FEATURE – Many people develop pain due to overuse or injury (bursitis, tendonitis, sprains and strains), or from conditions brought upon by age, like osteoarthritis. Fortunately, in modern medicine, there are many ways to diagnosis and treat most of these painful bone and joint issues.
Appropriate treatment starts with the appropriate diagnosis. This includes obtaining a history (or description of the symptoms from the patient), a physical examination and x-rays. Occasionally, other studies such as an MRI or CT scan are useful.
General rules apply to most conditions. For example, regular low-impact exercise is good for maintaining not only cardiovascular, but also bone and joint, health. When pain arises apply the “RICE” principle: Rest, ice, compression and elevation. Temporary use of over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Aleve or Ibuprofen can help. If you have a medical condition such as heart disease, acid reflux or an ulcer, or if you are taking blood thinners like Coumadin or Plavix, or have any bleeding disorders, always ask your doctor before taking any of those medicines.
For unresponsive pain, a cortisone injection may help. Often a single injection is enough, but sometimes a series of injections is required. New cartilage-enhancing injections are also available to relieve the pain of arthritic joints. Although these do not provide a permanent cure, they are much less invasive than a surgical procedure. The injections are made from hyaluronic acid, which is the major component in cartilage. Studies have shown that these cushion the joint, relieve pain and protect or even stimulate cartilage healing.
Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that can be used when more conservative measures have failed. This can be performed on the shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee and ankle.
Arthroscopy is done on a same-day basis either, under a general anesthetic or a regional block. Most patients recover and return to their normal functions very rapidly.
Many conditions cause deformities or pain in the feet. A bunion can cause a lot of pain and difficulty with footwear. Hammertoes (curly toes), bunionettes, bone spurs and wear and tear on tendons and joints in the foot can cause significant pain and limit function. Fortunately, many of these can be treated with modified footwear, activity modification, various medications and injections. If these measures fail, various minor surgical procedures are also available.
Carpal tunnel, cysts, trigger fingers and arthritis can cause pain and loss of function in the hand. Various medications, splints, injections or minor surgeries can bring relief.
All of these problems, including foot issues, can be treated successfully by an orthopedic surgeon, specialists in diagnosing and treating bone and joint conditions. Most have years of training and ample experience to treat each of these areas, including the feet. Discuss treatment options and start on the road to more comfortable living.
Ed. note: St. George News does not research or endorse any medical information or advice presented in St. George Health and Wellness articles. It is important to consult your primary care provider and thoroughly examine the associated risks before commencing any medical treatment.
Written by Dr. Michael Green for St. George Health and Wellness magazine and St. George News.
A native of Idaho, Green graduated from the University of Washington School of Medicine in 1986 and is a U.S. Army veteran, retiring with the rank of Major. He completed his internship and residency at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii and received orthopedic training from the Army in Augsburg, Germany. He lives in St. George with his wife, Sharilyn, and their six children and operates a private practice, Green Orthopedics, which specializes in orthopedic and sports medicine needs.
Email: [email protected]
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