A common condition, “arthritis” does not fall under the classification of one single disease. It is a collective term for joint pain or joint disease that can affect the hips, neck, and back. There are more than 100 types of arthritic conditions that can affect anyone, regardless of age or sex – although they are more common among women and people as they get older. Arthritic symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased motion. These symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe. If arthritic pain is severe, the condition may lead to chronic pain and the inability to perform daily physical activities, even walking. It is important to note that while changes resulting from arthritis may be visible in some cases, the true degree of the condition can only be discovered via a medical examination and X-ray. Rheumatologists and orthopedists are the medical specialists who treat arthritic conditions.
Within the human body are “bursa sacs,” which are filled with fluid to help ease friction and rubbing between tendons, bones, and muscle tissue in the body. When the body is not able to absorb this stress and friction, “bursitis” can result. The cause is usually the result of repeated pressure in the joints. Parts of the body that bursitis affects are the shoulders, elbows, hips, and/or knees. Repeated rigorous activity and certain sports may eventually lead to bursitis. And, as the body ages and the tendons become less flexible, bursitis tends to afflict people who are over 40 years of age. Imaging tests (X-rays, MRIs and ultrasounds) and lab tests can determine a diagnosis of this condition. Pain medications and/or physical therapy may be used as treatment, in addition to preventative measures that include avoiding strenuous activity, as well as maintaining a healthy body weight.
When it comes to fracture care, there are a number of factors that determine how the injury should be treated. These factors include the age and general health of the patient, as well as the severity of the fracture. After examination and treatment by a medical professional, minor fractures can heal themselves over time, provided the patient does not put any weight or exertion on the injured area, along with applying ice to the injury. If the injury is more serious, a splint and/or a cast may be necessary. And, a very severe injury, known as an “open fracture,” where the bone has exited the skin and is visible, obviously requires surgery.
Joint Pain and Swelling
There are many causes, from injury or illness, that come under the heading of “joint pain.” Joint injuries can result from bones that have been broken, fractured, or dislocated, while diagnoses of illnesses include bone cancer, Lyme disease, and rickets, among many others. An increase of fluid around the joints signifies that they have become swollen. Joint swelling is frequently a symptom of conditions that include gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis, among others. Treatment options for joint pain and swelling may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or steroid medications, depending on the severity of the pain and swelling. Severe cases of joint pain and swelling may also require surgery, while antibiotics and application of heat or ice to the injured joint may all that’s necessary for minor cases.
The term “laceration” is a wound that results from a deep cut to the skin. A laceration might be contaminated from bacteria or any kind of debris that was on the sharp object (e.g., knife, broken glass) that caused the wound. For this reason, it is important that the laceration be cleaned, washed, and dried with soap and water, and bandaged. It is best to not apply alcohol, iodine or hydrogen peroxide to a laceration as this may delay the healing process. If the laceration is severe, professional medical attention and possible application of stitches may be necessary.
The “sciatic nerve” extends from the lower back down to the back of both legs. Lower back pain, hip pain, or burning or tingling sensations down the leg are among the symptoms, thus creating “sciatica.” The pain that results from sciatica can go from being mild to severe – and this condition can possibly get worse. Sciatica can be the result of a variety of spinal issues in the lower back, pregnancy, or muscle spasms, among other causes. Additional factors that can contribute to sciatica include diabetes, being overweight, smoking, and even aging. An X-ray, CT scan, MRI, or electromyography (EMG) can be used to diagnose this condition. Treatments for sciatica include physical therapy, applying hot or cold packs, stretching, or taking certain pain medications – either over-the-counter or as prescribed by a doctor.
Sports Injuries, Sprains and Fractures
Anyone who is active in sports, from children to adults, knows there is always the risk of suffering a related injury of some kind. While any part of the body is at risk for a sports-related injury, the most common include ankle sprains, shin splints, tennis elbow, groin pull, and hamstring strain. Sports enthusiasts should therefore make it a point to warm up before undertaking any play or exercise, as this will increase physical flexibility and blood flow. While warming up is not a complete guarantee against sports injuries, sprains and fractures, it may help decrease the possibility of suffering them. In the event a sports-related injury does happen, one common treatment is PRICE (an acronym for – Protect, Restrict, Ice, Compression, Elevate) for healing the affected areas. If, of course, the injury is more serious, medical attention will be required.
When a tendon (which is the fibrous cord that attaches bone to muscle) becomes inflamed, the condition is known as “tendinitis.” The most common areas of the body that are at risk of being affected by tendinitis are the arms (shoulders, elbows, and wrists) and the legs (knees and heels). The symptoms of tendinitis include a dull aching sensation when the injured joint is moving, mild swelling, and extreme tenderness. Anyone can be at risk for tendinitis for any number of reasons, which include age, jobs that require physical exertion, and sports. After an initial physical exam, a common treatment for tendinitis is RICE (an acronym for Restrict, Ice, Compression, Elevate). If the tendinitis is more severe, however, physical therapy or possibly surgery may be necessary.
Unlike some conditions that develop over a period of time and become more painful and problematic, a “traumatic injury” is sudden and severe, and requires immediate attention from medical professionals. Traumatic injuries are often the result of incidents that include automobile accidents, falls, sports-related accidents, or natural disasters, among many other situations. Parts of the anatomy that may be affected from a traumatic injury include external body parts, internal organs, and the brain. Traumatic injury requires prompt and serious medical care, regardless of how minor the case may seem.