Archive for December, 2010

Spine Models Give Orthopaedic Surgeons a Well-Rounded View

When surgery that involves delicate and precise technique is called for, many orthopaedic surgeons have found the use of three-dimensional models to be of extreme help. With these devices, surgeons can get a well-rounded view of the patient’s injury for planning and preparing surgical procedures. Before this important medical device was created, surgeons relied solely on CT scans and MRI’s. With the new 3-D model being used as a diagnostic tool, they can provide valuable information in diagnosing certain injuries and diseases, since they give the surgeon an up-close and in-depth realistic view of the area of concern.

Three-dimensional models are created by medical stereolithographers who are experts in this field. With the use of a MRI scan or CT scan, the stereolithographer can duplicate a 3-D model that is exactly like the anatomy of the patient. The accuracy of the model is within 1/35th of a millimeter. This allows the surgeon to hold the model and inspect the area of concern closely, which otherwise can only be evaluated with imaging results. These 3-D models can be made for any skeletal part including the skull and spine.

Not only does this new and innovative medical tool allow the spinal surgeon to analysis and diagnosis orthopedic conditions, it also is valuable in the practicing and review of exactly what the orthopaedic surgery will involve. Doctors can do a dry run of the procedure before the actual surgery, which can reduce the margin of error extremely and reduce the amount of time the surgery would normally take. This provides the patient with much lower costs of operating room and surgical team fees as well as anesthesiologist and surgeon fees. Patients are also under anesthesia for a shorter amount of time, helping to reduce the risks of complications.

With the use of 3-D models being so beneficial to patients and spinal surgeons, this incredible invention will soon be a common orthopedic tool for doctors. With these devices able to identify defects that may not be found with traditional imaging devices, doctors will be able to provide a more thorough and accurate diagnosis. They also are being used as educational tools to help patients understand exactly what the spinal injury is and how it will be surgically corrected. These models are being found to be very beneficial to patients with thoracic, lumbar and cervical spine disorders as well as individuals who suffer with lordosis, spondylosis, spondylitis, kyphosis, spina bifida and stenosis. They can also be very beneficial for patients who require back surgery such as laminectomy or repair of a spinal cord injury.

Relieving Pain Through Home Ultrasound Therapy

The use of ultrasound therapy for pain relief has grown increasingly popular in recent years. First used in the 1940’s, ultrasound therapy has been shown to be extremely effective at treating pain as well as muscle spasms and inflammation. Many individuals with conditions such as bursitis, arthritis, and fibromyalgia have found relief from the use of a reputable ultrasound therapy machine.

Therapeutic ultrasound works by using sound waves. The high frequency sound waves stimulate the tissue beneath the skin’s surface, alleviating pain and spasms in the muscles. Today, it’s easier than ever to take advantage of the pain-relieving benefits by owning your own home ultrasound machine.

With your own personal ultrasound therapy machine, not only do you have the ability to experience the pain relieving benefits at any time, but you are also able to enjoy many of the other benefits of therapeutic ultrasound.

Ultrasound waves work by penetrating the surface layers of the skin and causing soft tissue areas to vibrate, which soothes both pain and inflammation. In addition, they increase the blood flow in the area being treated, which can reduce swelling and aid in healing. Another key benefit of having an ultrasound therapy machine is the unique ability of ultrasound waves to break down scar tissue, allowing you to treat even old injuries.

Using an ultrasound therapy machine is very easy. A special gel is applied to the skin to reduce friction and act as a conductor for the ultrasonic waves, and then the probe is placed against the area being treated. Sound waves are transmitted which pass through the skin, reaching the soft tissue beneath. The pulsing power of the sound waves stimulates joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles to aid in muscle relaxation, offering a drug-free method of pain relief.

For many individuals, using an ultrasound therapy machine has proven to be far more effective for pain relief than many invasive methods such as cortisone injections or surgery. It has been shown to be particularly effective in treating sports injuries and has become very popular among many athletes as it allows them to return to playing sooner than if they let an injury heal on its own. A personal ultrasound machine also offers relief from tendinitis by reducing the inflammation in the tendons and allowing them to heal.

Home ultrasound machines are a safe and effective way to treat injuries, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain. When purchasing a personal ultrasound therapy machine, look for one that has a positive reputation, preferably backed by testimonial evidence, and comes with a good warranty.

Traditional Treatment Methods Do Not Always Work

Back pain is extremely common in the US. 80% of Americans will suffer from low back pain at some point, and fortunately 90% of that pain will go away within 6 to 8 weeks.

Traditional treatments that are prescribed for back pain include those that are taught by traditional medical school training. These include physical therapy, pain medication, muscle relaxers, spinal injections. For the purposes of this article, I will refer to traditional treatments as those maintaining substantial body of research supporting their use. We know physical therapy, medication, and spinal injections are supported in the literature.

However, there are plenty of treatment options that are considered alternative (non-traditional), simply because either the research is not conclusive or they are not taught in traditional medical school training. One of these treatment options is chiropractic care. There happens to be plenty of research supporting chiropractic care, however, traditional medical school training often times doesn’t portray this correctly. Despite this, chiropractic treatment has achieved mainstream public utilization with insurance companies regularly reimbursing for it.

Spinal back bracing is a treatment that does not have overwhelming support in the literature. Anecdotally, however, patients may get excellent short term relief with bracing. Especially if the back pain is acute and the patient needs to remain active. Long term continuous back bracing should be discouraged, as it may actually weaken the paraspinal muscles since the patient doesn’t use them as much with the brace on.

Another treatment with questionable research support is TENS units. Standing for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, TENS machines involve placing electrode pads on the skin and having an electrical impulse go through the skin. This can alter the way the brain perceives pain signals and give substantial pain relief to patients.

And let’s not forget spinal decompression treatment. It costs less than 5% of a typical spinal surgery, and may provide safe, effective pain relief. There actually is a decent amount of research supporting it, but not what’s called Level 1 research. Level 1 research involves large numbers of patients randomly placed into groups in a prospective research protocol. The research for spinal decompression involves significant patient numbers and showed over an 80% satisfactory result in numerous studies, but the studies were not randomized and prospective.

It may take back pain treatments that are alternative as compared to traditional to fully achieve the back pain relief being sought.

Pain Management – Let Them Feel Your Pain

When seeking treatment from a pain management specialist or clinic, we need to understand that we have to be completely frank and honest in talking about the pain that we are suffering from and the existence of other illnesses and symptoms. Sometimes, we forget that pain management doctors will never know what we are really feeling unless we actually tell them what’s bothering us. To get the best treatment, the doctor should first know what kind of pain is to be treated. And the only person who will be able to tell him that is yourself. Only then will he be able to prescribe the needed medications and techniques which are suitable for your condition and symptoms. In order to have a proper pain management treatment, make sure that you disclose everything that may possibly help your specialist determine the right treatment.

Be Specific

It is not enough to say that you are in pain. Persons deal with different kinds of pain. Some are sudden or acute while some are chronic and lingering. It also ranges from mild to severe and excruciating. Tell the doctor how long you’ve had the pain, how frequent it recurs and how it feels. Give your best description by comparing its intensity with other more common and imaginable pains. Does it feel like getting punched in the stomach or being pinched or being in labor? Descriptions like these can give your doctor more vivid images of how your affects your body. Does your pain make you scream, curse or cry? Or does it make you want to curl up and hope to sleep it away? Sometimes, specialists find it useful to utilize a scale especially when dealing with children or persons who have difficulty in expressing or describing. A pain scale usually depicts a series of faces with different facial expressions showing different intensities of pain. A doctor would ask the patient to pick out the facial expression that would best correspond to his facial expression whenever he is in pain. This way, the pain management specialist would have a more concrete idea of how intense the patient perceives his pain to be.

Coping With Pain

It is also important to tell your specialist how you cope. Do not be embarrassed to admit if you are having extreme difficulty in handling. Tell the doctor how it has affected your life, or how it interferes with your job, how it has changed your relationship with friends and loved ones, or how it has made you feel withdrawn and depressed. Chronic pain is not only about the itself. The disease is also comprised of all other incidents and effects of chronic pain. Letting the specialist know how chronic pain has affected your life will enable him to determine the most suitable approach and the proper pain management treatment for you.

How Does Stomach Building Ease The Lower Back Pain?

Lower back pain is one of the major problems faced by many people especially those who have reached the old age. Improper posture, arthritis and even an injury could be the reason why a person suffers this pain.

It can affect the sleep pattern of a person causing him to experience sleep problems due to the pain in his lower back. This pain also affects a person’s ability to concentrate.

This is the reason why a person with this situation will experience inability to focus on a certain thing. The feeling of being tired even though a person did not do anything is also an effect of the pain. Abdominal exercises can lessen the pain in the lower back.

Only few people knew that abdominal exercises help to support the lower back of a person. The muscles in the abdomen will be able to support the lower back if the muscles in the abdomen are strengthened.

By strengthening and stretching the abdominal muscles, the pain in the back will be eased or reduced. Just lying on your back can do abdominal exercises. It is very difficult for a person with severe lower back pain to change from laying position to sitting position.

As a remedy, a person with severe back pain could strengthen the muscles in his stomach area by doing some abdominal exercises while in bed. Doing some abdominal exercise in a soft bed is easier to do than doing it on a floor with hard surface.

This makes it a good start for a person with severe back pain to start exercising.

Strengthening the stomach muscles can be done not only in a hard way. There is a way on how a person will be able to strengthen and improve the muscles in his stomach.

All you have to do is to breathe. Proper breathing can do the trick of strengthening and improving the muscles in the stomach of a person. This type of exercise is so easy that you can do it wherever or whenever you want.

It is also less tiring compared to the other forms of exercise. There is a way on how you will be able to do the breathing exercise, which is widely recommended by experts.

Taking a deep breath while sitting or standing erect, try to hold the air for a moment then slowly release the air while keeping the muscles in the stomach firm in position is the recommended way.

By repeating the procedure for several times, a person would be able to strengthen and improve his stomach muscles.

Doing the right exercise, proper posture and the right diet is the only way on how a person will be able to lessen the pain in his lower back.

How to Remove Gout Crystals

The increase in the level of uric acid in the body can cause a lot of trouble. Uric acid is usually dissolved in the blood or eliminated by the body through the aid of the kidney. But if the body produces too much uric acid and not completely dissolved in the blood, needle-like crystals are formed in the joints.

This condition is called gout. Pain brought by gout is unbearable, which can obstruct the sufferer on doing some activities. Obviously, the answer to this dilemma is to eliminate these crystals and the methods on how to remove gout crystals can be attained by following the tips mentioned in this article.

One way of answering how to remove gout crystals is to drink a lot of water. Though considered natural and cheap, yet it doesn’t make less effective. Majority of the people are not drinking the right amount of water their bodies need to function normally.

Water prevents the uric acid crystals from forming, and likewise, facilitates the elimination of uric acid. Six to eight glasses of water is the daily requirement of the body, but people with gout must drink a minimum of 12 x 8 ounce glasses regularly to help them remove gout crystals formed in their joints.

Fresh vegetables are always good sources of vitamins and minerals that help the body and its immune system to fight diseases. They can also help in removing gout crystals especially the green leafy ones. Have at least 5 helpings of this daily to have good results. But not all vegetables are good for gout sufferers. Avoid the intake of mushrooms, asparagus, and cauliflower for they can worsen the situation and may trigger gout attacks.

Take in fruits that are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds as these can reduce gout attacks and help remove gout crystals out of the body. Cherry is known to be rich in enzymes and an anti-inflammatory compound. Eating 10-15 cherries a day is a good way to get rid of gout crystals.

There are anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen available in pharmacies, but these should be bought with doctor’s prescription for safety purposes. Have fresh fruits daily as they are good sources of vitamin C. They help in decreasing the level of uric acid inside the body. However, remember to avoid fruits that are acidic such as tomatoes and oranges.

While using the methods mentioned above, it is best for the gout sufferer to avoid foods that are rich in purine. Purine are broken down by the body into uric acids. So it can never be of any help if you continue eating scallops, organ meat, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and other foods that are high in purine content.

Knowing how to remove gout crystals is just easy for as long as you have discipline. Though there are many foods gout victims must avoid, yet, having a healthy body is the best reward you can achieve if these methods are followed correctly.

Understanding Arthritis

The term arthritis literally means ‘inflammation of the joint/s’. There are around 206 bones in our body and each of them forms a joint with another bone. So a joint is made up of two articulating bone surfaces which are covered with a cartilage. The space between the two bones – the joint space, is filled with a fluid known as synovial fluid. The synovial fluid is secreted by a membrane present in the joint known as ‘synovium’ and the function of the synovial fluid is to lubricate the joint and ensure smooth movements. Inflammation or long term damage to any of these structures is likely to result in arthritis.

The first symptom of arthritis would naturally be painful joints. The site of the pain is according to the joint affected and more advanced the disease worse will be the pain. In some cases, particularly in arthritis of the joints of spine, nerves may become compressed between the affected joints leading to pain which will be radiating away from the joints into the area of supply of those nerves.

Arthritis is divided into two main sub types depending on the underlying disease process. First is inflammatory arthritis; most of the causes of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, infective arthritis are of inflammatory origin. In this type of arthritis the person’s own infection fighting cells come and attack the joints. The second is degenerative arthritis which results from the wear and tear of the joints over a prolonged period of time, the most common example of this type of arthritis is osteoarthritis.

The different types of arthritis have their own specific symptoms and signs.

Here are some of the medical terms that are used.

Monoarticular: arthritis affecting only one joint
Polyarticular: arthritis affecting more than one joint.
Migratory: arthritis moving from joint to joint.
Small joints: joints of the hand and feet
Large joints: any other joints besides hands and feet.
Contractures: abnormal and permanent contraction of the muscle surrounding the affected joints, resulting in severe limitation of movements.


The diagnosis of arthritis is based mainly upon the history and examination. However in most cases certain tests are done.

Tests for rheumatoid factor (RF): the major value of RF is to confirm the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
ESR and C reactive protein: provide a guide to the activity of inflammation. These are blood tests with little diagnostic value but are very useful to monitor the response of treatment.
Blood uric acid level: good confirmatory test for gout.
Synovial fluid exam: synovial fluid is drawn from the joint with a long needle and examined. This test is of particular importance if infective arthritis is suspected.
Antinuclear antibodies (ANA): these are a variety of antibodies including (ANCA), anticardiolipin antibodies, antibodies against double stranded DNA. The level of each of these antibodies rises in specific types of arthritis.

The Best Type of Beds For Back Pain

Back pain is often caused by a rough night of sleep. The wrong kind of bedroom furniture can cause or greatly aggravate back pain. The type of mattress that you need will depend on what sort of back pain you have. Mattresses can vary in terms of softness and firmness. Some mattresses are flat while others are mechanized and can be adjusted. The material and way that the mattress is constructed will also be something to consider.


Most mattresses are constructed with either foam or coils. Foam mattresses are generally softer and conform more to the body than those made of coils. These coils can be twisted tightly to be firm or loosely to be soft. Some beds have more coils than others. More coils will allow for more support. Coil beds are generally firmer. Some people prefer to have a coil bed for the firmness but a soft top for comfort. While some mattresses come with a foam, down, or cotton top for softness, many aftermarket mattress toppers are available to buy and place on the bed separately.

Firm mattresses

Firmer mattresses will provide more support than softer ones. Firm mattresses are excellent for people who must sleep on their back, side, or in the fetal position. People with lower back pain usually prefer to sleep on their backs. Sufferers of osteoarthritis often prefer to sleep on their sides and should also purchase firm mattresses. People with certain forms of herniated lumbar disc will also feel more comfortable on a firmer mattress to help them sleep in the fetal position.

Soft mattresses

A softer mattress is better for a person who must sleep on his or her stomach. Sufferers with most forms of herniated lumbar disc will probably feel more comfortable sleeping on their stomach. Anyone with degenerative disc disease will also benefit by sleeping on a softer mattress which will alleviate stress on the joints. A pillow placed underneath the hips while sleeping on the stomach will also provide comfort in this case.

Adjustable beds

Adjustable beds can be folded in 2 or 3 places to allow you to sleep comfortably. Some people with lower back pain sleep better when their knees are elevated. This reduces stress on the lumbar (lower) region. Sufferers of spinal stenosis often feel better when sleeping in the fetal position. The fetal position can be replicated on an adjustable bed, allowing you to sleep on your back. Some beds are adjustable not by position, but by firmness. Some beds allow you to control the amount of air inside of it, allowing you to make it harder or softer. These beds are usually adjustable for both sides and are excellent for couples who require different levels of support.

These are good suggestions to follow when purchasing a mattress. Your budget will also dictate what sort of bed you can buy. A king-sized adjustable bed will cost much more than a twin-sized soft or medium firmness mattress. Take your time to really understand what pain you have and what the best positions are to alleviate it. Most stores have beds on display for you to lay on. Spend at least 20 minutes trying each bed to see what helps you sleep most comfortably. Take the time to understand what your needs are and do not be afraid to try out as many mattresses as possible.

A Local Orthopedic Brace Shop to Service Your Needs

Are you an individual that needs a knee support?

Are you a medical professional searching for a knee brace for one of your patients?

  1. Knee Supports, Are They The Same As Knee Orthoses?

    In the medical field, a professional in braces will refer to them as orthoses. An orthosis is a term that refers to external support. – So yes, they are basically the same thing, but do not forget that all knee supports are NOT made equally.

  2. Knee Supports Are Not Created Equally!

    When you need to get a knee support for yourself (or your patient), please be aware that there are some basic differences among them. For starters, some knee braces are made for just after a surgery, while others are meant to be used if you need to help protect your knee long after you have healed from an injury. Here is a simple break down of the different types of knee braces.

    a.) Post Operative Knee Orthosis: Used after a surgery. These kinds of braces are usually longer in length and can have a dynamic hinge on each side of the knee. This basically means that you can adjust the setting on the knee joint very quickly when needed, as your physician allows more range of motion. – There are other knee orthoses that can be used after a surgery called “knee immobilizers”, but these supports usually just keep the knee straight.

    b.) Ligament Knee Supports: Many people refer to knee supports as “ACL Knee Braces” or “MCL Knee Braces” for example. These come in off the shelf designs and custom made styles. There is a debate in the industry about which knee braces are usually better (off the shelf or custom) but it is hard to beat the support of a custom made support. Especially if the size of your leg demands a custom molded design.

    c.) Simple Neoprene Sleeves: These kinds of knee braces are usually used for minor knee problems. You would never want to use a neoprene or drytex sleeve or wrap around style brace for a complex injury. Nor would you want to typically use it just after surgery. They can, however, be very useful and with a little extra support many people will feel their pain symptoms diminish so they can get on with everyday life again.

  3. Your Insurance May Cover the Entire Brace!

    One of the best things about working with a brace professional is that they are often used to working with insurance companies to help you facilitate your claim. Typically you will need your insurance card, ID and a willingness to let them file the claim on your behalf. – An insurance company may cover most of your knee brace if not all of the new orthosis, but this depends on the type of insurance program that you have.

  4. Finding A Brace Company Near You – Chicago & Suburbs Example

    If you are looking for a knee support and you live in Chicago, for example, you can go to Google to begin your search. What you can do is type in “knee support” and “Chicago”, or “knee orthosis” and “Chicago”. When you do this you will be able to have companies in your area, pop on in the search results. This general example is helpful whether you live in a suburb of Chicago, or any other area. – We hope this helps.

    Tips for Dealing With Low Back Pain

    Low back pain is one of the most common reasons I see patients in my office, and I would like to share with you a few thoughts and pain relief tips. Lower back pain is the number one cause of missed work and disability in the United States. Most cases of non-specific low back pain will resolve on their own in 3 months, however many people experience these symptoms again.

    Pain medications online

    If you see a physician for your lower back pain, you will likely be told do nothing, given a sheet of exercises, prescribed pain medications, have an MRI or other imaging ordered, or offered surgery as an option. You are more likely to have surgery for low back pain once you have an MRI, and the chance that you will have an MRI, depends on your zip code. An MRI should only be ordered if the results will change your treatment options. Out of a sample of 100 people with no back pain or symptoms, 40% would have positive findings on an MRI or X-ray. What this means is that there is little relation between findings from an imaging study and your actual pain and symptoms when you have low back pain.

    For many people the first best option is physical therapy, and that is where you should start. A physical therapist will know after a thorough examination, watching you move and feel with their hands where your pain and symptoms are originating.

    Medications may mask your symptoms, and can be addictive and have nasty side effects such as gastric ulcers or bleeding. Surgery is no more effective than physical therapy, but it comes with some heavy risk, such as sensation loss, infection and even death. These two avenues are much more expensive, for you as a health care consumer and for our government.

    There are some simple yet highly effective exercises you can do if you have low back pain. The number one best thing you can do if you have lower back pain is to continue with your normal daily routine, activities, work and exercises. I have posted a video on Youtube showing these exercises and pain relief tips that you can follow, and will help you move your back safely and engage your core.

    If you do not already have an exercise program, start with a brisk walk. Walking briskly for 30 minutes 5 days a week will help your back feel better as well as greatly reduce your risk for diabetes and cardiovascular (heart) disease. You do not need to start with 30 minutes; you can begin with 10 minutes of brisk walking. Once you do this 5 days a week add an additional 10 minutes each day. You can walk for 20 minutes or 2 separate times for 10 minutes, as long as your total walking time reaches 30 minutes in one day, you will reap the benefits. Brisk exercise releases your body’s own medications and hormones that help reduce pain and make you feel better.

    Physical therapy, and specifically myofascial release, is a proven, safe, and less expensive route to having more energy, moving better and feeling less pain. You have a choice regarding whom you see for physical therapy and in most states, including North Carolina, you do not need a physician’s referral to see a physical therapist.