clothing handy. Same goes for cold weather – make sure appropriate dress is utilized. Sickness often comes as a result of excess exposure to the elements.

If you’re stepping up your activities (i.e., skateboarding, biking, rollerblading, etc.) then you need to get used to sending them on their way with helmets, kneepads, elbow pads and the like. Johns Hopkins estimates that the No. 1 most common injury sustained on bikes, skates, scooters or skateboards is head injury – and 55 percent of children don’t wear helmets. Don’t let your kids be part of that statistic!

Plant Life

There are plenty of mantras we were all taught when we were kids (“Leaves of three, don’t bother me.”), and the sentiment still stands. When your kids are hitting the outdoors, make sure they (or you, if you’re accompanying) know how to identify harmful native plants. Poison oak and ivy can be identified by their leaves and ragweed, fairly common in the area, has a pretty distinctive look too. These types of plants can cause painful and prolonged rashes or can be packed with pollen or other allergic irritants. (Pro tip: Send a placard along with your kid with a cheat sheet on identifying harmful plant life – to pique their interest, turn it into a game!)


In South Dakota, we’re no strangers to bugs. But when bugs bite, they can carry and transfer a variety of potential problems on to your kids. Make sure that whether you’re accompanying your child or not, adequate insect repellant is on-hand – bite-transferred illnesses like West Nile virus and Lyme disease can have ongoing and severe effects. Additionally, long-sleeved shirts and pants are best when it comes to venturing into areas rife with bugs, such as wooded areas and near bodies of water.

Urban Outdoors

Safety isn’t restricted just to being in nature, either. If you reside in the city, there are still important outdoor precautions to take. A lot of the gear and plant life tips above still apply, as well as making sure your children have your address and phone number on them in case of getting turned around or lost and clear rules set forth on how far they’re allowed to travel and with whom. It’s best to keep your kids within eyeshot or earshot when in a high-traffic area in a city. These are basic, no-nonsense rules of thumb – but a reminder never hurts.


But what about injury? Are you able to easily identify injuries (or at the very least get in touch with someone who does)? A study from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) found that fractures (36%), contusions (20%) and lacerations (17%) were among the most common injuries sustained on playgrounds and park equipment. An additional study from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) cited climbing equipment (23%), swings (22%) and slides (17%) as the most common playground mainstays to cause injury. Make sure that you know the steps to take if a tumble occurs, and keep a good eye on your younger kids when they’re out and about at the park or playground.

And when it comes to injury your team at Orthopedic Institute has you covered – set up an appointment once injuries like broken bones occur.