Wednesday, March 27, 2013

3 Common Injuries at the Ball of the Foot

The ball of the foot is the soft pad just behind your toes that forms the forward base of the arch. Generally speaking, the ball consists of fatty tissue protecting the metatarsal bones, five long bones connecting the phalanges (toe bones) to the rest of the foot. Because, along with the heel, the ball absorbs the vast majority of the pressure and stress during normal walking and running, it is also prone to injury.

Here, we describe three common sources of ball-of-foot pain which may require some form of treatment.

Metatarsalgia – Metatarsalgia is the given name for the nondescript, potentially throbbing pain sometimes felt in the ball of the foot. It may also sometimes be called a stone bruise (due to the potential for it emerging following blunt trauma to the region by stepping on a small sharp rock). It is the functional equivalent of a toothache in the ball, and comes as a result of undue stress or trauma placed on one or more metatarsals. With metatarsalgia, the ball is typically very tender to the touch, making it difficult to walk, and it is sometimes accompanied by swelling. The condition typically arises as a result of a combination of natural propensity for the injury (from structural problems in the foot) and overuse, such as by extended running, walking, or standing. Resting and icing the injured area can help speed the recovery process and give your ball of foot relief.

Morton’s Neuroma – A neuroma is a tumorous growth of nerve tissue, but in this case, it is a misnomer. In actuality, Morton’s neuroma is typically a buildup of fibrous tissue surrounding a nerve running along the metatarsals, rather than growth of the nerve itself. Morton’s neuroma is benign, but it may result in pain or numbness in the ball of the foot, especially when ill-fitting or old shoes are worn. It typically occurs due to the rubbing of metatarsal bones against the nerve, which may be made more severe by shoes that are too tight or awkwardly fitting. Shoes specially designed for orthotic comfort may reduce the pressure placed on the nerve and provide a much-needed comfort to ball of foot pain.

Sesamoiditis – This is an injury to the bones directly behind the large toe, called sesamoid bones. It typically results in pain and swelling to the inner ball of the foot (so the right side of the ball on the left foot, and vice versa on the right). It may occur due to excessive bending of the large toe in an unusual direction, or by shoes that put a lot of stress on that particular area of the foot (especially high heeled shoes). Reducing stress on the foot by using orthotic insoles may help in reducing pain during recovery.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Top 5 Benefits of Compression Sleeves

Although compression sleeves have been prescribed by physicians for decades, they have recently gained popularity amongst athletes, specifically long distance runners. Athletes appreciate how compression sleeves increase blood flow to the leg muscles, increase oxygen to the Achilles, and promote healing in the shins. Superstars like Chris Solinsky, Shannon Rowbury and Paula Radcliffe have all been seen racing in knee-high compression socks recently. However, you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to enjoy the benefits of compression sleeves. Moderately active CEP Compression Sleeve users report that they experience more energy, improved blood circulation, higher stamina and better joint stabilization while wearing their compression sleeves.

Read about the top five benefits of compression sleeves below to get a better understanding of how these elasticized garments may help you.

1. Relieve Tired, Aching, Heavy Feeling Legs

People who used compression noticed enhanced blood circulation as a result of improved venous return. Enhanced blood circulation improves the blood flow of oxygen rich blood back to the body, which helps relieve tired, aching, heavy feeling legs. Compression also reduces blood lactate concentration, allowing athletes to perform better and recover faster.

2. Reduce Swelling in the Leg

Compression has been proven to limit swelling in the leg, especially in people that endure long periods of sitting or standing. If you suffer from poor circulation, compression sleeves may be what you need to reduce swelling in your legs. Studies have proven that calf-length compression stockings with a pressure range between 11 and 21 mmHg are able to reduce swelling in the legs that normally occurs in the evening after many hours of sitting or standing.

3. Minimize Varicose Veins

Graduated compression increases blood flow and naturally combats varicose veins in the legs. Varicose veins are swollen veins that have an abnormal collection of blood due to the valves not functioning properly. The blood stays in the vein and pools, resulting in a swollen vein that is often painful. Compression sleeves support circulation and help keep the blood flowing so you do not suffer from additional varicose veins.

4. Manage Lymphedema

Lymphedema, often caused by surgical removal of the lymph nodes, occurs when the lymphatic system becomes blocked so it can’t properly drain the body’s excess protein and water from the issues. The lymph fluid causes mild to severe swelling in the arms and legs and can result in slower tissue healing and infection if not treated. Compression sleeves can help you manage Lymphedema by applying pressure that keeps lymph moving in the right direction.

5. Prevent Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS)

Post-Thrombotic Syndrome develops in some patients who experience a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) in the leg. People who develop PTS often experience pain, heaviness, itching and swelling of the leg. They may also experience varicose veins, skin discoloration and uclers. Data suggests that use of compression stockings for up to 2 years post deep vein thrombosis can help prevent PTS. Compression stockings are also known to treat PTS and help with the healing process.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

The 5 Most Memorable Knee Injuries of All Time

There’s no denying that injuries play a major role in sports. Even in non-contact athletic events, the extreme physical exertions that amateur and professional athletes alike subject their bodies to makes injury an unfortunate but inevitable aspect of the game we love to play and watch.

Throughout the past century, great careers and memorable moments have been shaped by injury. And with so many sports involving considerable use of the lower body, it comes as no surprise that some of the most memorable injuries have been to the knee. Here’s our list of five famous athletes whose careers have been heavily influenced by the knee injuries they have sustained.

5. Pelé – Pelé is considered by many to be the greatest soccer player of all time, and in his native country of Brazil, he is regarded as a national icon. And why not, he scored almost 1300 goals throughout his career. A large part of the legend surrounding Pelé came as a result of his astounding performances at the World Cup (he helped Brazil to 3 cup victories in 4 competitions) – the first of which almost never came to fruition.

In 1958, Pele was a rising star in the footballing world. But, shortly before the World Cup tournament was due to begin, he was hobbled by a knee injury, and many thought that he would be left out of the squad. Fortunately, his teammates closed ranks and insisted on his selection to the team. He missed the first two games of the tournament, but when he finally hit the field he made history. As the youngest player in World Cup history (he was only 17 years old), he scored six goals, including a hat-trick against France. He led Brazil to the trophy, was named the young player of the tournament, and the legend of Pele was born.

4. Greg Oden – Oden’s story is much less joyful than Pele’s. An imposing 7’ center during his college basketball days at Ohio State, Greg Oden was selected as the first pick by the Trailblazers in the 2007 NBA Draft. He was expected to be an inspiring player in the professional ranks, ready to take Portland back to the playoffs.

Unfortunately, knee problems emerged almost immediately. He missed his entire first season due to a microfracture in his knee. This was just the first of many debilitating injuries. He suffered another knee injury in February of the following season, missing three weeks. In his third season (2009-2010), he suffered yet another knee injury, fracturing his left patella. This would sideline him for the remainder of the season. And in November of 2010, he would undergo microfracture surgery yet again, missing yet another season.

Ultimately, his injuries left him out of the competition, and the Trailblazers released him in March of 2012. In his entire 5-year career, he only managed to play a single season’s worth of games.

3. Tom Brady – As one of the most decorated professional quarterbacks of all time, Brady is known as the backbone of the New England Patriots. In 2007, the Patriots nearly had an immaculate season, falling only to the Giants in the Super Bowl. And in 2008, Brady was expected to lead the Patriots to a similarly successful year.

In the first quarter of the first game of the season, though, he suffered a hard knock to left knee delivered by the Chiefs’ Bernard Pollard. He tore his ACL and MCL and would be sidelined for the rest of the season. This injury would end his streak of 111 consecutive starts (fourth all time among quarterbacks), and end the Patriots’ hopes of making the playoffs. Luckily, with the help of effective medical care and a DonJoy medical brace, Brady made a full recovery for the 2009 season and led the Patriots back to the playoffs again.

2. Tiger Woods – Everybody knows that Tiger Woods is one of the most decorated golfers in PGA history, but you might not know about the impact that knee injuries have had on his career. Coming into the 2008 US Open Championship, Tiger was suffering from an injured left knee. Always the fighter, he insisted on playing through the weekend. Hobbling around the course on a bum knee, he dramatically won in a 20-hole playoff with runner-up Rocco Mediate. 

He had surgery to repair an ACL injury shortly after the victory. But, it seems he has never fully recovered, and he has not won a major championship in the years since.

1. Mickey Mantle – Mickey is regarded as one of the leading players of his era, leading the Yankees to 7 World Series championships and holding a slew of records for home runs, RBIs, and other statistics revolving around power hitting during the 1950s and 60s. But the real question is this: just how good would he have been if he could have stayed healthy?

He first suffered a knee injury as a 19-year-old, getting his foot stuck in a rubber drain in right field while chasing down a fly ball in the World Series. This was before many proper treatments for sports injuries even existed, and he was plagued by knee and other injuries likely stemming from a torn ACL for the rest of his career. If he could have stayed healthy, he may have been the greatest statistical ballplayer of all time.

Top Four Knee Braces for Watersports

Water has tremendous power and can wreak havoc on joints, especially knees. Athletes who wish to continue water skiing, wakeboarding or surfing throughout their lives need to take some precautions to protect these vulnerable joints.

First and most importantly, the muscles around the knee must be strong, an athlete’s own muscles are the best defense against injury. Anyone who feels unstable in the water must first consider exercising and lifting weights to strengthen the knees. No man-made device can replace an athlete’s own muscles. However, sometimes a previous injury, such as a torn an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), or a precaution against the sheer force of the water necessitates adding a brace to already bulked-up knees.

Many athletes wear braces while participating in extreme sports. In fact, Phil Solven won three King of Wake and Mastercraft Pro Tour titles while wearing a water sports knee brace. This was after he tore his ACL, testifying to the strength and quality of today’s ACL knee braces. Many knee braces cover the market; however, some braces stand out above the rest.

These are our top 4 knee braces for water sports:

1. Ossur CTi OTS Ligament Knee Brace 

The CTi OTS ligament knee brace has been proved to provide the highest level of support and protection. It is outfitted with anatomically correct Accrutrac hinges and flexible cuffs and buckles. Users love how the rock-solid CTi carbon frame provides a rigid exoskeleton that stabilizes the knee joint. As with all CTi braces, the OTS models are medical devices which may be prescribed by a doctor to reduce out-of-pocket costs. This top of the line knee brace for watersports supports all four crucial ligaments: the ACL, posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial cruciate ligament (MCL), and lateral cruciate ligament (LCL). The standard model is great for medium to high impact levels, while the pro sport model is recommended for the highest impact levels.

2. Donjoy FullForce Knee Brace 

The Donjoy FullForce Knee Brace is a lightweight brace that provides ligament stability and significantly reduces ACL strain. Wakeboarders love how DonJoy's FourcePoint hinge dampens knee joint extension, which increases flexion angles and reduces anterior shear forces on the tibia. The ForcePoint hinge results in less strain on the ACL and a decrease in the change of injury.

 3. Medi USA M4 Knee Brace 

If you have had ACL, PCL or CI reconstructive surgery, this brace is the right choice for you. The Medi USA M4 Knee Brace is also known for the relief and protection it provides to patients with isolated ACL rupture or rupture with collateral ligament injuries and collateral ligament instabilities. The Medi USA M4 Knee Brace provides optimal stabilization due to multi-point fixation joint mobility and limits anterior and posterior tibial glide with collateral ligament stabilization of knee joint. Wake boarders, water-skiers and other athletes love this light brace.

4. DonJoy Reaction Web Knee Brace 

The DonJoy Reaction Web Knee Brace is a less expensive knee brace that still provides exceptional support and protection from injuries. It also provides progressive pain relief and sustained comfort. The elastomeric web design absorbs shock and shifts the peak loads away from the painful area of the knee. This dispersion of energy helps reduce the anterior knee pain you suffer from. Watersport enthusiasts love how comfortable, breathable and lightweight this brace is.

The purpose of each one of the braces listed above is stability, not curing achy joints and other pain. For these conditions, neoprene braces designed to securely hold the joints and ligaments may be all that is necessary. In addition, the warmth provided by a simple neoprene brace may help alleviate pain.