Ankle Replacement Surgery

Ankle Replacement Surgery

The first question most people have about ankle replacement surgery is what happens in the operating room.

If you are going to be awake you receive a nerve block, which keeps you free of pain. Otherwise, general anesthesia is administered and you are asleep for the entire procedure.  An incision is made on both sides of the ankle and in front. The damaged bone and cartilage is then removed. Next, the bone is smoothed out. Pieces of plastic and metal are then used to replace the damaged tissue.

In total, the procedure lasts two and a half hours. For the next 18 hours, you will feel no pain. Oral and intravenous (IV) medication will be administered after that for pain control. The leg will be placed in a splint. This protects the leg from injury, allowing it to heal. But it also gives it room should it swell.

As soon as you feel able, your medical team will encourage you to get up and start moving around. A walker or crutches will be necessary however. The new ankle will have to be nursed for the next four to six weeks, until it’s strong enough to bear your full weight. Medications will be necessary for pain management during this period. After about two or three days you should be ready for discharge. It’s a great feeling when you are going home and moving on to a new stage of healing and recovery.

For those who are still having difficulty, a rehab center may be necessary to get you where you need to be. Once home, be sure to take the painkillers as prescribed by your doctor. For mild pain, ibuprofen or some other over-the-counter variety may prove sufficient.

Be sure to elevate the leg above the heart. You can use a couple of pillows. This helps limit swelling and allows for it to heal. If you develop a fever, the chills or have a foul smelling green or yellow discharge from the wound seek medical attention right away. Keep the wound dry and clean. Take it easy. But when you are ready begin to slowly take part in normal activities.


Drug-free Arthritis Relief

Drug-free Arthritis Relief

The cooler months are coming, which is when arthritis sufferers find their symptoms get worse. Though many are already on a management plan, when the cold weather settles in, arthritis sufferers want to know what additional treatments they can use to manage their discomfort. Many times, patients are looking for drug-free options. There are actually several alternative and natural practices that can help alleviate symptoms and offer relief.

First, invest some time in special exercises. There are three kinds that are most beneficial, according to The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). To relieve stiffness and mobility, try range-of-motion exercises. These can include yoga, tai chi, and dancing. Weight training and other strength training can increase the strength of your muscles which takes stress off of joints. Finally, aerobic exercise can help keep the weight off and take pressure off of bones and joints. Due make sure to choose low impact exercises like swimming, cycling, and water aerobics. Anything high impact is likely to exacerbate discomfort.

Besides exercise, a healthy diet is really important. Eating foods that are anti-inflammatory such as fatty fish, turmeric, and ginger can be helpful. The Arthritis Foundation has put out dietary guidelines that can help soothe symptoms. They suggest to limit alcohol, salt, sugar, fat, and cholesterol. These can increase inflammation in the body. Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors. Be sure to eat whole grain carbs over refined ones. The latter can spur inflammation. Avoid foods that may interact with your medications.

Try some supplements. Fish oil contains omega-3s which help bring down inflammation. Some evidence shows that chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine may also be helpful. These are available both separate and in one dose pills. Manage you stress in a healthy manner. Stress can increase awareness of discomfort. And for pain try cold or hot compresses. Cold can bring down the swelling, while heat can relax it away. If you are still suffering from arthritis-related pain be sure to speak to a physician or pain specialist.


Spinal Manipulation Can Relieve Back Pain in Some Cases

Spinal Manipulation Can Relieve Back Pain in Some Cases

Lower back pain is one of the most common conditions American’s suffer, and one of the biggest reasons people visit the doctor. A wide variety of things can cause it such as: osteoporosis, an injury, overuse, pressure on the nerves, and less commonly a bacterial infection, spinal tumors, and ankylosing spondylitis or arthritis of the spine. Each specific cause will need to be addressed in a different way.

That said, a new study, conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, finds that for some lower back pain sufferers, spinal manipulation can offer relief. This kind of therapy is most often employed by chiropractors and physical therapists. It is applying force and in other ways manipulating the spine in order to realign it. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Greg Kawchukis is a professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Alberta. He was a co-author on this study.

Kawchukis said that both the alternative practitioners and pain specialists were right about spinal manipulation therapy (SMT). Instead of trying to find what works and what doesn’t in a blanket manner, Kawchukis said what is important is finding the right therapy for the particular patient or root cause. 32 participants with lower back pain took part in the study. All underwent two sessions of SMT. Another 16 participants were in the control group. They were examined but did not undergo SMT. Researchers polled participants on their level of pain before and after therapy. They also took objective measurements of pain, as well as measures of spinal stiffness, muscle activity, and disc hydration. 15 of the 32 said they felt better. They also had similar disc hydration to those in the control groups.

Researchers were not sure why SMT worked for some patients and not others. One theory is that people may have different spinal characteristics. But more research will be needed to determine if this is so. For those suffering from lower back pain, be sure to visit a doctor or pain specialist and seek help. A serious condition may be causing the pain. You may also want to know if SMT might help with your condition as well.

What You Need to Know About Leg Pain

What You Need to Know About Leg Pain

Pain in the legs can suck the joy out of life. It can affect mobility, forcing one to give up their favorite activities, and limit what they can do. There are so many different kinds and causes beyond a simple leg cramp. Usually chronic leg pain has to do with a condition in one or more tissues. Blood vessels, nerve damage, muscle, ligament, or tendon injuries and more can cause leg pain. Usually, pain in this area is the result of a disease or inflammation. Pain in one part of the body such as the lower back can also radiate down into the legs. Other symptoms need to be taken in consideration when diagnosing leg pain.

These include numbness, weakness, or any tingling sensations. Those with diabetes often experience peripheral neuropathy. That is when elevated blood sugar is left unmitigated for an extended period of time, allowing it to damage bodily tissues, many times the nerves. This nerve damage usually occurs in the legs and feet. Tingling in the legs or numbness can accompany or precede this condition.

Deep vein thrombosis is a cardiovascular condition that can cause pain in the thigh. Here a blood clot gets lodged into a vein in the upper leg. This can be very dangerous as a portion of it can break off and get stuck in a cardiac or the carotid artery, causing a heart attack or stroke. For those with arthritis, knee and ankle pain are common. The first thing a physician should do besides take one’s vitals and a medical history, is to find exactly what kind of pain sensation the person is experiencing and where it is located.

To help you or your doctor get to the bottom of it, recognize the severity of the pain. Where does it stem from? What kind of sensation is it (burning, aching, stabbing) and when does it occur? Be sure to address chronic leg pain with a physician. Pain in the legs can be a symptom of a much larger problem so it is important to have it checked out.

Antidepressants May Help Control Pain Catastrophizing

Antidepressants May Help Control Pain Catastrophizing

Researchers discovered recently that pain is not one but two different phenomena occurring within the central nervous system. One establishes the sensation, but the other interprets it, dampening or increasing awareness of it depending upon the situation and our emotional state. When we feel pain but are distracted by something else, our awareness of the pain decreases. Yet, when we are worried as to whether we will experience pain that concern can make the sensation so much worse. So pain is not just the sensation itself but how we interpret it.

This discovery may lead to new treatment methods for pain management, although some of those proposed might sound a bit left of center. Pain catastrophizing is an irrational fear of pain usually in anticipation of or just after a pain-inducing event, such as surgery. According to a new study published in April’s issue of Anesthesiology, antidepressants may be helpful for those who experience this psychological condition.

Researchers at the Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care at University of Copenhagen, Denmark conducted the study, led by Troels H. Lunn, M.D., Ph.D. Lunn said that just after surgery, patients with pain catastrophizing report feeling far more pain. He and colleagues wanted to see if selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a common class of antidepressants, could help mitigate the sensation. 120 patients with pain catastrophizing disorder were recruited for the study.

Each was scheduled for knee replacement surgery. The subjects were given either an SSRI called escitalopram or a placebo for six days after the surgery had taken place. Each patient’s pain level was recorded each day. There was no difference between those receiving the SSRI and the placebo 24 hours after surgery. But the antidepressant did make a significant difference from day two thru day six. Dr. Lunn believes beginning the SSRI earlier could help relieve worry leading up to the surgery and pain afterwards.

Those anticipating a painful surgery should discuss with their doctor what they can do to help control or lessen pain. Anyone dealing with acute or chronic pain in the aftermath of an operation should talk to a doctor or specialist to find relief.

Exercises to Help Manage Back Pain

Exercises to Help Manage Back Pain


When we suffer from back pain all we want to do is sit still in a position that doesn’t cause pain. But in fact, this is liable to worsen it. Strengthening the muscles in other areas helps support the body and takes weight off the spine, leading to better posture and less pain. Sometimes when we begin exercising and we have back pain, we can feel a pinching or another slight pain. But as your muscles grow in strength back pain and pain while exercising should decrease. If you feel a significant pain lasting for longer than 15 minutes during the routine call your physician.

Be sure to stretch and warm up a little first. Avoid toe touches however. This exercise stresses the ligaments and disks in the spine and could make your pain worse. If you have lower back pain, partial crunches are good. They will strengthen the muscles in the back and stomach. Here you lie on the floor crossing your arms in front of you. You tighten your abdominal muscles and lift yourself up. Take a breath every time you rise and breathe out as you descend. Don’t use your elbows or arms to lift up. Make sure your feet are flat and that your tailbone never leaves the mat. Do eight to 12 of these and slowly increase as you get used to doing them.

Sit-ups are actually not so good. They put pressure on the spine and only really exercise the hips. Hamstring stretches are good for the back. Lie down and take a towel about the size of a hand towel with you. Put it on the middle of the bottom of your foot. Extend your leg out slowly and hold on to each end of the towel, guiding the leg up. Hold for 30 seconds then bring it down again. Do each leg two to four times. Practice these and you’re bound to notice the difference.

Talk to your doctor before taking on a new regimen of exercises for your condition, and see which ones are right for you. For serious conditions a physical therapist may be necessary. For others, a personal trainer who knows how to accommodate back conditions also proves helpful. Exercises that are not recommended for your condition could actually make it worse, so make sure to discuss the issue at length with a professional.

Easing the Pains of Fibromyalgia with Water Exercises

Easing the Pains of Fibromyalgia with Water Exercises


If you suffer from fibromyalgia, it’s very likely you’re experiencing a significant amount of stress. Too much of this, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle is particularly harmful. Not engaging in enough exercise will slow down blood flow to your muscles, causing an increase in pain. While, you’re already in enough pain.

According to studies, stretching, walking and strength training all aid in controlling the pain and muscle tenderness that accompany fibromyalgia. Even exercising three times per week can greatly improve your quality of life. Also, this activity will help boost confidence and relieve fatigue and depression. Start out slowly; maybe participate in yoga or another less rigorous activity.

Water exercise (water aerobics) is an exceptionally helpful way to help with fibromyalgia pain and it’s the easiest. You need not be a swimmer to participate in water exercise; it’s often the case that you’ll be working out with your head above the water, away from the deep end. There are some times you might be asked to go into deeper waters, but not without a life jacket or foam belt. Water therapy is a great beginning to your more active life if you have trouble exercising due to obesity.

Doris Cope, MD, director of Pain Management at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says, “If you can’t exercise because of obesity, water therapy is a good place to start”. “Warm water can be very comforting. The exercise gets blood flow to muscles and tendons. And if you’re in the water, your joints are not being stressed during exercise.”

You’ll be able to do exercises you wouldn’t otherwise be able to tolerate, as they would cause pain. Water’s natural buoyancy is what gets you moving with ease. You’ll also benefit from the resistance that water provides–you’ll build muscles. And, you’ll have a fun way to spend your free time.


Coping with Diabetes-related Foot Pain

Coping with Diabetes-related Foot Pain

Peripheral neuropathy is the nerve damage an elevated blood-sugar level can inflict on someone who is diabetic. This can cause damage from nerve pain to blindness.

One of the most common places that get damaged is in diabetic’s feet, making movement difficult and uncomfortable. Some people lose feeling in them. Others develop sores. One way to prevent this from occurring is keeping one’s blood-sugar level under control. This will avoid the development of peripheral neuropathy.

Physicians suggest inspecting the feet daily for any sores, wounds, blisters, pus or redness. Address any issues with your doctor. If you cannot inspect your own foot easily try and use a mirror or ask someone close to you for help.

Make sure to wash them daily in warm water. Test the water temperature with your hand. You don’t want to be scalded. Check with your physician if it is okay to cut your own toenails. Avoid walking around barefoot or just in socks.

You can use lotion to take care of the skin. But avoid putting lotion between the toes as it may breed fungus or bacteria. Be sure to wear shoes that breathe, are comfortable and have lots of room. Avoid sandals, flip-flops or high heels. These aren’t supportive at all. You should wear a supportive shoe with a thick, rubber sole. Something where the material breathes such as suede, canvas or leather is best. Well-padded socks are also very helpful. But avoid the kind with elastic band on top or have an inside seam. You don’t want anything to rub you the wrong way or decrease circulation.

Be careful in the cold months with putting hot water bottles, an electric blanket or a heater at your feet to warm them. You could cause damage and not even know it. Avoid sitting in ways that cut off blood flow. If you have any further issues be sure to address them with your doctor.

New Way to Relieve Knee Pain after Surgery

New Way to Relieve Knee Pain after Surgery

With knee replacement surgery, postoperative pain is always a concern.

Many patients endure a painful recovery process. But researchers at a hospital in Detroit think they have a new way to relieve postoperative knee pain. At injection of liposomal bupivacaine, a long lasting numbing agent, boosted patient satisfaction and helped the tissues surrounding the knee to heal faster. Compared to the method used today, this injection gave patients better functionality and pain relief two days after surgery.

The research took place at the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. Knee replacement surgeon Dr. Jason Davis was the lead author in the study. Over 200 patients who had undergone knee surgery took part. These patients were tracked for pain and functionality over a few days after their surgery. With this newer method, patients were able to begin walking mere hours after the operation. Patients receiving this injection can move with more comfort, making them more confident about their new knee.

One drawback, “Pain control [using this method] came at the price of weakness and made patients somewhat tentative when walking during their hospital stay,” Davis said. Knee replacement patients are persuaded to start walking and strengthening the knee as soon as possible. Another drawback, the liposomal drug is more expensive than the traditional method.

Experts say pain control after this form of surgery has improved significantly in recent years. But this breakthrough is another impressive step forward. This study confirms previous studies that show the use of such drugs have a lot of benefits for these patients. But experts say more research is needed. Chief of joint replacement surgery at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. Dr. Jan Koenig has had experience with the drug. She says patients often have a rebound of pain when day three rolls around. Still, though this therapy may need to be developed further, most experts are excited about the results.

Back Pain is Not a Natural Part of Aging

Back Pain is Not a Natural Part of Aging

Back pain is not a natural part of aging as some believe.

In fact, it could be a spinal compression fracture, a serious issue if not addressed by a physician. Often this is a sign of weakening bones and a result of osteoporosis. Women who have gone through menopause and are over 50 years of age have the highest likelihood of developing this condition.

When the bones are soft, normal activities may cause small fractures in weakened bones. But these minor injuries can become major problems. Missing a step on the stairs, tripping on the rug or bending to lift something can threaten to break your spine. After you have sustained many of these small fractures, a vertebra can fall apart, leading to a compression fracture.

When this occurs, the spine retracts. You may become shorter. The shape and integrity of the spine may be altered permanently as well. The front of vertebra is what collapses. The back is still hard bone, generally. The person suffering from such a fracture becomes stooped. The condition in medical terminology is called kyphosis, but may be known by dowager’s hump to some. In many cases, these small fractures are never caught.

Patients or their families believe it is either arthritis or simple aging that causes this kind of pain, but a compression fracture can put pressure on the lungs. This can make it difficult to breathe and can even become terminal. For those fractures that don’t heal, chronic pain may be the result and depression caused by such pain. A serious compression fracture can even put someone in the nursing home, as they will need specialized care. Those with osteoporosis, bone cancer or cancer which has spread to the bone have an elevated risk.

If you are suffering any back pain and you don’t know the immediate cause, be sure to address the problem with your doctor.