Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Knee Injury 101: Cartilage Tears and Strains

Knee injury affects more than 12 million Americans each year. Your knee is essentially the largest joint in your body and experiences highly repetitive usage. For this reason, cartilage tears and ligament sprains are the most common knee injuries treated by orthopedic surgeons.

What exactly do ligaments and cartilage do? Ligaments are situated around the knee. These ligaments both brace the knee on impact and aid in over-all motion control. Your knee’s cartilage complements the ligament by cushioning the knee, also absorbing some of the shock of impact.

What’s the difference between an ACL, MCL & PCL? The ACL stands for “anterior cruciate ligament” and it is located in the front of the knee. The MCL is the “medial collateral ligament” and it connects the femur and tibia. The PCL or “posterior cruciate ligament” is located behind the knee. The ACL and MCL are very common injuries. The PCL is more difficult to injure.

What causes an ACL or MCL tear? ACL injuries are typically the result of maneuvering. A quick turn or twist, or change in speed, while performing a rigorous activity can result in an ACL tear. These types of tears can also result when landing from a jump, a good example of sports that carry this risk include basketball, volleyball, soccer and skiing. A person who experiences an ACL tear will often hear a pop, followed by their knee giving out and considerable pain. Rehabilitation can include the use of ACL braces, sports therapy and surgery. MCL and PCL injuries on the other hand, are usually the result of a significant blow to the knee. This is something frequently seen is heavy contact sports such as football and rugby. These sort of injuries have unique ligament-specific braces, and may also require a sports therapist or surgery.

Who is at risk? If you play impact sports, your knees are at risk. Proper stretching, strength training and warming up can help mitigate that risk. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that women are more likely than men to suffer ACL injuries. In fact, a female soccer player is four times more likely than a male soccer player to tear their ACL. This is likely due to how a female’s hips distribute weight on the knees. For this reason, female athletes should take extra care and use strategic weight lifting to strengthen muscles and stabilize the knees.

About the Author: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a supplier of medical products including a wide selection of orthopedic braces and supports. For quality ACL braces, a wide back braces and more, please visit www.mmarmedical.com.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Baby Boomer Health

Older Americans are more active than ever. The Baby Boomer generation – typically defined as individuals born between 1946 and 1964 – are approaching retirement and have more free time. A lot of that free time is increasingly devoted to physical activity. Compared to generations of the past, the Baby Boomers are athletes. They play sports, cycle, run, ski, and swim. And while all this activity has tremendous health and psychological benefits, there is an understandable wear and tear on the body that occurs. Baby Boomers, while often healthier than their predecessors, are making more trips to orthopedic surgeons, dealing with eroded joints and sore muscles. As we age, our cartilage softens and muscle mass decreases. The Mayo Clinic March newsletter describes this physical decline as the "Achilles' heel of a fit generation." But it looks like these health concerns aren’t slowing Baby Boomers down. In fact, they are investing more than ever in their bodies so they can prolong their active lifestyle.

There are several options for active Baby Boomers, looking to get more from their aging bodies. Strength training is the best preventative measure a Baby Boomer can take. Strategic weight lifting can replace diminished muscle mass and prevent ligament erosion. Physicians also recommend increasing flexibility and range of motion, which can reduce the likelihood of sports injury. If possible, replace high impact sports with low-impact ones, such as swimming and biking. Depending on the sport, supportive braces can help stabilize joints and ligaments that undergo a lot of repetitive movement. For example, soccer players, skiers and runners frequently experience knee issues. A hinged knee brace might make the difference between invasive surgery and three more years of sports participation. Tennis players, on the other hand, experience elbow issues and might consider a soft elbow brace to provide support and pressure during matches. The good news is, Orthopedic braces have come a long way since their inception in the 1780's. Many utilize state-of-the-art engineering and materials, making the brace a comfortable, near-extension of the human body.

Medical experts agree while physical injury is a risk; everyone at every age should strive for high levels of fitness. Not only does it prolong life, but it improves memory, guards against depression, and is just plain fun!

About the Author: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a supplier of orthopedic medical products including a wide selection of braces and supports. For quality back braces, and a wide selection of knee braces, including hinged knee braces, please visit www.mmarmedical.com.