News & Blog

10Sep/17
Elbow Injuries

Young Athletes And Elbow Injuries

It is no secret that children are becoming involved in high-level training and sports at younger ages than previously. Kids are also beginning to specialize in their chosen sports at younger ages than earlier generations. There are many potential consequences to this trend, both positive and negative. One of these is a higher injury rate for young athletes.This is particularly true of shoulder and elbow injuries.

The statistics on injuries to young athletes (under 18) in this age of increased specialization and training are startling. This is especially true when it comes to elbow injuries. For example, since 2000, there has been a fivefold increase in the number of serious shoulder and elbow injuries among youth baseball and softball players. Additionally, more than a third of children ages eight to 14 will have arm pain during a single youth baseball season.

Not only is the number of injuries increasing, but so is their severity. According to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), young athletes are experiencing injuries traditionally seen in adults at increasingly younger ages.

Physiotherapists and sports medicine professionals are in a unique and critical position to help curb the tide of increasing rates of elbow injuries among young athletes. We suggest below three ways for young athletes to recover from elbow injuries or prevent them in the first place.

Cross-training

As we mentioned above, sporting injuries are on the rise for young athletes. Overuse injuries, especially to the elbow, are a main culprit. There are two main ways to prevent and recover from these injuries. One of these is cross-training and another is rest, which we will cover in detail in the next section.

Elbow injuries from overuse, such as strains, tears and sprains, occur when young athletes participate in a sport in which repetitive motions cause increasing stress on the joint, such as pitching a baseball or shooting a basketball. This leads to inflammation, pain and a lack of mobility. These issues, if not addressed with short and long term solutions, can plague a young athlete into their adult years.

Cross training, including strength training, cardio and plyometrics, helps to reduce the stress on the elbow while improving overall conditioning. This is also true of rotating positions played on a team. Encourage them to increase cross-training in an effort to prevent and recover from elbow injuries attributed to overuse.

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Rest

Rest is the second of the two-part recipe young athletes can follow to prevent elbow injuries caused by overuse. It’s a key factor when recovering from injury as well. The elbow requires time away from the stresses of the repetitive motions required by sports. However, rest for a young athlete is even more important because of a perception that they may be losing ground to their rivals while they rest.

The simple act of resting the elbow can help a young athlete remain healthy and active into adulthood due to several factors. One of these is that the body of a young athlete is still growing. Consequently, major stress on the elbow when it is not fully formed can lead to permanent damage. Rest allows the elbow to heal and grow properly.

As was mentioned previously, resting is not as easy as it sounds to a young athlete. It is important to explain the long term benefits of rest. Additionally, the athletes should be aware of alternatives to constant training during the rest period. These activities can include gentle activity like gentle yoga or walking, breathing exercises, stretching and visualization. These activities include rest but also maintain a level of activity and focus on their particular sport.

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Orthopedic Supports and Braces For Elbow Injuries

There are many other factors when it comes to helping young athletes avoid elbow injuries in particular, including practicing proper technique and wearing the right equipment. However, if they actually suffer an elbow injury, an elbow brace could be an excellent way to help these athletes recover.

Orthopedic braces can help young athletes with elbow injuries in several ways. In the short term they reduce inflammation and pain while helping support and heal the injured areas. Over the long term, they can help the athlete by increasing mobility and range of motion while promoting proper technique. These factors are important to a young athlete with an elbow injury. Their bodies are still growing together with their knowledge of a particular sport. The multiple purposes of braces and other supports, such as athletic tape, make them excellent options to include in any prevention or recovery plan for young athletes.

In prescribing an orthopaedic support to a young athlete, it is important to take account of their faster growth rate. Sports medicine professionals must also be ready to explain the risks and benefits of these supports. The patient will also need to know how to properly use and maintain their supports.

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News & Blog

01Sep/17

The Benefits And Risks Of Wearing A Wrist Brace

There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to guiding an individual through the injury recovery process, especially when it comes to the wrist. What may work for one person and his/her wrist injury may not be as effective on another person with the same or a similar wrist injury. Educating yourself and your patient on the benefits and risks of wearing a wrist brace is an important step to establishing whether these orthopedic supports are helping or harming.

Below we examine a few of the benefits and risks of wrist braces of which patients should be aware in order to make injury recovery a faster, more effective process.

Benefits Of Wearing A Wrist Brace

Wrist braces offer many benefits to the wearer and can help patients recover from an injury or improve their quality of life if they suffer a chronic condition such as arthritis. Patients should be fully aware of these benefits and how wrist braces work to help them recover.

Wrist Stabilization

There is a wide variety of wrist braces for a wide variety of injuries and ailments. However, most orthopedic supports for the wrist address injuries in a few key ways. Wrist braces help stabilize the joint, ensuring there is no excessive movement relative to the surrounding structures. This allows the patient to function and complete daily tasks without interference with the healing process.

Swelling Reduction

Immobilizing the wrist with a brace also allows helps to reduce swelling and pain from inflammation.

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Post Surgical Healing

Patients who have undergone wrist surgery may wear a wrist brace to protect the surgical site and allow more rapid healing.

Fewer Restrictions On Daily Activities

It’s important to stress to patients that a wrist brace will offer one of the most flexible wearing experiences of any orthopedic brace. Many patients are anxious that orthopedic supports will hinder their daily activity and will shy away from proper use or even avoid wearing a brace altogether.

Certain wrist braces allow movement of the finger and thumb joints, enabling the wearer to perform regular activities. People often use them for activities that place greater demands on the wrist and hands. These braces can also improve sleep by protecting and immobilizing the joint with a subsequent decrease in pain.

In fact, one recent study published by the journal of the American College of Rheumatology  found that patients who wear working wrist braces as much as possible during the day for four weeks had a significant (32%) decrease in wrist pain and a small (5%) increase in grip strength.

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Risks Of Wearing A Wrist Brace

There is a variety of reasons for patients to consider a wrist brace when recovering from an injury or managing a chronic condition like carpal tunnel syndrome. However, there are also some risks of wearing a wrist brace of which the patient should be aware. It’s important that physiotherapists and sports medicine professionals not only understand these often nuanced risks, but that they properly convey them to their patients. Many of these dangers pertain to wearing habits and the need to communicate the proper use of the brace.

Failure To Wear The Brace

One risk of prescribing a wrist brace for a sprained wrist, arthritis or any other problem is that the patient will simply not wear the orthopedic support, thus hindering the healing process. There are many reasons individuals may not wear a wrist brace, but it often due to the level of discomfort many people feel when wearing them. Braces may make some activities more difficult and hard splints in particular may cause active resistance to wearing the recovery aid.

One way to counter this possibility is to ensure the wrist brace is fitted correctly so that it does not rub, strain, pinch or squeeze the area. This goes for the hand and arm as well as the wrist. Communicate thoroughly with patients to ensure they are comfortable and follow up with them to ensure nothing has changed in the proceeding days and weeks. If there is discomfort, work with your patient to target the source and come up with a solution, such as extra padding around bony areas or a different type of brace.

The material of which the brace is made can be an important factor influencing patient compliance. Supports that are non hypoallergenic or latex or neoprene free may yield significant benefits if the patient has a neoprene allergy or other similar condition.

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Wearing The Brace Only During Periods Of Discomfort

Another of the common risks of wearing a wrist brace is the tendency for some patients to limit its use to only short periods of acute swelling, tingling or pain. At other times, the individual may stop wearing the support.  Ultimately, he or she may then abandon the brace too early and put an obstacle in the way of recovery.

It’s important to stress that in this scenario, physiotherapists and sports medicine professionals must be vigilant, both in communicating to their patients the importance of letting the brace run its course and following up to ensure the patient is using the brace correctly and for the prescribed period of time. It helps to talk to the patient and determine several goals and benchmarks with them regarding the wearing of the brace. Patients may find that weekly progress reports and clear communication of times when their brace may not be needed (e.g. at night or during rest) are helpful. This helps the patient to focus on not just the outward physical symptoms, but also all the other elements that go into a successful recovery.

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News & Blog

21Aug/17
How does Kinesio Tape work?

How Does Kinesio Tape Work?

In this post, we briefly trace the history of Kinesio taping from its origins almost 40 years ago. We also briefly examine the principles behind the use of traditional athletic tape, which is often an alternative treatment option for repetitive stress injuries. In the main part of this text, we then explain the way in which Kinesio tape works to reduce the pain of these injuries and to accelerate the healing process. We highlight the contrasts between the traditional and kinesiologist approaches to taping. At the end of the post, you will be able to answer the question “How does Kinesio tape work?” if you encounter it in the course of your professional work or other activities.

The Traditional Approach To Treating Repetitive Stress Injuries

The traditional approach to the treatment of repetitive stress injuries has been to restrict the movement of the affected joints or muscles. Therapists believe that this restriction is necessary to permit the injured ligaments or other soft tissues to recover normal function. During the recovery process, the therapist allows the patient to gradually resume normal use of the joint or muscle until recovery is complete. At that point, the therapist will remove all restrictions.

Traditional athletic tape and orthopedic braces both function on this principle with some variations. Rehabilitative braces, for example, are designed to be adjusted during the period of treatment. The therapist adjusts them to gradually increase the range of motion of the injured joint as recovery progresses. Traditional athletic tape also uses this approach and will generally restrict the range of movement throughout the period of recovery.

The Origin Of Kinesio Taping

Kinesio taping was originally invented by a Japanese chiropractor, Dr. Kenzo Kase, in 1979. During the next 10 years, a growing number of Japanese chiropractors, orthopedists and other health care practitioners began using the method.

The method began to acquire international exposure initially through its use by Japanese Olympic athletes. It has also been popularized  by other famous athletes such as Lance Armstrong.

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How Does Kinesio Tape Work In Comparison To Traditional Treatments?

Kinesio tape works by gently lifting the layer of skin over the affected body part as the patient moves. This allows the flow of blood and other lymphatic fluids through and around the injured muscles and ligaments. There are two critical differences between Kinesio and traditional taping. The first of these is the extent of encirclement of the site of injury and the second is the range of motion permitted for the injured joint or muscle.

Extent Of Encirclement

As explained above, the objective of traditional taping is to restrict joint and muscle motion to prevent further injury. To achieve this, the therapist would normally encircle the entire joint with tape.

Kinesiologists believe that this complete encirclement impedes the flow of bodily fluids through and around the site of injury and thus slows down the natural healing process. As a result, they will apply Kinesio tape on top of the injury site but in general will not completely encircle it.

 

How Kinesio Tape works - 2

As demonstrated in this image, Kinesio tape is normally applied on top of the injury site, but never in such a way as to completely encircle the joint.

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Range Of Motion

The second critical difference between the two approaches lies in the range of motion permitted for the injured joint. In contrast to traditional taping, kinesiologists will tape in such a way as to leave the patient with as normal a range of motion of possible. The reason for this lies in the result of the patient performing his or her normal range of movements. As the patient moves, the tape, skin and the tissues below it will also move in such a way as to pull the skin away from the muscle. This allows lymphatic fluid to flow around and cleanse the injured muscles or other tissues, thus promoting faster healing.

To facilitate a full range of normal motion for the patient, Kinesio tape is extremely thin and porous. This permits the skin to breathe under the tape. In addition, the tape has an elasticity comparable to that of human skin and muscles. Further, to ensure the tape stays connected to the skin in its original position, the manufacturer will normally use a powerful medical grade adhesive. The adhesive is water resistant to permit the patient to perform normal daily activities. For example, the patient can shower or bathe without affecting the tape.

Conclusion

In this post, we have briefly described the principles behind the operation of Kinesio tape. We also compared these principles to those governing traditional taping approaches. Should you encounter the question “How does Kinesio tape work?” in any situation, you should now be able to provide a detailed and knowledgeable response.

In a future post, we will delve further into the principles behind the operation of Kinesio tape. We will also examine the implementation of these principles via the Kinesio Taping method designed by Dr. Kenzo Kase, the original inventor of the method.

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News & Blog

14Aug/17
Ankle Injury Setbacks

Three Common Ankle Injury Setbacks

Injury setbacks are an all-too-common occurrence during the recovery process, although they happen more often to individuals who have injured a joint, especially the ankle. Ankle injuries can be varied and can range from sprains and breaks to tendinitis and ligament tears. Ankle injury setbacks are common because of the difficulty in both (a) immobilizing the joint and the areas around the joint when at rest and (b) refraining from using the injured area when recovering and starting normal activities.

Setbacks can pose physical as well as mental hurdles for patients suffering from an ankle injury. Athletes can lose stability and speed while many patients with an ankle injury can lose their confidence and mobility, whether or not they are an athlete, when it takes a long period of time to recover or when pain and inflammation flare up after a promising run of rehabilitation.

By offering patients a combination of strengthening exercises, orthopaedic bracing and emotional support tools, athletic therapists and sports medicine professionals can help reduce and manage setbacks when helping patients recover from an ankle injury. Below are the three of the most common ankle injury setbacks patients may encounter on the road to recovery and how medical professionals can help combat them and return patients to full health.

Scar Tissue and Microtrauma

The Setback

Patients will sometimes progress through recovery with textbook speed and efficiency. They will be a couple of short weeks away from being ready to completely restart normal sporting or everyday activities when all of a sudden pain, discomfort, stiffness and/or inflammation will creep back in. Microtrauma is oftentimes the culprit of this step backward.

Microtrauma occurs when the patient has overloaded the healing tissue. Healing tissue is often composed of immature collagen, which doesn’t bear the stress normally put on the ankle in the course of even light daily activity. Some of this tissue breaks down, which results in pain, inflammation and potentially a host of other troubling symptoms. The good news is that this is a very common setback and is not nearly as damaging to the joint and surrounding structures as macrotrauma, or the complete disintegration of the joint or surrounding structures, such as a full tear in the ligament.

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The Road To Recovery

The regression caused by microtrauma is often just as much of a mental obstacle as a physical one for patients. Physically, if untreated, microtrauma can develop into heavier pain and inflammation and can result in chronic or near chronic issues associated with a buildup of scar tissue. To help counter this setback, return the patient to more regular rest, encourage them to use acute pain management strategies (such as ice, elevation, heat and massage) and make recommendations for orthopaedic supports, such as athletic tape or ankle braces.

It is also helpful to remind the patient that this is one of the most common ankle injury setbacks. Explain exactly what is going on with the body, how the physical exercises and measures will help rectify the condition and encourage them to journal or make small, daily notes on any progress they make to remind them that they are moving forward with recovery despite minor setbacks.

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Re-spraining The Ankle

The Setback

This is quite obviously a huge step backwards in any recovery program for someone with a sprained ankle. When a patient re-injures their sprained ankle, it could be due to anything from returning to full competition too soon to simply landing on the joint the wrong way while doing a rehab exercise or getting out of the shower.

Most re-sprained ankles result in worse instability, pain and inflammation than the original sprain, making these ankle injury setbacks even more terrible to confront. Most types of ankle sprains happen when the patient makes a rapid shifting movement with the foot planted. Often, the ankle rolls outward and the foot turns inward. This causes the ligaments on the outside of the ankle to stretch and tear. Re-spraining the ankle sends the patient back to square one in the recovery process and can weaken the joint and surrounding structures even further.

The Road To Recovery

A sprained ankle that has been sprained once again is often weaker and thus harder to rehabilitate the second time around. Therefore, it is important to focus on strengthening the ankle and the structures around it in any recovery program as well as investigate sturdier, more complex ankle supports. Recommending exercises that gradually strengthen the ankle and surrounding structures, such as the foot and calf, will help the patient recover and decrease the likelihood of permanent damage to the joint or another recurrence of the injury. Exercises such as toe and heel raises, step ups and ankle circles will help strengthen surrounding structures while decreasing inflammation and pain.

There is also a broad array of orthopaedic supports for weaker ankles or ankle injuries with a greater severity, such as a re-sprained ankle, that medical professionals can recommend to patients. Look for foot or ankle braces that support both the foot and the ankle and supports that keep the ankle mostly immobile to reduce the stress and movement on the severely weakened joint and ligaments.

Lastly, physiotherapists and sports medicine professionals should encourage patients to participate in physical activities that do not stress lower body movement during the beginning stages of recovery from a re-sprained ankle. Activities such as weight training or gentle yoga are great ways for active individuals to stay healthy and moving instead of immobile, which could lead to feelings of depression and other mental health issues.

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Nerve Damage

The Setback

Another of the common ankle injury setbacks on the road to recovery is nerve damage, especially if the patient is battling back from an ankle sprain. Nerve endings in the ankle joint may be injured during an ankle sprain, which in and of itself poses a risk to the long-term health of the patient, but also makes other elements of recovery more difficult.

A key component of the rehabilitation process includes retraining the ankle joint to protect against abnormal movements, normally referred to as proprioception. Proprioception is the body’s ability to sense movement and position of body parts. Nerve damage hinders this process as it decreases the body’s ability to sense movement or react to movement quick enough to suitably protect the ankle. This, again, can lead to not only the discomfort and physical risk of worsening the nerve damage, but can grind the recovery process for the ankle injury to a standstill.

The Road To Recovery

Solving the issue of nerve damage and guiding a patient through proprioception rehabilitation are two methods that go hand-in-hand and combine to form a process that will limit setbacks and increase the likelihood of full recovery.

Retraining faulty movement and stabilization firing patterns will help train the body to protect itself from abnormal motion that can cause re-Injury. Patients can accomplish this by using physical therapy devices such as a wobble board and unstable surfaces to retrain the ankle for uneven terrain. These methods will not only aid in improved proprioception, but will also help to retrain the brain to connect with the nerves in the ankle and foot while promoting nerve growth, countering much of the damage resulting from an ankle injury

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News & Blog

08Aug/17

Six Knee Brace Questions And Answers

Knee braces, while appearing simple at first glance, can be complex and baffling objects to many patients upon further inspection.  That’s why we’ve put together six of the most common knee brace questions that patients may ask and some straightforward advice you can give to them.

What will wearing a knee brace do?

All patients want to know why any treatment, support, medicine or exercise will help them feel better and stay better, so this is a great place to start familiarizing them with knee support products.

There are different knee support products for different purposes, but for the sake of helping a patient understand the basics, start with a general breakdown of how they work. Knee braces support the knee’s ligaments by controlling certain movements and providing protection against abnormal or excessive movement of injured knees. They can facilitate recovery in a variety of ways such as by using warmth and compression to reduce pain and inflammation, correcting improper and damaging movements or protecting and supporting the knee against excessive force or twisting out of position.

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Does it matter what kind of knee brace I have?

To answer the question, yes, it does matter, but it’s important to go deeper with patients and explain to them what the differences are and why they are important.

While many patients will follow your instructions to the letter, there are some who will not. If they are uninformed about the wide array of knee braces and their specific purposes, they are much more likely to believe they can decide for themselves which brace is suitable for them and chose the wrong one, pushing their recovery back and potentially making the injury worse.

While there are hundreds of different knee support products out there, all with slight variations geared to helping patients with specific problems, there are general classifications that you can explain to patients before making a particular recommendation.

The four main knee braces to briefly outline with patients are:

  • prophylactic braces, designed to protect knees from injuries, mostly in  contact sports like football.
  • There are then functional braces, which give support to knees that are already injured.
  • Next, there are rehabilitative braces, which limit harmful knee movement while a knee is healing after an injury or surgery.
  • Lastly, there are unloader/offloader braces, which are designed to provide relief to people who have arthritis in their knees.

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When should I use a knee support and how do I put it on?

Timing is everything, as they say, and it’s especially crucial when it comes to wearing a knee brace. That’s why it’s very important to help patients understand all the ins and outs of how to properly use a knee brace, including the logistics of putting on the product.

Give very detailed instructions on when the support should be used and when it is best to shed the brace and leave it behind. Depending on the type of knee support, these instructions will be different, but help the patient get a definite sense of if they should wear the brace all the time or only when doing certain activities, including sports, rehab exercises, daily transport from place to place, sitting and sleeping.

The next step is to help patients get comfortable with putting on and taking off the brace. One of the worst things that can happen is that a patient is unsure of how to properly put on a brace and does so incorrectly, causing further injury or a lack of recovery. Have very thorough instruction, write it down or invite the patient to bring the brace in and go through the motions with them.

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How do I clean and take care of my knee support?

This is probably one of the most commonly asked knee brace questions.

After so much explaining, it should be clear to the patient by now that the knee brace is a crucial part of the recovery process, almost like another limb, and that (s)he should treat it with diligent care. Now it’s up to you to give them a guide to doing just that.

Knee braces don’t often come with a set of care instructions and so it is usually up to the physiotherapist explain how to best maintain the knee brace so it works well and it works for as long as the patient needs it, especially as knee braces get a lot of mileage and stress put on them. A few basic tips for patients include inspecting the brace often for wear and tear, regularly cleaning it with soap and water to help maintain the fabric and keep it clear of bacteria, and covering exposed metal to protect others from injury. It’s also good to explain the different price points and material that braces are made of to help the patient understand the different care and maintenance that is required with each, along with the effectiveness and durability of each type of knee brace.

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How long should I wear my knee brace?

The first four knee brace questions and answers will undoubtedly help patients to get a running start when using a knee brace as they provide a great starter’s kit for first-time brace wearers. However, it’s not enough to just give patients only half the pieces in the puzzle; you also need to explain  how to gauge the effectiveness of the knee brace and how to listen to the body when measuring the impact of the brace.

The first thing to do is to help patients establish expectations; a week of wearing the knee brace won’t mean a full recovery and the truth is, most knee braces are needed for some time. This will help patients to avoid getting frustrated or feel negative emotions if they don’t have quick results.

Guidelines for the use of knee braces depend on a number of factors. The most important is the amount of activity on the knee ligaments in combination with the muscles that are designed to actively absorb that activity. If the injury and use of the brace is mainly for sports, it depends on the sport being played. Sports which involve a lot of turning and jumping pose an added risk.

At the end of the day, there’s no clear-cut answer as to how long a brace needs to be worn, but it is important to let the patient know to take note of any concerns or improvements and bring them to you frequently. Frequent visits will mean that the brace is used properly and isn’t worn a minute too long or too short.

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Do I still need to do exercises or rehab if I wear my knee brace?

The short answer is yes, of course. Wearing a knee brace isn’t a shortcut or a silver bullet to getting 100 per cent healthy and patients should be very well-informed of this. While knee braces can be an essential part of the recovery and rehabilitation process, they are only part of a much larger set of tools to help the body get back to full health. It’s important that the patient knows exactly what these other tools are, how they work in conjunction with knee braces and what their impact is on a quick, effective recovery.

It’s also crucial to ensure the patients knows that wearing a knee brace doesn’t make him or her invincible; even with a knee brace on, you could still injure your knee. Stretching, strengthening and technique improvement as important or more so in recovering from an injury and preventing another one.

Providing the patient with carefully considered answers to the knee brace questions in this post will put them on the road to a quicker and more complete recovery.

For more information on how to help patients stick to their home exercise plans, especially when wearing a knee brace, check out our post on compliance at home.

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Six knee brace questions

How knee braces work

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News & Blog

29Jun/17

Managing And Recovering From Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is the type of menacing injury that afflicts nearly a quarter of a million people in Canada every year. It strikes fear into the hearts of athletes and non-athletic individuals alike. This is because it is an example of an overuse injury and doesn’t discriminate between the overuse suffered by a runner gobbling up long distances every day and that suffered by those who are on their feet all day, such as cashiers. A plantar fasciitis brace may be one solution to the problem, but we also discuss others below.

Plantar fasciitis causes foot arch pain and/or heel pain. Morning foot pain is a signature symptom. The main cause of these symptoms is an inflammation, thickening and/or degeneration of the plantar fascia.

Although the reasons why one may succumb to plantar fasciitis are many and varied, so are the treatments for this injury. Below are a just a few of the most effective ways to treat plantar fasciitis and how they work.

Medication

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can reduce inflammation and help reduce pain for those with plantar fasciitis. NSAIDs come in pills and creams. A doctor may also suggest corticosteroid shots if you have tried nonsurgical treatment for several weeks without success. Shots can relieve pain, but the relief is often short-term. The shots themselves can be painful, and repeated doses can damage the heel pad and the plantar fascia.

Wearing a Plantar Fasciitis Brace

The bulk of treatments fall in the orthopedic support category. A plantar fasciitis brace can help stabilize, strengthen, stretch and heal the immediate cause of pain (inflammation). It can also address the long-term root of the injury (structural problems with the foot).

Patients with low arches experience increased stress on the plantar fascia with foot strike and have a decreased ability to absorb the forces that are generated by foot strike. Shoes with good shock absorption and the right arch support are the best place to start when treating plantar fasciitis with orthopedic supports. Shoe orthotics, such as heel cups, shoe inserts, drug store orthotics and prescribed custom orthotics can be used to cushion the heel.

Night splints are a tried, tested and proven  example of a plantar fasciitis brace. Splints hold the foot with the toes pointed up and with the foot and ankle at a 90-degree angle. This position applies a constant, gentle stretch to the plantar fascia. Their effectiveness is believed to derive from the rest and healing provided by the constant stretching. In addition, the passive stretching helps prevent microtrauma at the plantar fascia–bone interface with the first steps out of bed in the morning. Some studies suggest that the splints are especially useful for those with plantar fasciitis symptoms for longer than 12 months.

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Night Splint as an example of a plantar fasciitis brace

A well designed night splint can be an effective treatment for the symptoms of plantar fasciitis

Other treatments that help reduce inflammation and increase support for the plantar fascia include athletic tape and kinesiology tape.

Heat and Cold

As with many injuries, hot and cold treatments can be used to great effect to reduce the inflammation. They will also relieve the pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Apply ice on your heel and avoid using only heat on your foot, such as from a heating pad or a heat pack for at least the first 2 or 3 days. Instead, use contrast baths, which alternate hot and cold water. Make sure you end with a soak in cold water.

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Physical Therapy

Physical therapy doesn’t always mean visiting a professional. There are many stretches and exercises you can do at home to help relieve the pain and other symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Completing simple exercises such as toe stretches, calf stretches and towel stretches daily can help your ligament become more flexible and strengthen the arch muscles. Of course, formal physical therapy instruction can help make sure you properly stretch your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia ligament as well.

A physical therapy program may be effective in addressing the symptoms of plantar fasciitis

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is one of the more recent treatments proposed for plantar fasciitis. The therapy bombards the tissue with high-pressure sound waves to stimulate blood flow for a beneficial immune response. This stimulates healing. and shuts down the neuronal pain pathways through the pulses hitting the affected nerves. ESWT has been observed to increase blood flow in the treated area and increased endothelial nitric oxide levels, stimulating the healing process. It is recommend that it be used only after other non-invasive, proven measures have failed.

Surgery

Doctors usually consider surgery only for severe cases that do not improve. If your symptoms don’t improve in six to 12 months with other treatments, your doctor may recommend release surgery. Plantar fascia release involves cutting part of the plantar fascia ligament in order to release the tension and relieve inflammation.

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News & Blog

15Jun/17
Wrist Brace for Carpal Tunnel | Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace

The Ins And Outs Of Managing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common repetitive stress injuries afflicting the workforce. It affects around four per cent of working adults each year and the injury can not only cause discomfort and pain, but can limit mobility and severely hamper productivity. There are a number of treatment strategies, including the use of a wrist brace for carpal tunnel syndrome. As mentioned below, the use of a carpal tunnel wrist brace may reduce the likelihood of more invasive approaches later on.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition which causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow, rigid passageway located on the underside of the wrist that houses the median nerve and various tendons. When the median nerve becomes compressed it results in the symptoms of carpal tunnel.

There are numerous causes of carpal tunnel, such as improper hand positioning while typing, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, menopause/pregnancy, obesity, diabetes, wrist trauma/injury, work stress, and repeated hand and/or wrist movements. However, the most prevalent causes for carpal tunnel are gender and genetics; some people are genetically predisposed to smaller carpal tunnels, and women are more likely to have smaller carpal tunnels than men. Smaller carpal tunnels make it more likely for the median nerve to become compressed, resulting in carpal tunnel.

 

Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace

Improper hand positioning while typing can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome

 

There are numerous options to provide carpal tunnel relief and treatment.The American Academy of Neurology recommends the use of non invasive strategies, such as the use of a carpal tunnel wrist brace, in the early stages of the condition.

Wearing a Wrist Brace For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Most doctors recommend a carpal tunnel splint or brace to help relieve hand and wrist pain. The key to an effective wrist brace for carpal tunnel syndrome is proper support, which keeps the wrist joint immobile. The natural resting position for your wrist is actually bent slightly backward, in a thirty degree angle. A good carpal tunnel wrist brace should comfortably maintain your wrist in that position, which takes the pressure off the median nerve. A patient will normally wear a carpal tunnel wrist brace at night as this is when the wrist is most at risk of being in a vulnerable position. A wrist splint keeps your wrists straight, avoiding pressure on your nerve.

Using Athletic Tape and Compression Wraps

Carpal tunnel wrist wraps offer support similar to a wrist brace for carpal tunnel syndrome, but also provide some flexibility for your wrist as well. Compression wraps and athletic tape help the wrist stay in a natural, healthy position and are most effective for individuals who work jobs with repetitive hand and wrist motion, such as typing or assembly line roles. Once again, these supports reduce the pressure on the median nerve, allowing the wrist to be free of inflammation and pain.

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Hot and Cold Therapy

Hot and cold therapy can provide pain relief and reduce swelling. Some carpal tunnel wrist supports provide both reinforcement and hot/cold therapy. Heat therapy in particular works well because the heat reacts with the water molecules in the body to increase blood circulation and helps soft tissues heal faster. This helps reduce inflammation and pain associated with carpal tunnel. Keeping your hands and wrist warm also goes a long way to preventing carpal tunnel and managing its symptoms in the early stages of the disorder.

Other Treatments

Other carpal tunnel pain relief treatments include massage therapy, ultrasound therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. One study even found that people with carpal tunnel syndrome who did yoga twice a week for eight weeks had a more significant reduction in pain. Some carpal tunnel sufferers find it useful to retrain their bodies to move in ways less likely to aggravate the median nerve as well as regularly stretching their wrist and hands.

Wrist brace for carpal tunnel syndrome

Massage therapy can be an effective treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome

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Anti-inflammatory Medicines

In special circumstances, medicinal drugs can ease the pain and swelling associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonprescription pain relievers, may provide some short-term relief from discomfort. However, there is no evidence so far that these drugs are effective in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome itself. Patients with mild or intermittent symptons can also use prescription medicines such as corticosteroids or the drug lidocaine to relieve pressure on the median nerve.

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News & Blog

09Jun/17

Dunbar Medical Selected As Official Supplier Of Rugby Ontario

Dunbar Medical is proud to announce that it has been selected as the official supplier of sports medicine products to Rugby Ontario. As the official supplier, Dunbar Medical will be responsible for providing the member teams of Rugby Ontario with the equipment and supplies needed to keep their  players in top condition as well as to ensure their rapid and complete recovery from injuries when they occur.

Rugby Ontario is the official governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Founded in 1949, it is represented at the provincial level by the Ontario Blues High Performance Program, which includes representative teams from Under-15 to Senior in both Women’s and Men’s Fifteens. On the Sevens side of the sport, there are Under-18 programs for both Men’s and Women’s.

According to the President of Dunbar Medical: “We are proud and excited to have been chosen as a partner of Rugby Ontario and look forward to supporting them in their goal of maintaining their athletes in peak physical condition. Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in Canada and, as such, plays a pivotal role in the development of the country’s youth.  We look forward to supporting the development of the sport in any way possible.”

Dunbar Medical is a premier supplier of sports medicine supplies to pharmacies, physiotherapist and other clinics and sports teams throughout Canada. The company distributes the leading brands in sports medicine to its customers through its national sales team and is known for its expertise in the field as well as its exceptionally high level of customer service and support. The brands distributed include Bio Skin, Mueller Sports Medicine, McDavid, Kinesio, LP Support and many others. To learn more about the range of products carried, please call 1-800-265-7125, visit www.dunbarmedical.com or email sales@dunbarmedical.com.

News & Blog

29May/17

Four Ways Orthopedic Braces Can Relieve The Pain Of Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the most common conditions in the world and one of the most debilitating. In one form or another, it affects approximately 5 million Canadians, which is about 15% of the population. The pain and immobility that arthritis brings can affect any joint in the body and can keep you working, being active or spending time with family and friends. In this post, we will look at how an orthopedic brace for arthritis can work to relieve the symptoms of this condition.

While arthritis can be a chronic condition that becomes a constant obstacle to enjoying life, it doesn’t have to be such a detriment. There are many ways in which to reduce the effects of arthritis, such as physiotherapy, diet, and medication. One of the most effective ways to reduce the pain of arthritis is with orthopedic braces.

Here are four major ways in which supportive braces can help reduce the negative impacts of arthritis, regardless of your age, hobbies or level of activity.

Pressure Reduction

One of the key functions of an orthopedic brace is to reduce pressure on the joint. An unloader knee brace, for example, is specially designed to reduce the weight going through the parts of the knee affected by arthritis by changing the angle of the knee joint. Special hinges redistribute the weight to stronger parts of the joint, removing the pressure and stress that normal activities put on the joint. Reducing pressure leads to reduced pain in the arthritic joint by allowing swelling and irritation to go down. There are different unloader braces that are adequate for different kinds of arthritis, from mild to moderate and all the way to severe. Consult a doctor or physiotherapist to see which one is right for you.

Support

Having arthritis often means that the joints have suffered from disuse as the disease does not allow people to be active. An orthopedic brace for arthritis offers the support that is needed for weaker, arthritic joints and reduces pain so that people with arthritis can build back the strength in their affected joints. Braces can also provide support for the ligaments attached to joints, which helps to further reduce the weight going through the affected joint and reducing arthritis pain. These types of braces work well for mild and moderate arthritis affecting part or all of the particular joint.

Offering Warmth

A key element of recovering from arthritis is compression and warmth. Using an orthopedic brace for arthritis will provide both in vast amounts. Warmth and compression help reduce pain and swelling in joints affected by arthritis. The compression that braces provide limits the blood flow to the affected joint, making it less likely that swelling will persist, which in turn reduces the likelihood and severity of pain. Warmth allows the joint to relax and protect itself against any stresses or over-exertion. Braces aimed at providing compression and warmth work best for mild arthritis affecting part or all of the joint.

Improving physical function when wearing an orthopedic brace for arthritis

It is evident by now that orthopedic braces help protect the knee and reduce pain, which leads to a more active lifestyle for those with arthritis. Instead of staying home on the couch because of arthritis pain, an orthopedic brace can allow you to go on a walk or a run. Exercise and physical activity are crucial stepping stones on the road to reducing the effects of arthritis. An orthopedic brace for arthritis will allow the wearer to be more physically active and are therefore part of a healthy cycle of recovery whereby reduced pain leads to a more active lifestyle and this lifestyle leads to even less pain. Improved physical function can also slow the progression of arthritis and is a part of preventing the condition altogether.

 

An orthopedic brace for arthritis can facilitate an active lifestyle

By supporting an active lifestyle, orthopedic braces for arthritis can help reduce the symptoms of the condition.

News & Blog

26May/17

Five Of The Fastest Growing Sports In North America And Related Injuries

It’s the end of a sporting era. The decades-long hold that sports like hockey, soccer and basketball have had on general participation is loosening and other, more fringe sports are gaining popularity among youth, young adults and young professionals. In this post, we examine popular sports that physiotherapists need to know about and the types of sports injuries that typically arise.

While these ever-growing sports will more than likely never topple the major recreational activities, such as hockey, millions of people in Canada and across the world have taken them up in recent years. These sports offer news ways to have fun, be active and get fit, but they also provide increased risk for certain injuries. Knowing what sporting injuries are becoming more and more common and how to treat these injuries with the best methods possible is key for physiotherapists. As has been the case throughout the history of sports medicine, it is crucial for physiotherapists to know what sports are trending up and the injuries typically associated with those activities.

The following are five of the fastest growing sports in North America, the sports injuries that usually accompany them and how doctors can help their patients manage them.

Rugby

Rugby is not a new sport, but recently, it has grown incredibly. Participation has grown 10% in the last couple years and its rise in popularity among youths could be partly attributed to the introduction of rugby sevens at the Summer Olympics in Rio.

Sports Injuries from Rugby

Over 40% of rugby injuries are muscular strains and 30% are sprains. One in seven rugby injuries result in a sprained ankle. The sport involves an incredible amount of jostling, pushing, shoving and tackling, much of it on uneven, muddy or wet ground, which is the reason for the high level of sprains and strains. Helping patients strengthen the muscles supporting the joints, such as the ankle and shoulder, will help prevent common rugby injuries, as will orthopedic supports, such as athletic tape and mobile braces.

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Lacrosse

Lacrosse is another sport that is centuries old, but only now gaining more of a toe-hold among the general sport-playing population. Participation in lacrosse has grown by over 210,000 people in the last couple of years across North America.

Sports Injuries from Lacrosse

The most common orthopaedic injuries sustained among lacrosse players are knee injuries, such as ACL sprains, and hip flexor strains. The source of these injuries, many times, is the strain placed on the joints and muscles from continually running on hard turf. Rehabbing these sports injuries requires strengthening and stretching not only the hip flexor muscle, but also the thigh and quadriceps muscles to improve the area and reduce the risk of reinjuring the area.

Mountain Biking

The rise of extreme sports and their passage from fringe pastime to mainstream activity has meant that mountain biking has gained a much larger following than in decades past. Mountain biking and its cousin BMX cycling have risen in participation by almost half a million participants in the last couple of years. This makes it one of the popular sports that physiotherapists need to know about.

Sports Injuries from Mountain Biking

This upward trend in extreme biking means more sports injuries to athletes’ arms. The most common injuries seen in mountain or BMX bikers are wrist, upper arm and shoulder strains, sprains, fractures and breaks. Encouraging flexibility, strength and proper posture in the shoulder, back and core region will help bikers to prevent or recover from these types of injury. Protective orthopaedic braces for the arms, shoulder and knees will also go a long way to preventing these types of injury.

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Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing sports in North America but introduces sports injuries that professionals need to be aware of

Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing sports in North America but introduces sports injuries that professionals need to be aware of 

Mixed Martial Arts

Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, mostly because of the glitz and glamour of the UFC in the media. Participation in MMA has grown almost 20% in the last five years and there’s no telling how high the sport could grow.

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Sports Injuries from Mixed Martial Arts

Hand injuries and knee injuries are the two most common injuries for MMA competitors. As with many of the other sports injuries on the list, strengthening the muscles around these areas will help in rehabilitating the injuries and preventing reinjury. This is especially crucial for MMA competitors who injure their hands as there are specific guidelines about what kind of hand equipment they can wear. These guidelines can rule out orthopaedic aids, such as athletic tape and braces.

Roller Hockey

Hockey has been a staple in small towns and cities and on TV sets across North America for decades, but its less-icy relative, roller hockey, is emerging as one of the more popular sports on the continent lately. Roller hockey participation has grown 7.1% in the last five years, which is a significant upward trend for a sport with over 500,000 core participants. As a result, it qualifies as one of the popular sports that physiotherapists need to know about.

Sports Injuries from Roller Hockey

Most roller hockey injuries are musculoskeletal in nature, including fractures and sprains. The wrist is the most frequently injured body part, making up 37% of all injuries. Wrist guards and orthopaedic braces will help patients recover from wrist injuries quicker and lessen the risk of them reinjuring the body part when playing again. Exercises to strengthen the wrist, but also increase flexibility and stability throughout the body will also help to prevent future injuries to the wrist.

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