Tuesday, March 27, 2012

AC Joint Separation: Understanding Shoulder Separation

The AC joint is the joint located where the collar bone meets the should blade and arm bone (humerus). The clavicle meets the part of the collar bone known as the acromion, forming a socket where the humerus arm bone fits. The joint is held in place by several ligaments, the most important of which is the acromioclavicular ligament.

How does AC Joint Separation Occur?

An AC joint separation occurs whenever the joint between the clavicle and the acromion is damaged. It can be quite painful and inconvenient, but – despite common confusion to the contrary - it is not the same thing as a dislocated shoulder which involves the head of the humerus being forcibly removed from its socket.

Most AC injuries are the result of a strong blow to the shoulder or elbow. They can also be the result of a heavy fall or landing onto the elbow or an outstretched hand. Contact sports and car accidents are common causes of AC joint separation injuries.

What are the different levels or grades of AC Joint Separation?

AC separations are graded according to severity on a scale from 1 to 6, with 6 being the most extreme and rare. Grade 6 injuries involve torn ligaments and a complete disruption of the bones, while grades 1 and 2 are the most common and also the easiest to recover from.

What are the symptoms of an AC Joint Separation Injury?

The primary symptom of an AC injury is notable pain at the moment of impact in the outer end of the clavicle, near the arm. You may also experience pain throughout the shoulder after impact, especially when trying to lift the arms above the shoulders. There is often swelling and bruising, and if quite severe, you will be able to discern a noticeable lump at the tip of the collarbone.

How do you treat an AC Joint Separation?

If you are diagnosed with a lower grade level of shoulder separation, the injury will heal on its own with gentle exercise a few weeks after the injury when the pain has subsided a bit. Gentle exercise with increase range of motion and minimize instances of “frozen shoulder,” a common secondary issue that involves uncomfortable should stiffness. It is also advisable to treat the area with intermittent cold therapy thorough the first week to reduce inflammation. Use ice or a proper cold therapy system on the joint for 15 minutes at a time, every 4 hours. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen will lessen pain and further reduce inflammation.

Higher grade AC separation injuries will require a longer to recovery and should be overseen by a doctor or physiotherapist, who will be able to advice and supervise the recovery process. It is important to manage the pain, gradually resume activities, and eventually build up range of motion and muscle strength. It is likely that you will don a sling or shoulder immobilizer to restrict movement, lessen the pain, and promote healing. The joint may also be taped to further restrict movement. Surgery will almost certainly be necessary for grades 4, 5 and 6 shoulder separations, but these are instances of injury are quite rare.

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.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dealing with Chronic Pain in the Back or Neck – Non Surgical Strategies for Recovery

Chronic pain is often defined as consistent pain that is not resolved within 3 months or more. It can be a tremendously difficult, psychologically-draining state and when chronic pain is in the neck or back, it can be particularly challenging as it affects nearly all body movement.

Dealing with chronic back or spinal pain is not simple but there are a few tips that can help vastly improve your quality of life. The following is a list of common recovery methods and strategies for individuals who opt against invasive back surgery. This list is only intended to inform and it is of critical importance that an injured individual speak with their primary physician or physical therapist in order to decide on a treatment plan that is right for you.

Take Time to Recover

With many back injuries, including bulging disks, taking time off will allow the swelling to subside and permit the spine and surrounding tissue to heal. Swelling after all can be the primary source of pain. Incorporating hot and cold therapy into bed rest can also be highly beneficial. Many individuals report a single week of bed rest can restore the back to its healthy state and relieve chronic pain. Immediately after bed rest, many individuals use a supportive back brace, such as a lumbar support brace or sacroiliac brace, in order to offload weight from the affected area during the initial stages of rehabilitation.

Stay Active

Our bodies are designed to move, so after your recovery period, be sure to incorporate reasonable physical activity back into your daily regimen. The best activities are ones you will actually do on a near daily basis, so find something you enjoy and make it part of a routine. Before deciding on a new physical activity, discuss your options with your physician or physical therapist to ensure the activity will not place undue strain on your injury. Activities like swimming, elliptical machines, and walking are great low impact options for individuals with back injuries. You do not want to pursue a “muscle building” regimen at this time, which requires that muscles be stressed to the point of “breaking down” and “rebuilding”. This may further damage the already injured area. Rather, you want an activity that maintains muscle and prevents atrophy. Rehabilitation can seem slow at times, but it really is necessary for healing the injured areas.

Don’t Ignore Persistent Pain

Many folks – in their eagerness to exercise effectively and thus recover – ignore signs of pain when being active. Don’t. This is a critical time in recovery, and you do not want to push yourself to the point of further injury. Again, it is important to stress that your physical activity is about comfortable movement and muscle maintenance – not muscle building. With time you will be able to build muscle, but recovery is certainly not the optimal time to do so.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a supplier of orthopedic medical products including a wide selection of orthopedic braces and supports. From top quality post-operative back braces to a wide selection of hinged, unloader and arthritis knee braces, MMAR Medical has bracing and support solutions for everyone.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Braces for Back Pain

If you are looking for a back brace to help you cope with persistent back pain, it is important to first identify what is causing the pain. If the pain is chronic and has not yet been diagnosed by a medical professional, that should be your next step after reading this article. Typically pain can be traced back to several root causes: over-activity, disc injury, disc degeneration, degenerative spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, or scoliosis. In some instances back pain can be attributed to some very dangerous conditions including tumors and arterial disease. For this reason, it is critical you have the cause diagnosed by a medical professional who will be able to use imaging tests such as x-rays and MRI’s to accurately pin-point the underlying issue and rule out life threatening conditions. This is the first step to proper treatment for the back pain.

In most instances a medical back brace is an effective and affordable component of a comprehensive back pain treatment strategy. If you discover that you suffer from a slipped or bulging disc, a brace will not only provide support but it will offload pressure from the disturbed area. For others, if the pain is post-operative, a brace will not only aid with pain management, but it will also promote healing by limiting motion and providing support.

Your spine consists of a spinal code and nerves contained within a series of vertebra, separated by intervertebral discs and facet joints, all of work together, allowing the spine to transfer nerve information to the brain and body parts while also permitting the spine to move. Back pain can typically be attributed to one of these spinal components behaving irregularly, leading to “pinched nerves” or strained muscles / ligaments.

There are two types of back braces that are most commonly used to limit the motion in the spine, and they are rigid braces and corset braces. Rigid braces are exactly that: rigid – as opposed to elastic. A perfect example of a rigid brace would be TLSO braces. These firm, form-fitted braces are your best bet if limiting range of motion is your primary objective. They are typically constructed of stiff plastic and can limit motion by 50% or more, making them perfect fracture and post-operative braces. Because of their rigidity, these braces can be uncomfortable and are typically worn when upright, but not while sleeping. Corset braces are elastic braces which provide support while also allowing more give and their rigid counterparts. They are adjustable via elastic straps or corset styled lacing. Good examples of corset braces include lumbar braces and sacroiliac brace.

About the Author: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a wholesale distributor of orthopedic medical braces, comfort footwear and hot or cold therapy devices. MMAR offers one of the largest selections of quality medical braces in North America, including carpal tunnel braces and medical braces for pain and postoperative recovery.