Mobilization Appears Beneficial Following Ankle Fracture Surgery

Ankle fractures are one of the most common orthopedic injuries, especially among young males and older females. About 50% of ankle fractures require surgery to reposition the bones for healing. Traditionally, casts are used to prevent the ankle from moving and protect it while it heals. The lack of movement can lead to ankle pain, stiffness, swelling, and weakness. In contrast, researchers have recently found that using removable casts or splints and exercising the joint following surgery appears beneficial.

A team of Cochrane Researchers state that exercise performed soon after surgery can help reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness while increasing movement. For fractures that are stable, walking appears helpful too. Because there appears to be a slight risk of surgical wound problems with early exercise, the researchers caution that movements should be performed with care.

Don’t Shrug Off Shoulder Replacement Surgery!

Are you one of the 16 million Americans with shoulder pain and function loss because of arthritis? Are you thinking about total shoulder replacement surgery, but fear it’s too costly or risky? A new study from Johns Hopkins University shows that not only is total shoulder replacement surgery (arthroplasty) less expensive, but it is also associated with fewer complications than other types of total joint replacement surgery.

Shoulder arthroplasty involves replacing the affected joint with a metal and plastic artificial joint. The procedure is associated with far fewer post-surgical complications than total knee or total hip replacement surgery. It is also about $4,000 to $5,000 lower in cost. So, don’t put off shoulder arthroplasty. In fact, 99% of people that received shoulder arthroplasty stated that they wished they had done it sooner!

Back Injuries Common in Young Athletes

Lower back injuries don’t just happen to the overweight and middle-aged. They’re the third most common type of injury suffered by young athletes, more common than even concussions, according to a new study. And over a third of them are serious enough to cause long-term problems.

Overtraining appears to be the single biggest culprit behind young athletes’ back injuries. Children and teenagers are still growing. Their bodies are still growing, developing and can’t take as much repetition, and therefore training, as an adult body can. When they try to, the result is usually an injury.

Back injuries can occur because of a one-time hyperextension (overextension) of the back or from an accumulation of stress and strain over time. Insufficient strength of the abdominal and back extensor muscles may also play a role.

“If a young athlete has lower back pain for two weeks or longer, it is imperative that the athlete be evaluated by a sports medicine physician,” says Neeru Jayanthi, MD, sports physician at Loyola University Medical Center and study author.

“If a serious injury such as a stress fracture is not properly treated and does not heal properly, the athlete could be at risk for long-term back problems.”

The study reviewed the medical files of more than 1,200 athletes from Chicago and surrounding areas, aged 8-18, who had received sports physicals or treatment for injuries at Loyola University Medical Center or Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago between 2010 and 2013. Fifteen percent of the injured children had lower back injuries. Only knee and ankle injuries were more common.

Athletes who specialized in one sport were the most likely to be injured. And those with back injuries tended to spend more time at sports, 12.7 hours weekly, than children with other injuries did (11.3 hours).

Jayanthi offers nine tips to reduce the risk of back and other injuries in young athletes. And since four involve not overdoing it, that seems to be the biggest key.

  • Don’t specialize in one sport before late adolescence.
  • Don’t spend more hours per week than your age playing sports.
  • Don’t spend more than twice as much time playing organized sports as you spend in gym and unorganized play.
  • Don’t play competitive sports year round. Take a break from competition for one to three months each year. The break(s) need not be taken all at once.
  • Take at least one day off per week from training in sports.
  • If there’s pain in a high-risk area such as the lower back, elbow or shoulder, take one day off. If pain persists, take one week off.
  • If symptoms last longer than two weeks, get evaluated by a sports medicine physician.
  • In racket sports, form and strokes should be evaluated to make sure the back is not regularly extended by more than 20 degrees.
  • Enroll in a structured injury-prevention program taught by qualified professionals.
  • Athletes and their parents need to realize that a young body, no matter how athletically gifted, has its limits. Exceeding them is a surefire road to injury.

The findings from the study were presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2013 National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando on October 28.

November 15, 2013