10 Tips for Getting Around on Crutches

Article featured on Healthgrades

1. Verify Your Fit

Properly fitting crutches can make the difference between comfort and calluses. When you’re standing up straight with your arms at your side, the top of the crutches should be 1 to 2 inches below your armpit, and the handgrips should be at wrist-level. Your elbow should be slightly bent in this position. If your crutches don’t feel right after using them for a day or two, don’t hesitate to ask your care team for a different size.

2. Walk This Way

To walk, start standing up straight on your good leg with your crutches gripped in your hands. Lean onto your good leg, lift your crutches, and set them down 6 to 12 inches in front of your good foot. Lean your weight into your hands and step your good leg 6 to 12 inches in front of your crutches. Rest as necessary and repeat. Always look ahead—and not down—as you walk. Your body will follow your gaze.

3. Get a (Cushioned) Grip

Your hands—not your armpits—should bear your weight when you use crutches. If you push your crutches into your armpits, nerve damage could occur and send pain down your arms. If your hard-working hands become sore, cushion the handgrips with an adhesive pad. Or consider wearing fingerless gloves with padding if you need to walk a far distance.

4. Scan for Obstacles

You certainly don’t want to take a tumble while you’re on crutches and risk injuring another body part, like a wrist or your good leg’s ankle. While you’re walking, be on the lookout for ice patches, puddles, curled-up rug edges, gravel, and small steps. Think about how to safely and slowly get past your obstacle—or find another way to get where you’re going.

5. Use Care When Sitting

Sit down slowly every time. Transfer both crutches to the hand on the same side as your injured leg. Lean into your crutches, then reach back with your free hand to feel the chair, sofa, stool or bed. Sit down into the seat. Be sure to set your crutches down upside-down within reach. When standing up, slide to the edge of the your seat, and reverse these steps. Keep the back of your good leg touching the seat.

6. Sit Down on the Steps

If there’s an elevator to take you up and down floors, use it. But if you need to negotiate stairs on crutches, The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons recommends that you do so seated. That may feel odd, but it reduces your risk of a tumble and further injury. Be sure to push your crutches up or down in the direction you’re going before you start, so they’re available when you stand up again.

7. Contain Beverages and Foods

When you’re on crutches, carrying a cup of coffee or a sandwich to the couch can be a challenge without help. One way to do this on your own is to transport foods in closed travel containers, such as plastic containers or travel mugs. You can carry even more if you use a backpack or side-slung pack.

8. Equip Your Pad

You may spend more time at home than usual while your leg heals. So outfit your pad with props that save you time and effort. Use a wheeled office chair to roam the rooms of one level of your house. In the kitchen, set up a high, stable bar stool that you can lean on while you prepare food and drinks. And use (clean) trash grabbers or long barbeque tongs to pull small items down from tall shelves.

9. Care for Your Crutches

Once a week when you’re sitting down, check your crutches for anything that may weaken their support. Look for things like loose hardware, worn tips, and items like small rocks or stickers that have become lodged to the rubber ends. The more sturdy your crutches are, the more steady your pace will be.

10. Embrace Your Pace

You simply aren’t going to get around as quickly or as easily on crutches as you could before them. Give yourself plenty of time to get everywhere. And give yourself a pass on most of the items on your to-do list for a bit. The more slowly you go, and the more rest you give yourself and your injured leg, the more quickly you’ll regain strength and speed. And ultimately, you’ll recover quickly and safely.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

orthopaedic doctors, new mexico

What are shin splints?

Article Featured on HealthLine

The term “shin splints” describes pain felt along the front of your lower leg/shin bone. Shin splint pain concentrates in the lower leg between the knee and ankle. Your doctor may refer to the condition as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS).

Shin splints frequently affect people who engage in moderate to heavy physical activity. You may be more likely to develop shin splints if you participate in strenuous physical activities or stop-start sports such as tennis, racquetball, soccer, or basketball. Sometimes the pain of shin splints can be so intense that you must stop the activity.

Shin splints is a cumulative stress disorder. Repeated pounding and stress on the bones, muscles, and joints of the lower legs prevents your body from being able to naturally repair and restore itself.

What causes shin splints?

The pain associated with shin splints results from excessive amounts of force on the shin bone and the tissues attaching the shin bone to the muscles surrounding it. The excessive force causes the muscles to swell and increases the pressure against the bone, leading to pain and inflammation.

Shin splints can also result from stress reactions to bone fractures. The constant pounding can cause minute cracks in the bones of the leg. The body can repair the cracks if given time to rest. However, if the body doesn’t get time to rest, the tiny cracks can result in a complete fracture or a stress fracture.

Who is at risk for shin splints?

Various activities and physical attributes can put you at risk of getting shin splints. Risk factors include:

  • an anatomical abnormality (such as flat foot syndrome)
  • muscle weakness in the thighs or buttocks
  • lack of flexibility
  • improper training techniques
  • running downhill
  • running on a slanted surface or uneven terrain
  • running on hard surfaces like concrete
  • using inappropriate or worn-out shoes for running or working out
  • participating in sports that have fast stops and starts (like soccer or downhill skiing)

Shin splints are also more likely to occur when your leg muscles and tendons are tired. Women, people with flat feet or rigid arches, athletes, military recruits, and dancers all have an increased likelihood of developing shin splints.

Symptoms of shin splints

People with shin splints will experience some of the following symptoms:

  • a dull ache in the front part of the lower leg
  • pain that develops during exercise
  • pain on either side of the shin bone
  • muscle pain
  • pain along the inner part of the lower leg
  • tenderness or soreness along the inner part of the lower leg
  • swelling in the lower leg (usually mild, if present)
  • numbness and weakness in the feet

See your doctor if your shin splints don’t respond to common treatment methods or if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • severe pain in your shin after a fall or accident
  • a shin that feels hot
  • a shin that’s visibly swollen
  • pain in your shins even when you’re resting

How are shin splints diagnosed?

Your doctor will usually be able to diagnose shin splints during a physical exam. They’ll ask you about the types of physical activities you participate in and how often you pursue them. Doctors may prescribe diagnostic tests such as imaging scans and X-rays if they suspect that you might be suffering from bone fractures or a condition other than shin splints.

Treating shin splints

Home remedies

Shin splints normally require that you take a break from certain physical activities and give your legs time to rest. The discomfort will usually resolve completely in a few hours or at most in a few days with rest and limited activity. The suggested amount of downtime is typically about two weeks. During this time, you can engage in sports or activities that are less likely to cause additional harm to your legs. These activities include swimming or walking. Your doctor will often suggest that you do the following:

  • keep your legs elevated
  • use ice packs to reduce swelling
  • take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, acetaminophen
  • wear elastic compression bandages
  • use a foam roller to massage your shins

Check with your doctor before restarting any activities. Warming up before exercising is also a good way to make sure your legs aren’t sore.

Surgery

Surgery is rarely used to treat shin splints. However, if your shins splints are causing severe pain and symptoms last for more than several months, your doctor may recommend surgery. This surgery is known as a fasciotomy. In this procedure, your doctor will make small cuts in the fascia tissue surrounding your calf muscles. This can potentially relieve some of the pain caused by shin splints.

Can shin splints be avoided?

Steps you can take to avoid getting shin splints include:

  • wearing shoes that fit well and offer good support
  • using shock-absorbing insoles
  • avoiding exercising on hard or slanted surfaces or uneven terrain
  • increasing exercise intensity gradually
  • warming up before exercising
  • making sure to stretch properly
  • engaging in strength training, specifically toe exercises that build calf muscles
  • not attempting to exercise through the pain

Any intensive exercise program requires strengthening of all surrounding muscle groups. Workouts should be varied to avoid overuse and trauma to any particular muscle group. You should refrain from any intense exercise program if severe muscle pain or other physical symptoms develop.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

new mexico, orthopaedic doctors, albuquerque

13 Causes of Leg Cramps–and How To Stop Them

Article by Jenna Birch | Found on Health.com

What are leg cramps?

If you haven’t already, you will probably experience leg cramps at some point in your life. They can hit at the worst possible moments; whether you’re lying in bed at night or taking a run on the treadmill, that sharp stabbing pain can feel totally debilitating. If leg cramps, also called charley horses, persist, they can become even more irritating, perhaps knocking you off your typical exercise or sleep routine.

leg cramp is a sharp, sudden contraction or tightening of the muscle in the calf, which usually lasts a few seconds to a few minutes. If a cramp does hit, you can ease it in the moment by stretching the muscle gently. To find a long-term solution to leg cramps, however, you might need to take a closer look at their many potential causes.

To keep leg cramps at bay, make sure you’re nourishing your body and getting enough rest. You’ll also want to rule out any underlying issues that could be contributing to leg cramping, such as peripheral artery disease or thyroid issues. See a doctor when cramps prevent you from exercising, or if they seem to happen spontaneously without a trigger.

Here, experts weigh in on the major reasons you might be experiencing leg cramps, so you can keep those muscles free of charley horses for good.

Dehydration

One of the classic causes of leg cramps is dehydration. “Athletes and avid exercisers deal with cramps all the time,” says Mark D. Peterson, PhD, research assistant professor in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Medical School, “especially during the summer months, in the heat without enough liquid.” The reason dehydration causes cramping is largely theoretical, says Todd J. Sontag, DO, family physician with Orlando Health Physician Associates. It may be that fluid depletion causes nerve endings to become sensitized, “triggering contractions in the space around the nerve and increasing pressure on motor nerve endings,” he says. This depletion is exacerbated by hot conditions or exercising, since you lose more fluid through sweat.

Mineral deficiency

It’s not just water that you sweat out. Lost electrolytes can also contribute to leg cramping. If you’re low in certain electrolytes and other minerals, that imbalance can trigger spontaneous cramping. An imbalance in sodium, calcium, magnesium, or potassium could all lead to leg cramping, says Gerardo Miranda-Comas, MD, associate program director of the sports medicine fellowship at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Sports drinks can help reduce cramps thanks to their sodium, as can eating wisely. Bananas, sweet potatoes, spinach, yogurt, and nuts are rich in those muscle-friendly minerals and may ward off the deficiencies that could cause leg cramps.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy increases a woman’s risk for leg cramps, especially during the second and third trimesters. “This is most likely because the odds of magnesium and potassium deficiency are higher during pregnancy,” Peterson says. If you’re pregnant and experiencing leg cramps, stay hydrated and consider taking a magnesium supplement–with your doctor’s approval.

Exercise intensity

When you’re trying to kick your routine up a notch–increasing your biking mileage, starting to swim for triathlon training–your muscles aren’t automatically used to the new intensity and movement. “Whenever cramps are induced by starting or restarting an exercise, that’s usually an indication of ‘too much, too soon,'” Dr. Miranda-Comas explains. “Your muscles don’t act and respond the same when you jog and sprint, for instance, so any increase in workout volume or intensity can trigger cramps.”

Fatigue

You may be more prone to leg cramps when you’re already overtired. You might be more lax in your diet or forget to hydrate effectively, or, if your body hasn’t had enough time to properly recover from your last bout of exercise, your muscles might already be in rough shape. “Physiologically, when the muscle is fatigued, it’s not as synchronized in using nutrients,” Dr. Miranda-Comas says. In other words, a tired muscle loses more nutrients than it uses, so it’s not functioning at its peak. Nighttime or nocturnal leg cramps, which affect more than half of adults, can also be triggered by tiredness. “Although there is no one definitive cause [of nighttime leg cramps], they are likely associated with muscle fatigue and nerve dysfunction,” Dr. Sontag explains. “There’s also new research to suggest athletes that underwent higher-than-normal-intensity exercise had an increase in the incidence of nocturnal leg cramps.”

Sitting or standing

Muscles were made to move, contract, and rest, so if you’re doing anything out of the ordinary–sitting at a conference all day, standing in line at an amusement park–you might experience some leg cramping. Standing for a prolonged period of time can understandably contribute to muscle fatigue, which in turn can cause cramping, Dr. Sontag says. But too much sitting isn’t necessarily better. Prolonged sitting “may predispose the muscles to malfunction,” he explains, as the muscle fibers may become hyperactive. When the muscle is “on” and can’t relax, you end up getting a cramp. If you get leg cramps from standing, make sure to take a seat before your muscles feel too tired. And if you cramp from sitting for long periods of time, try to spend at least a couple of minutes walking around per hour that you’re seated.

Medications

If there’s no obvious cause of your leg cramps, then you might want to take a look at any recent additions to your medication list, Dr. Sontag says. Diuretics, a class of medications used to lower blood pressure, may trigger cramps because they deplete the body of fluid and salts, he explains. Other medications that may cause leg cramps include osteoporosis drugs like raloxifene and teriparatide; intravenous iron sucrose (used to treat anemia); asthma medications like albuterol; conjugated estrogens (used to treat menopause symptoms); and pain meds like naproxen and pregabalin. Commonly prescribed statins are also associated with muscle cramps in general, he adds. Talk to your doctor if you started taking a new medication at the onset of your leg cramps; Dr. Sontag says he is usually able to find an alternative medication for his patients.

Peripheral artery disease

If your leg cramps seem spontaneous and not exercise-related, it’s important to see your doctor to rule out underlying concerns. Some, for instance, “those that affect how the body moves electrolytes,” Dr. Miranda-Comas says, can cause leg cramps. Others, like peripheral artery disease, when cholesterol clogs blood vessels in the legs, affect blood flow. PAD can trigger cramps since there may not be enough blood getting to the legs.

Multiple sclerosis

Leg cramps can also be a symptom of the nervous system disorder multiple sclerosis. Some people with MS experience spasticity, which can include a range of involuntary muscle spasms and twitches, as well as leg cramps. Spasticity might feel like a mild tightness or tingling in the muscles to some people or more severe cramping and pain to others.

Left untreated, spasticity can cause frozen or immobilized joints, so talk to your doctor if you have

Osteoarthritis

Much like overexcited nerves can cause overuse-related leg cramps, nerves that malfunction for other reasons can lead to cramping too. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is usually categorized by stiff and achy joints. But people with the painful condition may also experience muscle spasms and leg cramps. These leg cramps are usually linked to osteoarthritis of the spine, which, when severe, could lead to pinched nerves or other nerve damage.

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy

Too-high blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes can lead to damage to the nerves in the legs, feet, arms, and hands called diabetic peripheral neuropathy. This nerve damage often leads to feelings of numbness or tingling, but it can also produce muscle twitching and full-blown leg cramps when the nerves in the legs aren’t functioning properly. Diabetes treatment can help prevent any further nerve damage, but a doctor might recommend pain medication or anticonvulsant drugs to tamp down the leg cramps.

Hypothyroidism

Thyroid conditions may also contribute to leg cramps, Dr. Sontag says. People with hypothyroidismproduce too little thyroid hormone, and overtime that deficiency can damage the nerves that send signals from your brain and spine to your arms and legs. Some people with underactive thyroids will feel tingling or numbness in their muscles, while others might experience leg cramps.

Always check with a doctor if you have unresolved leg cramps, especially with adequate nutrition, hydration, and stretching.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

The Big 7 Body Breakdowns

The Big 7 Body Breakdowns

Christie Aschwanden | Featured on Runners World

In an ideal runner’s world, every step of every mile would be 100 percent pain-free. No aches, no twinges, no lingering soreness from yesterday’s workout. The reality is that many runners constantly deal with a slight (or not so slight) disturbance—a tender foot, a tight hamstring, a whiny knee. While these nagging issues often aren’t serious enough to require a time-out, they are annoying, especially when they don’t let you fully enjoy your time on the roads.

Read more