Radial Pulse Therapy used to treat Plantar Fasciitis, Tennis Elbow, and other forms of Tendinitis at Orthopedic Institute.

The Best Treatment for Plantar Fasciitis and Tennis Elbow

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.

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

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!

3 Common Causes of Thumb Pain

3 Common Causes of Thumb Pain

Years of working hard and participating in your favorite hobbies can potentially take a toll on your body, especially your fingers. Think about how much strain you likely place on your hands over your lifetime. It’s no surprise, then, that many people start to feel aches and pains in their thumbs.

Are you starting to feel pain or stiffness in your thumbs? Read into these three common causes of thumb pain. 

1. Trigger Thumb

Trigger thumb occurs when your thumb remains stuck in a bent position, as if squeezing a trigger. This occurs when tendons become irritated and swollen and can’t move easily. Sometimes a bump may form on the tendon, adding to movement difficulty. Farmers, musicians or people in industrial occupations commonly experience trigger thumb due to the heavy reliance and strain on their fingers.

Signs of trigger thumb include:

  • Snapping/popping sensation when moving the thumb
  • Swelling or bump in the palm
  • Inability to fully flex the thumb
  • Locking in the bent position, requiring help from the other hand to straighten
  • Pain and stiffness when bending
  • Soreness at the base of the thumb

2. De Quervain’s Tendinosis

When tendons at the base of the thumb become swollen or constricted, they may cause pain along the thumb side of the wrist.  De Quervain’s tendinosis may occur from overuse, but it’s also associated with pregnancy and rheumatoid disease.

Signs of De Quervain’s tendinosis include:

  • Primarily pain felt over the thumb side of the wrist, along with swelling
  • A snapping sensation when moving the thumb
  • Difficulty moving the thumb and wrist

3. Thumb Arthritis

There are several types of arthritis, but the type most often affecting the joint at the thumb’s base is osteoarthritis, a.k.a. “wear-and-tear” arthritis. This is found more often in women than men and tends to occur after 40 years of age. The most prominent symptom is pain at the base of the thumb when you grasp an object or apply force with your thumb.

Signs of thumb arthritis include:

  • Enlarged appearance at the joint of your thumb
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Decreased grasping or pinching strength
  • Swelling or stiffness at your thumb’s base

Experiencing thumb pain?

We want to help. Contact us today at (605) 331-5890 or set up an appointment.

4 Ways a Certified Hand Therapist Can Benefit Your Life

4 Ways a Hand Therapist Can Benefit Your Life

A crucial part of recovery from a physical ailment lies in occupational therapy.  Thankfully, highly specialized therapists exist to guide people through the treatment and recovery process. One such expert is a hand therapist, whose specialty is worth exploring.

A certified hand therapist can use his or her practice to bring the many benefits of occupational therapy to your life.

How They Treat

Certified hand therapists have no shortage of expertise—to achieve their certification they must have worked in the field for a minimum of five years, had 4,000 + hours in the area of practice and passed a difficult exam that traditionally has only a 40 percent pass rate. Across the globe, there are only 5,300 certified hand therapists—and two of those are in Sioux Falls at Orthopedic Institute (OI). Hand therapists work alongside occupational therapists, physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons to help bring new vigor not only to hands but also wrists, elbows and shoulders affected by any of the following:

  • Rheumatoid and osteo arthritis
  • Congenital deformities
  • Traumatic amputations or injuries
  • Wounds and infections
  • Joint replacement
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Stroke-related contractures
  • Postoperative rehabilitation
  • Chronic pain/ Work-related injuries

Restored Function

One of the most satisfying parts of hand therapy is the feeling of restored function. The whole arm is vital to  pivotal tasks. Experiencing pain or loss of function would be hard on anyone.  Many of the listed conditions take a toll on people in one way or another. More often than not, conditions such as arthritis diminish the enjoyment people receive from beloved hobbies or fulfilling jobs. Due to the complex nature of the hand, they can require surgery and weeks to months of therapy, but the end result can greatly impact a person’s life for the better.

Renewed Confidence

With restored function also comes renewed confidence. When people lose the ability to partake in the hobbies they love or experience pain performing basic tasks, it increases feelings of vulnerability and dependence on others. When a hand therapist expertly walks people through the process of restoring function to their hands and upper limbs, it also gives them back the strength to live as they did before the onset of a painful injury or condition.

Gained Knowledge

Getting through the rehabilitation process with a therapist is learning experience for both parties. As the therapist comes to understand the patient, the patient also learns about his or her injury and the healing process. This experience helps patients understand the importance of hand therapy and the effort needed by everyone involved. Learning about the injury, how it affects the body and what has to happen for healing to occur will better prepare people for the process, should another injury arise.

Reduced Stress

Pain in your shoulders, wrists, elbows and hands doesn’t just cause inconvenience, but it can also lead to stress, decreased coping abilities, and trouble sleeping. A hand therapist understands this as much as any other occupational therapist and will carefully work with you to relieve pain and/or assist with appropriate modification techniques. Once the building blocks of hand therapy and healing are underway, the ability to function should significantly improve.

4 Surefire Signs of a Top-Notch Carpal Tunnel Surgeon

4 Surefire Signs of a Top-Notch Carpal Tunnel Surgeon

If you’ve been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, you know all about pain, numbness, and tingling in your hand and arm. It’s a common condition that occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand from your wrist becomes squeezed or compressed, and it can get worse over time. Surgery may be recommended to relieve the pressure on the nerve.

That’s when you’ll need to know these 4 Surefire Signs of a Top-Notch Carpal Tunnel Surgeon.

1. They’re a board-certified specialist.

When it comes to your hands, not just any doctor will do. A top-notch carpal surgeon should be board-certified in orthopedic surgery AND specialize in hand surgery. The more experience a doctor has with carpal tunnel surgery , the better your results are likely to be. At Orthopedic Institute, our board-certified hand specialists are Dr. Blake Curd and Dr. David Jones.

2. They won’t recommend surgery first.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can often be treated without surgery – through the use of braces, corticosteroids and changes to your daily routine. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms for a long period of time with no relief, or if your symptoms have begun dramatically interfering with your daily life, surgery may be right for you. The important thing is to arrive at that decision WITH your doctor during the course of treatment. If they recommend surgery the first time they meet you, it’s time to look for a second opinion.

3. They have excellent satisfaction ratings.

Do your homework! A quick search of any potential surgeon’s name online can give you a wealth of information – including whether or not they are in good standing with state and federal agencies, or have a history of malpractice claims. We’re proud of how the Orthopedic Institute team rates on Healthgrades.com.

4. They take time to talk with you.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list based on certification, experience and track record – it’s time to consider one final criteria: communication. Will your surgeon take the time to sit down with you, explain his or her process and what you can expect? Or will you only be meeting with them on the day of your surgery? (Hint: don’t settle for that last one.) Ask for a consultation appointment where you can meet and interview your surgeon.

Ready to take the next step? Make an appointment today or visit one of our walk-in clinics.