Author Archives: aenriquez

Stretching Tips To Help Prevent Injury

By  aenriquez  published  June 19, 2020

It is safe to say that stretching before you exercise is one of the most under-appreciated health tips. Yes, it’s popular to establish a cardio-style exercise regime. Yes, it’s helpful to improve muscle tone by lifting or with other isometric practices. But stretching? Who has time for that?

The fact is, that athletic-looking man or woman in the parking lot who is walking on crutches or that great tennis player you watched at the courts with two knee braces to keep him going is often someone who did not stretch before going full force in their chosen sport. In addition, many people who stretch will tell you they do so because they suffered a ligament tear in high school or the doctor warned them their knee would “blow out” again if they didn’t take proper care of themselves.

Of course, you can stretch properly and still get hurt. You can ignore stretching and get lucky, working out hard without injury. But you are still raising risks by not stretching before your workout. Here’s why.

BENEFITS OF STRETCHING

Makes tasks easier

Increased flexibility simply makes it easier to perform in any sport. Furthermore, going hard in any sport can make muscles and ligaments tighten, rather than gain flexibility, according to the Mayo Clinic. So, why risk injury or a compromised performance? 

Improves range of motion

An approved range of motion is also why some tasks are easier when you stretch first. You can reach further, run easier, and extend yourself a bit more when you stretch regularly. Have you ever noticed how you can climb a set of stairs much easier after you stretch?

Better posture

Having good posture can be compared to the balance you need to ride a bicycle. When you are in balance, the bike seems to have no weight. When you are off-balance, then you realize how much the bicycle weighs.

The same can be said for better posture. You can run faster and react quickly when you have the correct posture. Also, the correct posture will translate to less wear and tear progression on your joints.

Better circulation

Your cardio-vascular system pumps oxygen to the many parts of your body. Oxygen is transferred from the atmosphere to your blood supply by your lungs. You also need to exhale carbon dioxide.

Needless to say, your cardio-vascular system is critical for all human movement and survival. When you exercise, of course, you breathe harder, because your body needs more oxygen when you work out. Stretching helps by getting your heart pumping at a higher rate before you start running hard.

Some Tips On Stretching

There are two basic styles of stretching. One is called “dynamic” stretching. This involves stretching in a more aggressive style – stretching by exercising lightly or “bouncing” as you stretch.

The other style of stretching is called “static ” stretching. This style involves no bouncing, only pulling gently on muscles and ligaments. With static stretching, you stretch in one direction gently and keep up the pressure for a moment or two.

Leg stretches while sitting with your legs stretched out in front of you and bending forward is a form of static stretching, while running in place would be seen as dynamic stretching.

Thirty Seconds

Stretching a muscle group gently but firmly is recommended for static stretching, widely viewed as the correct style for most of us. It is also recommended that you hold each stretch for 30 seconds, then relax and repeat the stretch several times.

Pain-free

If the stretching causes you pain, you have gone too far. Ease back and aim for pain-free stretching. If the pain persists or reduces your functioning significantly, discuss the matter with your physician.

For top sports injury care in the Tempe, Arizona, area, call the FXRX clinic for an appointment. Dial 480-449-FXRX.

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Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction Affects Mostly Women, But Men Too

By  aenriquez  published  June 11, 2020

It has been postulated, casually and clinically, that there will be a sudden rise in childbirths nine months after the initial COVID-19 lockdown date in each country. If this is true, congratulations are in order. However, one study has shown that 37.1 percent of pregnant women experience some degree of discomfort from symphysis pubis dysfunction, an ailment that also affects men and non-pregnant women.

Symphysis pubis discomfort is the name given to a condition marked by pain in the symphysis pubis joint, which is where the two pelvis bones meet in the front of the pelvis. This joint is held together by a dense pattern of ligaments, which can become stretched and strained. When this occurs, the discomfort can be anywhere from mild to severe.

Symptoms of Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

  • Pain in the pelvic region, which can be mild to severe. Clicking noise in the pelvis while in motion occasionally appears
  • Difficulty walking or maintaining proper posture when walking
  • Incontinence can develop.
  • Difficulty urinating can also occur.
  • Diagnosing Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

Doctors begin diagnosing symphysis pubis dysfunction or SPD by reviewing the patient’s medical history and through a one-on-one discussion.  Frequently, ultrasounds are given to assess the problem. In addition, X-ray images can be used to diagnose SPD, but this is not recommended for pregnant women.

Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction and Pregnancy

Pregnancy can cause SPD and occurs in higher rates among pregnant women who were obese before they became pregnant. It is also prevalent in men or women who experienced lower back pain in the past.

 The health of the fetus is not affected by PSD, although it could be a factor in the decision of how to deliver the child. Women with PSD should discuss this with their obstetrician and/or their primary physician.

One option for pregnant women with PSD is to wear a supportive belt that takes some of the pressure off the woman’s pelvic bones. This can reduce discomfort if worn for the prescribed duration. Another study reported that 20 percent of those with PSD experience bouts of severe pain.

What Can You Do? Treatment Options

There are several steps you should review with your physician. These include several options you can try at home to reduce distress from PSD.

  • Chiropractic sessions help in some cases
  • Massage therapy can help in some cases

Stretching. Doctors often recommended an exercise that involves lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. The patient then tightens the stomach muscles and the gluteal muscles in 20-second intervals. The process is repeated 10-20 times.

  • Putting a pillow between legs while asleep
  • Avoid long periods of sitting
  • Rest
  • Supportive shoes help in some cases
  • Kegel exercises
  • Keep knees together when standing from a sitting position to reduce discomfort
  • Pain medication can help in some cases

If you are experiencing Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction symptoms, call the FXRX clinic in Tempe, Arizona, for an appointment. Dial 480-449-FXRX.

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How to Fit Exercise into a Busy Life

By  aenriquez  published  June 8, 2020

The COVID-19 lockdown has reminded many of us that you don’t need New Year’s Eve to establish new priorities in your life. Many people have re-established their connections to nature, taking long walks that may have faded from memory before the crisis began. Others have dusted off their neglected home exercise equipment dedicated an hour a day to get in shape.

However, with and without lockdown measures, modern lives are busy.  We fill up the day with work, chores, projects, cooking, and time-erasing entertainment. So, how do you maintain a healthy workout routine when your life seems too busy to do so?

Here are some tips for starting an exercise routine or sneaking one in when your life seems to busy to do so.

One strategy involves becoming more efficient in your exercise style. Often recommended are styles called interval training or a similar strategy called Tabata training. There is also a popular option known as the Seven-Minute Workout.

Interval training

This style of training combines various exercises. A very common form of this is a jogging path that also includes chin-up bars, rope climbs, and other options.

Tabata training

This is similar to interval training. With this style, you combine two times of exercises, say pushups combined with jumping jacks. You do jumping jacks for 20 seconds, then take a 10-second rest and then do the pushups for 20 seconds. After a few cycles of this, you switch to two other exercises, still keeping with the 20 second/10 second routine.

Seven-Minute Workouts

This routine involves doing twelve different activities for 30 seconds then taking a 10-second break between each one. The specific exercises can vary, but one standard seven-minute routine includes jumping jacks, wall sits, push-ups, abdominal crunches, step-ups using a chair, squats, triceps dips using a chair, plank, running in place with high steps, lunges, push-ups with rotations and side planks.

Other tips:

Do what you love

If you find it difficult to even think of exercising, try getting a workout through something you love. Maybe you enjoy a game of tennis. As long as you exercise at least three times a week, you should be all right.

Take any Motivation you can find

Don’t worry about motivation. Anything that works is perfectly acceptable. Maybe you just enjoy the company you can find at the gym. If that helps get you there, don’t argue with it. Say thanks and get to the gym.

Make a Schedule

Some people need a routine they can stick to. If so, put exercise down as a priority and don’t let other distractions derail your routine.

Stairs Instead of Elevators

This idea involves more than just avoiding elevators when possible. There are many ways to include exercise in your daily life. Try parking at the farthest reaches of the parking lot rather than parking as close to the store as possible.

If you are just beginning an exercise regime and need advice, call the FXRX clinic in Tempe, Arizona, for an appointment. Dial 480-449-FXRX.

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Does Your Child Have Sever’s Disease?

By  aenriquez  published  March 12, 2020

Sever’s disease is a common affliction of the back of the heel that is brought on by stress on that area during childhood and adolescence. The dynamics of Sever’s disease, named after the doctor who first described it in 1912, makes logical sense when you look at the basic conditions that create the disease

Bone growth and intense physical activity are the two basic conditions that create (or can create) Sever’s disease. The back of the heel is the location of growth for the heel bone. This occurs at a site known as the bone plate or growth plate. When we are fully grown, the bone plate closes over and becomes solid bone. But when we are young and growing, a growth plate is weaker than solid bone.

Children, of course, are very physically active. Sever’s disease, it follows, is most often associated with athletic children, especially during a period in which they participate in competitive sports and even more specifically when that sports that require wearing cleats – football, sometimes soccer, hockey, lacrosse and other sports – which can put more stress on a child’s heel due to the hardness of the shoe.

Simply because girls and boys mature at different ages, the onset of Sever’s disease differs from gender to gender. It can occur younger or older than these ages, but the most common age for cases is from ages 5-12 for all children and from ages 8-10 for girls and ages 10-12 for boys.

Symptoms of Sever’s Disease

The symptoms of Sever’s disease, which is also called calcaneal apophysitis, revolve around pain, swelling, and redness in the heel. Specifically, the symptoms include:
 

  • Painful heels, especially when walking or running
  • Redness of the heel and ankle
  • Swelling of heel and/or ankle
  • Heat coming from the swollen, red area
  • Difficulty walking
  • Tendency to favor the heel by walking on the ball of your foot or on your toes

Treatment

First, be aware that Sever’s disease is almost always a temporary condition that is relieved by rest with elevation, with occasional applications of an ice pack and with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as naproxen and/or ibuprofen.

  • Rest the heel or heels. Stay off your feet for a while.
  • Keep the feet elevated as you rest.
  • Apply cold packs or ice, as needed to reduce pain, heat, and swelling
  • .Wear softer shoes.
  • Wear insoles that cushion your foot.
  • Discuss temporary braces with your physician.
  • In severe cases, discuss the possibility of a cast to immobilize the area.

Rest assured that Sever’s disease which is associated with childhood and adolescence, is generally a short-term condition corrected by rest, a change of footwear, and over-the-counter medications. By definition, it does not carry over into adulthood because the heel bone has stopped growing by then, and the growth plate is replaced by solid bone.

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Parents: Do You Have A First Aid Kit Ready? You Should

By  aenriquez  published  March 2, 2020

It is five in the morning, and you’re sound asleep, dreaming of lambs and butterflies, but a persistent drumming sound is pounding your eardrums. You start to gain consciousness when you realize it’s your child out in the driveway once again practicing layups. Then the drumming stops, and you know he’s just tried a jump shot, and you wait for the ball to crash against the garage. You have an athletic kid. What are you going to do?

You could call the police – just kidding. Or you could open the window and tell him you’re trying to sleep. Or you could assemble a first aid kit because you know someday you’re going to need one. We recommend that this is the choice you make – oh, and make some coffee or buy some earmuffs. You can’t sell your kid. You’re stuck with ’em.

So, here are a few items you should include in that first aid kit, which you probably should make up twice – one for the car, one for the home.

You could go all out and buy an ambulance. But here are a few basics you’ll want to have on hand if your kid is a go-go-go athletic type.

No. 1 A first aid book or, better yet, flashcards. There’s no sense having a first aid kit if you don’t know what you’re doing with it. Get a handy flashcard that lists easy to follow diagrams. This is not the time to stop and read. You want to go to the instructions right away.

A cell phone and phone numbers. Keep a list or upload emergency numbers into your phone, so they are easy to find in an emergency.

An updated list of medical forms, including allergies and current or recently used medications.

Surgical scissors and bandage sheers. Basically, you want a pointy set of scissors and a non-pointy set. The non-pointy set is great for times you don’t want to slip and stab someone, including yourself or your child. But you may find a need for pointy scissors when you have to start sheering in the middle of an article of clothing, for example.

Safety pins. You’ll be surprised how handy everyday necessities like safety pins can be in an emergency.

Forceps and tweezers. Forceps are professional grade tweezers that can clamp and hold position while pinched. Very handy. On the other hand, they tend to be larger than some applications require. Smaller tweezers can be better when trying to extract a small splinter, for example.

Wooden tongue depressors are useful for holding things (including tongues) in place when you don’t want to use your fingers.

Surgical gloves and CPR masks are both very handy when you want to avoid trading germs around. Buy a small pack of sterile gloves.

A flashlight – preferably one that works. Test your flashlight often to make sure that the batteries are up for the job and that the thing works properly.

Travel-ready cold and heat packs that can be used on the road. These packs often work by squeezing the package, which allows for a chemical reaction to produce either a refrigerant or heat.

A blanket and a cell phone. These require no explanation. However, you can shop around for a blanket designed for emergencies. Often these are highly effective and easy to pack.

Elastic bandages, bandage tape and an assortment of Band-Aids. Bandages should include wrapping gauze and various sizes of sterile gauze pads. Include non-stick bandages as well. Also, sterile cotton swabs are handy.

Liquid soap and alcohol pads or a bottle of alcohol are useful for cleaning and sterilizing hands, wounds and equipment.

Aluminum finger splints, eye patches, sterile eyewash, contact lens remover, eye bandages.

Anti-bacterial liquid soap, sunscreen, lip balm, anti-bacterial ointment, topical pain medication for bee stings and the like.

An asthma inhaler if your child has asthma. Often children forget to bring their inhaler and have asthma attacks at inopportune times.

If first aid kits are not very helpful for worse cases, immediately bring the patient to a primary care doctor.

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Seven Strange Symptoms of Dehydration

By  aenriquez  published  February 26, 2020

Dehydration, in a mild form, is a common occurrence in the United States due to the relative accessibility the public has to clean drinking water. However, it remains a serious public hazard in many parts of the world and is a significant cause of death when associated with other conditions, such as the flu, diarrhea or vomiting, all of which contribute to hydration declines and do not always occur with a rise in thirst, which is the most obvious signal that says your body is low in fluids.

Since dehydration is defined as a lack of fluid, it quickly affects all of the most obvious forms of liquid-oriented systems in your body, which include blood flow, the passing of urine, saliva, and sweat. Our bodies, however, are 75-78 percent water when we are born, a figure that drops to 65 percent after one year. As adults, our bodies are between 50 percent and 65 percent water. So, it follows that regular intake of high volumes of water is a critical health concern.

Moreover, it helps to understand how our bodies eliminate fluids, which is primarily by exhaling, sweating, and urinating. With these three methods, our bodies rid themselves of about a cup, two cups, and six cups of water per day, respectively. Needless to say, that would be the minimum amount of water that needs to be consumed each day to break even. The standard recommendation of water intake, however, is frequently called 8X8, a shorthand way to remind you to drink eight glasses of eight ounces of water per day. That’s a half-gallon of water per day.

Dehydration

Severe dehydration is, of course, fatal. But many warning signs tell you that you are low on fluids – besides thirst. Here are some of the signs:

  • Headaches

Our brains are approximately 70 percent water. As such, a lack of water quickly affects the brain, specifically by causing it to shrink in size, which leads to headaches.

As such, the first thing to do when you have a headache is not always to reach for an aspirin, but simply to drink a glass or two of water. If you want to cover your bases, then take the recommended dose of aspirin and drink two glasses of water at the same time.

  • Dizziness

Lack of water leads to two critical medical conditions that have far-ranging implications. These are a decrease in blood flow and a decrease in blood pressure. Both of these contribute to dizziness, which, as you may already know, is a common occurrence when you are sick with the flu. People with the flu lie down and sleep a lot. When they get up quickly, they become dizzy because they have not been drinking water while they are asleep.

  • Less Elasticity of the Skin

The way a veterinarian diagnosis dehydration in an animal is by pinching and pulling its skin. The skin forms a pinched shape and, when the doctor lets to, the skin does not spring back to its normal position, the pinched bump remains upright. This occurs in humans as well. Skin, when dehydrated, does not retreat to a normal position when it is dried out.

  • Dark Urine

When you are dehydrated, the kidneys react. They react by holding onto liquids, storing it up; this turns your urine dark yellow and even brown in some cases.

  • Muscle Cramps

Muscles need water, the same as all body tissues. When dry, they get tighter, leading to cramps.

  • Bad Breath

Your saliva is critical for keeping your breath smell clean. It does this through its antibiotic properties, which are very handy in the mouth, where people are likely to introduce bacteria to your system. When there is a lack of saliva, the bacteria of your mouth thrive, creating bad breath.

  • Rashes

Rashes Your skin reacts to heat in various ways. One symptom is prickly feelings on your skin. Another way is heat rash. A red, bumpy rash, often called hives, appears when you are overheated, which is a symptom of dehydration.

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Swelling of the Knee

By  aenriquez  published  February 20, 2020

A common complaint among knee injuries is a condition frequently called water on the knee or sometimes, simply, swollen knee. A doctor might refer to this as an effusion of the knee, which indicates the movement of fluid.

There are many causes for water on the knee, and it will take an examination and possibly some laboratory analysis of the fluid to figure out the underlying cause of the effusion. The first noticeable symptoms, however, include a swollen, puffy, stiff knee. It is likely to be painful. In addition, the swollen area could be soft and pliable, moving the way a water balloon feels when you poke at it.

Causes

There are many possible causes for water on the knee. There could be an underlying disease present. Your knee could be swollen from acute trauma, such as a sports injury involving a collision or an over-stretching of a ligament. Over-use could be the problem. This implies long-term use of the knee, often in a repetitive fashion, that has worn down some of the joint’s cartilage. A bone could be fractured or broken. An infection could have set in. Various diseases could also result in water on the knee.

Common Diseases

The most common knee diseases include osteoarthritis, gout, pseudogout, blood or bone infections, tumors, cysts, or bursitis.

Risk Factors

There are risk factors involved in knee conditions, including age – the older we get, the more susceptible we get to many conditions – lifestyle, especially when involved in high-stress sports, and obesity. The more overweight you are, the more likely you are to injury your knees or have cartilage wear down over time.

Prevention

If you can avoid getting old, that would help. Unfortunately, no one has figured that out yet. However, you can strengthen your leg muscles to give more support to your knee when you need it. You can also try losing weight to take some stress off of your knees.

Diagnosis

Doctors will first interview the patient to see if there is an obvious lifestyle or family history factor to take into consideration. After this, the physician may order an X-ray, an ultra-sound or MRI imaging to be done to get a look at what is happening in your knee.

If imaging does not result in a firm diagnosis, the doctor may try a joint aspiration, also called an arthrocentesis procedure. This involves drawing some of the fluid out of the knee (with a syringe and a need), then sending the fluid to the laboratory to look, primarily, for the presence of bacteria, indicating an infection or crystals, indicating either gout or pseudogout.

Treatment

Treatment might begin with drawing fluid from the joint to reduce the stiffness and pain. In some cases, the fluid may not return, and the patient will not need further treatment. However, there’s a chance the fluid will return, as the cause of the fluid has not been addressed.


Treatment may also involve the use of antibiotics, pain, or anti-inflammatory medication or surgery. The surgery could include a minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure or a more complicated procedure. Knee replacement surgery is also a possibility, depending on the underlying condition and after serious discussions of alternative therapies.

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Sciatica Causes and Treatment

By  aenriquez  published  February 12, 2020

Sciatica is a condition marked by pressure put on the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back, through your buttocks to the back of each leg. It is often caused by a herniated disk, which is the term given to the movement of the cushioning tissue between each of your spinal vertebrae. When the disk slips out of place or tears (often called a ruptured disk), it can be very painful. Most often, this occurs in the lower back, the so-called lumbar region, where most of the weight of your torso and head, are supported.

On the other hand, there are other bodily systems in the same region, and one of these could also be the cause of sciatica. These include spasms of the piriformis muscle, which is deep within buttocks and connects the upper thigh to the lower spine. Another culprit involved in sciatic pain could be degenerative arthritis in the spine, sacrificing spine health, or spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of sections of your spine, an occurrence associated with aging.

Other potential causes include what is called “fat wallet syndrome,” which refers to carrying around a bulky object in the back pocket of your pants. Over time, sitting in an uneven position can put pressure on your sciatic nerve.

Another temporary cause of sciatica is caused by pressure on the nerve of the growing uterus during pregnancy (and the weight of the growing baby). This usually resolves itself after delivery, but it can be quite painful and difficult during pregnancy when the weight of the infant is enough to worry about.

Sacroiliitis, an inflammation of the sacroiliac joint, which is the joint of the pelvis. An inflammation here could also put pressure on the sciatic nerve.

 Symptoms and Diagnosis

Pain in the lower back is the primary symptom of sciatica. However, the pain often shoots through the lower back, through the buttocks, and down one leg. The pain is often searing and intense and dependent on what position you hold yourself in. However, in various cases, even a changing position does not help, forcing you to sit in a chair or lie down to relieve pressure on the nerve.

A diagnosis of sciatica is relatively easy to make, but finding the cause of the discomfort is critical so doctors can choose how to treat the patient. Diagnosis is done by a thorough exam and interview by the doctor and by use of imaging, such as a CT scan or an MRI. These imaging techniques show bone structures and soft tissue, often revealing what is causing the pain.

Treatment

If you have a herniated disk, surgery might be required to relieve the issue; however, doctors most often recommend waiting on that decision, as 90 percent of sciatica incidents resolve themselves on their own.

Treatment might also involve pain medication, injections of anti-inflammatory steroids, acupuncture, physical therapy, massage, and diet. Being overweight can contribute to the problem.

When to seek help

Seek help anytime your child’s gait appears abnormal or if it is causing pain to the child. In Tempe, call FXRX Orthopaedics & Bracing at 480-449-3979 for an appointment.

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Is Your Toddler Toe-Walking?

By  aenriquez  published  February 5, 2020

When you see a toddler walking on his or her toes, you might assume it’s just a strange phase in the path towards learning how to walk. In this case, most of the time, you would be right!

Many toddlers learn to walk and feel comfortable up on the balls of their feet as they learn. It is considered a fairly common part of the learning to walk process, even if not all children do it. While it is most often normal, however, it can also be the symptom of various illnesses that should be addressed. (Normally, toddlers grow out of this habit and walk in the standard heel-toe pattern after a while.)

Some children walk on their toes for longer than the toddler stage, but this is because they’ve developed the habit of doing so. If you are worked about this, consult with a physician, and discuss the matter with them.

Risks

Toe-walking can be a symptom of several serious conditions. It could be the sign of cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or autism spectrum disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Toe-walking could also be a symptom of being born with a short Achilles tendon, which runs from the heel of the foot up the back of your lower leg. If the tendon is short, it can be difficult for the child to touch their heels to the floor.

Parents are advised to see a doctor if the toe-walking condition persists past the age of two (2). On the most basic level, toe-walking can increase a child’s risk of falling and sustaining injuries by falling.

Diagnosis

A diagnosis of toe-walking involves observation of the toddler. It also entails the use of an EMG, which is a very thin needle equipped with an electrode that is used to measure activities of the affected nerves or muscle. In this case, the EMG device is inserted into the muscle in the leg to measure nerve and muscle activity from a clinical point of view.

Other tests may also be ordered. The tests will likely include different examination options to determine if autism or cerebral palsy is the source of the problem.

Treatment

Treatment may not be necessary at all. The child may simply be learning how to walk and is stuck in the habit of walking on the balls of his or her feet. They will; normally outgrow this in time.

 However, a few other options may be recommended. These include:

— Physical therapy. This generally involves stretching and relaxing of the leg muscles. The child’s role is usually passive, while the therapist manually manipulates the muscles with movement for stretching and massage for relaxing.

— Leg braces or splints are sometimes recommended to train the child to walk in a heel-toe pattern.

— Casts are sometimes used as a form of leg brace. The casts promote normal walking and are replaced periodically as improvement is made, each cast guiding the child’s gait to the next level of success.

— Injections of onabotulinumtoxinA are recommended. This is injected into the calf muscles and can help return a gait to normal.

— Surgery might be recommended to lengthen a child ‘s Achilles tendons if one or both of them are too short to allow for heel-toe walking.

When to seek help

Seek help anytime your child’s gait appears abnormal or if it is causing pain to the child. In Tempe, call FXRX Orthopaedics & Bracing at 480-449-3979 for an appointment.

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Restless Leg Syndrome

By  aenriquez  published  January 30, 2020

Restless leg syndrome is a condition that occurs in a person’s limbs, most frequently in the legs, that gives many sensations that contribute to the need – or the perceived need – to move your legs. The sensations are varied, running from a tingling sensation to a slight aching sensation that seems to demand leg movement, which, in fact, gives relief to the uncomfortable feeling in your legs – mostly in your joints. Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is also known as Willis-Ekbom disease (WED), and the condition can be debilitating. This is because, while the condition flares up mostly in the evening or night, it can interfere with sleep and, thus, create problems with concentration and fatigue. It can interfere with daily activities.

It can be mediated, if not cured, by making changes in your lifestyle or by the use of pharmaceutical medication. Although the underlying cause is not understood, it is thought that RLS/WED is connected to an imbalance of dopamine levels in the brain. This is because dopamine has a role to play in motor function.

While the restless sensation is the primary symptom for RLS/WED, finding relief from the discomfort by moving is also a marker of the condition. If movement does not alleviate the restless feelings at all, then you may have some other condition causing the joints to feel uncomfortable.

Further, the condition tends to worsen when you are at rest, which often means it occurs routinely at night. Some people have trouble falling asleep, as that is the time you rest your legs, and they could start twitching or kicking out indiscriminately, to calm down the uncomfortable feelings.

The sensations that trigger the twitching are hard to define. If you imagine the drawstring of a bow (in archery) becoming tenser as the string is drawn back, this is partly RLS/WED feels – like your leg is poised to kick out and feels relief in the release. The sensation is otherwise described as itching, aching, an electric kind of numbness, light throbbing, and awkward or creepy.

There are risk factors involved with RLS/WED. These include a potential iron deficiency, kidney failure, diabetes, certain brain injuries or spinal cord conditions and peripheral neuropathy, which is slight to severe nerve damage in the hands and feet, which can accompany diabetes and/or alcoholism.

Diagnosis

Tellingly, the clinical definition of RLS/WED comes from the International Classification of Sleep Disorders and the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group. Categorically, RLS/WED has such an association with times of rest that it is of special concern as a sleep disorder.

The diagnosis comes from the following symptoms:

The need to twitch, move, kick out your legs, prompted by an almost indiscernible feeling of discomfort, like a vague tension in your joints. The sensation can be very uncomfortable, but jerking the leg relieves the sensation. As such, the remedy and the symptom are the same: The symptom is twitching legs, and relief from the symptom of discomfort is to twitch your legs or kick them out.

Symptoms generally worsen in the evening. In addition, the symptoms cannot be explained by another underlying cause, such as some type of palsy or muscle disorder.

Medications

Ask your physician about medications designed to restore dopamine levels or balance in the brain. Various pain medications can be tried if the symptoms are severe. Muscle relaxants and sleep medications are also prescribed for this.

Lifestyle Options

There are various try-at-home options, including taking a warm bath, going for a walk, applying cold or warm compacts, avoiding caffeine, or getting a massage.

When to call a doctor?

Call a physician if any uncomfortable or unexplained symptoms persist or become acute. In Tempe, call FXRX Orthopaedics & Bracing at 480-449-3979.

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