Know the Warning Signs
Humans put a lot of stress of their bones, joints and muscles that lead to common injuries and deterioration. Sometimes it can be instant, such as a fracture or pulled muscle. Sometimes the injuries happen over time as the joints wear down. Early detection and comprehensive orthopedic care will allow you to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. Here are six early warning signs from the American Academy of Surgeons you should be aware of regarding frequently experienced ailments.
1. Common Shoulder Injuries, Including Rotator Cuff
If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder, ask yourself these questions:
- Is your shoulder stiff? Can you rotate your arm in all the normal positions?
- Does it feel like your shoulder could pop out or slide out of the socket?
- Do you lack the strength in your shoulder to carry out your daily activities?
- Pain at rest and at night, particularly if lying on the affected shoulder
- Pain when lifting and lowering your arm or with specific movements
- Weakness when lifting or rotating your arm
- Crepitus or crackling sensation when moving your shoulder in certain positions
If you answered “yes” to any one of these questions, you should consult an orthopedic surgeon for help in determining the severity of the problem.
2. Little Leaguer’s Elbow
With the start of the baseball season each spring, doctors frequently see an increase in elbow problems in young baseball players. A common elbow problem in these children is medial apophysitis, commonly referred to by doctors as “Little Leaguer’s elbow.”
“Little Leaguer’s elbow” may cause pain on the inside of the elbow. A child should stop throwing if any of the following symptoms appear:
- Elbow pain
- Restricted range of motion
- Locking of the elbow joint
Left untreated, throwing injuries in the elbow can become complicated conditions.
3. Arthritis of the Wrist and Hands
Arthritis affects millions of people in the United States. Simply defined, arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. A joint is where the ends of bones meet. Inflammation causes swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joint.
A significant number of people have arthritis in their wrists and hands, which makes it difficult for them to do daily activities. Although there are hundreds of kinds of arthritis, most wrist pain is caused by just two types: osteoarthritis – sometimes called “wear-and-tear” arthritis – and rheumatoid arthritis.
OA of the wrist joint causes swelling, pain, limited motion, and weakness. These symptoms are usually limited to the wrist joint itself.
RA of the wrist joint also causes swelling, pain, limited motion, and weakness. However, in contrast to OA, wrist symptoms will usually be accompanied by pain, swelling and stiffness in the knuckle joints of the hand.
4. Osteoarthritis of the Hip
Osteoarthritis of the hip causes pain and stiffness. It can make it hard to do everyday activities like bending over to tie a shoe, rising from a chair, or taking a short walk. Eventually it can lead to a hip replacement.
The most common symptom of hip osteoarthritis is pain around the hip joint. Usually, the pain develops slowly and worsens over time, although sudden onset is also possible. Pain and stiffness may be worse in the morning, or after sitting or resting for a while. Over time, painful symptoms may occur more frequently, including during rest or at night. Additional symptoms may include:
- Pain in your groin or thigh that radiates to your buttocks or your knee
- Pain that flares up with vigorous activity
- Stiffness in the hip joint that makes it difficult to walk or bend
- “Locking” or “sticking” of the joint, and a grinding noise (crepitus) during movement caused by loose fragments of cartilage and other tissue interfering with the smooth motion of the hip
- Decreased range of motion in the hip that affects the ability to walk and may cause a limp
- Increased joint pain with rainy weather
5. Growth Plate Fractures in Adolescents
The bones of children and adults share many of the same risks for injury. But because they are still growing, a child’s bones are also subject to a unique injury called a growth plate fracture. Growth plates are areas of cartilage located near the ends of bones. Because they are the last portion of a child’s bones to harden (ossify), growth plates are particularly vulnerable to fracture.
Approximately 15 to 30 percent of all childhood fractures are growth plate fractures. Because the growth plate helps determine the future length and shape of the mature bone, this type of fracture requires prompt attention. If not treated properly, it could result in a limb that is crooked or unequal in length when compared to its opposite limb. Fortunately, serious problems related to this common injury is rare. With proper treatment, most growth plate fractures heal without complications.
Growth plate fractures are often caused by a single event, such as a fall or car accident. They can also occur gradually as a result of repetitive stress on the bone, which may occur when a child overtrains in a sports activity.
A growth plate fracture usually causes persistent or severe pain. Other common symptoms include:
- Visible deformity, such as a crooked appearance of the limb
- An inability to move or put pressure on the limb
- Swelling, warmth, and tenderness in the area around the end of the bone, near the joint
6. Arthritis of the Knee
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the primary symptoms of arthritis. Any joint in the body may be affected by the disease, but it is particularly common in the knee.
Knee arthritis can make it hard to do many everyday activities, such as walking or climbing stairs. It is a major cause of lost work time and a serious disability for many people.
Some changes in your daily life can protect your knee joint and slow the progress of arthritis.
- Minimize activities that aggravate the condition, such as climbing stairs.
- Switching from high impact activities (like jogging or tennis) to lower impact activities (like swimming or cycling) will put less stress on your knee.
- Losing weight can reduce stress on the knee joint, resulting in less pain and increased function.