Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How to Treat Arthritis with a Cold Therapy System

A cold therapy system is an effective treatment option for those who suffer from arthritis. Cold therapy relieves your symptoms and helps you slow the progression of your arthritis.
 
Understanding Arthritis
 
Arthritis is something that most people deal with eventually. There are over 100 different types of the condition. A diagnosis of arthritis simply means that something is wrong with at least one of your joints. Knowing how our joints work is the first step in understanding arthritis.
Inside our joints, ligaments hold the bones together. These stretch like elastic when we move our joints. Bones are padded with cartilage so that they do not rub directly against each other. This is what allows for smooth and painless mobility. Also, each of our joints is surrounded by a capsule called the synovial membrane, and is filled with synovial fluid. This liquid provides nourishment to the joint as a whole – especially to the cartilage.
 
Arthritis is characterized by pain, swelling, stiffness, redness and warmth. There are two common types:
 
• Rheumatoid arthritis
 
• Osteoarthritis
 
Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of joint inflammation. For unknown reasons, the synovial membrane is attacked by the body’s own immune system. Unlike Osteoarthritis, it usually affects both sides of the body. For example, it occurs in both hands or in both knees.
Osteoarthritis is a stiffening of the cartilage. Stiff cartilage means fragile cartilage. Not only does the cartilage smooth the joint movement, but it is also a shock absorber. Stiffened cartilage will suffer from wear and tear much more quickly than healthy cartilage. As cartilage wears away, the ligaments become over-stretched resulting in pain. Given enough time and cartilage loss, the bones will actually rub against each other. This bone-on-bone friction causes very severe pain.
 
What are Cold Therapy Systems?
 
The purpose of a cold therapy system is to cool isolated body parts for extended periods.
Cooling methods include:
• Automated flow of ice water through a cuff or other wearable device
• Clothing, gloves or braces designed to accommodate ice packs
• an electrical cooling element inside a device designed to fit specific body parts
 
How do Cold Therapy Systems Help with Arthritis?
 
Cold applications reduce swelling and inflammation by constricting blood vessels. Slowing blood flow to the area, cold therapy reduces the buildup of fluids. It will also stimulate the release of endorphins, which lower the number of pain signals that are sent to the brain. This combined effect will numb even deep arthritic discomfort. Cold therapy systems are especially helpful when pain flares up after activity.
Unfortunately, arthritis causes many people to avoid physical activity. Limited activity leads to many health problems, but it also makes arthritis worse. Weight gain and the loss of strength cause joints to hurt even more. To keep your joints flexible, you have to keep them moving. 
 
The use of a cold therapy system relieves the pain. This also allows you to go about your business without dedicating a hand to keep your compress on. Most importantly, it allows you to be active. You will be able to exercise the affected joint throughout your daily routine. Cold therapy systems make exercise a possibility for people who would be in too much pain otherwise. Exercise helps bone and cartilage health. Strengthened muscles take pressure off your joints. All these benefits of exercise greatly reduce the progressive nature of arthritis.
 
Prescriptions are not required cold therapy systems, but it is a good idea to speak with your doctor before using any cold compress for more than 20 minutes at a time.
 
Some patients find that combining heat therapy with a cold therapy system provides extra relief, though this is not the case for everyone. Some people get more arthritis relief from cold therapy systems alone.
 
There is no cure for arthritis, but we can slow its progression. Remember, the most important thing is to stay mobile. Practice range of motion stretches and get exercise. If arthritic pain has kept you from these activities, a cold therapy system can make them possible again.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Knee Wraps vs. Knee Braces

Any kind of injury or physical ailment can be difficult to deal with. This is often especially true for those who lead more active lives. And if there were ever a part of the body that can become a hindrance when not functioning correctly, it's the knee.

The knee is a very complex joint and is crucial in baring our weight and providing mobility. When it is not at its best, life can be difficult. Fortunately though, there are different ways that we can provide our knees with everyday relief. Aside from the obviously beneficial surgical or doctor intervention, there are two effective and very common knee-worn accessories: the knee brace and knee wrap.

Knee Wraps
 
Knee wraps consist of a long, stretchable wrap material, usually made of combinations of cotton, elastic, and synthetic fibers. The wrap is a single length of material that is systematically wrapped tightly around the knee joint. The wrap is kept in place by fastening Velcro at the end of the length to the rest of the wrap.
In essence, knee wraps provide effective, yet less extensive support for relatively minor knee issues. Here, wrapping can done as desired in order to achieve maximum comfort. The wearer can expect some heat build-up, slight circulation hindrance, and the need to re-wrap from time to time. The benefits though include increased support and possible pain relief.

Knee Braces
 
On the other hand, knee braces are somewhat different, physically holding specific, knee-conforming shapes and at times consisting of several parts. Similar to a wrap, the brace provides support and some potential pain relief. However, due to the knee brace's general design, it is considered a more extensive and longer-term relief option. Knee braces can even be prescribed before or after medical procedure.
A mild support knee brace may be made of an all-elastic material and be flimsy, yet fit tightly around the knee. This low-grade brace may even be interchangeable with a wrap and provides good support for mild issues such as a minor sprain or minor arthritic symptoms. A step up brings us to ligament and arthritis knee braces.

These mid-level braces are composed of harder support materials such as hard plastic and metal within specialized cushioning. This level of support is ideal for more severe stabilization needs such as after complete breaks or tears, or after surgery. Finally, the most specialized types of knee braces are those that are custom-made to fit a very special need. An example of this is repeated reconstructive repair of the knee and the subsequent need for more exact conform and support angles.
Both braces and wraps provide the basic function of support. But braces go a step further in providing even more support and conformity than a wrap alone can provide. These are the two most common knee-aid accessories and the differences between them. If you are ever in doubt, consult with your doctor for the best advice on your specific knee issue.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TLSO – The Boston Brace – Spinal Support That Heals

Treatments to correct injuries and disorders of the spine can vary widely, but in many instances a back brace is an effective method for allowing patients to minimize pain, correct irregularities, speed recovery and/or regain an active lifestyle.

TLSO Braces are prescribed to patients of all ages with spinal irregularities ranging in a wide degree of severity. TLSO stands for Thoraco-Lumbo-Sacral-Orthosis and this type of brace is often referred to as a “Boston Brace.”

Children with scoliosis are most often prescribed a TLSO brace. These braces provide back support and limit the progression of a spinal curvature as the individual grows. The Boston Brace is the most common back brace in use for scoliosis treatment. It corrects curvatures with small pads that are fitted against the ribs. The body is held upright and experiences pressure towards the front of the brace body. It extends from the hip to the tip of the shoulder blade. Most patients wear the brace for 20 to 23 hours each day. It can be removed to participate in physical activities, however. The Boston Brace is most effective in treating curves in the lumbar and thoraco-lumbar area of the spine.

Back braces can come in two different forms – soft and rigid. The Boston Brace is a rigid brace, often comprised of molded plastic which is specifically fitted to the patient.

In addition to scoliosis, the TLSO or Boston Brace is commonly used to help patients that have experienced a fracture or undergone fusion operations. A TLSO minimizes discomfort for the patient and actually assist in the healing process.

There are also back braces that feature slight variations of the standard TLSO Brace. The Cervico-Thoraco-Lumbo-Sacral-Orthosis Brace is one example. This brace is similar to the Boston Brace in the method of support it utilizes. However, it incorporates bars which extend from the body towards the head. Attached to these bars is a ring designed to support the patient's neck. This brace is still considered a form of the TLSO Brace. Some patients benefit from wearing braces throughout the night. To minimize discomfort and encourage a good night of sleep, patients are often prescribed a Charleston Bending Brace. This brace is molded specifically to the body of the patient as well.

Choosing the right type of brace depends heavily upon the condition and specific support needed. Physicians are an invaluable resource for guiding patients in their choice of equipment. Most back braces can be outfitted with additional accessories to provide more stability in certain areas of the spine. These accessories include items such as lateral shoulder supports. A variety of plastics and technological advances have also allowed for the development of braces that are less visible, more supportive and can easily be worn under clothing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Clavicle/Collarbone Injuries in Sports

A broken collarbone, or clavicle fracture, is one of the most common injuries that athletes face when competing in contact and even non-contact sports.

What is the clavicle? The clavicle is a long bone that runs between the scapula, or shoulder blade, and the sternum.

What causes clavicle fractures? A common cause of clavicle fracture is the stress that the collarbone suffers when a person stretches out his or her arm to break a fall; in this case, most of the weight of one's body is distributed to the collarbone, which can then snap under the pressure. Additionally, a fall directly to the shoulder area, or any direct blow to that region can cause a serious collarbone injury to an athlete.

Symptoms of clavicle fracture can include pain at the site of fracture, restricted arm motion, and discolored skin around the affected area. For serious collarbone injuries, you might be able to see the fracture because of the bone misalignment. A doctor will perform an X-ray to determine the severity and properly diagnose a clavicle fracture.

Who is likely to incur this type of injury? Athletes at all levels of competition, from football and cycling to equestrian and skateboarding. Clavicle fractures have been suffered by the likes of NFL quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Tony Romo and put out wide receiver Danny Amendola just this past NFL season.

How to avoid a collarbone injury? Though clavicle fractures, like any other types of bone fractures, are unavoidable in certain cases, there are steps that can be taken to lessen their likelihood and minimize the potential for risk.

  • Ensure you intake the recommend amounts of Calcium and Vitamin D, nutrients that bolster bone integrity. Lacking these essential dietary components can put you at higher risk of clavicle fracture and could require longer recovery time.
  • Develop the protective muscle tissue around the clavicle. Because the clavicle is supported by stabilizing muscles, those who do not get enough exercise to develop this protective muscle tissue may also have a higher change of clavicle fracture.
  • Wear proper padding and protection during practice and competition.

What is treatment like? Treatment is relatively simple and usually does not require surgery. Additionally, recovery time is not terribly long - typically, healing will occur in about 2 - 4 weeks for children and 4 - 8 weeks for adults. For most sufferers of clavicle fractures, a cervical sling, splint, cervical brace or other type of support needs to be worn throughout the recovery process in order to restrict the fractured bone from moving.

MMAR Medical offers several different types of collar braces, including a hook-and-loop style that is buckled around the wearer's back, a front-closure splint that contains padding in the clavicle area, and a figure-eight splint with a prong buckle front closure. With the proper use of a brace, those who have suffered clavicle fractures can usually avoid surgery for their condition so long as the affected area is adequately protected and does not suffer any additional trauma.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Annular Tear Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What Is an Annual Tear?
An annular tear is a tear in somewhere in the annulus fibrosus. This is a ligament that makes up the capsule of the disc that’s found between the vertebrae. These discs act as cushions between the vertebrae, which are bony, and allow the spine to move and to absorb shocks. The discs are made up not only of the annulus fibrosus, but the nucleus polposus, which is inside the disc. The inner annulus and the nucleus have no nerves and so can’t feel pain, but the outside of the annulus does have nerves and the person may feel pain if it’s injured. However, sometimes an annular tear doesn't produce pain.

Symptoms
If the annular tear produces pain, it will be because the substance in the nucleus polposus has leaked out and come into contact with the nerves. This causes the body to react through an inflammatory response. The disc might also have ruptured or might be bulging between the vertebrae. This will cause a sharp pain in the back, and numbness, tingling and weakness felt in a leg or the legs. Any sudden movement, including sneezing or coughing, can make the pain worse. The pain is eased when the person stands up and is still.

Causes
Annular tears can be caused by the normal wear and tear of aging. The tear can begin as a small hole that doesn’t cause problems, but it may enlarge. If it enlarges, the gel-like substance of the nucleus can begin to leak out. Sports, especially contact sports like football, can also lead to annular tears. Annular tears can also be caused by very strenuous exercise, especially that which requires lifting heavy objects or bending. Being overweight and obese can put stress on the spine and lead to an annual tear as well.

Diagnosis
The tear can be diagnosed by a doctor using an X ray or a CT scan. The doctor can also inject a dye into the nucleus, which will show the extent of the damage. An annular tear can be rated from zero, which means that the disc is normal, to 6, which means that the tear is large enough for the nucleus to leak.

Treatment
Sometimes an annular tear will heal spontaneously, and create scar tissue that, to an extent, keeps the nucleus from leaking. Sometimes the patient can apply a cold therapy pad or compress to the area. These can be applied several times a day in 15 minute sessions. After that, replace cold with a thermal wrap or compresses can be applied to the injured area. The patient can also take NSAIDs like ibuprofen to ease the pain. Unlike a lot of back problems, an annular tear isn’t helped much by resting in bed. Long periods of time in bed can only weaken the back muscles.

A physiotherapist might recommend exercises, massages and hydrotherapy. Though surgery is usually not needed for this type of an injury, surgery can be undertaken if nothing else works. During recovery, the patient will be fitted with a lower back brace or a soft lumbar support. Most patients do recover from annular tears and can make lifestyle changes, like taking up exercise and losing weight, to prevent them from happening in the future.

To learn more about annular tears, visit the MMAR Medical Annulus tear or sprain article in our injury library.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Swede-O Thermoskin Open Wrap Knee Brace Review

To treat knee complications such as a ligament injuries or arthritic pain, the Swede-O Thermoskin Open Wrap Knee Brace can provide significant relief through a combination of compression, stabilization and heat therapy. As a rehabilitation brace, the Swede-O helps to stabilize the knee, alleviating pain and facilitating proper alignment for easier and more comfortable walking. It can also relieve pressure that arises from ailments such as strain injuries, arthritis, and other knee problems. The Thermoskin Open Wrap Knee Brace is an ideal product to maintain a strong and stable knee for smooth, pain-free function in the activities of everyday life.

As the only authorized supplier of Thermoskin products, Swede-O is a leader in the field of heat therapy. The Open Wrap Knee Brace by Swede-O contains Thermoskin Thermal Supports that increase the temperature of the knee beneath the skin. Only Thermoskin products have demonstrated the ability to raise the knee temperature by 2 to 3 degrees, which results in a maximal benefit of heat therapy. Indeed, a temperature of approximately one or two degrees above the normal body temperature is the optimal heat level for superior muscular function. Also, the Trixion lining of the Thermoskin supports is a patented technology that sustains the heat within the knee while simultaneously ventilating the area to hinder perspiration. As a consequence of the ventilating abilities of Trixion lining, the Swede-O knee brace keeps moisture away from the knee and allows for pleasant long-term wear.

Additional features of the Swede-O Thermoskin Open Wrap Knee Brace set it apart from competitive forms of knee therapy. For example, the Swede-O knee brace contains side spirals along the length of the brace and on either side of the knee for secure support and walking stability. Also, the Swede-O knee brace wraps around the knee and fastens above and below the knee with adjustable velcro straps. An opening in the brace over the patella, or the knee cap, allows for added ventilation and thus a dryer and more comfortable long-term usage. The brace's circular opening over the patella reduces knee pressure and prevents the brace from exacerbating any possible bruises or tenderness in the knee as well. Further, the brace opens and closes along its entire anterior, a feature that cooperates with the popliteal, or knee, opening to provide the highest level of comfortable flexibility and the widest range of motion that is possible.

In addition to aiding in walking stability, the Swede-O Thermoskin Open Wrap helps alleviate pain associated with injury, osteoarthritis, and even previously standard knee braces. It administers compression to the knee, excluding the patella, and increases circulation as a catalyst to the healing and pain-relief processes. The dryness provided by the ventilated Trixion lining also serves to prevent rashes and other cutaneous, or skin, irritations. The neoprene lining material used in conventional knee braces does not allow moisture to escape, facilitating excessive perspiration and thus irritations and odors.

This heat therapy knee brace is conveniently available in a vast range of sizes to suit every body type. The sizes span from extra-small to quintuple extra large, and proper sizing is based on the measurement of the circumference in inches of the area below the knee cap while the knee is slightly bent. From 10.25 inches to 27.75 inches, Swede-O offers a knee brace to fit every measurement within said inclusive interval. The Swede-O Thermoskin Open Wrap Knee Brace is also conveniently washable, and it comes with a craftsmanship guarantee that lasts for six months. It helps to alleviate arthritis or injury pain while stabilizing the knee for proper function in daily activities. Its unique and innovative Thermoskin and Trixion technologies make Swede-O stand out from the crowd as the leading distributor of heat therapy products. The Swede-O Thermoskin Open Wrap Knee Brace is available for nearly any body type, truly helping the knee and allowing each patient to resume a normal life as soon as possible.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top Winter Sports Injuries & How to Prevent Them

Every sport comes with a degree of risk and possibility for injury, but winter sports can be especially brutal on the body. Given the fact that many winter sports involve speed and slick, hard surfaces such as flattened ice, winter sport athletes need to take preemptive measures to minimize the risk of injury and the impact of falls. Here are some of the most common winter sport injuries and some tips on how to avoid them.

Sledding
Racing down a hill on a device with metal blades is incredibly fun… but also risky. In fact, sledding is the winter sport that involves the highest risk of injury. Sledding is often performed in the back woods, on uncharted courses, and often done by folks with little or no experience. As a result, head injuries are a major problem, as are injuries caused by collisions with other sledders, trees and rocks.

Hockey
Hockey players are used to injuries such as cuts, bruises and sprains, and playing a contact sport on a surface that is nearly as hard as a rock is a daunting task any way you slice it. Injuries involving a flying puck are also common, especially for goalies. Many hockey players incur knee injuries at some point during a typical season as a result of the physical demands of balancing on a thin blade. (Not to mention fist fights… but really most injuries are puck or ice related.)

Skiing & Snow Boarding
Even though they don’t like being lumped together, skiers and snowboarders are next on the list of the most oft injured winter sports athletes. Many of these injuries are a direct result of losing control on the slopes. Fingers, wrists and elbows are especially susceptible to injury, as the natural human instinct to break the fall with your hands often causes them to take the brunt of the force. Skiers deal with knee and ankle injuries much more often than snowboarders as a result of the legs being independent of one another.

Winter Sports Injury Prevention

  • Helmets - Many winter sports involve speeds of well over 40 miles per hour, making a helmet an absolute must. In fact, protecting your head is the single most important injury prevention measure for any athlete that is engaged in winter sports. Everyone from hockey players to snowboarders to ice skaters can greatly benefit from wearing helmets.
  • Bracing – Human instinct is to stop a fall with your hands which can lead to wrist sprains and breaks. Wearing a wrist support or brace can help to prevent these types of common wrist injuries. Likewise, if you have injured knee ligaments in the past, it is highly recommended that you wear a hinged knee brace to keep your ligaments and knees tracked. Winter sports are infamous for ligament tears.
  • Pads - Covering your body with the proper series of protective pads is essential to keeping the pain out of accidents and falls. The proper padding can be the difference between a hockey puck shot at 100 miles-per-hour being stopped by flesh and muscle or being stopped by two inches of foam. As a result, hockey players wear large suits of padding that cover almost every square inch of their upper and lower bodies. Smart snowboarders and skiers have been embracing the benefits of pads for decades, and wrist, elbow and knee pads are among the most common.
  • Awareness - Having a general awareness of your surroundings will help keep you out of dangerous positions and minimize your chance of getting hurt while playing a winter sport. A little common sense and environmental awareness will go a long way to keeping sledders, hockey players, skiers and snowboarders safe.

About the Author: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a premier supplier of high quality medical orthopedic braces, including ACL braces, patella stabilizers, and unloader knee braces. To find quality medical knee braces, please visit MMAR Medical online.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Donjoy Patella Stabilizer Product Review

A knee cap injury does not have to put you on the sidelines. Serious athletes still want to move while recovering, and the Donjoy Patella Stabilizer helps protect mild patella damages while allowing more freedom than other braces.

Whether you slide into home, glide down mountains or run laps around your neighborhood track, the Donjoy Patella Stabilizer is designed to comfort and project your knee, allowing for recovery and preventing further damage and unnecessary pair. The brace is constructed with tubular buttresses that create a "J" and run parallel to the knee. This reduces the chances of dislocations and injuries for cautious athletes. It also keeps the patella in place to avoid accidents or give strength to those trying to heal. The material is made of Lycra with a nylon core and allows airflow without sacrificing support.

Braces often cause irritation in hot climates, and some people have special requirements. Donjoy’s knee cap stabilizer is designed for those in warm locations that want a smooth, light feeling. It is also the only solution for athletes who have neoprene allergies. It is intended to prevent or aid in the treatment of dislocated kneecaps, misalignment, Subluxation and Chondromalacia. One knee injury can destroy a career and cause lifetime pain, so proper prevention and care is crucial for athletes.

Versatile options mean that you will always receive benefit from your stabilizer. The brace can be worn for daily activities and is comfortable for walking, running or resting. The system will not interfere with movement and can be worn while playing soccer, tennis, basketball or other sports. A strap is provided to adjust the brace to allow a unique fit for every individual.

Aluminum hinges give a more secure feel than Velcro or other materials. This allows for more stability when walking and helps restore knee function and provide confidence when moving.

Functionality is one of the biggest benefits of the brace. Many knee cap / joint stabilizers are bulky and do not allow athletes to give their best performance. No one should have to choose performance over safety. The airflow technology also ensures players will not become overheated, itchy, or distracted on the field.

Comfort is a high priority after safety. Athletes will be able to focus on the game and forget they are wearing the brace. It moves with athletes to give support and a positive feel on and off the court.

Downtime is hard on all athletes, but proper healing is crucial for anyone who wants to endure in a given field. The brace reduces time off and aids in recovery. Players can use the Donjoy Patella Stabilizer to adjust to injuries. It is also beneficial when retraining the knee and learning to put weight on it again.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Donjoy TROM Knee Brace Product Overview

Introducing the new Donjoy Total Range of Movement (TROM™) Adjuster Knee Brace – the first post-operative brace truly designed to easily, comfortably and consistently deliver controlled off-loading, conducive to creating the optimal recovery environment.

Command Performance Device
The goal of reducing discomfort while achieving the highest degree of therapeutic healing from knee surgery has found a state-of-the art device designed to do just that. The TROM™ Adjuster Knee Brace is applied science in an attractively simple design that has revolutionized the healing process for patients. Enduring the recovery process following meniscal repairs, major ligament surgery, osteochondral defects, patella realignment, condylar or tibial plateau fractures, high tibial osteotomy (HTO) or other surgical repair involves relieving weight bearing on the knee while supporting flexion and extension during recovery.

The TROM™ Adjuster introduces the most comprehensive post-op brace solution for patients using the successful TROM™ platform. This fully adjustable knee brace revolutionizes the healing process through an easy-on, easy-off design that presents an improvement over conventional methods while still providing the ability to serve the purpose, such as that previously achieved with groin to toe casting. The ability to adjust the degree of flexion and extension as well as being able to lock-out the brace has actually proven to reduce the amount of time spent in recovery with its versatile ease of use.

Features
Here are some of the unique design features that distinguish the TROM™ Adjuster Knee Brace:

  • Tele-Fit – independent sliding strap movement for best comfort and fit
  • Push-button telescoping bars – to custom fit the length of the brace between 17 3/4-inches and 24-inches
  • Adjustable hinge technology – designed to accommodate prescribed range of motion for physical rehabilitation
  • Quick-lok mechanism – to lock out the brace from 0 to 90 degrees in 10 degree increments as per the prescribed therapy
  • Sili-grip pads – highly adaptable pads that affix to the straps through hook-and-loop technology to prevent the fit from shifting in use
  • Able to accept fit of cold therapy wraps or dressings to aid in healing
  • 6-month warranty

Improvements Over Conventional Therapies
There are a host of improvements in recovery from surgery facilitated by the use of the TROM™ Adjuster Knee Brace. First and foremeost, the flexibility to make adjustments in the levels of immobilization for the prescribed protocols has been a tremendous aid in limiting time spent healing, improving the integrity of joint recovery, allowing for improved surgical outcomes, reducing the pain typically associated with these recoveries and decreasing the need for anti-inflammatory medications. The convenience of eliminating the process of cast immobilization responds to a host of otherwise related difficulties, not the least of which is the incessant itching associated with such therapies.

Further, the ability to easily remove the padding that supports the brace to facilitate the best hygienic conditions ensures comfort throughout the period of physical therapy. The pads are held in place with hook and loop technology which also allows for custom placement. This will prevent skin contacting any of the firm parts of the brace and help prevent chaffing. Patients who have experienced the TROM™ Adjuster Knee Brace are convinced that the manufacturer took the time to think of everything. There is nothing left to improvement but the health and best healing from knee surgery, something that need not bring nearly the anguish previously associated with the recovery time required.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a premiere medical orthopedic brace distributor in North America, carrying a large selection of post-op hinged braces including the Donjoy Trom adjustable knee brace. Based in Houston Texas, www.MMARMedical.com carries one of the largest selection of sport rehab knee braces in the Americas.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What to Look for In a Post Operative Knee Brace

Knee pain, whether chronic or acute, is one of the most common complaints affecting the skeletal structure that doctors see and treat with regularity in an active society. The knee is taxed to bend and rotate and often manages to accommodate such movements when it shouldn't leading to strains, sprains and other injuries.

Among the conditions that can lead to surgery are:

  • Ligament Injuries - most often the result of athletic activity affecting any of the four separate ligaments responsible for stabilizing the knee joint. They are the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the medial collateral ligament (MCL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). Injury can occur from twisting the knee with the foot planted, hyper-extension, sudden stopping in the midst of running, shifting weight from one leg to the other, jumping, landing in a flexed position or direct impact to the knee.
  • Dislocation of the Knee Cap - occurring after a sudden or unexpected changing of direction on a planted leg position or else from direct impact.
  • Cartilage Injuries - having a wide range of causes from genetics, to meniscal or patella tendon injuries, to Osteochondral Defects, to arthritis, to instability from weaknesses, the result of repeated micro-traumas or a single impact.
  • Condylar Fractures - affecting the lower end of the femur corrected with a groin-to-toe plaster for un-displaced fractures or surgery for displaced fractures.
  • Tibial Plateau Fractures - involving the most critical area in the knee that accommodates load-bearing, the upper end of the tibia bone.
  • High Tibial Osteotomy (HTO) - knee surgery to repair osteoarthritis.

The ability to perform myriad movements on a joint as complex as the knee presents the possibility of incapacity. The most frequent complaints of pain and injury come from those participating in such sports as basketball, football and skiing. Recognizing the potential for injury and the subsequent need for recovery that will support the joint during repair, there are a series of post-operative knee braces from which to choose to help in this process.

Selecting a Post-Operative Knee Brace
Rehabilitation and recovery can occur very soon after surgery in most case, with the need to focus on mobility while strengthening the knee. This means being able to have a stabilized range of motion as the damaged knee and surrounding muscles are worked. Immobilizing the knee is necessary to prevent further injury while still allowing for a range of movement, depending upon the degree of injury. In some cases, complete immobilization is necessary to promote healing.

The post-op knee braces available today have features that allow for adjusting compression and range of flexibility through the use of rigid hinges and straps that can be fitted for comfort and adjusted for the best therapy while in use. They have been designed to allow for control of bending and straightening the knee joint along with the flexion and extension that normally occurs through movement. This can be achieved with the use of locking mechanisms that enable a patient to lock the brace out in full extension so as to prevent any flexing of the knee joint, or by degree, depending upon what has been prescribed by the surgeon.

Manufactured in either telescoping or pre-determined lengths for an individual's specific height, these braces are able to accommodate cold therapy wraps or dressings to aid in speedier recovery. Some of the braces have a limited 6 month warranty, in the case of Donjoy post-op braces, while others have a 30 day return policy. Among the manufacturers, there are brands made by Breg, New Option Sports, Ossur, Orthotic Rehab, Donjoy, Hely Weber, Deroyal, Neuroflex, Comfy, Thermoskin and RCAI. These brands represent only the highest quality post-operative knee braces available on the market today.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is one of North America's premiere medical orthopedic brace distributors, carrying a large selection of post-op hinged braces. Based in Houston Texas, www.MMARMedical.com also carries one of the largest selection of spinal back braces in the Americas.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Scoliosis: Treatment in Children

Scoliosis is defined as a lateral curvature of the spine and is typically more prevalent in girls than boys. Children between the ages of 10 and 16 may develop “C” or “S” shaped curves that may continue to bend the spine and create deformities as the child grows. Typical screening for scoliosis is performed by the pediatrician, annual school exams, hospitals and community awareness programs. If the curvature of the spine exceeds 20-25 degrees, treatment is indicated.

Treatment for Mild Scoliosis
Often, parents first notice mild scoliosis in their child by the appearance of one shoulder or hip slightly higher than the other. The treatment in a mild case is observation of the spinal curve which is measured by the pediatrician overtime. The spine is monitored with periodic x-rays and visual techniques every four to six months to ensure the angle of the curve does not worsen in the course of the child’s growth.

Medical Braces for Moderate Scoliosis
If the curvature has progressed or exceeds the mild form of scoliosis, the pediatrician may elect to prescribe a brace to prevent further deformity. The brace holds the patient’s backbone in an erect position and supports the spine during growth spurts. Several models of braces are available and can be custom made to accommodate all types of curvatures at different locations of the spine. Most of these spinal braces are constructed with form-fitting plastics that are molded to the patient’s individual requirements. Typically, the pediatrician dictates how many hours per day the brace must be worn for the duration of the child’s growth period.

Types of Braces for Scoliosis

  • Milwaukee Brace: Used to correct any curvature in the spine. The brace extends from the base of the skull to the pelvis. This type includes a neck ring. The brace is intended to minimize further progression of a curve between 25-40 degrees.
  • Thoraco-Lumbo-Sacral-Orthosis (TLSO) Brace: The treatment of choice for mid to lower back spine curvatures, the brace fits under the arms and extends around the chest and down to the hips. The advantage of a TLSO brace is that it can be worn under the clothes.
  • Providence Brace: A brace designed for bedtime use and can be worn by the child comfortably for up to eight hours while sleeping.

Complications of Severe Curvatures
As the angle of the spinal curve becomes more severe, the ribcage can twist and restrict normal breathing. In progressive “S” curves, the pelvis may rotate and cause significant leg length discrepancies and result in one leg shorter than the other. Surgery may be indicated for severe scoliosis.

Surgical Interventions for Severe Scoliosis
If moderate scoliosis does not respond to bracing, the condition is often treated with back surgery by an orthopedic surgeon. The procedure fuses the vertebrae of the spine with a rod, or uses the insertion of an implant, and straightens the spine to prevent further progression of the spinal curve. Typically, post surgery requires several days in the hospital and activity of the child is limited for approximately one year.

Overview of Scoliosis
Scoliosis in children must be monitored and treated throughout their growth and development. Treatment is based on the child’s age, degree of curvature and the risk of progression. Mild curves frequently don’t progress into moderate or severe curvatures, but bracing or surgery may be indicated at some point due to the child’s growth spurts. Any form of scoliosis requires monitoring and medical care by a qualified physician.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is one of North America's premiere medical orthopedic brace distributors, carrying a large selection of TLSO braces for scoliosis. Based in Houston Texas, www.MMARMedical.com also carries one of the largest selection of orthopedic back braces in the Americas.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Compression Sportswear:
Improved Performance and Protection for All Athletes

In recent years, astute sports fans have noticed a trend in athletic wear while watching recreational, college, and even professional sporting events: the use of formfitting, spandex-like garments such as shorts, tights, sleeves, and socks worn with or underneath typical sportswear. Whether beneath a soccer player's shorts, under a female tennis player's skirt, as a basketball player's sleeve, or as a more supportive sock for runners, compression sportswear is a phenomenon that's here to stay.

There's a fundamental reason why compression sportswear isn't just a fad: it provides athletes clear benefits that improve their athletic performance.

Advantages of Compression Sportswear
The primary benefit to wearing compression sportswear is that it keeps the most utilized muscles of a given athlete warm, which prevents both strain and fatigue. Meanwhile, compression shorts, sleeves, socks, or any similar item wraps muscles in a way that decreases movement and promotes focused support. This results in an increased sense of proprioception. Athletes using compression clothing experience less muscle soreness, weakness, and stiffness.

Another enormous benefit is that such garments keep sweat from pooling and dripping directly on athletes' bodies. This prevents chafing and rashes, while allowing the body to regulate its temperature naturally. No matter how intense the workout, the athlete remains dry and functions at his or her optimal temperature.

There's also evidence that compression sportswear improves blood circulation. More oxygen in the blood results in increased strength during a workout and less soreness afterward. And, of course, this reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis, and improves vein and artery health more generally.

While most athletes are vaguely aware of these advantages before first using compression clothing, they always feel the results in terms of increased performance and improved athletic health after regularly using it. However, the reason why many runners, cyclists, tennis, basketball, and baseball players initially purchase such items is because compression gear holds undergarments and other equipment nicely in place. Some male athletes use compression shorts in lieu of jockstraps, and many women use such shorts or tights under skirts to prevent exposure of their underwear. Lastly, some compression sportswear has extra padding built in that is ideal in sports where the athlete may frequently make contact with the ground, such as in baseball and tennis.

Overall, users of compression clothing in sports experience increased athletic performance that allows them to run faster and longer, jump higher, and have improved muscle memory, all while decreasing the risk of sports injuries.

Types of Compression Sportswear
While many types of compression clothing for sports now exist and the technology is rapidly advancing, there are several specific garments that are the most widely used by athletes at all levels.

Compression socks have become a favorite of professional and recreational runners alike. Outdoor runners find that the socks decrease the negative impact that muscle vibration causes. Also, runners' legs and feet feel more supported with compression socks.

Anybody who watches NBA basketball have noticed that many players now wear compression sleeves on their shooting arm. It keeps the arm warm and ready to shoot, improving their strength, accuracy, and muscle memory. These advantages are present in other sports that make prominent use of arms as well.

As for compression shorts, they without question are beneficial to cyclists, runners, baseball players, tennis players, and all kinds of other athletes. They cover and support a sensitive region of the body that needs strong blood flow and protection. The comfort that compression shorts provides is reason enough for most athletes to give them a try.

While many trends in athletics that promise to improve performance are unsupported by research, this is not the case with compression sportswear. Such garments now have a long track record of clear benefits and increased athletic performance for all types of athletes. Whether to keep muscles warm, improve blood flow, or provide increased support and protection, compression gear has numerous uses.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR medical is a supplier of medical sports therapy equipment including rehabilitative knee braces, cold therapy systems and CEP sports compression.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What Is Foot Drop?

Foot drop is a simple name for a very complex problem. Typically, it is caused by an underlying condition that affects the motor nerves in the spine or legs. People with foot drop may drag their foot or feet during ambulation. Depending on the severity of the nerve involvement, the injury to the nerves may be partial or completely affected. Whether foot drop is a temporary or permanent condition, appliances and braces can smooth the transition of walking, and prevent further damage to the joint.

The Anatomy of Foot Drop
Normally, the motor nerves control the dorsiflexion of the forefoot. The muscles in the shin area pull up the foot towards the knee, and the forefoot flexes. If these nerves are damaged or compressed, the forefoot falls limp and doesn’t lift off the ground during walking. Usually in a partially affected foot, the shoes are worn at the front and side of the sole. If left untreated, foot drop can continue to worsen with permanent stiffening and further deformity of the ankle joint.

Origins or Cause
People may develop foot drop after a stroke or any condition that weakens the muscles and nerves. Back and spinal cord injuries that cause paralysis or compress nerves weaken muscles in the legs and feet. Although the reasons are not completely understood, diabetes may contribute to foot drop. Experts speculate that diabetic neuropathy damages the nerves located below the knees. Neurologic disorders, such as: muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, diminish the nerve impulses to the dorsiflexors of the feet.

Diagnosis
People who are experiencing a weakness in one or both feet should notify their healthcare providers. Foot drop is not a disease, but may be a serious indication of an underlying condition. It is paramount to seek treatment and receive a diagnosis as soon as possible, as some conditions may be reversible. Usually diagnostic tests include x-rays, CT scans, and possibly other imaging modalities.

Medical Treatment
Depending on the cause of foot drop, some conditions require surgical interventions. Decompression of the motor nerves in the back to correct a herniated disc may be indicated. Once the nerve is freed from the space in the spine, foot drop may resolve. Another technique is called nerve grafting. The damaged nerves below the knee are replaced with healthy nervous tissue.

The Importance of Support
Ankle braces and foot supports, known as an orthosis, are an extremely important to provide comfort during walking and prevent further deformity to the joint. As the muscles weaken in the forefoot, they become heavy and pull down on the ankle. Due to poor support, some people with drop foot can no longer achieve a normal 90 degree angle of the ankle-foot joint. Even people who are non- ambulatory should prevent deformity of the foot with a well-designed foot/ankle brace. Ensure the orthosis is lightweight, thin, and doesn’t have sharp or exposed edges that may cause friction injuries to the skin on the lower legs. The material should be breathable for comfort, to ensure it can be worn for long periods of time.

Overview of Foot Drop
Since it may be an indication of an underlying disease, people who note weakness in their feet should seek treatment from their healthcare provider. Foot support is important to maintain a normal joint angle and for comfortable walking. Foot drop may be permanent or temporary, but support is necessary for optimal health of the ankle-foot joint.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is one of North America's premiere medical orthopedic brace distributors, carrying a large selection of lumbar sacral support braces and rehabilitative cold therapy units.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

ACL Tears - What to Expect During Recovery

ACL tears are one of the most common forms of knee injuries, especially for athletes involved in high-risk sports like basketball, skiing and football. Recovering from an ACL injury can be a very difficult and long journey. In this article we will examine the entire process, from injury through recovery, and discuss what an individual who has recently sustained an ACL tear can expect during each phase along the way to help make the recovery process more manageable.

Causes of ACL Tears
ACL tears often are the result of a sudden change in direction, such as pivoting, cutting, awkward landings or sidestepping moves made in sports like basketball, skiing or football. Of course an ACL tear can also occur in non-sports settings as well.

The anterior cruciate ligament (or ACL) is one of the four major ligaments in the knee that connect the tibia and femur bones that help form the knee joint. Torn ligaments, such as the ACL, cause the knee to be unstable.

Immediately following the injury, the patient usually will experience some pain as well as swelling and instability in the knee. To properly diagnose an ACL tear, a physician will usually order either x-rays or an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.

Treatment Options
There are both surgical and non-surgical treatment options available for ACL tears. The best form of treatment will largely depend on the person’s activity level and the severity of the injury. For those who live fairly sedentary lifestyles non-surgical treatment may be an option, depending on how serious the injury is. Children may also need to forgo surgery because there is a risk of plate damage since their young bodies are still growing.

A non-surgical treatment program will involve extensive physical therapy and education. The patient may also wear a hinged knee brace to help with instability and prevent further injury.

For serious athletes and those with physically demanding jobs or active lifestyles, surgery is most likely the best option. For full ACL tears or combined injuries, surgery is also usually recommended.

ACL Reconstructive Surgery
Surgical treatment of a torn ACL involves reconstructive surgery where the damaged ACL is replaced with a graft made from tendon. The most common grafts are from a patellar tendon, hamstring tendon, or tendon from a cadaver. ACL reconstruction surgery does have a high success rate. Before undergoing surgery, the patient may be sent to do some physical therapy for a few days or weeks first.

Recovery from Surgery
After surgery, the patient will normally spend a few days lay in bed to recover. Once out of bed, he or she will most likely will be using crutches for a few weeks and after that may wear a functional hinged post-op knee brace.

Rehabilitation and Recovery
Rehabilitation usually starts several days after surgery. The main focus is on strength and mobility. The major goals are to strengthen the damaged knee and muscles surrounding the knee, such as the quadriceps muscle, as well as work on restoring range of motion and stability.

Physical therapy does involve doing lots of repetitive exercises and does require plenty of determination and focus. Serious athletes will spend almost every day, or at least several times a week, in the training room working on strengthening their knee. It is very important that the patient is willing to spend several months of hard work to restore their knee to full strength.

The rehabilitation process will generally last from six to nine months before an athlete is cleared to play contact sports again. The physician and trainer may also suggest that the patient wear a knee ACL ligament brace while playing to help protect and provide stability to the knee.

ACL reconstruction surgery does have a high success rate. A full recovery mostly depends on the severity of the patient’s injury and the dedication put into the rehabilitation process. It may take six months to a full year and a lot of hard work to regain full strength, but it is possible to recover from an ACL tear.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a premier supplier of high quality medical products including a wide selection of medical orthopedic braces and supports, including ACL and hinged knee braces and patella stabilizers. To find quality medical shoulder, knee, and back braces, please visit MMAR Medical online.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Treating Wrist Arthritis

Wrist arthritis can be extremely painful and debilitating. If you or a loved one has recently developed symptoms of arthritis is in the wrist area, understanding what exactly wrist arthritis is and why it occurs can prove to be valuable information that you can use to your advantage.

What is Wrist Arthritis?
Arthritis comes in different variations, but it is commonly found in two primary forms: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. With osteoarthritis, the articular cartilage in the wrist starts to wear down over time. This occurs from normal wear and tear throughout your life, or it can happen as a result of a big injury. Once the articular cartilage wears off, it causes the bones in the wrist area to grind together when you move. When this happens, it can be very painful without something in between the bones.

By comparison, rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks parts of the body. When you have premature arthritis, it can come on all at once. It also occurs in both sides of the body equally. This means that if one wrist is hurting because of her mental arthritis, the other one will also start hurting.

Noninvasive Treatment Options
If the condition is caught early on in the process, the doctor will usually recommend engaging in noninvasive treatment. With these types of treatment options, the primary objective is to relieve the pain and to minimize any swelling that could occur as a result of the arthritis.

One very simple noninvasive way to treat arthritis is to change your regular activities. In many cases, arthritis flares up when an individual is doing a specific activity. For example, someone who plays the piano may notice their arthritis hurting when they play. By simply eliminating this activity, you may be able to minimize pain. In some cases, you cannot or do not want to stop these trigger activities. (For example, you may love playing piano or have to use a computer keyboard – two very common trigger activities.) If that is the case, you can incorporate an arthritis wrist brace or glove into these activities, which will hold your wrist steady, provide compression pressure, and minimize pain. In some cases, doctors will recommend completely immobilizing the wrist. Again, a wrist brace or splint will hold the wrist completely straight and still for a long duration, which will minimize or eliminate symptoms.

Exercising regularly can also make a big difference when it comes to helping your arthritis. By moving your wrist around, it can boost the range of motion, increase blood flow, and help it feel better overall.

Some doctors will recommend treating wrist arthritis with medication. Most of the time, they'll start out with some kind of anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen and possibly work up to something stronger if the pain persists. When the pain is pretty severe, the doctor may recommend getting a steroid injection into the area. By injecting steroids into the wrist, this can cause the inflammation to go down significantly. Cortisone is typically the first steroid that doctors will use in this situation.

Surgical Options
When noninvasive measures do not provide any relief, then the doctor may recommend a surgical procedure. There are a few different options that can be done in surgery. The first option involves removing the bones that are causing the pain. There are some very tiny bones in the wrist that can be removed to fix the problem.

Another option to consider is fusing two bones together. The surgeon may also recommend putting a prosthetic joint in the wrist to address the problem. With this option, patients have been known to regain full motion in their wrists without any of the pain that typically comes with wrist arthritis.

Considerations
If you are experiencing pain in your wrist and you think it could be arthritis, contact a doctor as soon as possible. When the condition is detected early on, it can be treated easier without having to go through surgery. Then you can try various treatment options to handle the issue.

About the Author: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a wholesale distributor of medical support braces, diabetic shoes for men and women and hot or cold therapy units. MMAR offers one of the largest selections of support braces for pain and postoperative recovery.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Best Practices for Using TENS Electrotherapy on your Back

Electrotherapy is most commonly prescribed as a part of a physical rehabilitation regimen but is also an incredibly effective, non-invasive way to treat arthritis and other chronic pain. Electrotherapy (i.e. TENS – Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) reduces pain through the use of low-risk energy currents to aid in tissue repair, improve joint function, and assist with blood flow.

Here are some helpful tips for using a TENS device on your back or shoulders:

1. Make sure the skin is clean and dry
TENS devices utilize small stick-on electrodes to deliver electric current to the body. Before adhering electrodes to your skin make sure that skin is free of sweat, lotions, or other oils in order to achieve a proper contact. This will ensure that electrodes do not detach when you move and can actually extend the usable life of the electrodes (which are typically operable for about 10-20 uses).

2. Get help
When using an electrotherapy device it is important to get the electrodes in the right places to achieve maximum pain relief. Since it can be difficult to reach your own back, ask a family member or friend for help with placement of the electrodes and connection of the lead wires.

3. Position electrodes evenly
Whether you are using two or four electrodes on your back make sure that they are at the same height and an even distance away from the spine to achieve the best results. Follow your doctor’s suggestions about where to place electrodes, making sure not to position them directly over top of the spine.

4. Orient lead wires appropriately
Since electrodes are connected to the TENS device with lead wires, the length of lead wires determines how close the electrotherapy unit needs to be to the area being treated. Therefore, when placing the electrodes it is best to have all the lead wires going in the same direction, or in similar directions, to allow for maximum range of motion. Properly orienting lead wires ensures that there will be enough slack in the lead wires to clip the TENS device onto your belt area, or rest it comfortably beside you.

5. Follow your doctor’s instructions
Your doctor will prescribe a particular course of use for your electrotherapy device based on your muscle density. Be sure to only use the TENS device as prescribed- do not adjust the intensity level or duration of use without first consulting with a medical professional. If you experience worsening pain stop using the device immediately and notify your doctor.

6. Make sure you have backup batteries
Nothing is worse than getting your electrodes placed and lead wires connected only to find out that the batteries are dead in your TENS electrotherapy device, so be sure to keep spares on hand.

7. Avoid water
A TENS device is, after all, an electronic device- keep it away from sinks, tubs, pools, and other wet areas. If you have to wash your hands or be in contact with water for any reason, turn the electrotherapy device off and disconnect it first.

8. Know the limitations of electrotherapy
While electrotherapy is approved to treat back pain, joint pain, arthritis, post-operative pain, acute pain and chronic pain in most adults, electrotherapy should not be used if you are on a cardiac pacemaker.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a supplier of orthopedic medical products including a wide selection of orthopedic braces for the back, ankle, knee and upper body, cold therapy systems as well as elctrotherapy devices. From top quality post-operative back braces to a wide selection of arthritis knee braces, MMAR Medical has bracing and support solutions for everyone.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hot & Cold Therapy - The Ultimate Natural Pain Reliever

Who knew simple temperatures could be some of the greatest pain relievers available? You would be surprised, actually. The medical community has known for centuries that hot & cold therapy can help relieve pain from anything like minor aches and pains to chronic arthritis and joint pain. A lot of the benefits far outweigh more harmful narcotics and it’s a preferable alternative for your physical health. Many doctors will even prescribe it for many post surgeries or traumas. Each temperature serves a difference purpose though so it’s important to know when to ice vs. heat an injury.

When Do You Use Cold Therapy?
Cold therapy can be a great relief for swelling, inflammation, burns – basically anything that feels hot. It can help expedite the de-swelling process, which is why doctors often prescribe it after plastic surgery so you look better faster. But it also relieves the pain by reducing muscle spasms and your nerves ability to conduct impulses that send pain messages to your brain. So go ahead and freeze those nerves! We don’t want them sending those messages anyway, right?

Examples of Popular Conditions for Cold Therapy Arthritis is a popular example of pain that cold therapy can relieve. When you feel that burning sensation in your joints-reach for a cold therapy wrap! Other situations would be bruises, sprains, any swollen joints or conditions like Plantar Fasciitis – an extremely painful circumstance that occurs when the tissue in the bottom of your foot is inflamed. Some foot/ankle braces actually come with cold compresses embedded within them for this condition specifically.

When Do You Use Hot Therapy?
Heat Therapy is best used to ease pain like cramps, muscle soreness or stiff joints. Heat works to stimulate thermoreceptors which block your body’s pain transmitters from communicating with your brain. It also improves blood flow and circulation so any stiff joints will be moving in no time. Have you ever been really cold and rubbed your arms, hands or legs to warm them up? Your performing heat therapy to increase your blood flow and warm up!

Examples of Popular Conditions for Heat Therapy
You might have noticed after a stressful day or intense exercise you feel exponentially better after a hot bath or hot tub session. This is an example of heat therapy on a basic, everyday level. If you’re experiencing any stress that’s making you tense, heat therapy is a great way to relax and feel better. Other popular instances are menstrual cramps, arthritis and diabetes. Arthritis can cause a lot of joint stiffness and heat therapy should be applied when you’re feeling motion resistance but not when you have that burning sensation – use cold therapy for that. Diabetics often have problems with their blood circulation causing stiff joints as well. A good pair of diabetic shoes combined with some heat therapy can make a world of difference.

The Correct Way to Apply Hot and Cold Therapy
Cold and hot therapy can have some negative effects if used incorrectly. This usually happens when using homemade methods like ice packs, frozen peas, hot compresses or bottles, for example. It’s difficult to control the temperature on these and whether they’re hot or cold, the inaccurate temperature can actually burn your skin. Make sure to always have a cloth or towel in between you and application in addition to applying for no longer than 20 minute at a time.

A good way to avoid the negative effects caused by those, you can use a hot & cold therapy system or unit. They’re designed to circulate a more temperature controlled therapy through the pad instead of concentrate on one area. This allows you to use the therapy for much longer periods of time than 20 minutes. Our Aqua Relief System is a great example of both since you can adjust to the optimal temperature you need and apply it 360 degrees around the area in pain. Also, be certain to never apply heat therapy to an open cut or lesion.

A lot of doctors advise to even switch between hot and cold therapy at the same time. Just make sure you’re each correctly. If you’re joints feel stiff– don’t use cold therapy that will only make them stiffer. If your area of pain is red and inflamed make sure not to use heat therapy or the pain can actually increase. Just follow the basic guidelines and you’ll enjoy a significantly less painful life!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Poor Posture – Your Underestimated Nemesis

While you were growing up did adults ever nag you to “stand up straight!”? Chances are, it was annoying but they were right. The effects of bad posture should not be underestimated.

Bad posture not only slowly wears away your joints and ligaments leading to eventual orthopedic conditions & injuries but it can even cause trouble breathing, weight gain, lowered confidence and energy. But don’t worry; it can all be avoided with a few small adjustments.

Good Posture Tips
A common misconception is that you should stand as straight as possible, which usually means you’re overarching your back and that can actually cause more tension than slouching in some cases. You really just need to ensure everything is aligned correctly but don’t force your back into an unnatural position. A good test is to stand against a wall with your bottom touching. If the back of your head naturally touches the wall as well you’ve got good posture. Your head, shoulders and hips will be in a straight line but your spine should still form its natural “S” shape. Here are a few tips more specific to bad posture prone situations:

  • Sitting (driving, working on the computer, etc)
  • Sit upright as if you had a string pulling you up.
  • Your bottom should touch the back of your seat.
  • Feet are flat on the floor. Don’t cross legs, we know it’s tempting – don’t do it.
  • Don’t lean forward to look closer at what you’re watching/doing. This can seriously stress your neck muscles and lead to a lot of discomfort and even headaches!
  • A small pillow in the curve of your back can aid with comfort and keeping the natural curve of your spine.
  • Get up every 30 minutes or so and walk around if you can.
  • If you have injured your back in the past, wear a supportive back brace during strenuous activities.

Standing and walking

  • Walk heel to toe, pushing off the ground with the balls of your feet.
  • Position your feet shoulder length apart, shoulders slightly back in a relaxed position and suck in your stomach.
  • Take shorter, more frequent strides are idea as opposed to long strides.
  • Don’t look at the ground; keep eyes straight ahead.
  • Tuck in your chin just a little to ensure your head and neck are both in line with your spine.
  • It almost goes without saying but comfortable shoes with a proper arch make a huge difference, especially if walking long distances.

Lifting & Bending – One of the biggest back injury culprits!

  • Always bend at the knees when you lift.
  • Make sure you lift with your legs, never your back.
  • Keep your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Position yourself close to the object you’re lifting.
  • If you have to turn while lifting something, use your feet not your waist.
  • Tighten those stomach muscles!

Sleeping

  • Sleep on your back or on your side with your knees bent.
  • If sleeping on your side, put a pillow in between your legs to keep your spine straight throughout the night.
  • Don’t sleep on your stomach.
  • Avoid thick pillows that will raise your head up too far.

It’s not difficult to improve your posture; it just takes some conscious attention and consistency. The sooner you start, the better since it’s much harder to reverse the negative effects of bad posture the older you are. Besides, the benefits are worth it.

Improved Posture Benefits
You might be surprised at how much improved posture benefits your body, health and mind. Here are just a few of the positive changes you’ll see:

  • Improved organ function, especially digestion
  • Decreased joint injury and ligament stress
  • Lowers chances of arthritis and other orthopedic conditions and injuries
  • Stronger core
  • Facilitates breathing for increased energy, improved blood flow and a clearer mind
  • Try breathing slouching and breathing standing up straight – huge difference!
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Appear taller and thinner
  • Increased confidence

It won’t happen overnight but it’s well worth the positive effects improved posture brings. It makes you stronger, faster, smarter and even look better. Why wouldn’t you want to start ASAP?

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is one of North America's premiere medical orthopedic brace distributors, carrying a large selection of carpal tunnel braces and rehabilitative cold therapy units. Based in Houston Texas, MMAR also carries a back brace and unloader knee brace selection.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a painful condition that affects the wrist, fingers and – in some instances – the forearm. The carpal canal or tunnel is a very small space in the wrist that connects the palm and the forearm. Several tendons and the median nerve pass through the carpal canal. The median nerve is one of the 5 main nerves that run from the shoulder to the fingers. If the canal swells or deteriorates, it can place pressure on the tendons and median nerve resulting in tingling, significant discomfort, and/or pain. Since the median nerve controls various finger and hand movement, much of that discomfort manifests in both the hand and wrist, though in some cases the symptoms may extend in the forearm.

What causes carpal tunnel syndrome?

  • Aging and arthritis
  • Repetitive movement, especially if it involves bending the wrist downward
  • Wrist injuries
  • Bone spurs
  • Pregnancy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
Women have a higher proclivity to develop this syndrome as their carpal tunnels are significantly smaller than males.

What are the primary symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome?

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Pain in the fingers, hand, and/or forearm
Symptoms most frequently manifest in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. Symptoms never manifest in the “pinkie,” so if you experience pain in all fingers except the pinkie, it is likely that you are experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome. Symptoms are often most prevalent at night and you may be able to relief pain temporarily by shaking the hand vigorously.

What are the treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome?

  • If possible, limit or cease activities that trigger symptoms and aggravate the condition. At the very least, rest the wrist occasionally when performing said activities.
  • Wear a carpal tunnel brace or wrist support when at the computer or participating in activities that involve repetitive wrist movement.
  • Ice the wrist for 10 minutes 1 or 2 times an hour.
  • Take anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling.
  • Wear a carpal tunnel wrist splint at night.
The sooner you start treating the syndrome, the more likely you will prevent permanent nerve damage, so as soon as you are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, you should begin strategizing a treatment plan. In some instances the pain is just too intense and persistent, making surgery the best option. Surgery can increase the circumference of the carpal tunnel, thus reducing pressure on the nerve.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a wholesale distributor of hot and cold therapy units and medical braces, including a comprehensive collection of carpal tunnel therapy braces. MMAR Medical also offers one of the largest selections of support braces for pain and postoperative recovery.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Approximately 65 million Americans suffer from back pain, with lower back pain being the most frequent area of concern. Lower back pain is typically the result of ageing, overuse, muscle strains, and injury. While some initial down time may be in order, in most cases, staying active is the key to relieving chronic lower back pain. Too little activity can lead to loss of flexibility, strength, endurance, and increases the likelihood of more back pain. The right exercises will strengthen and support the lower back, reducing pain, speeding recovery, and preventing re-injury. On the flip side, the wrong exercises may trigger back pain or even cause irreparable damage, so it is important to choose your exercises wisely.

Beneficial Exercises for Lower Back Pain
  • As a rule of thumb, choose gentle strengthening and stretching exercises for your core, back, and legs. These areas have the greatest influence on your lower back's health.
  • Swimming is perhaps the best aerobic exercise for lower back pain. Try the back stroke or using a kick board.
  • Pilates provide an amazing low impact comprehensive workout that stretches, strengthens, and tightens the core.
  • Lifting hand weights – just be sure not to over-do it! The weight should feel slightly challenging but not uncomfortable or painful. Keep movements slow and calculated.
  • Wall sits (see image) - Sit at a near 90 degree angle with your back against the wall. This will strengthen your core and your legs, while bracing your lower back.
  • Press up back extensions - lie stomach down, with your hands under your shoulders, pushing with your hands so your shoulders begin to lift off the floor. This is will increase flexibility and strengthen your back.
  • Partial crunches (i.e. a slight crunch, but not a full “sit up”) provide back stability while strengthening the core.
  • Individuals with tight hamstrings are more likely to experience back pain, so gentle hamstring stretches are a great addition to any exercise regimen.
  • Lie on the floor, with knees bent at 45 degrees, feet on the floor. Slowly lift your knee to your chest or as far is comfortable for you.
  • Pelvic tilts are a very gentle strengthening move that will support the lower back and strengthen the lower abdominals – a tough area to target.
  • Consider pairing exercise with a supportive lumbar back brace at early stages of recovery.
  • Utilize heat therapy to loosen up muscles prior to a strenuous workout and apply cold therapy to decrease swelling and reduce pain.

  • Exercises to Avoid
  • It goes without saying but avoid exercises that strain the back. If you feel pain, just stop. Be sure to “check in” with your body regularly. Trust your internal narrator. If your inner voice says “this feels like it could go wrong”, just stop.
  • Avoid toe touches and similar fast-paced, drastic bending movements.
  • Full sit-ups put too much pressure on the spine and should be avoided.
  • Leg lifts (i.e. laying on the floor and elevating legs) place too much strain on the lower back.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical is a premier online supplier of the best orthopedic medical braces including post-operative and osteoarthritis knee braces, cold therapy systems and more. MMAR Medical offers the highest quality products matched with excellent customer service.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Back Pain in Children and Teens

If your child or teenager is experiencing pain in their back, it is important that you see a medical professional to diagnose the root cause or condition behind the pain. Thankfully, most back pain issues in children are simply the result of overuse or strain. Such minor soft tissue damage, such as strains to muscles, ligaments and tendons, is easily treated with rest and careful monitoring. There are, however, more serious injuries and conditions that should be considered and ruled out, especially is back pain is acute or persists for longer periods of time.

What triggers back pain in children and/or teens?

Sports Injuries & Accidents
If you are a parent, chances are you are no stranger to accident and activity-related injuries. These are natural parts of childhood. That said; always ensure your child wear the appropriate safety gear for sports and their seat belt. Obviously, some injuries may be more serious than others. No injury should be dismissed as minor without careful observation, especially if the child expresses acute or lasting pain. The injury could be a stress fracture which can be very serious.

Heavy School Bags
A recent BBC report reported that each year in the UK alone more than 120,000 kids visit the doctor regarding back pain resulting from a heavy backpack, with the problem being the worst among 11 to12 year olds. Your child should use both straps of their backpack and the pack should fit snugly against the back, with heavier books towards the back of the backpack. Children should not carry more than 10% of their body weight on their back, which is typically between 7 and 13 pounds. Recent studies showed some children carry as much as 60 pounds on their backs!

Scoliosis
Scoliosis is a condition that results in the abnormal curvature of the spine. It can manifest in children as young as 3 or as old at 18, and often grows more pronounced with growth spurts. Scoliosis is most prominent in females, but all children and adolescents should be regularly screened for the condition. Treatment varies depending on the condition and the patient’s age, but for most children, a special spinal back brace can help prevent further curvature. In some instances, surgery may be a better option.

More Serious Conditions
There are few serious conditions that may also result in childhood back pain, including spinal infection, a spinal tumor, juvenile arthritis, and spondylolisthesis (a condition that can affect vertebra and the nervous system.) While none of these conditions are common, they should be ruled out by a medical professional if pain persists.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a supplier of orthopedic medical products including top quality post-operative back braces to a wide selection of hinged, unloader and arthritis knee braces.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Flat Feet V. High Arches

Is the grass greener on the other side? Frequently people with flat feet yearn for high arches, while those with a high foot arch long for a lower arch. Whether you have a noticeably high or flat arch, being aware of the condition will help in understanding certain arch-related pains and even something as simple as choosing the right pair of running shoes.

Let’s explore the definition, causes, effects and exercises to improve the condition.

Flat Feet

Other names: Pes planus, fallen arches

Definition: Flatfoot is a physiological deformation wherein the foot has no arch; when standing, the bottom of the foot touches the floor entirely.

Causes: All children are born with flat feet, most naturally develop a normal arch as they grow up. For those that do develop an arch, age, obesity and injury are the most common causes resulting in a fallen arch. The posterior tibial tendon, which supports the arch, can weaken as one ages or puts on excessive weight.

Effects: Not all with flat feet experience discomfort; only those with pain or discomfort should seek treatment. Some symptoms of pes planus include:

  • Pronounced aching in the arch or heel of the foot after being on foot for a long time or after exercising
  • Inner ankle swelling, along the posterior tibial tendon
  • Pain in the lower half of your body – calves, knees, hips, lower back
  • Foot stiffness

High Arched Feet

Other names: Pes cavus, high instep

Definition: The opposite of flatfeet, where the entire sole of the foot touches the ground, high arched feet have a generous amount of space between the arch and the floor when standing.

Causes: Typically pes cavus is caused by a bone or nerve condition creating the unnaturally high arch.

Effects: Less frequent than flat foot but more severe in pain, many with high arches find they need corrective treatment or at the least, special and supportive footwear. Many people with high arches place the majority of their weight on the back of the feet, which can cause pain when putting pressure on the feet (walking, exercising, standing). One of the most common effects of this condition is the struggle to find shoes that fit over the arch. Orthotic insoles, footbeds or corrective, supportive shoes may help alleviate mild pain from pes cavus; additionally, surgery is an option to flatten the arch for those with extremely painful situations.

Naturally the bones of the foot will have a slight arch; however, if at any point your arches – whether low or high – become irritating or painful, seek medical help.

About the Author:MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a wholesale distributor of medical support braces, diabetic shoes for men and women and hot or cold therapy systems. MMAR offers one of the largest selections of support braces for pain and postoperative recovery.