Posts tagged ‘fractures’

June 4, 2014

We Love… Best Bones Forever!

Best Bones Forever by Office of Women's Health via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Public DomainAs doctors, we find many people and organizations we love – from patients who we care about deeply to nonprofits that are assisting others on the road to their best possible health. Today we’d like to highlight a really great initiative: Best Bones Forever!

 

Best Bones Forever focuses on the bone health of young girls with the hope of avoiding bone health issues later in life. You know the old saying about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure – well, it’s true! Taking care of yourselves when you are young can help avoid a world of aches further down the line.

 

An initiative of the Office of Women’s Health, the hope is to help prevent conditions like osteoporosis, or loss of bone mass that affects many elderly women. Bone loss can lead to a higher risk of fractures which can be associated with life-threatening complications and side effects which have a profound impact on quality of life. As it turns out, keeping bones strong now means having stronger bones in the future. So whether it’s exercise or a diet with the proper nutrition, the aim is to help girls develop a lifestyle of healthiness that will last them a lifetime and result in less risk for bone loss as aging occurs. And for their parents, some handy notes can be found here.

 

(Oh, and you can like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter for more helpful, healthful information!)

(Image credit: Best Bones Forever by Office of Women’s Health via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Public Domain)

 

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health atwww.mammographykc.com and general radiology atwww.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

 

May 14, 2014

What’s Up with Your Neck? (and just below…)

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Have pain in your neck or upper back? You are not alone! While less common than low back pain, pain in the neck is a common complaint leading to doctor’s office visits. Pain in the upper back is somewhat less common, but we will include it in our discussion for completeness.

 

In a recent post we talked about imaging of the lumbar spine, the lower portion of the spine which sits behind your belly.  Much of the imaging for the rest of the spine is similar to what is done for the lumbar region.

 

The cervical spine (coming from the Latin word for neck) is sometimes referred to as the C spine. It consists of the first seven vertebrae (from the skull) and the cartilage discs between them, in addition to adjacent ligaments and muscles. A lot of motion (up,down, around!) occurs in this part of the spine during the day, so this is a common spot for symptoms of overuse or muscle strain to occur.

 

Patients with cervical spine problems may have pain in the neck with or without symptoms in the upper arms/shoulders – this can be pain or can be nerve type symptoms like numbness or tingling. How far the symptoms go down your arm can help indicate the level of involvement in the cervical spine.

 

The T Spine is the thoracic spine consisting of the 12 vertebral bodies, discs, adjacent muscles and ligaments at chest level. There is less movement of the spine at this level, so symptoms here are less common. Symptoms of thoracic spine problems may include pain in the upper back, shoulders, arms, or to the sides of the chest. Nerve symptoms like numbness, tingling or weakness may also be present.

 

As in the lumbar spine, there are a lot of age-related changes involving the discs and/or the adjacent bones; these may or may not be related to the patient’s symptoms. Imaging of the cervical and thoracic spine is generally performed after careful history and physical examination, and may be delayed to see if a trial of conservative treatment improves symptoms. Imaging immediately may be warranted if there are serious symptoms such as major trauma, weight loss, or nerve symptoms, particularly weakness of the arms or legs.

The spectrum of problems in the cervical and thoracic spine is similar to that in the lumbar spine and can include disc displacement, fractures, and muscle strain. Less common causes of neck and upper back symptoms include disease in the spinal cord itself, spinal cord tumors and things like multiple sclerosis. Note that the spinal cord ends at approximately the upper lumbar level; therefore, these problems do not directly affect the lumbar spine.

 

Imaging of the cervical and thoracic spine is similar to that for the lumbar spine. X-ray, CT and MRI can all be used to diagnose problems.Plain films or x-rays may be the best starting point as they can show alignment and fractures. X-rays can also show any narrowing in the spaces between the vertebra indicating disc disease. A CT shows bones and adjacent tissues and is the test of choice if we are concerned about fractures. CT can see the cord and nerve roots if we do it after a myelogram (more commonly done with C spine than with the T spine). Last, an MRI can show the spinal cord, nerve roots and discs and how they relate.

 

Ultimately, imaging of the neck and upper spine may be helpful to determine the proper course of action to get you on the road to your best possible health!

(Image credit: Illu vertebral column via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Public Domain)


Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health atwww.mammographykc.com and general radiology atwww.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

April 24, 2014

Ankles: Sprains and Pains

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For any building to be upright, it requires a solid foundation. Such is true for the human body: if what’s below the knees goes wonky it can have an effect on the body as a whole. Ankles are incredibly resilient joints but when they take a hit (or a fall or a twist) they can be problematic.

 

Ankle sprains are common, and can be seen in athletes and nonathletes alike. Sprains can result from the ankle turning from a misstep, from stepping down at an angle or from sideways movements. There are clinical rules which help determine who needs imaging- mild sprains may not need to be imaged.

 

Sprains typically result in injury to the ligaments, those soft tissue bands which connect bone to bone. If the ankle is unstable or if symptoms do not improve as expected, imaging with an MRI may be needed. This allows assessment of the bones of the ankle as well as the soft tissues, including the ligaments.

 

A fall from a height may lead to fracture or dislocation (ouch). Plain films of your ankle will be the starting point if fracture is suspected.  If a fracture is complex, CT is excellent at showing the anatomy and helping your surgeon plan treatment.

 

Achilles tendontears are often an event with a distinct injury, sometimes related to a sudden movement and abrupt tensing of the calf muscle (Remember those replays of Lebron James’ injury? Ouch!). Physical exam will often reveal a focal defect in the tendon your doctor can feel. We may want to image to see if the tendon is completely torn and the distance between the torn ends to help with surgical planning. Ultrasound can show this nicely, as can MRI.

 

Tendons about the ankle other than the Achilles can also be injured, torn or inflamed. Injuries to other ankle tendons can also be evaluated with ultrasound, although MRI is more commonly used. Tendons about the ankle include the peroneal tendons on the outer side of the ankle and the posterior tibial tendon on the inside.

 

It’s important to treat ankle injuries, because as a foundation for the body, adding a limp can lead to other problems including back pain (double ugh). If left untreated, ankle sprains can lead to chronic instability.

 

As ever, prevention is the best medicine. Some ankle strengthening exercises can be found here.

(Photo credit: Broken ankle Cast detail by FiDalwood via Flickr Copyright Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0))