All Posts tagged healthy living

Doc Talk: The downside of toughing it out

By Dr. Mo Brown
Orthopedic surgeon

Mo Brown head shot

Dr. Maurice (Mo) Brown

I love taking care of the tough people who live in beautiful Teton Valley. If you live here, you are “tough”. This is not a sit-and-play-checkers-as-the-sun-goes-down kind of place. Our valley is full of tough people. They ski on torn ACLs, they board with broken tailbones, they sled with ripped rotator cuffs, they drive tractors with broken wrists and they go on with their work and recreation for years with these injuries. Really, I have to marvel at the pain these people must endure and the inventions they create to keep on moving.

If you think I’m writing about you, then please read on.

I admire your high pain threshold and your unwillingness to give up any time for rehabilitation because you’re having too much fun or have too much work to do. Just know this: It’s better for you and your orthopedic surgeon to have something to work with when you decide to get “it” fixed, whatever “it” may be.

Just know this: It’s better for you and your orthopedic surgeon to have something to work with when you decide to get “it” fixed, whatever “it” may be.

Orthopedists see X-rays and MRIs that tell the whole story in a few simple images and sometimes, it isn’t pretty.

A good example of long-term damage being the end product of ignoring an injury is a meniscus tear in a knee joint. It’s very common for me to see patients with a “torn and ignored” meniscus. The meniscus is designed to be a protector of the knee joint. But when torn, it becomes a defector and can destroy the joint’s surface cartilage. I see too many patients that have put off treatment because some days it feels fine and they can live with the popping and occasional pain. It’s a bummer to see the joint surface severely damaged when we finally get around to fixing the problem. If I can offer treatment soon after the injury, there is much less damage to the joint surface resulting in a quicker, better recovery and much better long term outlook.

In modern sports medicine we are generally more aggressive when it comes to early rehab. ACL patients start rehab right away — a big change from casting (eek!) and a year in rehab in the early days of ACL reconstruction. However, recent data regarding ankle sprains has led to a step back in how those injuries are managed. Instead of pushing immediate movement, it’s clear that a period of casting or boot immobilization produces better outcomes.

Again, I see lots of patients who ignore a bad ankle sprain and keep on truckin’. They sprain their ankle over and over and ultimately require surgery to reattach or reconstruct the ligaments.

Now, I’m not throwing stones here. I’m just as guilty of delaying treatment. But take my advice: if you get hurt, have it checked out. If you wait too long, what could have been a little R & R with physical therapy or maybe a minor surgical repair can morph into a more complex procedure such as joint replacement.

If you get hurt, have it checked out.

Orthopedics_Mo Brown

Mo Brown and patient

It’s important to know what the consequences can be if you put off medical help for injuries. You may be mentally able to handle physical pain, but your body is sending that pain signal for a reason.

For all of you die-hards out there, let me put it this way: The toughest thing you can do in these situations is to stop your activities, see your doctor and get “it” fixed before it becomes a bigger problem.

Dr. Mo Brown is an orthopedic surgeon at Driggs Health Clinic.

This article originally appeared in the Teton Valley News.


Doc Talk: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Doc Talk: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

By Dr. Nathan Levanger, DO

Outdoor adventure season is in full swing here in the valley. Whether it’s a day trip to the Wind Cave up Darby Canyon or an overnight camp-out in the Alaska Basin, our options are seemingly endless when it comes to hitting the trails.

Our high elevation, combined with long sunny days and stretches of temperatures in the 70s, 80s and 90s can pose some risk for unprepared adventure seekers.

Regardless if you plan to go for an hour or a day, it’s important to make a few key preparations.

First, always bring water on your trips. In warm months, hikers/bikers/climbers/runners should drink approximately one gallon of water per day, but that can vary based on your individual needs. In direct sunlight and with physical exertion, your fluid/electrolyte loss can happen faster than under cooler conditions. Sweat evaporates instantly in dry climates like ours, so it’s important to pay attention to any signs your body might need hydration. If hiking with children, pay attention to the water in their water bottles to make sure they are drinking enough and at an appropriate frequency. Ditto for dogs.  Don’t plan on finding sufficient watering holes for dogs to lap up; bring water for the pooches and remember that dogs are exerting energy while wearing fur coats. Also be aware that dogs may not stop to drink water at a creek or pond if their human partner is bike riding or running at a steady pace. You may have to stop and relax before your dog feels that he can take a break and lap up some water.

Second, dress in layers and loose-fitting, lightweight clothing to avoid heat exhaustion. Seek out shaded areas when hiking, and avoid sunburns. Also, if you are taking any medications, ask your doctor whether the medications could make you more susceptible to heat exhaustion or sunburn.

Third, bring a friend or family member along for the trip and avoid strenuous activity in the middle of the day, when the sun and heat are at their highest points.

Generally, by the time you are thirsty, you’re already somewhat dehydrated. To avoid this, drink 1/2 to 1 quart of water or electrolyte drink for every hour you hike.

Although most instances of dehydration are mild or moderate and can be easily resolved by drinking fluids, severe dehydration can also occur.  Signs of a serious problem include little or no urination, extreme dry mouth and skin, confusion, rapid heart-beat and unconsciousness.  Severe dehydration is a medical emergency.

Like any good Scout, you need to be prepared.  Water, sunscreen, good shoes, weather outlooks, and good directions should form the basis of every summer outing.

Dr. Nathan Levanger is a family practice physician offering patient care at Driggs Health Clinic located in Driggs Idaho.

This article originally appeared in the Teton Valley News.

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