Aches and Pains
Foot and Ankle Problems
As people age, foot care becomes more important than ever. There are a number of conditions that occur much more frequently in elderly populations, including arthritis, fungal growth, diabetic ulcers and ingrown toenails. Circulation in the feet often diminishes as well, which can bring on other problems, so maintaining a routine of walking and stretching is important. It is essential for older people to perform daily inspections of their feet to look for changes as well as regularly visit the podiatrist to maintain good foot health.
A sprain is a stretching or tearing of one or more ligaments, the tough fibrous bands that hold the ankle bones in place. Sprains can be caused by a sports injury, accident or stepping on an uneven surface. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, stiffness and bruising. There may be a popping sound when the ankle is moved. The ankle may be unstable or unable to hold weight.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition involving numbness, pain, tingling and instability in the wrist, hand and fingers. It occurs when pressure is put on a nerve in the wrist called the median nerve, which controls motor function in the wrist and hand. This pressure, called impingement, is most often caused by bone spurs, rheumatoid arthritis, repetitive use or injury.
Fractures and Ligament Injuries
A fracture is a break or crack in a bone that occurs when the bone cannot withstand outside forces, often as a result of trauma or disease. Fracture, break and crack all refer to the same thing. Fractures can range from a small crack in the bone to complete separation. They are often caused by a fall, motor vehicle accident or sports injury. Normal activities can also cause fractures for people at a higher risk, including those with low bone density (osteoporosis), bone tumors, cancer or brittle bone disease (osteogenesis imperfecta).
Some of the different types of fractures include:
- Stress Fracture – A stress fracture occurs as a result of overuse. Because of repeated use, the bone becomes weak and cannot absorb the shock that is put on it. It is common in the lower leg or foot and especially among athletes.
- Compression Fracture – A compression fracture occurs as a result of old age. People with osteoporosis are at high risk for this type of fracture because their bones lose calcium. The weakened bones, usually in the spine, can crumple under the force of gravity.
- Incomplete (Greenstick) Fracture – A greenstick fracture occurs when the bone bends but does not completely break. This occurs most often in children, who have high levels of calcium in their bones.
- Comminuted Fracture – This occurs when the bone cracks into several fragments. It occurs as a result of high impact trauma or osteoporosis.
Fractures in children are different than in adults, as children’s bones are softer and tend to bend or buckle rather than break. Healing is also faster in children’s bones. Fractures in children most commonly occur in the wrist, forearm and above the elbow, and can cause:
- Physical Deformity
- Difficulty Moving
There are several different types of fractures that may occur, depending on the age of the child, the location of the fracture and the severity of the condition. Your child’s doctor will perform an X-ray exam to determine what type of fracture it is. Because children’s bones are softer than adults, they most commonly experience buckle or greenstick fractures, which involve a bending of the bone and sometimes a partial fracture on one side. Older children may experience a more severe break.
Treatment for a fracture depends on the type and severity of the condition, but usually involves immobilization with either a splint or a cast to help keep the bone in place for proper healing. More serious breaks may require surgery to help realign the bone and ensure that it stays together during the healing process. Your child’s doctor will decide which treatment is best for your child’s individual fracture.