Health Tips

Torrance Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Group
Orthopedic Doctors
Physical, Hand & Aquatic Therapy

Two locations:

23456 Hawthorne Blvd.,
Suite 300
Torrance, CA 90505-4716

El Segundo

Phone: 310-316-6190
Fax: 310-540-7362

By Date: Current | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012

By Topic: General Orthopedics | Neck, Back & Spine | Shoulder, Elbow & Upper Extremity | Hand, Wrist & Forearm | Hip & Pelvis | Knee & Upper Leg | Foot, Ankle & Lower Leg

June 27, 2017
"Will wearing an ankle brace weaken my ankle?"

We get this question fairly often. The answer depends. If you wear a rigid ankle brace that doesn't allow the ankle to move naturally, it can change your ankle mechanics by prohibiting natural movement. Your ankle area becomes out of balance, and in time, you may end up with a host of new problems caused by the rigid brace. The new problems could even go right up the body, so you may end up with knee, hip, or spine issues when you had just an ankle problem to start!

If you wear a soft ankle brace that adds support but still allows natural movement, it won't usually weaken the ankle. In this case, the bigger question might actually be: "Should I wear an ankle brace for added support at all?" Again, the answer depends on the situation. A soft ankle brace can be beneficial in preventing recurring injuries in athletes who have had previous sprains or "loose ankles" from rolling the ankle too many times. Using the brace solely as a preventative measure is not usually recommended, though. If you've been able to perform your sport and stay active without injury, that's ideal. It would be rare for a doctor to recommend adding a medical device like a brace into your routine in that case.

A board certified orthopedic doctor specializing in the foot and ankle area is the best choice to properly diagnose and treat ankle problems. It's a good idea to seek medical treatment after a problem occurs if it doesn't resolve itself in a reasonable amount of time with R.I.C.E.: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Acute pain and recurring ankle issues also usually need medical attention.

May 31, 2017
Shoulder Injury + Recovery = A LONG TIME

The shoulder is notorious for taking a long time to heal after an injury, even if the injury isn't considered severe. It's a complex joint with several muscles, tendons, and bones, and it has a generous range of motion. All of these factors make it extremely vulnerable to injury.

People of all ages are susceptible to shoulder pain, and it's the most injured joint. Pain can develop over time or from a sudden event. Athletes fall into both categories because overuse (weights, baseball, football, volleyball, etc.) can lead to pain just as easily as a sudden injury (collisions, falls, overextension). No matter how the pain got there, get medical attention. With the shoulder, sooner is best because even a small tear won't heal by itself. It will only get worse if ignored, never better.

Seeing a doctor early can help avoid a full-tear repair surgery that could be followed by as long as 18 MONTHS of recovery. Partial-tear repair surgery is slightly less than that. Recovery from nonsurgical procedures is usually closer to 4-6 months—still a long time, but better than the year-plus or year-and-a-half alternatives.

Recovery begins with many weeks of immobilization, many more weeks of "passive" (therapist moves your arm for you) then "active" (you move your own arm) therapist-guided exercises, and finally, several weeks or months of self-guided exercises. Assuming you chose the right doctor, stick to the recovery program, and don't re-injure your shoulder, you'll likely get great results after all this.

A board certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in shoulder repair is the best choice for properly diagnosing and treating shoulder pain. Because of the complexity of the shoulder area, choosing the right surgeon, whether you need surgery or not (about 90% don't), is crucial to minimizing recovery time and maximizing results. An "expert" needs to have this key combination: excellent medical training AND experience treating patients with a wide variety of shoulder issues. Our practice has doctors who are true experts in the shoulder area.

April 25, 2017
Stop exercising? Bone loss can start in a matter of weeks.

Sometimes we have to stop exercising to recover from an illness or injury. But bone loss can begin in as little as 8-10 weeks after stopping activity. Exercise stimulates bone growth, so without it, our bones just naturally deteriorate. For people with chronic and painful conditions, this can add another layer of health problems to an already frustrating situation. How do you exercise if you have to avoid activity that stresses your injured body?

A board certified orthopedic doctor can help devise a safe and effective exercise program to keep you healthy during the time off from your regular workouts. He or she will work in conjunction with physical therapist to design a program just for your situation and limitations.

One common problem patients with chronic or acute pain report is that they fear having more pain. Working with a qualified physical therapist and orthopedic doctor addresses that in a safe environment. Patients learn what kind of pain is the "okay" recovery type versus the kind that may be causing damage. They learn what limits are okay to push and how quickly they can expect to recover at the best pace for them. At TOSMG, a physical therapist can adjust an exercise on the spot, or even go get the doctor right then if necessary. Our full treatment on-site approach means you don't have to wait as long for your pain to get resolved.

March 27, 2017
"I'm a runner. The outside of my knee hurts, just above the joint. Should I see a doctor?"

Whether the pain is in both legs or one leg, seeing an orthopedic doctor is a good idea. Often we suggest seeing a doctor for chronic or gradual pain when YOU'RE ready, but this type of pain may be caused by an IT Band problem. It needs medical intervention sooner, not later. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IT Band Syndrome) happens sometimes to runners, bikers, and others in endurance sports. It's also called "Jumper's Knee" after athletes who over-stress their knees with repetitive, explosive movements.

The IT Band runs from the outer hip area, down the outside of the leg, and attaches to the top of the shin bone. It stabilizes the knee by changing positions as the knee bends and straightens. Since the knee is a bony area, there's a fluid-filled sac called a bursa between the IT Band and the knee joint. The repeated change in positions can cause both IT Band AND bursa inflammation when you log a lot of miles, up your mileage suddenly, or intensely jump a lot.

Ignoring the pain caused by IT Band Syndrome can lead to scarring in the protective bursa. Scar tissue isn't as agile as healthy tissue, so decreased knee range of motion and more pain as activity decreases can result. Both of these outcomes are negatively life altering, especially for athletes.

An orthopedic doctor specializing in the leg and knee area and/or sports medicine is the best medical professional to properly diagnose and treat IT Band Syndrome. He or she will take your heath history, examine you, and may get an MRI to confirm your diagnosis. IT Band Syndrome caught before scar tissue develops can be treated without surgery. Often, rest or a change in athletic activities will help. Ice, physical therapy, and injections may be options as well. Surgery is for those who have developed IT Band Syndrome as a chronic condition and who are not helped by other, more conservative measures.

February 28, 2017
Your favorite superhero stretches their hips every day.

Okay, we can't prove it, but we're pretty sure they'd be in our office more often if they didn't. (Side Note: We know you're picturing some stratospheric stretching right now. It's okay. No one's judging.) If superheroes weren't so fictional, they'd be concerned about things like hip fractures, strained, tight and inflamed hip tendons, hip bursitis, hip bruising ("pointers"), torn labrum cartilage, and eventually, even osteoarthritis. Plus they'd feel the pain that goes with all of it, not to mention their world-saving capabilities would diminish substantially.

Athletes, however, are much more commonly affected by these hip ailments. A fall or severe impact is more likely to cause a fracture, tear, or bruise. Repetitive motion is often the culprit when inflammation or worn cartilage is causing pain or discomfort. As an athlete, we know you want to get back to your sport and exercise regimen. It's the endorphins...the camaraderie...the fancy gear...we get it, and we want to help you.

If nothing hurts right now, great. Keep warming up and down, stretching, and strengthening your core. Watch your form, or you might pay down the line. Improper biomechanics can put you on the injured list faster than you think. Tight muscles contribute to bad form, too, so again, stretch like a superhero.

If you've been out of your routine, resist the temptation to jump back in where you left off. It's a common cause of all the injuries superheroes won't get but you can. Start again at a reasonably lower level and work your way back up.

If you do hurt, come see us. Have a board certified orthopedic doctor who sees injured athletes all the time give you a few treatment solutions so you can get back on track quickly. You can get the right diagnosis instead guessing, and your sports medicine doctor can work with one of our on-site physical therapists, if you need it, to retrain, stretch, and strengthen you in exactly the ways you need.

January 15, 2017
"My finger got bent backwards and it still hurts A LOT!"

Ball players—volleyball, basketball, football, etc.—see injury from a finger bent backwards more often than others. When the ball forces the fingers to bend the wrong way (toward the wrist), it can cause a volar plate injury. The volar plate is a ligament that attaches the PIP joint (where the finger meets the hand) to the flexor tendons, which are attached to the bones. Acute pain right after the incident, swelling, and bruising at that particular joint are the most common symptoms.

Don't try to diagnose this injury on your own. Finger and hand pain that doesn't get better quickly on its own and/or with ice and rest usually requires medical attention. Treatments are different depending on whether there was just tissue damage (ligaments and tendons) versus a fracture (broken bone). An x-ray will aid your orthopedic doctor in properly diagnosing your injury.

Ligament or tendon damage only is considered a sprain or just soft tissue damage. Treatment often includes splinting or buddy taping to the finger next to it, special finger exercises (hand therapy may be prescribed), ice, and some time avoiding the activity that caused the injury.

Sometimes a small piece of bone will break off the main bone when the injury occurs. This is called an avulsion fracture, and it needs a specialized orthopedic hand surgeon to reattach it with wires or pins. Ignoring a broken finger or splinting it before it's correctly positioned can lead to lifelong pain and mobility problems.