Asit Shah, MD, chief of orthopedics
Many people don’t think about bone and muscle health on a daily basis, or realize they have a need for treatment. But when the seasons change, our choice of physical activity often changes. And if we’re not prepared, injuries can arise. Taking simple precautionary measures, adjusting our daily routines, tailoring our seasonal activities appropriately, and listening to our bodies can help us prevent injuries and best heal those that do develop.
Who should see an orthopedist?
People should be tested for their bone health in general, but especially if they have a family member with osteoporosis or osteomalacia. These conditions can be passed on, but are treatable. Those with targeted issues such as shoulder pain or arthritis pain should also take special care.
How can people prevent injury in the fall and winter months?
In the fall and winter, people are starting to clean their gutters, tend their lawns, rake leaves, and shovel snow—all activities that rely on your low back, your quads, and your shoulders. So it’s important to spend a lot more time on your core exercises, stretching out your quads, and strengthening your back to get those muscles activated again. And if you’re an avid skier, remember that you have to get your body trained again before picking up a set of skis.
And with the holidays around the corner, how can people avoid accidents while celebrating?
We see a tremendous increase in fractures when families bring elderly loved ones home for the holidays, taking them out of their controlled environments. Make the home environment safe — remove loose rugs from the bathroom, fix unstable handles or balusters on the railings. When you’re waiting on calls from family and friends, don’t jump up to get the phone—take those extra few seconds to avoid injury. We also see wrist fractures and ankle sprains from people falling on snow and ice, so wear appropriate footwear for the weather. Lifting and moving heavy objects, like boxes of holiday decorations, also takes a toll. Always bend at your knees and hips, rather than your spine, and lift with your legs.
When do you know if you should see a specialist for an injury?
When in doubt, get checked, particularly if pain is disrupting your life or an injury is impacting your function. We always look to treat patients with the least invasive approach possible, using noninvasive or minimally invasive techniques to help them safely get back to enjoying normal activities. The majority of issues can be treated conservatively with anti-inflammatories, like Advil, Tylenol, or over-the-counter medications, and physical therapy.
Posted September 2018