Category: Health & Wellness

It’s about that time into January where New Year’s resolutions begin to get more challenging to stick to. Here are a few tips to keep motivated and on track!

At the start of the New Year, many people decide to start a running program. We treat a lot of runners in our orthopedic and sports medicine practice and see a lot of the more common running injuries, with both new and long-time runners.

Running is a fantastic cardio workout, but if you’ve never run before – or are getting started again after an injury or break – it’s good to be aware of the more common running injuries.

Foot Mechanics & Running

During running, the foot is active in both the landing and push-off phase. It absorbs the shock of impact when landing and controls the forces generated by running during push-off. Most running injuries can be linked to one of these two functions.

Common Running Injuries

Here are the most common injuries runners experience and tips to prevent these injuries from occurring:

Plantar Fasciitis:
This is probably the most common running injury. It is usually due to overtraining, especially hill work and speed work; and not stretching the calf muscles. The plantar fascia – a think band of tissues that stretches from the toes to the heel – is prone to tearing when overworked. This tearing results in inflammation. The slow blood supply to the fascia hinders healing and results in a chronic condition.

To prevent plantar fasciitis, follow these tips:

  • Wear the right shows with good arch support and heel cushioning
  • Stretch the Achilles tendon regularly
  • Keep at a healthy weight
  • Increase your running gradually and alternate running with other activities
  • Try to minimize going barefoot at home which puts stress on the feet

Achilles Tendinitis:
This large strong tendon runs from the heel to the calf and propels you forward while running. Overworking the Achilles tendon results in inflammation.

A couple good ways to ward off Achilles tendinitis are:

  • Tennis ball roll: Loosen your plantar fascia by rolling a tennis ball under each foot. The muscles and tendons along the bottom of your foot exert pressure from below on the Achilles. This exercise helps keeps things loose.
  • Foam roller: You can increase the flexibility in your lower legs with a foam roller, rolling it over the front and back of the lower legs. This release tightness and tension.

Stress Fracture:
The most common runners’ stress fracture is to the tibia, or shin bone. This type of fracture occurs with issues related to the landing or push-off phase of running.

Here are a few tips to prevent shin fractures:

  • Do exercises to keep calf muscles healthy – do calf raises to strengthen them and stretches the loosen these muscles
  • Avoid muscle fatigue in the legs – when muscles fatigue, weight distribution shifts and the bone takes increased weight and impact
  • Don’t shift from soft trails to hard surfaces rapidly
  • Wear shoes with good shock absorbance

Runners Knee:
When the foot is not stable and lands in an uncontrolled way, runner’s knee can develop. It can also be caused by a biomechanical issue such as the patella being larger on the outside than it is on the inside, or a patella that easily dislocates. Worn cartilage in the knee joint also reduces shock absorption. High-arched feet can be a culprit as well as flat feet.

To prevent runner’s knee, follow these tips:

  • Run on soft surfaces
  • Do not increase mileage more than 10 percent per week
  • Gradually increase hill work
  • Go to a specialty running shoe store to get fitted for the proper shoes for your foot and gait
  • Incorporate exercises that strengthen the quadriceps muscles to improve patellar tracking
  • Stretch your hamstrings and calves to prevent over-pronation (too much inward rolling of the foot)

For many, losing weight – especially those extra holiday pounds – is a New Year’s resolution. Here’s some information to consider on obesity’s impact on knee health from a recent study.

knee health, knee pain, knee doctors, knee doctors phoenix, knee doctors scottsdale

This month is National Diabetes Month. It’s important to inform your doctor about all of your medical conditions, especially prior to surgery. Diabetes is an especially important condition for your doctor to know about!

National Diabetes Month

We work with so many of the local football teams and always want to see our athletes play and stay safe. This is an important study regarding the effects of playing tackle football prior to age 12.

sports medicine

hip health, orthopedics

Maintaining joint health as we age is a priority for many active seniors, and understandably so. The most common conditions that affect the joints as we age include:

  • Hip osteoarthritis (Hip OA)
  • Trochanteric bursitis (inflammation of the bursa that lies next to the trochanteric bursae)
  • Osteonecrosis of the femoral head (death of bone tissue due to a lack of blood supply)

Fortunately, orthopedic medicine offers many options for healthy hips, and increasingly so with advances in regenerative medicine. 

Conventional Treatments

Let’s start with more conventional orthopedic options for hip health. The basics of maintaining and improving joint health – including the hips – starts with having an exercise program and maintaining a healthy weight.

Research consistently demonstrates that patients who lose weight, even at modest amounts, see reductions in their pain and disability. While there is more research to support the effects of weight loss on knee arthritis, weight loss is likely helpful for hip OA and other hip conditions as well. Exercise programs that include strength training, aerobics and range of motion exercises can help with both pain and physical function. Notably, strengthening exercises can help with hip OA.

In our clinic, we often use two types of conventional treatments for hip arthritis and hip conditions:

  • Corticosteroid Injections: Corticosteroid compounds injected directly into the affected joins can be useful for short-term pain reduction. Reoccurring injections can be utilized judiciously (2-3x per year) to maintain relief, although many patients and providers are cautious with long-term corticosteroid injection therapy.
  • Hyaluronic Acid Injections: Hyaluronic acid mimics the body’s natural substance that gives joint fluid its viscosity. Research shows that hyaluronic acid injections typically reach their peak effectiveness at around eight weeks after being given and last for about 24 weeks. The HA injections are excellent for knee arthritis. Unfortunately, these are considered off-label for the hip and not covered by insurance for this body part.

Medications and supplements that can help with mild-to-moderate hip OA include:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – Long-term use is a concern as to the risks of ulcers, GI bleeding and loss of kidney function for healthy individuals. For those with preexisting conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, GI bleeding and kidney failure, this medication is likely unsuitable.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) – These drugs can an option for pain relief, but come with more risks than acetaminophen, typically, and should be used with caution. Those with cardiovascular disease or GI bleeding should likely avoid NSAIDS completely and others with certain pre-existing conditions should ask their doctor before using them even for short-term use.
  • Glucosamine – While scientific evidence has yet to fully support the use of glucosamine for joint health, some studies show it improves pain and physical discomfort in hip OA and may be worth a try.

Regenerative Medicine

Now, let’s turn to regenerative medicine, an increasingly evidence-based form of medicine that offers exciting new solutions for orthopedic patients.

Hip conditions with aging, including hip replacement surgery, are relatively common. While there are times when surgery is the best option, increasingly regenerative medicine offers a safe and effective treatment alternative to more conventional therapies. At minimum, it can buy time for patients on track for a total hip replacement. I’ve seen evidence of this many times over in my practice.

What is Regenerative Medicine?

When tissue such as muscle, tendon, ligament or cartilage is injured, the body tries to heal the injury through its own repair mechanism. However, in certain situations (especially in areas where there is lack of blood flow – such as inside and around the joints) the body can’t heal the injury adequately, if at all. With regenerative medicine, we aim to augment the natural healing process to heal or even “grow back” the damaged tissue.

Within orthopedics, there are two forms of regenerative medicine we practice:

Stem Cell Therapy – Stem cell-based therapies for the repair or regeneration of muscle and tendon represent a promising technology going forward for numerous diseases.1 A type of stem cell called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have gained the most attention in the field of surgery due to their ability to differentiate into the tissues of interest for the surgeon.2  These multipotent stem cells in adults originate from mesenchymal tissues such as bone marrow, tendon, adipose (fat) and muscle tissue. In orthopedics, we primary harvest stem cells from the bone, notably the iliac crest of the pelvis. As stem cell therapy continues to emerge, we will eventually add adipose (fat) stem cell harvesting.

We conduct many stem cell procedures right in the clinic – as opposed to in the operating room, where it’s costlier to the patient and often less comfortable. We pre-medicate patients to make them as comfortable as possible. Then the pelvis – where the stem cells will be harvested from – is anesthetized. A special needle called a Jamshidi™ needle is used to harvest the bone marrow.

Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) – PRP involves the use of the platelets from blood, which is mainly a liquid composed of plasma, but also contains red cells, white cells and platelets. Platelets contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors, which are very important in healing injuries.

PRP is conducted in the clinic unless it is being used as an addition to a surgical procedure. It begins with a standard blood draw on a patient, where we draw 15 milliliters of blood. PRP is then prepared by separating the platelets from other blood cells and increasing their concentration in a process called centrifugation. This is done in a centrifuge device, and a trained representative from the device company is onsite to prepare the PRP. The PRP with its increased concentration of platelets is combined with the remaining blood and injected via guided ultrasound into the injured tissue. The use of ultrasound is important as it allows us to be very exacting in placing the PRP.

Benefits to Patients

Both forms of regenerative medicine are appealing to patients as they are minimally invasive and often performed in the clinic in a relaxed setting with little down time. Both stem cells and PRP can be performed as an adjunct to surgery to enhance its outcome or as a standalone procedure done right in the clinic.

A major advantage of regenerative medicine that is appealing to patients is that it leverages the natural healing process using the body’s own tissue. Additionally, the ease of preparation and administration; relative safety; and cost-effectiveness, as compared with surgical options are attractive to patients. Both forms of regenerative medicine can be used to treat some aging-related hip conditions and offer an exciting option for patients.

To learn more about Brian Gruber, MD, MBA, board certified orthopedic surgeon and his orthopedic and physical therapy practice, visit www.integratedorthopedicsaz.com.

  1. Oh JH, Chung SW, Kim SH, Chung JY, Kim JY. 2013 Neer Award: Effect of the Adipose-Derived Stem Cell for the Improvement of Fatty Degeneration and Rotator Cuff Healing in Rabbit Model. J Shoulder Elb Surg. 2014;23(4):445-455.
  2. Jang KM, Lim HC, Jung WY, Moon SW, Wang JH. Efficacy and Safety of Human Umbilical Cord Blood-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction of a Rabbit Model: New Strategy to Enhance Tendon Graft Healing. Arthroscopy.2015;31(8):1530-1539.