Orthopedic medicine concentrates on injuries, conditions and treatments of the body’s musculoskeletal system, including bones, muscles, and joints.
It really depends on what age group you’re talking about. Older adults may suffer from different conditions than younger people. Arthritis, osteoporosis, knee pain, and hip fractures – these are conditions that are most associated with older adults. Shoulder injuries, back and spine problems, and sports injuries are common among the younger set.
Arthritis occurs in the joint areas, and the most common form – osteoarthritis – occurs when the rubbery cartilage located between the joints wears away. Since cartilage acts as a “shock absorber” for the bones, when it wears away the resulting friction of the bones can cause aching and swelling of the joints. This is called arthritis. Stiffness in the join area can also occur, especially after long periods of activity or inactivity. Arthritis usually occurs in older adults, but can develop at any age – especially if trauma has occurred in the joint area.
There are several types of arthritis, but the two most common are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Osteoarthritis develops slowly over time, and is caused by mechanical wear and tear on the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the joints.
Arthritis is a painful condition that can often keep you from doing the things you want to. Doctors agree that the best treatment for arthritis is often a combination of therapies that includes medication, exercise, and physical therapy.
Two words: calcium and exercise. Bones are composed heavily of calcium, so calcium is a critical part of any bone-healthy diet. Most experts agree that at least 1300 mg per day is recommended. If you aren’t getting enough calcium through the foods you eat, then you may want to consider supplements. Studies have also shown that exercise – especially weight training – not only helps build your muscles, but makes your bones stronger as well.
A stress fracture is an incomplete fracture of the bone, and usually occurs when the muscles aren’t able to absorb a shock (as in sports injuries) and transfer the shock to the bone causing a crack to occur. A complete fracture, on the other hand, is a total bone break caused by an injury.
Because ice helps reduce inflammation and swelling by decreasing blood flow, you should generally apply ice during the first 24 – 48 hours of an injury (the “acute” stage), or whenever there is swelling. Apply the ice for 20 minutes, then remove it for 20 minutes, and repeat as necessary. Don’t apply ice directly to the skin.
Heat helps relieve pain and can be used after the inflammation and swelling go away.