Protect Your Shoulders This Summer

Healthy shoulders are something most of us take for granted. Unless you are a baseball or softball pitcher or competitive swimmer, or work in an occupation that requires a lot of repetitive lifting or overhead reaching activities, you probably haven’t ever really experienced significant shoulder pain.

If this is the case, count yourself among the fortunate. Shoulder problems, left untreated, can be painful, and eventually lead to decreased upper body mobility.

Causes and Symptoms of Shoulder Pain

Pain in the shoulder usually occurs in an area called the rotator cuff (i.e., the muscles and tendons that cover the top of your upper arm bone and attach it to your shoulder blade) and can be mild to severe. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, pain in the rotator cuff area may be a result of:

Tendinitis. The rotator cuff tendons can be irritated or damaged.
Bursitis. The bursa can become inflamed and swell with more fluid causing pain.
Impingement. When you raise your arm to shoulder height, the space between the acromion and rotator cuff narrows. The acromion can rub against (or “impinge” on) the tendon and the bursa, causing irritation and pain.

The AAOS describes symptoms as follows:

Rotator cuff pain commonly causes local swelling and tenderness in the front of the shoulder. You may have pain and stiffness when you lift your arm. There may also be pain when the arm is lowered from an elevated position.

Beginning symptoms may be mild. Patients frequently do not seek treatment at an early stage. These symptoms may include:

Minor pain that is present both with activity and at rest
Pain radiating from the front of the shoulder to the side of the arm
Sudden pain with lifting and reaching movements

Using Diet to Reduce Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

In recent years, you may have heard discussions or read articles about “inflammation” in the body and its connection to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis. “Inflammation” is a real issue for many of our patients, especially those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, a condition we see quite frequently where the patient’s overactive immune system is attacking his or her joints, causing pain. Anti-inflammatory and immune-suppressing medications can and are often used to treat such conditions. However, a patient’s diet can also play a part in reducing inflammation in the body.

A growing number of nutritional and medical experts suggest that a body’s autoimmunity problems are caused by tiny holes in the gut that allow particles of food, bacteria and other substances from inside the intestines to escape into the rest of the body. This is important because a “leaky gut”, and more specifically, an invasion of foreign substances into the body, can trigger the body to respond by producing inflammation – the same process used to fight any other bacterial infection. Over time, that chronic inflammation can cause tissue damage, resulting in an autoimmune disease such as the ones listed above.

Enter the Paleo autoimmune protocol (a stricter version of the more popular Paleo Diet). The Paleo autoimmune protocol seeks to seal the holes in the gut wall by eliminating the foods thought to cause them, namely:

Processed, fried and high fat foods (especially those that contain high amounts of salt, preservatives, additives, or sugar)
Breads & Grains (including whole and heritage grains)
Nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers
Nuts and seeds
Certain spices such as curries, paprika and chili powder
Refined sugar

Those who follow this protocol typically eliminate the trigger foods mentioned above for […]

Ultrasound Rotator Cuff Evaluations and Guided Injections Now Available at Sebastopol Orthopaedics

Sebastopol Orthopaedics recently began offering ultrasound rotator cuff evaluations and guided injections for those suffering from shoulder pain.  We’re excited to offer this new service which extends the following advantages to our patients:

Painless and Immediate results.
Interpretation by an actual orthopaedic surgeon who has first-hand knowledge of the anatomy through years of experience performing both open and arthroscopic rotator cuff repairs.
No concern for claustrophobia.
Ability to dynamically examine tendons.
Complete cuff exam may take less than 20 minutes.
A fraction of the cost of MRI (around $150 vs. $1,500).
Ability to perform targeted injections to the bicipital groove, subacromial space, AC joint, or glenohumeral joint with greater accuracy, in the same visit, saving patient time.
Minimally invasive treatment for calcific tendonitis available.
Can be used to quickly confirm clinical diagnoses such as proximal or distal bicep tendon tears, or other tendon ruptures such as Achilles injuries without the need for separate imaging and specialty consultations.
Patient Satisfaction!  Many patients enjoy seeing their own anatomy, live on the screen, and ultimately have a better understanding of their condition.

If you are experiencing shoulder pain or have questions about this procedure, please contact our office to make an appointment.

Beware of Herbal Supplements if You’re Having Surgery

It’s not unusual to see patients in our practice taking herbal supplements.  We don’t weigh in one way or another on the efficacy of “natural” vitamins and supplements but we do caution our patients who are considering having a surgical procedure done against taking them prior to and after their surgery.

While every patient experience is different, what many may not realize is that these supplements may cause abnormal blood pressure, heart rates, and bleeding.  They may also interfere with other medications, including anesthesia during your surgery.

We generally recommend to our patients that they disclose any “over-the-counter” medication they are taking (including aspirin, herbs, vitamins and dietary supplements) to their physician.  We also ask patients to stop taking them one week prior to surgery to reduce their risk of excessive bleeding, or negative interactions with other medications that we prescribe to treat orthopaedic problems and manage pain.

Not sure if your supplement may be a problem?  Here’s a list of common herbal supplements that we recommend against:

  Dong Quai
  Gingko Biloba
  White Willow Bark (salix alba)
  Devil’s Claw (harpagophytum procumbens)
  Turmeric (curcuma longa)
  Boswellia (bosellia serrata)
  Stinging Nettle (urtica dioica)
  Cat’s Claw (uncaria tomentosa)
  Omega-3 FA
  St. John’s Wort

If you’re a patient and have questions about how a supplement you may be taking may interact with your prescribed medication, please contact our office.