Upper Back Pain Between Shoulder Blades: Is it Serious?

Article featured on MedicalNewsToday

Poor posture, injury, or problems with the spine can all lead to upper back pain. A common cause of pain between the shoulder blades is muscle strain. Treatments for mild upper back pain include stretching exercises and pain relievers. Some cases of pain between the shoulder blades are preventable. Someone with underlying spinal problems may need advice from a doctor or physical therapist to reduce pain and discomfort.

Causes

Stretching, maintaining good posture, relieving stress, and avoiding heavy lifting can help alleviate or prevent shoulder pain.

There are several muscles of different shapes and sizes in the upper back, which help with neck, shoulder, and arm movements.

Injuries to these muscles can cause upper back pain. The feeling can be a dull ache or a sharp pain.

Exercise

Some forms of exercise increase the risk of injuring the upper back.

Throwing a ball overhead, lifting weights, and performing some swimming strokes can strain muscles between the shoulder blades. The repetition of these movements over time is a common cause of muscle strain.

Other symptoms of muscle strain include a feeling of weakness in the area, swelling, and muscle cramps. People can treat a mild strain with ice, rest, and pain relievers. Most mild strains should heal within a couple of weeks.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce pain and swelling. It is important to try to avoid activities that strain the back muscles. Applying an ice pack for up to 20 minutes every few hours can also reduce pain and swelling. Gently moving the shoulders at regular intervals can help reduce any stiffness.

Posture

How someone sits or stands can cause pain between the shoulder blades. Some positions that may put a strain on muscles in the upper back include:

  • sitting at a desk for much of the day
  • using an uncomfortable chair
  • leaning over a laptop for long periods
  • crossing the legs when sitting down

These postures can cause a dull ache between the shoulder blades.

Gently stretching the muscles in the upper back can help ease the pain. People can try rolling the shoulders forward and backward to reduce stiffness. Linking the hands behind the back and gently pulling the arms downward might also help.

Stress

Stress causes muscles in the body to become tense. The neck and shoulders are a common area of tension, which can cause pain between the shoulder blades. Stress can also cause headaches if the shoulder muscles are tense for a long time. Addressing the causes of stress, having a good support network, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can all reduce stress.

Lifting or carrying

Carrying or lifting something heavy can strain the upper back. People should take care to use safe lifting practices when pushing, pulling, or lifting items.

Carrying a shoulder bag puts weight on the shoulders, pulling on the muscles between the shoulder blades. Holding heavy shopping bags can also strain the arms and the muscles in the upper back.

People can avoid carrying too much weight on the shoulders by choosing backpacks with two straps to spread weight evenly and only carrying essential items. If necessary, a person can make more than one trip to avoid carrying several heavy bags at once.

Muscle injury

Injury to muscles in the upper back can cause pain between the shoulder blades.

Injuries might occur as a result of exercising, lifting something heavy, or falling. A tear can cause severe pain.

The rotator cuff muscles attach the arm to the shoulder blade. Injuring one or more of these muscles can cause pain in the upper back and shoulder. Such injuries can also cause difficulty in moving the arm or shoulder.

Treatment for mild or moderate muscle tears includes resting, applying an ice pack, and doing strengthening exercises. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe steroid injections to reduce swelling. For about 20% of rotator cuff injuries, surgery is necessary to reattach a tendon.

Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine has a sideways curve. A person’s shoulders or hips may look slightly uneven, or one shoulder might stick out.

Scoliosis does not always cause symptoms, but some people with this condition may experience back pain. Exercise will help strengthen muscles in the upper back and shoulders, which can reduce muscle strain and pain.

Myofascial pain syndrome

Myofascial pain syndrome is a long-term health condition that causes pain in specific muscle groups. Unlike with other chronic pain conditions, pain does not occur throughout the body.

A trigger point in a muscle will cause pain in the area. In the upper back, it may cause pain across the group of muscles around the spine, neck, and shoulders. Treatment can include laser therapy, steroid injections, lifestyle changes, and massage.

Osteoarthritis

Gradual wear and tear of the joints over time can cause osteoarthritis. The symptoms include stiffness, pain, and swelling, which can cause difficulty in moving the joints.

Injuring or overusing the joints can increase the risk of osteoarthritis.

Some people have a job that requires frequent reaching overhead or heavy lifting. This work can lead to osteoarthritis in the shoulder joints and upper back pain later in life.

Maintaining good posture, keeping the muscles in the shoulders and upper back strong, and avoiding heavy lifting can help prevent pain between the shoulder blades.

People who sit at a desk for long periods may benefit from a comfortable chair to prevent upper back pain. They should try to keep the spine in a natural position without hunching the shoulders or pushing the neck forward.

Regular exercise can help a person maintain a moderate weight, which reduces strain on the back. Stress can cause tension in the upper back and shoulders. Yoga or stretching exercises can help ease tight muscles.

Summary

It is easy to strain muscles in the upper back and cause pain between the shoulder blades. Common causes are leaning over a laptop, carrying heavy bags, or sitting in an uncomfortable seat for long periods.

Most causes of upper back pain are mild. However, some more serious problems can cause pain between the shoulder blades. It is important to seek medical advice for symptoms of scoliosis, osteoarthritis, or a muscle tear.


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.

Causes and Treatment of a Bicep Tear or Strain

Article featured on MercyHealth

What is a bicep tear or strain?

A bicep tear is a strain or tear in the bicep muscle that can occur in the shoulder or elbow. The tear can be complete (the tendon has torn completely away from the bone) or partial.

Bicep tears or strains are classified as grades 1 – 3 depending upon severity of the injury.

Types of bicep tears or strains

  • Grade 1 — minor injury that involves overstretching the biceps muscle or tendon, typically without a loss of strength or mobility.
  • Grade 2 — causes moderate tearing in the biceps or tendon with some loss of mobility or strength.
  • Grade 3 — a complete rupture of the biceps muscle or tendon, may require surgery to repair.

Causes of a bicep tear or strain

There are a variety of causes for a bicep tear or strain including:

  • Constant overuse — sports that require repetitive movement on the bicep in the shoulder or elbow can cause a bicep tear or strain.
  • Acute injury — moving or twisting your elbow in an unfamiliar way can cause a bicep tear or strain, for example, falling on an outstretched arm.

Risk factors for a bicep tear or strain

Individuals at risk for a bicep tear or strain include:

  • People who participate in sports that require throwing, such as baseball or softball
  • People with poor circulation
  • People with previous shoulder or other upper-arm injuries
  • People who don’t warm up for sporting activities as much as they should

Symptoms of bicep tear or strain

The most common symptom of a bicep tear or strain is a sudden burst of pain in the upper arm near the shoulder. You could also hear a “popping” sound as the tendon tears. Other signs that you may have torn a bicep tendon can include:

  • Weakness in the shoulder
  • Bruising on the upper arm
  • Inability to move or rotate your arm
  • Change in the look of the bicep in the upper arm (it may look popped out)
  • Muscle spasms

Diagnosis of bicep tear or strain

Your doctor can diagnose a bicep tear or strain in a full physical exam. Your doctor will ascertain your symptoms and medical history before performing physical tests. In a complete tear, diagnosis is obvious due to the appearance of a bump on the upper arm.

Other shoulder conditions, such as rotator cuff injuries, shoulder impingement and shoulder tendinitis, often accompany a bicep tear.

Your doctor may order diagnostic tests, like an x-ray or MRI, to evaluate the severity of the injury and if you have any other conditions.

Treatment of bicep tear or strain

In most cases, nonsurgical treatments will relieve the symptoms associated with a torn or strained bicep. Nonsurgical treatment options include rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications.

Other nonsurgical treatments may include:

  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation — exercises to help improve shoulder flexibility and build shoulder strength, your physical therapist will develop a treatment plan that is customized for you.
  • Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy — helps speed up the recovery process up by injecting concentrated growth factor platelets from your blood back into the affected shoulder. PRP therapy is a newer treatment option for soft tissue injuries.

It is rare for a patient to need surgical treatment for a bicep tear. Candidates for surgery include:

  • People who experience chronic cramping or muscle pain in the bicep near the shoulder
  • Athletes who need to have complete range of motion restored
  • People who have occupations that demand full range of motion in the shoulder

There are several surgeries your surgeon could recommend to repair bicep tear including:

  • Bicep tenodesis — bicep tenodesis surgery will anchor the ruptured end of the biceps tendon to the bone with a screw.
  • Acromioplasty and direct tenodesis — this is a procedure that is more commonly performed on younger patients who have a history of prior shoulder injuries.

Recovery from bicep tear or strain

The time needed to recover from a bicep tear or strain will depend on many factors, including age and health of patient, as well as severity of the injury. Mild injuries take ten weeks or more, while more severe injuries that require surgery can take months to fully recover function.

Your physical therapist and orthopedic surgeon will require you to wear a sling for four weeks following surgery and gradually build up your strengthening exercises as you get stronger. Physical therapy will be crucial to strengthening the muscles to allow you to return to your day-to-day activities.

During the recovery process, avoid participating in activities that cause pain (other than physical therapy).


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.

Total Recovery Time for Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Article featured on Arkansas Surgical Hospital

If your doctor has suggested total knee replacement surgery, it’s crucial to know what to expect after the procedure. Recovery from a total knee replacement surgery takes about three months and depends on how well you follow your surgeon’s instructions. Understanding the timeline will help you prepare for the downtime you’ll need while your knee takes time to heal and rebuild strength.

Understanding Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement surgery is usually suggested when you experience severe, unrelenting pain that hasn’t been alleviated by other means. If there is loss of motion, a lot of grinding in the joint, or misalignment of the knee, a knee replacement can help.

What to Expect After Total Knee Replacement Surgery

Recovering from a knee replacement is a lengthy but worthwhile process. Here’s what to expect when you recover from your knee surgery at Arkansas Surgical Hospital.

The Day of Surgery

After your knee replacement is complete, you’ll be taken to the post-anesthesia care unit, where a nurse will carefully monitor your vital signs and incision. When your pulse, blood pressure, and breathing rate are normal, you’ll be transferred to your private suite in our patient care unit. In most cases, you’ll stay overnight. You’ll be given pain medication to keep you comfortable after your surgery.

Postoperative Care

You will meet with a physical therapist on the day of or the day after your total knee replacement. Your therapist will develop an exercise regimen to help you with mobility, which will start as soon as possible after surgery to prevent stiffening of the knee joint.

While you’re in the hospital, your physical therapist will take you through various exercises designed to strengthen and stabilize the knee. By the time you leave the hospital, you should be walking independently with an assisted device. Most patients discharge home from the hospital after 1-2 nights. Your surgeon will decide which is appropriate for you.

The First Six Weeks

Before you return home, make sure you have safety features installed. These may include a shower seat in the tub or shower, grab bars where needed, and other mobility aids recommended by your surgeon or physical therapist.

During the first six weeks at home following a total knee replacement surgery, the focus is on healing. You may take over-the-counter medications for pain, which your doctor can recommend.

Eat lots of iron-rich foods to promote healing and keep your strength up. At the six-week point after your surgery, you should be able to stand, sit, walk, and use the stairs unaided.

Returning to Work & Activities

Most patients can return to work after six to eight weeks. If your job involves manual labor or long stretches of time spent walking and standing, it may take you longer to return to full-time work. Your doctor can advise you on when you’re ready. It’s essential to pace yourself and not put too much stress on your knee joint before it’s strong enough to handle the load.

Exercise is vital for proper recovery from total knee replacement surgery. During the first several weeks after your procedure, walking and gentle exercises may be appropriate in addition to your physical therapy. Sports, jogging, and other high-impact activities need to be postponed until about two to three months after your surgery to give your joint time to heal and strengthen. Avoid lifting anything over 40 pounds during the first three months after your total knee replacement surgery.

Getting Back to Normal

Your body and your knee joint will continue to gain strength for several months after your surgery. There shouldn’t be any pain after the first four months. If you continue to feel pain, be sure to talk to your surgeon.

If you’ve participated in activities that are hard on your knees in the past, talk to your doctor about how to return to jogging, skiing, and other activities while protecting your new knee implant. There may be some activities that aren’t advisable.

Most patients fully recover within six months to a year of total knee replacement surgery. While this may seem like a long time, the knee replacement itself can last as long as 15-20 years, giving you many years of comfort and mobility.


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.

5 Benefits Of Aquatic Therapy For Spine Pain

Article featured on Spine Health

The pool is a great place to take your workouts or physical therapy exercises. Here’s a look at five reasons why your back benefits from aquatic therapy.

Benefits of Water Therapy For Your Back

Your back can benefit from a water therapy session, but it’s important to note that aqua therapy may not be right for everyone. If you are dealing with a fever, infection, or an open wound (including a surgical incision that has yet to fully recover), water and the chemicals in the pool can make the problem much worse. If you have any of these conditions, speak with your doctor before moving forward with water-based therapy.

Here’s a look at why your back can benefit from water therapy:

  1. Decreased load bearing. Aqua therapy can decrease the stress placed on your spine because of the buoyancy provided by the water. If you are dealing with a disc issue that makes movement painful or if you are trying to re-strengthen your spine weeks after a surgery, aqua therapy can take some of gravity’s stress off your spine, which allows you to focus on your therapy exercises.
  2. Increased mobility. Along a similar vein, because of the buoyancy of water, we are often able to twist and turn more freely in water, which allows us to do range-of-motion exercises that would not be possible on land. Increased mobility is a benefit of water-based therapy.
  3. Natural resistance. If you do trunk twists on land, you’re not going to encounter any resistance and thus won’t be working your spinal muscles very hard. Try doing them in water instead. Water is roughly 600 times more resistant than air, so simple land workouts will be more effective when performed in the water.
  4. Decreased pain. Many people who suffer from back pain remark that it’s less painful to do a water workout than a normal land routine. This makes sense, because the water helps to increase blood supply to sore muscles and joints. The feel of the water is also comforting, which helps take your mind off your pain.
  5. No falling. Spinal surgery or other painful spinal conditions can have a negative impact on our balance. A painful nerve sensation or a momentary loss of balance on land due to a spinal condition can send us toppling to the earth, which can lead to fractures or other injuries. However, balance isn’t an issue when you’re up to your waist in water. You eliminate your risk of falling by conducting your workout in water, and it will also help to strengthen the muscles in your feet to improve your balance when you’re on land.

If you are dealing with spine pain and you are looking for a refreshing way to complete your physical therapy exercises, talk to your doctor about developing a water-based exercise program.


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.

6 Things You Should Know About Shin Splints

Article features on Healthgrades

Shin Splints: Treatment and Prevention

If you’ve ever had a shin splint, you know all about this unique shooting pain. “Shin splint” is the everyday name for tibial stress syndrome—pain and tenderness in the shinbone (tibia) in the front of your leg. Shin splints happen when there’s too much stress on this bone and tissues in your lower leg. The good news about shin splints is there are ways to treat the pain and keep the condition from happening again. Here are key things to help you cope with and prevent shin splints.

1. Shin splints are common.

Many athletes develop shin splints at some point. So do dancers, runners and people in the military. People with flat feet or a very high arch are also prone to having shin splints. You’re more likely to develop shin splints when you push yourself too hard during exercise. Running or doing other exercise too vigorously can cause shin splints. Increasing the length of your workouts too quickly can cause them, too. Exercising on an uneven surface or a very hard surface, like concrete, increases your risk. Wearing old shoes without proper cushioning and support also can lead to shin splints.

2. Know the signs.

Pain from shin splints usually runs along the inside of the front of the bone in your lower leg. It usually occurs in both legs. Your legs will feel sore and tender. They might even swell. The pain from shin splints usually gets better when you take a break from exercise. It often comes back when you start exercising again.

3. Diagnosis is simple.

A doctor can usually diagnose shin splits by doing a physical exam and asking about your medical history and activities. Sometimes, you’ll need an X-ray to rule out other causes of the pain.

4. Don’t push through the pain of shin splints.

It’s important to challenge yourself when you exercise. However, shin splints are typically a sign you’re pushing yourself too hard. If you’re a runner, it may mean you need to change your shoes or where you’re running. Give your body a rest if you develop shin splints. If not, you could develop a stress fracture in your lower leg.

5. You can often treat shin splints yourself.

You don’t usually need to see a doctor to treat a bout of shin splints. Take a break from very heavy exercise that strains your lower leg, like running. Instead, try biking, swimming or walking. Soothe the pain with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Try acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen. Ease inflammation in your shins with ice. Protect your legs with a thin towel, and then put an ice pack over your shins for about 15 to 20 minutes. You can repeat this several times a day for a few days. As you start to feel better, slowly return to exercise. Very gradually increase the time and intensity of your workouts.

6. Take steps to prevent shin splints.

Give your legs a strong support system. Buy a good pair of cushioned shoes meant for the activity you’re doing. Consider using a pair of arch supports or other inserts that provide more cushioning. Always stretch before you exercise. If you’re a runner, take a look at your form to see if you can make changes in your stride. That could help relieve stress on your shins. Even when you want to challenge yourself with exercise, remember to not go overboard. Mix in other exercises that don’t put as much impact on your shins—like strength training, yoga, biking, walking or swimming.


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.

Best Foot Exercises for Healthy Feet

Article featured on Medical News Today

What are the best foot exercises for healthy feet?

Many people experience foot or ankle pain at some point. Keeping the feet strong can help alleviate this soreness and improve overall health and flexibility.

Regularly exercising and stretching the feet and ankles can help ensure that the muscles are providing the best support. These exercises may also increase range of motion in the feet, helping keep a person active for as long as possible.

Most foot exercises are simple and require no complicated equipment to perform. People can do them at home or in the gym as part of a regular exercise routine. The following exercises can improve flexibility and mobility in the feet.

1. Toe raise, point, and curl

This exercise has three stages and will help strengthen all parts of the feet and toes.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Keeping the toes on the floor, raise the heels. Stop when only the balls of the feet remain on the ground.
  3. Hold this position for 5 seconds before lowering the heels.
  4. For the second stage, raise the heels and point the toes so that only the tips of the big and second toes are touching the floor.
  5. Hold for 5 seconds before lowering.
  6. For the third stage, raise the heels and curl the toes inward so that only the tips of the toes are touching the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  7. Build flexibility and mobility by repeating each stage 10 times.

2. Big toe stretch

Keeping a wide range of motion in the big toe is important. The following exercise also has three stages and is designed to stretch and relieve pain in the toes from wearing tight shoes.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Bring the left foot to rest on the right thigh.
  3. Using the fingers, gently stretch the big toe up, down, and to the side.
  4. Keep the big toe in each position for 5 seconds.
  5. Repeat this 10 times before switching to the other foot.

Exercises for strength

The following exercises can help enhance the strength of the feet.

3. Toe splay

Doing the toe splay exercise can improve control over the toe muscles. People can do it on both feet at once or on alternate feet, depending on which they find more comfortable.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit in a straight backed chair, with the feet gently resting on the floor.
  2. Spread the toes apart as far as possible without straining. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  3. Repeat this motion 10 times.
  4. Once a person has built up their strength, they can try looping a rubber band around the toes. This will provide resistance and make the exercise more challenging.

4. Toe curls

Doing toe curls builds up the flexor muscles of the toes and feet, improving overall strength.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lay a small towel on the floor in front of the body, with the short side facing the feet.
  3. Place the toes of one foot on the short side of the towel. Try to grasp the towel between the toes and pull it toward oneself. Repeat this exercise five times before switching to the other foot.
  4. To make this exercise more challenging, try weighing down the opposite end of the towel with an object.

5. Marble pickup

Doing the marble pickup can increase strength in the muscles on the undersides of the feet and toes.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place an empty bowl and a bowl of 20 marbles on the floor in front of the feet.
  3. Using only the toes of one foot, pick up each marble and place it in the empty bowl.
  4. Repeat this exercise using the other foot.

6. Sand walking

Walking barefoot on sand is a great way to stretch and strengthen the feet and calves. This is a good exercise in general because sand’s soft texture makes walking more physically demanding.

To do this exercise:

  1. Head to a beach, a desert, a volleyball court, or any other location with sand.
  2. Remove the shoes and socks.
  3. Walk for as long as possible. Try increasing the distance slowly over time to avoid overexerting the muscles in the feet and calves.
  4. The following exercises can be helpful for pain relief.

7. Toe extension

The toe extension is useful in preventing or treating plantar fasciitis, which is a condition that causes pain in the heel when walking and difficulty raising the toes.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place the left foot on the right thigh.
  3. Pull the toes up toward the ankle. There should be a stretching feeling along the bottom of the foot and heel cord.
  4. Hold for 10 seconds. Massaging the arch of the foot while stretching will help ease tension and pain.
  5. Repeat this exercise 10 times on each foot.

8. Golf ball roll

Rolling a golf ball under the foot can help relieve discomfort in the arch and ease pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

To do this exercise:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair, with the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place a golf ball — or another small, hard ball — on the floor next to the feet.
  3. Lay one foot on the ball and move it around, pressing down as hard as is comfortable. The ball should be massaging the bottom of the foot.
  4. Continue for 2 minutes, then repeat using the other foot.
  5. A frozen bottle of water can be a soothing alternative if no suitable balls are available.

9. Achilles stretch

The Achilles tendon is a cord connecting the heel to the calf muscles. It can strain easily, but keeping it strong may help with foot, ankle, or leg pain.

To do this exercise:

  1. Face a wall and raise the arms so that the palms of the hands are resting flat against the wall.
  2. Move one foot back, keeping the knee straight. Then, bend the knee of the opposite leg.
  3. Keep both the heels flat on the floor.
  4. Push the hips forward until there is a stretching feeling in the Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds before switching sides. Repeat three times on each side.
  6. For a slightly different stretch, bend the back knee and push the hips forward.

Foot health and safety tips

To help keep the feet strong and healthy:

  1. Complete a thorough warmup routine before exercising.
  2. Wear supportive footwear for day-to-day activities and sports.
  3. Replace worn-down shoes as often as possible.
  4. Build up strength and flexibility slowly to condition the feet and ankles.
  5. Avoid uneven surfaces, especially when running. Try not to run uphill too often.
  6. Listen to the body. Do not overdo activities.
  7. Prevent any recurrence of injury by resting and seeking appropriate treatment.

Summary

Keeping the feet and ankles healthy is a good idea. Performing the exercises above can help ease existing pain, prevent discomfort, and reduce the risk of injury.

People with a diagnosed foot condition such as plantar fasciitis or strain to the Achilles tendon may wish to try exercises to help.

Always check with a healthcare professional, if possible, before starting a new exercise and stretching routine.


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.

How to Treat a Broken Finger Tip

Article featured on American Society for Hand Surgery

The finger tip is one of the most commonly injured areas of the upper extremity because we use our finger tips in so many daily activities. Your finger tip can be injured in a variety of different ways, including being crushed by a door, hit with a hammer, getting stuck under a heavy object, or cut with a knife.

While some finger tip injuries may be minor, others can be more severe. You can the bone, nail bed, tendons or even the nerve endings, which allow you to have sensation in the finger tips. Here’s how to treat a finger tip injury, depending on the severity:

  • Dressing (a gauze wrapping or tape): Dressings can treat more minor finger tip injuries, such as when just the skin is affected or if there is a small amount of bone exposed.
  • Splints or metal pins: These can be used if you’re suffering from a broken finger tip. The metal pins will hold the bone fragments in the proper position.
  • Drainage: If blood is collecting under your nail, your hand specialist may make a small hole in the nail to drain it.
  • Surgery or amputation: These treatment options are reserved for more severe nail bed injuries.

Regardless of which treatment you receive, it’s important to remember that your finger tip may never look or feel the same after an injury, especially a severe one.

Your treatment plan will vary based on your specific circumstances. Visit a hand specialist as soon as you’ve injured your finger tip to determine the best plan. The sooner you receive treatment, the better. Delaying treatment may result in loss of feeling in your finger tip.


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.

6 Benefits of Trail Running

Article featured on Verywellfit

If you’re tired of running the same routes on city streets or on the treadmill, then trail running may be a great way to break the boredom, reduce your risk of injury, and challenge yourself in a new way.

Trail running is exactly what it sounds like: lacing up those sneakers to clock the miles in nature. The difference between road running and trail running is that trail running is a bit more unpredictable, meaning you are not guaranteed a smooth, paved path.

While elevation changes may occur in both road and trail running, depending on the location, trail running may also have unpredictable terrain with surfaces (such as rocks, roots, and streams) that require a special shoe designed to help support your foot during this style of workout.

Health Benefits of Trail Running

According to Kelly Pritchett, Ph.D., RDN, CSSD, Associate Professor in Nutrition and Exercise Science at Central Washington University, road running and trail running share similar benefits such as improved aerobic fitness, increased muscular endurance, and a boost for mental health. While Pritchett notes the cardiovascular outcomes are likely comparable between both types of running, research has yet to determine whether trail running provides a greater cardiovascular benefit than road running.

Nevertheless, science has shown us that trail running indeed has health benefits that extend far beyond our physical health. Let’s take a closer look at these benefits.

Promotes Longevity

Good news! A 2020 systematic review has shown that running was associated with a lower risk of death related to cardiovascular and cancer disease states in both men and women. Pritchett points out this review did not have specific trends for weekly volume, pace, duration, or even terrain, yet noted that some running (or jogging) versus no running (or jogging) proved to have improved health in participants as well as longevity benefits. And, more is not necessarily better when it comes to logging those miles. The authors also noted that higher doses of running may not have greater mortality reduction benefits.

Improves Cardiovascular Health

Whether running or jogging, you are moving more than just the muscles in your legs. Yes, your heart is a muscle too! With every stride you take, your heart is pumping out blood to help support your workout while strengthening itself over time.

A stronger heart sets you up for success, just like the 2020 systematic review above noted with a lower risk of mortality seen from cardiovascular disease in participants who logged any amount of running throughout their week.

While this benefit isn’t isolated to trail running, it’s a baseline for further research that could look at the cardiovascular differences between road versus trail running.

Improves Muscular Strength and Balance

Amanda Brooks, running coach and author of Run To The Finish: The Everyday Runner’s Guide to Avoiding Injury, Ignoring the Clock and Loving the Run, notes one of the best benefits she shares with her clients to get them on the trails is the added benefit of strength training that the terrain offers to work stabilizer muscles.

Pritchett agrees, sharing that given the varied terrain with trail running, runners may see improvements in lower limb strength, balance, and neuromuscular benefits. Plus, it reduces the impact on the joints due to the softer surface which may, in turn, reduce the risk of injury.

But, Pritchett advises moving with greater awareness as there may be a greater risk for tripping over roots or rocks. This is especially true when hydration and fueling are neglected and decision-making and cognition are impaired.

May Reduce the Rate of Some Injuries

Running on the road is harder on your joints than running on a soft surface like a trail. In fact, you may reduce your risk of certain injuries by heading out onto the trail instead of the pavement. In a study conducted in 2020, researchers compared road runners to trail runners and specifically analyzed the impact of each on the Achilles tendon. The study authors found that road runners have higher loads on the tendon and less shock absorption that can result in Achilles tendon structure changes.

Boosts Mood and Mental Well-Being

One of the best ways to get your “vitamin N” (nature) in to improve mental well-being, says Pritchett, is to run outdoors on trails. And the research agrees!

According to a 2020 study, participants who logged up to 6.5 miles of running on trails self-reported higher wellness and health scores on the surveys. While there are limitations to this research, including the self-reported survey and limited diversity in the sample, it does complement the earlier research.

A study published in 2019 that showed both experienced and novice runners preferred specific characteristics in their running environments to gain the restorative capacity from their run, which included green and lively spaces.

Promotes Community

In a run funk? Grab your friends and lace-up together for the trails, or consider joining a running group to embrace the community aspect that running can provide.

Brooks shares that, “Trail running can bring some fun and joy back to a lot of runners, who spend their time so focused on paces when hitting the road.”

While she does note there are some limitations to trail running if you are working on speed work for a road race, there are also many benefits as we’ve seen above, and something many of us have missed over the past year: connection!

How to Reap the Benefits: Tips for Trail Running

If you are new to trail running (or running in general), Brooks offers tips to get your workout off on the right foot!

Invest in Trail Running Shoes

First, she reminds clients that trail shoes are necessary given they offer the additional traction needed when you hit the trail terrain. For those runners who are used to the road, embracing the slow down and remembering to pick up your feet is crucial.

Adjust Your Stride

“Picking up our feet sounds like an obvious thing”, says Brookes, “but distance runners sometimes have a little shuffle that helps them conserve energy. On the trails, dirt will grab that shuffle and slow down your pace, so there’s a need for greater awareness of your foot-strike.”

Fuel and Hydrate Strategically

For those seasoned trail runners participating in trail ultra-events that can last greater than four hours, Pritchett notes the extreme demand from a physiological perspective placed on the body including dehydration, neuromuscular fatigue, inflammation, exercise-induced muscle damage, and glycogen depletion.

To prepare your body properly for these events, Pritchett points out research has shown adequate carbohydrate intake and hydration during training and races can help delay fatigue and improve performance in these situations, meaning fueling pre, during, and post-trail runs can greatly impact your overall experience with the trail run.


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.

Overview of Osteoarthritis of the Hip

Article featured on UCSF Health

Osteoarthritis of the hip causes the hip joint to get stiff and inflamed and can progress until resting no longer relieves your pain. Bone spurs might build up at the edges of the joint. When the cartilage wears away completely, bones rub directly against each other, making it very painful to move. You may lose the ability to rotate, flex or extend your hip. If you become less active to avoid the pain, the muscles controlling your joint get weak and you may start to limp.

Osteoarthritis, resulting from the wear and tear of your body as you age, affects more than 20 million people in the United States. The pressure of gravity on your joints and surrounding tissues causes physical damage, leading to pain, tenderness, swelling and decreased function. The smooth and glistening covering on the ends of your bones, called articular cartilage, which help your joints glide, may wear thin. Initially, osteoarthritis is not painful and its onset is subtle and gradual, usually involving one or only a few joints. The joints most often affected are the knee, hip and hand. In some instances, joint replacement (arthroplasty) of the hip or knee may be recommended to treat osteoarthritis.

Our Approach to Osteoarthritis of the Hip

When treating hip osteoarthritis, our goals are to relieve pain and restore normal movement. Treating the condition early, with nonsurgical options such as medication and physical therapy, can slow cartilage degeneration, minimize pain and preserve function. If the arthritis is already severe, joint replacement surgery can help, eliminating pain and improving the ability to walk.


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.

5 Common Summer Injuries for Kids and How to Prevent Them

Article featured on MedStar Health

Along with all of the outdoor fun comes more opportunity for activity-related injury, especially if your kids have been less active while stay-at-home orders were in place.

In addition to nature-related injuries and illnesses, such as tick bites and sunburn, summer activities present more chances for broken bones, concussions, and other bumps and bruises. As sports medicine physicians, here are some of the most common summer injuries we see in warm weather months and how you can help prevent them at home.

Common summer injuries.

1. Bicycle injuries

Bike accidents are one of the most common summer injuries because the warmer weather presents more chances for you and your kids to ride together. But, a fall from a bike accident can be dangerous, resulting in cuts, scrapes, fractures, or concussions. If vehicles are involved, a bike crash could even be fatal.

Tips to prevent bicycle injuries: You can prevent severe head injuries from bike crashes by wearing a helmet. In fact, the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute suggests that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head and brain injury by up to 88% for both adults and children. Other protective gear, such as knee and elbow pads, can also help to minimize injury from falls. And, a properly-fitted helmet and padding can reduce your risk of injury from skateboard and scooter accidents as well.

2. Playground injuries

More free time on summer vacation means more time spent visiting the local park or backyard playground. Unfortunately, monkey bars, slides, and swings commonly cause fall-related fractures and head injuries over the summer, even if the equipment is properly maintained.

Tips to prevent playground injuries: Playground falls are inevitable, but choosing a playground built over soft surfaces can minimize the risk of severe injury. Avoid playgrounds on concrete or gravel and instead look for playgrounds that hover soft surfaces, like rubber or wood chips. Active supervision is also important, as you may be able to help prevent a fall if you’re within arms reach.

3. Trampoline injuries

Concussions and fractures are also common in the summer months as a result of jumping on a trampoline. Bloody noses, bumps, and bruises may not be as serious but they’re also a concern.

Tips to prevent trampoline injuries: Many trampoline injuries involve a collision between two or more people, so one of the best ways to minimize the risk of injury is to only allow one person to use the trampoline at a time. It’s also a great idea to attach a net around the outside of the trampoline to minimize falls.

4. Water injuries and drowning

Swimming in a pool, lake, or ocean is great exercise but water-related injuries can be fatal. Drowning is the second most common cause of death by unintentional injury from kids between the ages of one and four, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And, even good swimmers can get injured in and around water-related activities like diving, water sports, and boating.

Tips to prevent water injuries and drowning: Adult supervision is the most effective way to prevent drowning accidents, whether you’re at the pool or in open water. Stay within arms reach when your kids are in or around the pool. If the pool is not fenced in, be sure to cover it when it is not being used. If your family is on a boat participating in or watching water sports, make sure everyone wears a Coast Guard-approved life jacket, even if you’re a good swimmer.

5. Overuse injuries

While school sports may take a break from practices during the summer, travel teams or sports camps are in full swing. Overuse injuries, such as tendonitis or Osgood-Schlatter disease in the knee, can be painful and prevent your kids from fully participating in their sports. Shoulder and elbow overuse injuries are especially common in baseball players and pitchers because of the repetitive throwing motion.

Tips to prevent overuse injuries: One of the best ways to minimize overuse injuries in kids and teenagers is to encourage them to play more than one sport. Cross-training can help prevent common ligament injuries in the knee, shoulder, and elbow. Additionally, if your child has been sedentary, it’s important to help them gradually return to their sports by slowly increasing the frequency and duration of their participation.

When to see a doctor for a summer injury

If you suspect a head injury of any kind, call a medical professional to determine if they need additional care. It’s always better to seek care sooner rather than later.

If your child had an activity-related fall, you should seek medical care if they are:

  • Limping
  • Unable to put use full range of motion in an extremity (e.g. arm or leg)
  • Experiencing pain or tenderness when pressure is applied to a joint
  • Having headaches or drowsy, as these could be signs of a concussion

Have a safe, injury-free summer!


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.