Sever’s Disease

Sever’s disease is a common cause of heel pain in children between the ages of 9 and 12 years. The pain is due to calcaneal apophysitis occurring due to repetitive and continuous traction on the calcaneus from the Achilles tendon. The apophysis is not part of a joint and has muscle or tendon attachments. This traction apophysitis may lead to stress fractures, pain and tenderness over the heel.

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Sever’s disease is similar to Osgood-schlatter disease of the tibial tubercle.

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Patients are usually young athletes presenting with heel pain that increases with activities. Upon examination there could be swelling, tenderness, warmth and/or redness on the back of the heel where the Achilles tendon inserts.

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Plain lateral X-rays may show sclerosis or fragmentation of the calcaneal tuberosity. Sclerosis is not specific for this condition.

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Fragmentation of the calcaneal tuberosity on the other hand, is more common in patients with Sever’s disease relative to the general population.

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Remember that Sever’s disease is a clinical diagnosis. X-rays may show other causes of pain such as tumors, fractures, infections or cysts. MRI is not commonly used, but can help rule out calcaneal stress fractures or osteomyelitis.

Sever’s disease is a self-limiting condition that usually resolves with time. Treatment usually consists of NSAID, Achilles tendon stretching exercises, and activity modifications and in severe condition a short leg walking cast can be used.

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Diabetes, A Challenging Problem

Approximately 20% of diabetic patients will develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Peripheral neuropathy makes the condition of the carpal tunnel worse. It is suggested that the never that already has established hypoxia caused by diabetes is more vulnerable to local compression. Other mechanisms and explanations are also involved, so it is a difficult diagnosis). Some people believe that patients with diabetic neuropathy will have a high prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Electrodiagnostic testing (EMG and nerve studies) cannot distinguish patients with clinical carpal tunnel syndrome from patients with diabetic polyneuropathy. The decision to treat these patients should be made independently of the electrodiagnostic findings. When treating the patient, try to figure out the patient’s blood sugar level. There may be difficulty in determining if the blood sugar is under control.

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HBA1C (the glycosylated hemoglobin test) is an important blood test that shows how well the diabetes is being controlled. The test provides an average blood sugar control over the last 2-3 moths. The normal range of hemoglobin A1c is between 4% and 5.6%. When the level is 6.5% or higher, this indicated diabetes. The goal of treatment is to make sure that the patient with diabetes has hemoglobin A1c less than 7%. The higher the levels of Hemoglobin A1c, the higher the risk of developing complications. People should have the test done every three months to check and see that their blood sugar is under control. At least, the test should be done twice a year.

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The difficulty in carpal tunnel syndrome in diabetic patients is the difficulty of diagnosis, the difficulty in determining if the diabetes is being controlled or not, and if there will be surgery needed, will the patient have complications or not.

Patients who develop complications in orthopedics include: diabetics, obese patients, heavy smokers and patients taking blood thinners.

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If the condition is acute or an emergency, we have to do surgery. If the condition is elective, then surgery can wait. If the patient has poor glycemic control, then you probably don’t want to perform elective surgery on the patient such as carpal tunnel release. Remember, elective surgery can wait.

High blood sugar is linked to increased wound complications after surgery. Hemoglobin A1c is used to monitor the patient’s blood sugar level. The higher preoperative Hemoglobin A1c level, the more there is a risk factor for surgical site infection. Elective surgery can be delayed until HBA1c level becomes normal or better. Joint replacement surgery for example is delayed until HBA1c levels are less than 7%.

Since carpal tunnel syndrome is common in patients with diabetes, we need to take time to sort things out with these conditions. We need to know that the patient has better control of their diabetes. Carpal tunnel syndromes is a small surgery, but it can have catastrophic effect if we do not have a good control of the patient’s diabetes. Hemoglobin A1c will help us monitor the patient. Carpal tunnel surgery can cause complications and infection providing that high levels of HBA1c levels is a true risk factor for infection postoperatively.

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Heat Illness in Athletes

As summer approaches, athletes, coaches and other individuals will need to be aware of heat-related illnesses. Heat illnesses include a spectrum of conditions ranging from heat syncope, heat cramps and heat exhaustion to the more severe heat stroke.

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Heat Syncope (fainting) is a form of orthostatic hypotension that is related to dehydration. It occurs due to inadequate cardiac output and hypotension. It also occurs with standing quickly after sitting or lying down for prolonged durations in the heat. Symptoms include fainting, dizziness and light-headedness. Treatment includes oral rehydration (water, juice or sports drinks) and placing the patient flat on the ground in a cool area with slight elevation of the legs to push the blood back to the vital organs such as the brain.

Heat Cramps are painful muscle cramps that occur due to decreased sodium heat2.pngconcentration in the blood. The patient’s core temperature is usually not elevated. Sodium may decrease when salts are lost in sweat or with excessive water intake that does not include electrolytes leading to a situation called dilutional hyponatremia. Symptoms include painful muscle cramps occurring commonly in the abdominal muscles, arms, legs and thighs. Treatment includes rest, cooling and IV fluids or oral rehydration with fluids rich in electrolytes (sports drinks and juices) to replenish the sodium stores. Prevention could be achieved by consumption of fluids high in electrolytes before strenuous activities.

heat3Heat Exhaustion is the most common heat illness. The body temperature becomes elevated but is less than 40°C. The core body temperature is best measured rectally. The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include profuse sweating, core body temperature lower than 40°C, weakness and fatigue, cramping, headaches, nausea and vomiting,  fainting, hypotension, increased heart rate, and fast shallow breathing. Treatment includes rest, IV fluids or oral rehydration and rapid cooling by whole-body immersion in an ice bath.

Heat Stroke is the most severe form of heat illness. It is a medical emergency that needs immediate attention. The patient should be transported to the hospital as soon as possible. Heat strokes occur due to failure of the body’s normal thermoregulatory mechanism. If treatment is not started promptly, end-organ failure and ultimately death may occur. Heat strokes have a high mortality rate and require quick reduction of the patient’s temperature. The three characteristic features of this condition are a lack of sweating, core body temperature above 40°C (best measured rectally) and an altered mental status. Additional signs and symptoms include hot, dry skin, disorientation, confusion and hallucinations, headache and slurred speech. This is a serious medical emergency that requires rapid core body temperature reduction. The patient should have close monitoring of airway, breathing and circulation. The physician should implement basic life support and ACLS protocols. Rapid cooling by whole-body immersion in an ice bath will be utilized as well as IV fluids.

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What is Brachial Neuritis?

Brachial Neuritis is a condition of severe shoulder pain that usually radiates dowbrachial1n the arm and up to the neck and scapula. It can also be referred to as neuralgic amyotrophy (NA) and/or parsonage-turner syndrome. The pain is sudden, severe and may last for a few weeks. This pain may disturb sleep! It usually occurs on its own without a history of trauma. The condition occurs more in males and it may occur at any age.

The position of comfort is the shoulder adducted with the elbow flexed. Neck movement and Valsalva’s maneuver do not increase the pain. Pain is increased by movement of the arm. Although the pain is severe and sudden, lasting at least a few weeks, the condition is usually under diagnosed or not diagnosed at all.

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Weakness may be absent in the acute phase, however as the pain resolves, weakness of certain muscles will remain. The degree of weakness correlates with the severity of the initial pain.

brachial3The muscles that are commonly involved are the supraspinatus and the infraspinatus muscles. The suprascapular nerve is the most commonly involved followed by the deltoid, which is the abductor of the s shoulder innervated by the axillary nerve.

The condition may occur bilaterally and may occur subclinically (only seen on an EMG). Muscle weakness may continue for a significant period of time. Sensory changes may be variable. If there is no sensory loss, this is a classic finding that confirms the diagnosis. There is a decreased sensation in a lot of cases. The lateral antebrachial cutaneous nerve is usually involved.

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Motor changes predominantly occur over sensory changes and can involve the brachial plexus from C5-T1 with a variable degree of weakness. It can affect more than one nerve branch with certain patterns of involvement can be seen on the MRI.

It is a benign, self-limiting problem with 90% of patients returning to near normal condition in about 3 years. Only about 1/3 of the patients will recover at about 1 year. The etiology of brachial plexus neuritis is unknown.

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Hyperintense muscles involved in the sagittal plane (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and deltoid). In advanced cases, the muscles will either be atrophied or have fatty infiltration.

EMG and Nerve studies are helpful for the diagnosis and the prognosis. In the first 4 weeks, there will be acute denervation in the roots and the peripheral nerves. EMG may be abnormal for up to 7 years after the diagnosis.

Rule out other conditions such as radiculopathy from a herniated disc. This can bebrachial6 excluded from imaging of the cervical spine. Other conditions that may be considered differential diagnoses are adhesive capsulitis and lyme disease. There are two particular conditions that are very interesting with acute brachial neuritis. The first is bilateral interosseous nerve palsy, which is caused by viral brachial neuritis. The patient has the inability to do the Ok sign. It is motor loss that follows intense shoulder pain and usually the condition resolves with time.

The second condition is winging of the scapula. The serratus anterior muscle involvement may cause dull aches and pain. Acute, sudden severe pain consider with acute brachial neuritis that involves the C7 nerve root. C7 nerve root gives the long thoracic nerve, which innervates the serratus anterior muscle. If the patient has severe shoulder pain and winging of the scapular rule out brachial neuritis!

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The treatment includes rest, observation and steroid injections. Avoid using a sling, a sling will cause flexion and internal rotation contracture of the shoulder. The sling may also cause a stiff elbow.