ONS Shoulder Surgeon Katherine B. Vadasdi, MD, is Published

Study finds success in treatment for Frozen Shoulder.Dr. Katharine Vadasdi, Shoulder Surgeon

Promising results of a new study by ONS orthopedic shoulder surgeon Katherine Vadasdi, MD and other researchers were published this month in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery. The study, The Effect of Myofibroblasts and Corticosteroid Injections in Adhesive Capsulitis, was conducted to investigate the effect  that steroid injections administered directly into the shoulder joint would have on the painful and limiting condition called Adhesive Capsulitis.

Also known as Frozen Shoulder, Adhesive Capsulitis is a common, severely painful condition that leads to stiffness and reduced range of motion in the joint.  In the study, Dr. Vadasdi and the research team evaluated the changes in the lining of the joint that contributes to or causes Frozen Shoulder. They discovered an increase in a certain cell type called myofibroblasts, which cause the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint to contact and form scar tissue, leading to pain and increasing stiffness.  Steroid injections directly into the joint, however, reduced the increase in myofibroblasts, and helped reverse and prevent progression of the condition.

Frozen Shoulder most commonly affects women between the ages of 40 and 60 years.  Most cases of Frozen Shoulder can be resolved non-operatively through stretching, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone injections.  In severe cases, a procedure known as arthroscopic capsular release is performed to break up the adhesions. The findings in Dr. Vadasdi’s study suggest  a more rapid resolution of the condition and possibly a decrease in cases needing surgery.

The Effect of Myofibroblasts and Corticosteroid Injections in Adhesive Capsulitis, Carolyn M. Hettrich, MD, MPH, Edward F. DiCarlo, MD, Deborah Faryniarz, MD, Katherine B. Vadasdi, MD, Riley Williams, MD, Jo A. Hannafin, MD, PhD. 1274-1279. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery (25) 2016

Dr. Vadasdi is an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine physician who specializes in conditions of the shoulder, knee and elbow. She is the Director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at ONS and is a sought after speaker on the topic of women and sports injury and prevention.  Her chosen area of medical specialty reflects her personal interests.  She is an accomplished triathlete, having completed Ironman competitions in 2007 and 2009. Dr. Vadasdi is also an alpine climber and has ascended Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Rainier, and the Grand Teton, among others.

The Dangers of Sports Specialization

Every young athlete dreams of the pride and exhilaration of hitting the game winning home run, or scoring the goal that clinches the championship.  In today’s competitive sports environment, youth are under more pressure than ever to train harder and longer to excel in their sport, often with debilitating consequences, writes sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon, Demetris Delos, MD in the latest issue of The Magazine for Greenwich Hospital.Sports Medicine Discussion

The greatest shift in youth sports in the last generation has been the trend toward sports specialization and year-round training. Twenty years ago, young athletes typically played a particular sport only during that sport’s season (i.e. football in the fall, baseball in the spring and summer), and most kids sat out a season or a summer.  Today’s young competitors don’t seem to enjoy that luxury.  Unfortunately, this has also led to a surge of sport specific injuries.

A recent study at the Departments of Kinesiology, Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for instance, found that high school athletes who trained in one sport for more than 8 months were more likely to report a history of overuse knee and hip injuries, than those who had played a variety of sports throughout the year or played sports at less intense levels.

The results of this study reflect what orthopedists have noticed in the last decade with the increasing number of kids showing up in our offices with throwing injuries, torn knee cartilage and stress fractures.

Professional level injuries

 The growing corps of young adolescents and pre-adolescent baseball pitchers is now throwing excessive numbers of pitches during an unusually high number of innings for immature arm muscles. This has led to an epidemic of young athletes suffering ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries, requiring the so-called Tommy John Surgery. Tommy John was a left handed pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1970’s, who was the first baseball player to undergo UCL reconstruction surgery.  His successful recovery and return to achieve a record of 288 career victories.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears in youth athletes are also increasing at an alarming rate. While ACL tears are not so closely related to a particular sport statistic the way  UCL injuries are tied to pitch count, clearly the rapid rise of sports that involve running and sudden pivoting – think soccer, lacrosse, football, basketball and rugby – increases the likelihood of season ending ACL tears and reconstructive surgery.

Overuse injuries

Unlike ACL injuries, which can be dramatic on-field experiences with players being helped off the field, the vast majority of injuries associated with excessive specialization and training are overuse injuries. Overuse injuries develop slowly over time, starting perhaps as a mild twinge before progressing into relentless, often debilitating pain.  Ironically, these injuries are relatively easy to treat with a period rest and activity modification.  All too often, players, their coaches and, sadly, parents, are often reluctant to have the athlete sit out a few practices and games.  Left untreated, overuse injuries can lead to tears in the muscles and tendons of the affected area, which require a lengthier rehabilitation and sometimes surgery.

Overuse injuries are typically sport specific. In baseball, the upper extremity is most often affected.  With Little league shoulder, the growth place of the humerus (arm bone) becomes inflamed by the repetitive motion of throwing with excessive force.  Similarly, Little league elbow involves injury to the growth plate along the inner portion of the elbow.

In the lower extremity, overuse injuries of the knee and ankle are very common. Osgood Schlatter and Jumper’s knee are injuries to the growth plate of the knee that can be a frustrating source of pain. These injuries are typically associated with repetitive impact activities (running, jumping, etc.) as seen in basketball, soccer and track.  In the ankle, Sever’s disease can lead to pain in the back of the heel.

How can we prevent injuries?

The solution is simple but that doesn’t mean it is easy. Rest and activity modification can be difficult to execute in the middle of the season when the athlete is invested in playing and when parents have already invested much time and money to the sport.

Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon parents to insist their child rest to give the body the opportunity to heal before more serious injury occurs. If a week or two of rest doesn’t resolve the condition, the young athlete should be evaluated by an orthopedist or sports medicine specialist.

Repetitive activities such as throwing or running can lead to changes in the development of growing bones and joints. It has been known for some time now that significant amounts of pitching during adolescence can change the rotation and shape of the shoulder.

Moreover, there is a growing body of evidence indicating certain sports played excessively during adolescence are associated with the development of femoroacetabular impingement syndrome (hip impingement), which can lead to hip problems often requiring surgery in adulthood.

In addition, numerous studies have shown that exposure in youth to a range of different sports that utilize different muscle groups and mechanical skills lead to the greater overall athleticism and better athletes.

Shoulder and Elbow Throwing Injuries Rise for Young Athletes

Surge in Elbow and Shoulder Injuries for Youth Involved in Throwing Activities.

Young male baseball player

For youth involved in repetitive throwing activities, there is an epidemic of elbow and shoulder injuries, usually due to overuse, poor training, improper throwing mechanics, and fatigue, according to sports medicine physician, Demetris Delos, MD, who specializes in shoulder and knee conditions.

The dreaded injury to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL)  is usually caused by excessive pitching. If the UCL is injured, it can sometimes be difficult to repair or rehabilitate and may require the so-called Tommy John procedure in order to return to competitive pitching. The surgery is named after Tommy John, the first baseball pitcher to undergo successful UCL reconstruction surgery in the 1970’s.

Other common throwing-related injuries include Little League shoulder, which occurs when the growth plate of the humerus (arm bone) becomes inflamed by the excessive forces produced by repetitive throwing. Similarly, Little League elbow involves injury to the growth plate along the inner portion of the elbow.

In addition to acute injuries, repetitive activities such as throwing can lead to physical changes in the development of growing bones and joints. Significant amounts of pitching during adolescence can change the rotation and shape of the shoulder which may leave the player vulnerable to shoulder injury and arthritis in adulthood.

Studies show that children and adolescents who pitch competitively for more than 8 months in a year are the most prone to injury. Throwing more than 80 pitches per game, a fastball that consistently exceeds 85 mph, or pitching while fatigued are also risk factors for injury.

According to one study, pitchers who pitched more than 100 innings in a calendar year were 3.5 times more likely to sustain serious injuries requiring elbow or shoulder surgery or retire due to the injury. This is why USA Baseball and Major League Baseball now recommend that youth pitchers of all ages and abilities take a minimum four month break from overhead throwing, with at least two months off consecutively.

However, athletes and their parents should be reassured that numerous studies have shown that kids who are exposed to a range of sports that utilize different muscle groups and mechanical skills have greater overall success in athletics than those who specialize early on. In addition, they are less prone to injury and burnout than those who focus on a single sport exclusively.

Double Shoulder Replacement Restores Mobility

Shoulder replacement regains his active lifestyle just months following surgery.

Arthritis had taken its toll on Dave’s shoulders. He was in constant pain. Sleeping was difficult and it was nearly impossible for him to take part in activities that he loves.  Then, two friends with similar shoulder issuesD.Hapke in Kayak referred Dave to shoulder surgeon, Dr. Seth Miller at ONS.  “When I met him, I immediately knew he was the doctor I wanted to care for me. He was thorough, thoughtful and patient. He has a great bedside manner and took the time to completely answer all my questions,” he recalled. 

Dave had his first shoulder replacement in January, 2013; the second one was done a year later. In both instances, the therapists had him doing exercises the day after surgery, which he continued at home within the week. Through a physical therapy program over the next few months, Dave was able to build muscle mass to help support his new shoulders.

Just 16 weeks after surgery, Dave was back on the water kayaking pain free. These days, he goes to the gym 2- 3 times a week and kayaks quite a bit on ponds, lakes and streams. He can even carry his  kayak.

“I am so grateful to have my active life back, thanks to ONS!” he said.

Shoulder replacement surgery and reverse shoulder replacement surgery is not for everyone. In many cases, treatment such as icing, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy can help get shoulder pain from arthritis under control. However, if pain persists, as it did with Dave, it may be time to consider a surgical option, notes Dr. Miller.

With arthritis and some fractures and injuries, the cartilage of the shoulder gradually wears away, creating a situation where bone is rubbing against bone. The resulting inflammation is extremely painful and makes shoulder mobility progressively more difficult. This condition typically develops later in life and gets worse over time.

The shoulder replacement procedure replaces the damaged joint with a highly-polished metal ball attached to a stem and a plastic socket. As long as a patient has an intact functioning rotator cuff, it can be an extremely successful procedure.

However, there is a group of patients that not only have significant cartilage damage in their shoulder, but also have a torn rotator cuff that is beyond repair. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that run from the shoulder blade to the upper arm and allows patient to elevate their arm. Twenty years ago, treatment options were limited. In 2004, the FDA approved a reverse shoulder replacement procedure that was being used successfully overseas.

The surgery takes about two hours and involves a small incision, usually about three to four inches in length. Patients can expect to stay in the hospital somewhere from one to three days. Patients will be released with their arm in a sling, and undergo exercises to reestablish range of motion with the joint.

Between four and eight weeks after surgery, patients should be able to raise their arms above their heads without pain. Three to four months after surgery, patients are gradually resuming the activities of daily living. Many patients remark after recovery that they feel like they’ve been given their life back.

ONS’ Dr. Seth Miller was one of the first in the metropolitan area to perform reverse shoulder replacement surgery. He will take part in a Joint Replacement Symposium at Greenwich Hospital with ONS colleagues and joint replacement surgeons Drs. Frank Ennis and Brian Kavanagh.

The event will be held on Wed. May 11 starting at 6 p.m.  To register, call 203-863-4277 or online.

Female Athletes and ACL Injuries

Did you know that female athletes are from two to ten times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than their male counterparts?  

Woman playing tennis at the professional tournamentDifferences in pelvis width, the size of the ACL and the intercondylar notch (where the ACL crosses the knee joint), are all thought to play a role. What’s more, the upper part of a female’s shin bone at the joint is much shorter and more rounded than a male’s, which creates a greater laxity in the joint. Women also tend to have an inward angle to their knees, otherwise known as knocked knees, which places more stress across the outer knee joint and ligaments, particularly when it comes to sudden or extreme movements, such as an abrupt change in direction or pivot. Women also move differently than men. For instance, they tend to land from a jump with their knees in a somewhat straight position, pulling on the quadriceps rather than the hamstrings. Because of this, the force of the impact is transferred to the knee, creating a high risk for an ACL rupture. Men, on the other hand, are better able to absorb the impact because they tend to land with bent knees.

For these reasons, it is crucial for female athletes of all ages to modify their natural biomechanics through neuromuscular training programs that can teach them better ways to move their bodies and protect their knees, said orthopedic surgeon Katie Vadasdi, MD, who heads the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at ONS. “Through neuromuscular training programs, we can help female athletes significantly reduce the risk of ACL ruptures by developing balance between the quadriceps and hamstrings and improving the landing biomechanics with more bent knees and hips to avoid a knock-kneed position on impact.”

Preventing ACL injuries has both near and long term benefits so the sooner you get started with this kind of a conditioning program the better. Studies indicate that there is a tenfold increase in the incidence of osteoarthritis in the knees of women who suffered an ACL injury at some point in their lives. Moreover, injuries that were incurred during youth seem to result in the onset of osteoarthritic symptoms at a much earlier age in adulthood.

Learn more about ACL injuries here.

ONS is awarded AIUM Ultrasound Practice Accreditation

The Ultrasound Practice Accreditation Council of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) has awarded ONS with ultrasound practice accreditation in the area of MSK Print(Ultrasound-guided Interventional Procedures).

ONS achieved this recognition by meeting rigorous voluntary guidelines set by the diagnostic ultrasound profession. All facets of the practice were assessed, including the training and qualifications of physicians and sonographers; ultrasound equipment maintenance; documentation; storage, and record-keeping practices; policies and procedures to protect patients and staff; quality assurance methods; and the thoroughness, technical quality and interpretation of the sonograms the pracitice performs.

The AIUM is a multidisciplinary medical association of more than 9900 physicians, sonographers, and scientists dedicated to advancing the safe and effective use of ultrasound in medicine through professional and public education, research, development of guidelines and accreditation.

 

Joint Replacement Symposium at Greenwich Hospital

hip replacementOn Wednesday, April 22nd, at 6:00 p.m., orthopedic surgeon/ joint replacement specialists from ONS and Greenwich Hospital will present a joint replacement symposium in the Noble Conference Center at Greenwich Hospital located at 5 Perryridge Road. Knee and hip specialists Frank Ennis, MD and Brian Kavanagh, MD; and shoulder specialist Seth Miller, MD will present information about the latest advances in joint replacement, including computer-assisted and minimal incision, muscle sparing techniques. Information about preparing for joint replacement, pain management and what to expect from the recovery process will be addressed by hospital anesthesiology, nursing and physical therapy department staff.

Many people suffer from severe pain caused by arthritis, a fracture or other conditions that make common activities such as walking, putting on shoes and socks or getting in and out of a car, extremely difficult. Today, over 900,000 hip and knee replacement surgeries are performed each year in the United States. An additional 53,000 shoulder replacements are performed. Deciding if and when it’s time to consider joint replacement surgery are important decisions.  This educational symposium is designed to provide anyone who is considering joint replacement with pertinent information to assist them in making the right decision for them.

Frank Ennis, MD specializes in hip and knee replacement and is fellowship trained in adult reconstructive surgery. Dr. Ennis is among the first orthopedic surgeons in the New York area to perform computer-assisted joint replacement. He completed undergraduate studies at Yale University and post-baccalaureate pre-medical studies at Harvard University. He graduated from Duke University School of Medicine and completed a residency at Yale University Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He received his fellowship training at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston.

Dr. Kavanagh
Dr. Kavanagh

Brian Kavanagh, MD has performed over 6500 joint replacement surgeries in the past 25 years. He graduated Princeton University and earned a medical degree at University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He did his internship and residency at the Mayo Clinic, Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, and served on the faculty at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine for seven years. Dr. Kavanagh was on the teaching staff at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven for five years. Dr. Kavanagh was also an instructor in the hip and knee total joint fellowship program.

Seth Miller, MD is a graduate of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. After his residency at New York Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, he completed a research fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and a shoulder surgery fellowship at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. He served as an orthopaedic consultant to the New York Mets for more than eight years.  He is the current President of ONS.

All three surgeons are on staff at Greenwich Hospital, a recipient of The Joint Commission’s “Gold Seal of Approval™” for total hip and knee replacement surgery and spinal fusion. The certification for hip and knee replacement procedures recognizes the hospital’s commitment to maintain clinical excellence and patient satisfaction, while continuously working to improve patient care.  Greenwich Hospital’s total joint replacement program offers a level of continuity that sets it apart from other facilities. A clinical resource nurse helps patients every step of the way – before, during and after surgery and throughout rehabilitation and recovery. Patients receive the practical information, emotional support and follow-up care they need to guide them through the entire process.

You will have the opportunity to ask questions at the conclusion of the talk.  The program is free and open to the public. Registration Requested. Call (203) 863-4277 or register online at www.greenhosp.org.

Who is Tommy John and why did he have surgery?

Putting On White GlovesWhat is Tommy John surgery? Dr. Sethi and Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers know. It is when an individual undergoes the reconstruction of a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Dr. Paul Sethi of ONS is a disciple of Dr. Frank Jobe, the man who did an ulnar collateral graft in Tommy John’s elbow in ’74 and so created the most famous baseball-medical connection since Lou Gehrig’s disease (also known as, ALS).

Another person to know in this field is Dr.Glenn Fleisig, a man who is well versed in this topic and has made a career out of arm injuries. He was recently interviewed in an article about the Tommy John surgery after a presentation at MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference about his collaborative study with Stan Conte of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The research in the study noted that the Tommy John surgery is becoming more common, as more pitchers had the surgery in 2014 than in the 90’s combined. Although the success rate of the surgery is high, 20 percent of pitchers never regain a full level of performance even after PT. Other topics covered in the interview include:

  • What causes tears and the surgeries that follow
  • Whether it is the arm speed or the pitcher has his forearm cocked that far back
  • How long should we expect a pitcher to be out after TJ nowadays
  • Overuse of the ligament
  • Risk Factors and more

Read the Grantland article in order to enjoy the full interview about the Tommy John surgery.

Shoulder Pain? (Part I)

Marc Kowalsky MD
Marc Kowalsky, MD.

ONS welcomes Dr. Kowalsky,  a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with expertise in rehab-focused, as well as operative treatments for upper and lower extremity sports injury, and complex shoulder and elbow conditions including degenerative disease, trauma, and revision surgery. He has also authored original research manuscripts, review articles, textbook chapters focusing on AC joint reconstruction, rotator cuff repair, and shoulder replacement, and now he is adding to the educational articles ONS provides.

Shoulder pain is the second most common musculoskeletal complaint to a primary care physician, behind only back pain. Twenty percent of the population will suffer from shoulder pain during their lifetime.  A variety of conditions can contribute to shoulder pain, ranging from rotator cuff problems to arthritis of the shoulder joint.

The rotator cuff tendon consists of the tendons of the four muscles that originate on the shoulder blade and insert on the humerus adjacent to the ball of the shoulder joint.  These muscles participate in rotation and elevation of the arm.  A bursa, or fluid-filled sac, lies on top of the rotator cuff tendon, and helps to protect or shield the tendon from the adjacent structures of the shoulder as the tendon glides.

Although most people who present to their physician with a rotator cuff problem likely have simple tendonitis, or bursitis, some may in fact have a rotator cuff tear.  At least twenty-five percent of people over the age of sixty may have a tear in the rotator cuff tendon.  Most of these tears are chronic and degenerative in nature, without any traumatic cause.  These patients experience shoulder pain with motion away from the body and overhead, typically along the side of the shoulder and arm.  They may also experience night pain that awakens them from sleep.

Some patients may also notice weakness, depending on the size of the tear.  A rotator cuff tear, once present, is unlikely to heal on its own, and may enlarge over time.  Nevertheless, many patients with a tear can be successfully treated with conservative means, including physical therapy, oral anti-inflammatory medication, and perhaps an injection of corticosteroid.  For those patients who do continue to experience pain due to a rotator cuff tear, operative repair is an option.  This procedure is typically performed arthroscopically, and consists of anchoring of the torn tendon to its attachment site with a series of small screws, or anchors.  Ultimately this procedure is effective in improving a patient’s pain and overall function. (…to be continued)

If this topic interests you keep an eye out for the next installment and attend Dr. Kowalsky’s upcoming seminar on March 12th at Greenwich Hospital. The program is free and open to the public.
Registration Requested. Call (203) 863-4277, or register online at www.greenhosp.org.

Overuse Injuries: Recovery Time (Part II)

Elbow_Pain_WebRemember last week’s post? Dr.Cohen’s knowledge of “overuse injuries” does not stop at what causes the condition; she has valuable insight on the treatment and prevention as well.

The Mystery is in the History
Careful history taking and examination helps the sports medicine physician diagnose the condition. It is helpful to know what maneuver produces the pain; or when the pain occurs. Many times with an overuse the injury the symptoms will first occur after the activity; then earlier and earlier into the activity until you become symptomatic at rest. It is important to seek medical attention long before that occurs. It is not normal to have pain with the activity. It is important to consult a physician regarding your symptoms, and to find the cause of the injury so that re-injury does not occur once the present injury is treated.

What are the treatment principles for Overuse Injuries?
Management of the condition depends on the severity. Relative rest, which is stopping the aggravating activity while maintaining cardiovascular activity with another activity is one aspect of the treatment program. For example, use of a stationary bicycle or elliptical, or swimming, which are nonimpact activities, might be an alternate activity for a runner while the injury is healing. One needs to individualize the modified activity for the patient and their injury. Other aspects of the treatment plan are pain management with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication as indicated if no contraindication; physical therapy to include instruction in stretching and strengthening exercises; use of an appropriate brace or support for the injured body part; correction of predisposing factors; and modification of biomechanics.

Are there some injury prevention guidelines?
We would all like to prevent an injury from occurring and to maximize our athletic endeavors. Some key points to remember to help get you there are: appropriate training and conditioning for the sport; check your biomechanics for the sport; allow for adequate recovery and do not engage in your sport when you are tired or in pain. Engage in a variety of sports and activities so that you are not always using the same muscles in the same way. Many elite level athletes complement their specialized sport training with another sport. For example, a cyclist might skate or play hockey in the off season to maintain muscle balance of the quadriceps and hamstring muscles of the thigh. It is best to be proactive and prevent the injury from happening.

Dr.Cohen will be discussing Stress Fractures and Biomechanical assessment in future blogs.

Ready for Spring Sports?

Golfer

Foot and ankle, hand and wrist injury prevention tips by orthopedics specialists

When: February 25, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Noble Auditorium, Greenwich Hospital
SpeakersSean Peden, MDMark Vitale, MD, and Paddle and Tennis Professional Patrick Hirscht

If golf or racket sports are in your plans for the spring you will want to hear tips from fellowship trained orthopedic foot and ankle specialist Sean Peden, MD and fellowship trained hand/wrist/elbow specialist Mark Vitale, MD, MPH who will discuss common injuries seen in golf and racket sports. Special guest and local tennis pro Patrick Hirscht will also speak. Learn about common injuries, and how to choose footwear, braces and exercises to prevent injury and play your best; whether it’s the foot, hand, wrist or elbow, they’re all at risk for injury when you’re active. Dr.Peden and Dr.Vitale will discuss nonsurgical and surgical treatments, along with ailments particular to racquet sports. You will have the opportunity to ask questions at the conclusion of the talk. The program is free and open to the public. Registration Requested. Call (203) 863-4277 or register online at www.greenhosp.org.

Overuse Injuries: Cause and Effect (Part I)

Cohen headshot for letterGloria Cohen, MD is a specialist in non-operative sports medicine who believes in taking an integrative approach to medical management by considering a patients’ bio-mechanics, cardio-vascular and pulmonary function as it relates to athletic performance. Aside from her impressive medical career, Dr. Cohen is a successful competitive runner who has qualified twice for the New York Marathon and is also an off-road and road cyclist. Her academic insights are a combination of both research and real-world experience, the following article is her most recent commentary on the topic of “overuse injuries”:

What is an “overuse injury”?
An “overuse injury” is an injury that results when excessive stress is applied over a period of time to bones, muscles, tendons, and other supporting soft tissue structures of a particular body part.  This differs from an acute injury which happens quickly and is traumatic in nature. Too much stress to a body part will cause the tissues to break down faster than healing can occur, thereby resulting in an injury. A good analogy would be to consider what happens to a credit card or a piece of metal when you bend it back and forth repetitively – first you see the stress reaction, and then with continued stress the item breaks in two.  As you can appreciate, we want to avoid the latter situation when it comes to the body.

What are some common examples of “overuse injuries”?
Every body part can be affected by an overuse injury.  Some common examples you might be familiar with are: rotator cuff injuries of the shoulder; epicondylitis or tennis elbow; patellofemoral pain syndrome of the knee; and tibial stress syndrome or “shin splints” for the lower leg.  Here are a few case examples of classic overuse syndromes:

Jogging injury.

  1. A 40 year old male has recently increased the intensity and frequency of his swimming activity over the summer months. He now complains of pain in the front of his shoulder with overhead and rotation motion. Diagnosis: Rotator cuff tendinitis
  2. A 30 year old female has been playing tennis daily, now competing in matches at a more difficult level. She complains of increasing soreness in the outside aspect of her elbow. She had tried to play through the pain, but had to stop. She says that she can barely lift a coffee cup now because of the elbow pain. Diagnosis: Tennis Elbow /Lateral epicondylitis
  3. A 20 year college student takes up running during her summer break from school. When she returns to school, she decides to train for a half marathon. As she increases her mileage, and adds speed work to her training program, she develops pain in the inside aspect of one shin. She now complains of pain with just walking. Diagnosis: Shin splints/Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome

What are some of the specific causes of these “overuse injuries”?
As a primary care sports medicine physician I recognize that there are sport specific issues which may contribute to the resulting injury; but there are common “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” factors which play a major role in the development of these types of injuries. “Intrinsic” factors refer to the elements that we cannot control but that we can modify.  These include biomechanical alignment, such as knock knees, bowl legs, flat feet or high arched feet; leg length difference; muscle imbalance; muscle weakness; and lack of flexibility.  These factors can be modified to maximize the individual’s performance, and thereby treat or prevent injury.  An example would be a conditioning program and sport specific training. The “extrinsic factors” include training errors, such as doing “too much too soon”; training surfaces – running on too hard a surface, or playing on an uneven surface; shoes – it is important to wear the appropriate type of shoe for your foot mechanics and the sport; equipment; and environmental conditions. Paying attention to the “extrinsic factors” will help you modify the “intrinsic” ones.

… to be continued in the next segment, Overuse Injuries: Recovery (Part II)

The Fragile Feet: A Gymnast Story (Part II)

Gymnast
Gymnast on balance beam.

Remember last week’s post? Surprisingly enough, gymnasts share a lot in common with ballerinas, especially in terms of injuries of the feet.

Both gymnasts and dancers place a tremendous amount of stress on their feet for a significant amount of time per week – often greater than 10 hours a day. Because of this combination of stress and time, stress fractures are common. Stress fractures can occur almost anywhere in the foot or ankle, but the most common locations are the metatarsals, navicular, tibia, calcaneus, and fibula. A key to avoiding stress fractures is proper nutrition, avoiding disturbances in the menstrual cycle, and proper technique and amount of training. A gymnast who trains 4 hours a week that increases the workload to 10 hours a week in preparation for a performance without any ramp up is a setup for stress fractures. A better way to ramp up training would be to increase the workload by approximately 25% per week, or going from 4 hours a week to 5 hours a week and so forth. The treatment of stress fractures varies depending on the location and character of the fractures. It also depends on the patients demands and expectations. In most situations a period of immobilization and rest is all that is necessary.

Young gymnasts often complain of various painful lumps and bumps on the feet. Some of these are calluses, which are the bodies response to repetitive force on areas of weight bearing. Another extra bone in the foot – the accessory navicular, also thought to exist in about 10% of all people – can be a troublemaker for gymnasts in particular. It is a tender prominence on the inside of the ankle. Flatfooted patients will sprain or strain the ligaments that attach to the accessory navicular. Continued activity worsens the symptoms and the first line treatment is a period of immobilization to allow it to heal. When that fails, the extra bone is excised, and the damaged tendons and ligaments on the inside of the ankle are repaired or reconstructed.

Many of the problems in both ballet and gymnastics results from the nature of the sports – long hours and repetition in little to no footwear. These patients are predisposed to develop certain problems based on the alignment or posture of the feet. Feet come in two general shapes – flat and high arched. In reality it is a spectrum. So many problems can be treated simply by accommodating or adjusting a patient’s flat or high arch with a specific type of shoe or insert (orthotic). Unfortunately, the competitive gymnast and dancer cannot wear athletic shoes or orthotics. Some may be able to train in orthotics or custom shoes and that is important to keep in mind.

Want to learn even more? Dr. Peden will be giving a seminar on “Solutions for Foot and Ankle Pain: Beyond a Foot Massage.”  The program is free and open to the public. Registration Requested. Call (203) 863-4277 or register online at www.greenhosp.org.

What do you do when you are diagnosed with an old (chronic) Achilles tendon rupture?

Sean C. Peden, MD
Sean C. Peden, MD

Sean Peden, MD is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle surgery. Dr. Peden has expertise in treating a variety of foot pain and deformity related conditions including Achilles tendonitis, ankle instability, cartilage injuries, bunions and hammer toes.  His practice will also focus on youth athlete sports injuries and the types of injuries seen in field athletes, gymnasts and ballet dancers.

Achilles tendon ruptures will often not be discovered for months after the injury. In the months between injury and showing up at the doctor’s office, the torn tendon develops scar tissue which decreased the quality and elasticity of the tissue. Because of this, directly repairing the torn tendon, as is done in an acute injury, becomes is less than ideal. In this situation, we will supplement the tendon repair with a tendon transfer. Essentially, we borrow a tendon that bends the big toe (there is another tendon that compensates when it is borrowed), reroute it, and reattach it to the heel bone. This does two very important things:

 

1. It supplements the strength of the torn Achilles, allowing a quicker and better recovery.

2.It provides improved blood supply to the Achilles repair, providing healing factors to the area of diseased tendon.

In summary, ruptures of the Achilles Foot_AnklePictendon are increasingly common in our aging yet increasingly active population. In cases where an Achilles rupture is missed or the rupture cannot be repaired directly under normal tension, adding the flexor hallicus longus tendon transfer allows for significantly improved results with a shorter recovery.

If you suffer from foot and ankle pain and would like to attend a free seminar, Dr. Peden of ONS and Greenwich Hospital will present Solutions for Foot & Ankle Pain: Beyond Foot Massage is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle surgery. He will present treatments and surgical techniques for bunions and other foot deformities. Learn more and register online here.

Suffer from Bunion Pain? Dr. Clain Offers Solutions

Michael Clain, MD
Michael Clain, MD

Bunions are a common deformity encountered in the foot where the big toe is out of alignment. This creates pain in that toe and often in the lesser toes as well. The deformity makes it difficult to find shoes that fit comfortably.  Ill-fitting shoes can contribute to the situation but the underlying deformity is genetic. This is why most patients can recall a parent or grandparent that had the problem.

In consultation, I often tell patients that the options are to accommodate the foot with wider shoes, gentle arch supports and sometimes padding or I encourage them to consider surgery.  The decision to proceed with surgery should be based on the overall level of discomfort and deformity.  This will differ from patient to patient.  It is rare that the patient that must have bunion surgery.  Most people will choose surgery due to the accumulation of annoyances, discomfort, pain and deformity in other toes.

Actual X-ray of patient of Dr. Clain before bunion surgery
X-ray of patient of Dr. Clain before bunion surgery
Same Patient. Post-Bunionechotmy
Same Patient. Post-Bunionechotmy

It is very important, from my point of view, to communicate realistic expectations for the procedure and the ultimate result. I try hard to be very specific about the time involved in recovery and give every patient a written “expected surgical recovery.” It is obviously difficult to remember everything when you as the patient are given a great deal of information so it’s helpful to have a summary to refer to.

Not all bunions are the same. Routinely, I perform about six different surgical procedures.  The goal is to do the most appropriate operation for your particular foot and circumstance.  With careful communication and a well thought-out plan it is highly likely that we should be able to get a great result for almost any foot.”

For more information about Dr. Clain, click here.

If you suffer from bunions and would like to attend a free seminar on foot pain Dr. Peden of ONS and Greenwich Hospital will present Solutions for Foot & Ankle Pain: Beyond Foot Massage is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle surgery. He will present treatments and surgical techniques for bunions and other foot deformities. Learn more and register online here.

Do You Experience Foot or Ankle Pain?

Sean Peden, MD will be speaking at the Noble in Greenwich Hospital December 9th at

Sean Peden, MD
Sean Peden, MD

6:30pm to address Solutions for Foot & Ankle Pain: Beyond Foot Massage. Here is a summary of what he will present:

A painful foot or ankle condition can limit a patient’s function and quality of life with every step. Conditions from the toes to the Achilles tendon will be discussed with emphasis on surgical and nonsurgical options, including old standards and the most cutting edge new technologies. Topics covered will include foot and toe deformities such as bunions, hammertoes, flat feet, and high arches, with special attention to when and how these conditions should be treated or when they should be left alone. Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis will be discussed in detail with emphasis on the natural progression of the disease, what we know works and what is experimental. Arthritic conditions of the foot, ranging from the big toe to the ankle will be included.

A team approach is an important aspect of foot and ankle care. ONS physical therapist Alicia Hirscht, DPT, SCS, CSCS will discuss and answer questions about the role of physical therapy to improve foot and ankle pain and dysfunction.

ONS Senior Clinical Specialist Alicia Hirsch
ONS Senior Clinical Specialist Alicia Hirsch, DPT, SCS, CSCS

Dr. Peden will introduce an orthotic maker he typically works with and will discuss when and how orthotics are used, from inexpensive over-the-counter inserts to custom molded prostheses. Other options to be discussed will include stem cell technology and image-guided injections.

Dr. Peden will open up a question and answer session following the seminar. This event is free registration requested, call (203) 863-4277 or (888) 305-9253, or register online at:  https://www.greenhosp.org/CREG/ClassDetails.aspx?sid=1&ClassID=7253

Foot Ankle Pain Brochure