Summer Health and Safety (with infographic)

Summer Health and Safety (with infographic)

With the summer season in full swing, most of us want to find as many reasons as we can to spend time outside. More time spent outside though can often mean more risk to our health and wellbeing. Avoid any possible trouble this season by safely preparing for the most common summertime health risks. 

 

Heat

 

In 2017, the National Safety Council reported that excessive heat exposure was the third leading cause of death due to weather related events. When experiencing excessive heat or heat stroke, symptoms aren’t always obvious. It is important to check in with yourself and others if you feel you may be at risk. 

Signs of a heat stroke or overexposure can include rapid breathing, headaches, dizziness, confusion, irrational behavior, convulsions, unresponsiveness, or a temperature above 103 degrees. Sweating usually stops and is replaced by skin that is flushed, dry and hot to the touch. 

Take immediate action if you or anyone you are with is experiencing signs of a heat stroke or overexposure. Call 911 right away then move the victim to a cool place. Remove unnecessary clothing and cool the victim by immersing their body up to the neck in cold water. If complete immersion isn’t possible, place the victim in a cold shower or cover as much of the body as possible with cold, wet towels. Keep cooling until the victim’s body temperature drops to 101 degrees. Continue to monitor the victim’s breathing and be ready to give CPR if needed. 

People who have more risk of experiencing heat stroke include infants and young children, people ages 65 and older, individuals who are overweight, and people who are ill, have chronic health conditions or are on certain medications. 

 

Each poison ivy leaf has three leaflets with either smooth or notched edges.

Poison Ivy Dermatitis 

 

Many people can agree that at some point in their life they have experienced or have come close to experiencing the effects of physical contact with poison ivy. According to Makisha Stamper, Practice Manager at AppUrgent Care, poison ivy dermatitis is the most common reason patients visit during the summer months. 

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Poison ivy dermatitis is easier to prevent than it is to treat. Recognizing and avoiding urushiol, poison ivy sap oil, is the most effective way to reduce the risk of coming into contact. It is important to avoid direct contact with the plant, indirect contact such as touching clothing or objects with urushiol on them, and inhalation of particles if the plant is being burned. If you are exposed to poison ivy, immediately wash skin using antibacterials and lots of water. Be sure to also remove and wash all clothing that may have been exposed. 

Symptoms of poison ivy dermatitis can include a red rash, swelling, itching, bumps, patches, streaking or weeping blisters. Severe itching can be relieved by applying wet compresses, using calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream, taking oatmeal baths, or using an antihistamine. In severe cases or if the rash is on the face or genitals, seek professional medical attention.  

 

Bugs

 

When participating in outdoor activities this summer, insect repellent is something to always have with you. Various bugs, especially ticks and mosquitoes, can carry and spread diseases that can have lasting consequences. 

Depending on your location, mosquitoes can carry diseases such as the West Nile Virus, dengue, Zika, and malaria. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these illnesses can have severe consequences such as body aches, rash, fever, and even death. The CDC suggests using insect repellent, covering exposed skin, and avoiding bugs where you are staying in order to prevent mosquito bites. 

Diseases caused by ticks are most often found in people returning from an outdoor activity. Although there is no vaccine in the United States to prevent illnesses spread by ticks, there are steps you can take to prevent the risk of being bitten. The CDC suggests people dress appropriately, use insect repellent that contains at least 20% DEET, treat clothing and gear in permethrin, and stay out of heavily wooded areas. Be sure to check your body for ticks after each outdoor adventure. 

 

Travel

 

During the summer months, there is in increase in the number of ATV, biking, horseback riding, motorcycle and car accidents according to Cindy Hinshaw, RN, Director of Emergency Services for Watauga Medical Center and Canon Memorial Hospital. When traveling or riding this summer, be sure to wear a helmet and appropriate gear, follow traffic rules, drive or ride defensively, be well rested and don’t drive or ride while impaired. 

 

Swimming

 

Whether going for a swim in a pool or a nearby river, it is important to understand how to protect yourself and avoid injuries. According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death among children ages 1-4 years old. In order to avoid any water related accidents, there are ten rules every swimmer should follow. 

  1. Learn to swim. 
  2. Swim with a friend. 
  3. Know your limits. 
  4. Swim in supervised areas only. 
  5. Wear a life jacket when boating. 
  6. Stay alert to currents. 
  7. Keep an eye on the weather. 
  8. Don’t play roughly while in the water. 
  9. Don’t dive into shallow water. 
  10. Don’t float where you can’t swim. 

When swimming outdoors, it is very important to wear sunscreen to avoid sunburn or skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, swimmers should apply a Broad Spectrum Water Resistant SPF of 30 or higher 30 minutes before getting in the water. Reapply every two hours after swimming or sweating.  

As always, if you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room. For emergencies that are non-life threatening, visit AppUrgent Care or Baker Center Same-Day Clinic. Happy Summer!

Click to download or print the infographic ▶︎

Infographic: Summer Health & Safety

 

Peripheral Arterial Disease: An under-recognized, slow-burning emergency

Peripheral Arterial Disease: An under-recognized, slow-burning emergency

One in twenty American adults has peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, a narrowing of the blood vessels caused by cholesterol plaque buildup. Several different risk factors contribute to the development of PAD:

  • advanced age
  • smoking
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol.

A family history of PAD also increases one’s risk. Those with PAD may experience pain in the calf muscle or buttock with walking, especially brisk walking or walking uphill. Some patients may develop skin discoloration of the toes or feet and even develop ulcerations and wounds that are slow to heal.

PAD is a slow-burning emergency and an indication of vascular disease throughout the rest of the body.

Patients with PAD have a seven-times increased risk of stroke and heart attack and may suffer limb loss due to serious a skin infection called gangrene. Yet many with PAD have no knowledge of having the disease.Click To Tweet

Patients with PAD have a seven-times increased risk of stroke and heart attack and may suffer limb loss due to serious a skin infection called gangrene. Yet many with PAD have no knowledge of having the disease and go undiagnosed as symptoms may be attributed to other causes such as joint pain or back disease.

Alarmingly, many with the disease have no symptoms at all. Studies have shown that the disease may be overlooked even if a patient is followed by a cardiovascular specialist.

 

Illustration_Peripheral_Arterial_Disease

 

Diagnosing PAD

 

Diagnosing PAD involves a noninvasive test called an ankle-brachial index or ABI in which a reading is taken of the arms and the legs using a standard blood pressure cuff and the ratio of these readings is used to assess blood flow to the lower extremities (legs and feet). A provider may also recommend more advanced imaging such as Magnetic Resonance (MR) or Computed Tomography (CT) scans.

Once diagnosed, patients are treated according to the severity of their symptoms and care is also focused on the prevention of future events. Patients may be started on medications in conjunction with a walking program to improve their symptoms. If medicine and lifestyle intervention are unsuccessful or if a patient’s lower extremity is in jeopardy, a procedure to improve the circulation may be indicated.

Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a slow-burning emergency and an indication of vascular disease throughout the rest of the body.Click To Tweet

 

Treatments for PAD

 

There are several minimally invasive procedures that can improve the blood flow to the lower extremities. These so-called “endovascular” procedures are done under fluoroscopic (a type of X-ray) guidance and utilize small medical tubes called catheters to deliver therapy. A small balloon may be threaded into the blockage and used to dilate the vessel, called angioplasty. New technology allows these balloons to deliver medication to the blockage to prevent vessel re-narrowing after the procedure.

In a similar way, small metal-alloy tubes called stents can also be used to expand the blockage from within and also may have medication coating to keep the vessel open. These minimally invasive procedures often allow the patient to be treated and sent home on the same day. If a patient is not a candidate for an endovascular approach, a more traditional open surgery called surgical bypass may be required.

 

Living with PAD

 

  • All patients with PAD should have their medications adjusted to prevent heart attack and stroke—the major health threats to those with this disease.
  • Taking daily aspirin and cholesterol-lowering medications can dramatically reduce the incidence of serious health events.
  • Blood pressure and blood sugar levels for diabetic patients need to be strictly controlled.
  • Patients with PAD should exercise caution with skin and nail care. The skin of the feet should be kept clean and moisturized to prevent cracking and infection. Frequently, podiatrists are consulted for routine care so as to prevent inadvertent injury during nail trimming.
  • Finally, it is absolutely critical that PAD patients quit smoking.

Accurate diagnosis of PAD is important as it allows for comprehensive changes to both lifestyle and medications which can save lives. New technologies are available which help to restore circulation in those affected. Early recognition of PAD is essential to halting this insidious and sometimes silent disease.

Do you have risk factors or symptoms of PAD?

The Cardiology Center can help. Schedule an appointment with one of our highly skilled providers today.

Why does my back hurt? A spine surgeon’s analysis

Why does my back hurt? A spine surgeon’s analysis

Dr. James Califf is an orthopaedic surgeon at AppOrtho, a member of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. Over his more than 25 years in practice, he has further refined his treatment of spinal disorders, offering non-surgical as well as minimally invasive surgical techniques. His clinical focus includes spine, shoulder, hip, hand, joint replacement and arthroscopic surgery. Learn more about Dr. Califf >

Back pain will affect 80 percent of humans at some point in their lives. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work days.¹ Sometimes leg pain and weakness can originate in the back. Fortunately, the majority of back pain will resolve itself in 6 to 8 weeks, but it’s important to determine if the pain is coming from a severe underlying condition. An orthopedist can evaluate the cause and recommend the best treatment for your particular condition. Your treatment plan should also include preventing a recurrence of your injury. Surgery is recommended only if other measures fail or the issue is severe enough. If you are suffering from back pain, please contact AppOrtho online or call (828) 386-2663.

Muscle/soft tissue injury or strain

One of the most common causes of pain, this injury is commonly associated with poor physical conditioning. Muscle strain can affect people of any age or activity level.

Symptoms: The pain is usually a grabbing, localized pain that can radiate to the knees and down the back of the legs

Treatment options: Exercises, minimal medication, or physical therapy.

Degenerative arthritis

Also called Osteoarthritis (OA), or “wear and tear” arthritis, this condition can be part of the aging process which begins around age 30. With OA, the cartilage within a joint begins to break down and the underlying bone begins to change.²

Symptoms: Degenerative arthritis usually causes back pain that does not radiate down the legs past the knees unless the spurs from arthritis compress the spinal cord or a nerve. The pain is usually worse with activity and when getting up from a sitting position.

Treatment: Exercises, physical therapy, medication, activity modification and injections, or fusion surgery (rare).

2. Osteoarthritis (OA). (2017, September 6). Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm

 

Spine Fracture

Injury or osteoporosis can cause spine fracture.

Symptoms: Pain can be moderate or severe. If the fracture is displaced it can compress the spinal cord or nerves and cause radiating pain or nerve damage.

Treatment: Bracing, physical therapy, medication, possible kyphoplasty for osteoporotic fracture

Bulging or herniated disc

The lower back, where most back pain occurs, includes the five vertebrae (bones) in the lumbar region and supports much of the upper body’s weight. The spaces between the vertebrae are maintained by round, rubbery pads called discs that act like shock absorbers in the spine to cushion the bones as the body moves. Most people have a bulging disc, and usually they do not cause a problem.

Symptoms: When the disc compresses the spinal cord or nerve, radiating leg pain and or weakness can occur. Most disk herniation symptoms resolve without surgery. To diagnose herniated discs, an orthopedist uses an MRI or CT scan. Progressive weakness and bowel or bladder problems can be signs of a dangerous condition.

Treatment options: Exercises, medication (steroids, NSAIDs), epidural injections, physical therapy, or surgery.

Spinal stenosis

Arthritis and disc problems sometimes cause narrowing of the spinal cord. This can occur if the bone spurs are large enough to compress the nerves or spinal cord.

Symptoms: Numbness and weakness in the legs, usually with activity, that improves with sitting or bending forward.

Treatment: Exercises, physical therapy, medication, activity modification, injections, or surgical decompression

Sacroiliac Joint Damage

Pain in these joints on each side of your pelvis can be caused by arthritis, wear and tear or injury.

Symptoms: Produces pinpoint pain in the low back that occurs with sitting and activity. It can be severe.

Treatment: medication, physical therapy, injections, or possible minimally invasive fusion surgery

Treatment options

 

Anti-Inflammatory Medication– Taking a medication such as Naproxen that reduces inflammation just like you would take a vitamin – twice a day with food and water – is a great way to help the body calm down and allow itself to heal, though this may cause stomach issues as a side effect.

Physical Therapy – Physical therapy is a crucial part in recovery of a tendon tear or rupture. In order to regain motion and strength in the shoulder, one must perform exercises specifically tailored for their injury. Regaining strength takes time, and positive results should start after 4-6 weeks of physical therapy.

Injections – A steroid injection done in-office can help reduce inflammation and calm down the injured joint. Usually, these injections can only be performed every 3-4 months in order to avoid any further damage to the joint. Relief can last anywhere from weeks to months.

Arthroscopy – If you have a large or a small injury and it is not getting better with treatment, minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery might be an option for treatment and repair.

Surgery – Chronic issues such as arthritis might result in the need for surgery. X-Rays, CT scans or MRI should always be performed before moving to surgery.

Do you have joint and muscle pain?

AppOrtho can help. Schedule an appointment with one of our highly skilled providers today.

Why does my shoulder hurt? An orthopedic surgeon weighs in

Why does my shoulder hurt? An orthopedic surgeon weighs in

Dr. Benjamin Parker is an orthopedic surgeon at AppOrtho and orthopedic medical director for App State Athletics. AppOrtho is the official sports medicine provider for App State Athletics, Watauga High School, and the High Country Soccer Association. Learn more about Dr. Parker >

Many people experience shoulder discomfort or pain at some point in their lives. Why does your shoulder hurt? The shoulder is a complex joint, made up of multiple muscles, tendons, and bones that work together to allow us to perform everyday activities – from playing basketball, to working in the garden.  When just one of these components is disrupted by overuse or injury, the shoulder can become painful. Pain in the shoulder can present itself in many different ways, which can be overwhelming and confusing. Do you need shoulder surgery? Maybe, but there are some non-surgical options to consider first. This article’s purpose is to provide information and possible treatment options for common causes of shoulder pain. If you are suffering from shoulder pain, please contact AppOrtho online or call (828) 386-2663.

Arthritis

As we age, our bodies go through some wear and tear, which can result in an arthritic shoulder. This is a normal process that middle-aged to elderly individuals begin to experience.

Symptoms: Shooting and catching pain that originates in the shoulder and stops at the elbow is a common sign of an arthritic shoulder. Overuse of an arthritic shoulder can cause inflammation to enter the shoulder resulting in stiffness and worsening pain.

Treatment Options: anti-inflammatory medication, injection, possible arthroscopy or replacement

Subacromial Bursitis

Bursa are fluid filled sacs that reside inside joints all over the body, including the shoulder below a bone called the acromion. These sacs help reduce friction between muscles sliding over bones and can sometimes become inflamed and irritated due to day-to-day use.

Symptoms: The arm may feel weak or painful, especially when it is lifted to the side.

Treatment Options: anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, injection, possible arthroscopy or cleanup

Rotator Cuff Tendons/Muscles

The rotator cuff is made of four main muscles and associated tendons. These muscles and tendons can tear or avulse (pop off the bone) during physical activity or a traumatic event such as a fall. Chronic wear and overuse can also cause a tear.

Symptoms: Stiffness, pain and weakness of the shoulder are common symptoms as well as feeling a ripping or popping sound during the time of the injury.

Treatment Options: anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy injection, possible arthroscopy and repair

Biceps Tenosynovitis

The biceps tendon lies within a groove in the front of your shoulder and sweeps in a “windshield wiper” motion across this groove during day-to-day activities. This repetitive motion can irritate the tendon and cause inflammation in the shoulder.

Symptoms: A biceps tendon problem can be associated with pain in the front part of the shoulder. If rubbing or massaging the front shoulder is sensitive or painful, this might be an indication of biceps tenosynovitis.

Treatment Options: anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, injection, possible tendon reattachment arthroscopically

Treatment options

 

Anti-Inflammatory Medication– Taking a medication such as Naproxen that reduces inflammation just like you would take a vitamin – twice a day with food and water – is a great way to help the body calm down and allow itself to heal, though this may cause stomach issues as a side effect.

Physical Therapy – Physical therapy is a crucial part in recovery of a tendon tear or rupture. In order to regain motion and strength in the shoulder, one must perform exercises specifically tailored for their injury. Regaining strength takes time, and positive results should start after 4-6 weeks of physical therapy.

Injections – A steroid injection done in-office can help reduce inflammation and calm down the injured joint. Usually, these injections can only be performed every 3-4 months in order to avoid any further damage to the joint. Relief can last anywhere from weeks to months.

Arthroscopy – If you have a large or a small injury and it is not getting better with treatment, minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery might be an option for treatment and repair.

Replacement – Chronic issues such as arthritis might result in the need for replacement. X-Rays, CT scans or MRI should always be performed before moving to surgery.

Do you have joint and muscle pain?

AppOrtho can help. Schedule an appointment with one of our highly skilled providers today.