Avoiding Sports-Related Back Injuries

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important, and a key component of a solid health plan is frequent exercise. You have countless options for choosing the types of exercise in which you want to partake. Whether you opt for individual sports like running and swimming, or group events like basketball, soccer, or softball, you’re going to place a certain amount of strain on your back. That’s why it’s critical you understand the types of back injuries that can occur, and how you can avoid them.

Back Injuries

As many as one in five sports-related injuries affect the back or neck. Even injuries that don’t specifically cause trauma to the back can affect it, especially if you try to compensate for discomfort by altering your posture. You can suffer from one of three types of back injury:

  1. Neck Injuries – Your neck is more exposed in sports that have a heightened level of physical contact. Football, in particular, is a sport in which your neck is especially susceptible because of the frequent impacts your body takes.
  2. Lower Back Injuries – Trauma to your lower back is more common in range-of-motion exercises such as weightlifting or sports where there is substantial repetitive impact, like running. Basketball players also struggle with lower back pain because of the constant jumping. Golfers have also been known to suffer lower back strain due to the constant rotation and twisting needed to play the game.
  3. Upper Back Injuries – The least frequent types of sports-related injuries occur in the upper back. This portion of your back is less mobile, so there is less movement. The added support provided by your rib cage adds to its strength. You can still suffer from cracked ribs or muscle strains – the latter occur more often in sports like swimming and weightlifting.

Avoiding Injury

Before beginning any sport, it’s recommended you complete a thorough warm-up routine. Doing so will prepare your muscles while helping your back get ready for the added stress it’s about to endure. While warm-ups differ based on the type of sports you play, there are certain basic rules you can follow for all athletic pursuits.

  • Stretch – Take time to loosen the muscles you’ll be using during your exercise. Besides stretching common muscles like your triceps, calf muscles, and hamstrings, make sure you twist and rotate the muscles along your back and waist to increase your range of motion.
  • Increase Circulation – When you begin your stretching exercises, start gradually with simple movements to increase the flow of blood throughout your body. You can then increase the intensity of your regimen, which will help loosen the muscles in your back.
  • Model Your Efforts – If you’re going to throw a baseball, throw a few phantom pitches before you grab the ball. The same philosophy applies to swinging a golf club.

Are you suffering from sports-related back pain? If you have numbness, tingling, or severe pain that doesn’t improve with medication and rest, see a doctor. Back pain can sometimes signal more serious problems. To learn more about the effects of back pain, contact us today.

Top 7 Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Top 7 Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Veins that have become enlarged and bulge out from the skin are called varicose veins. More prevalent in women than men, they’re typically blue or dark purple and can cause discomfort, including aches and throbbing. When vein walls become weak, veins can enlarge as blood collects inside the vein. The increased pressure in the leg veins leads to varicose veins. Varicose veins have several causes, which include:

  • Heredity
  • Being overweight
  • Hormonal changes
  • Tight clothing
  • Age
  • Injuries
  • Excessive standing

While they don’t always have serious implications, varicose veins may be an indicator of more serious health problems, including, internal bleeding, sores or skin ulcers, superficial thrombophlebitis (a blood clot just below the skin), or deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a deeper vein).

To assess whether you may be suffering from varicose veins and need to see a physician, look for these top 7 symptoms:

  1. Sores or rash on the leg or ankle – If you’ve noticed a sudden increase of sores or a persistent rash on your legs or down by your ankles, it may be due to varicose veins. Have you recently been sitting or standing for prolonged amounts of time? Doing so can increase the potential for sores and rash to appear.
  2. Swollen legs – You may not necessarily see an increase in varicose veins, but if you’ve noticed your legs are more swollen than usual, it could be an indicator they’re not far off.
  3. Itchiness – If you’ve noticed your legs are itchier than before, it may be a sign of varicose veins.
  4. Tender veins that are especially painful or warm to the touch – You may not see the veins yet, but if areas of your legs are sensitive or feel hotter than other areas, it could be another indicator.
  5. Muscle Cramps and Aching – Again, this may be a case where you don’t necessarily see the evidence of varicose veins. But if you experience persistent aching or cramping in portions of your legs, you may be in the early stages of varicose veins becoming exposed.
  6. Bleeding – Unexpected bleeding in these sensitive areas may suggest varicose veins.
  7. Skin discoloration or change in consistency – Another indicator of varicose veins is when the skin around your legs or ankles becomes brown or hardens.

Ways to prevent varicose veins include:

  • Avoid crossing your legs while seated
  • Don’t sit or stand for excessive lengths of time
  • Stop wearing constrictive clothes that bind around the legs and waist
  • Lose weight
  • Exercise often to increase the amount of circulation in your legs
  • Elevate your legs a few times each day

Dealing With Fibroids During Pregnancy

Fibroids, which are also known as leiomyomas, are non-cancerous tumors, or growths, that appear on the walls of the uterus. It’s unknown why they occur, but fibroids affect at least 20 percent of all women during their lifetime, with occurrence numbers as high as 80 percent.

Fibroids are made up of the same smooth muscle fibers found in the uterine wall (myometrium), but are denser than normal myometrium. They are usually round and have no predictable growth pattern. Some are small like a seed while others can grow as large as a small melon, causing considerable discomfort. Some fibroids can increase the size of the uterus to the point that it reaches the rib cage. Fibroids are growths, but are not indicative of an increased risk of cancer. Occasionally malignant growths on the muscles inside the womb, called leiomyosarcoma, can develop.

Fibroids typically appear before pregnancy, but most women aren’t aware they have them until they’re discovered during an exam or ultrasound. Symptoms of fibroids during pregnancy include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Unusually heavy vaginal bleeding
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, it’s important you let your physician know as soon as possible.

The majority of women who have fibroids during pregnancy don’t have complications. But an estimated 10 to 30 percent of pregnant women with fibroids may struggle with symptoms. While fibroids are unlikely to affect the baby, the risk of miscarriage or early delivery is slightly higher with fibroids. If the fibroids are particularly large, they can alter how the baby is positioned for delivery or obstruct the birthing process, which increases the need to have a cesarean delivery.

The most common problems for women with fibroids are:

  • Breech baby – As noted, if the baby is not positioned correctly for vaginal delivery, complications could ensue.
  • Cesarean section – Women with fibroids are five times more likely to give birth through C-section.
  • Early delivery – Fibroids can hasten delivery.
  • Slow Labor – Women with fibroids may have a longer, more painful delivery period.
  • Placental abruption – This is when the placenta breaks away from the wall of the uterus before delivery. The risk of this happening is that the fetus may not get enough oxygen.

Because of an increase in hormones during pregnancy, fibroids can grow larger during that time. Alternatively, cases exist where fibroids have also shrunk. You doctor will best be able to guide you on the proper treatment. The most common treatment option is bed rest. If necessary, you may require some form of medication.

Another treatment option is Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), which is a non-surgical, minimally invasive treatment performed by an Interventional Radiologist that shrinks the fibroids to provide relief. With UFE, a thin tube is inserted into the blood vessels that supply blood to the fibroid. Compounds are injected into the blood vessels, blocking the blood supply to the fibroid and causing it to shrink.

UFE is 90 percent effective in reducing symptoms caused by fibroids. The Interventional Radiologists of Interventional Physicians of Indiana perform this procedure at Community Hospitals North and East.

7 Common Symptoms of Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus. Also called leiomyomas, uterine fibroids grow in the tissue of the uterus, often during a woman’s childbearing years. They can appear rapidly or steadily over time. Fibroids appear in various sizes. Some are big enough to increase the size of the uterus while others can’t even be seen by the human eye.

While as much as 75 percent of all women have uterine fibroids, many are completely unaware because they have no symptoms. Below are 7 of the most common symptoms of uterine fibroids:

  1. Heavy Menstrual Bleeding – The most common symptom of uterine fibroids is prolonged and heavy bleeding during menstruation, which is caused by fibroid growth bordering the uterine cavity. Women may also notice menstrual periods that last longer than normal.
  2. Menstrual Pain – Heavy menstrual bleeding and clots can lead to severe cramping and pain during periods.
  3. Abdominal Pressure and Pain – Women suffering from large fibroids may experience pressure or pain in the abdomen or lower back. While it may feel like menstrual cramps, it may be a result of fibroids.
  4. Abdominal and Uterine Enlargement – As fibroids grow larger, women may feel them as hard lumps in the lower abdomen. Especially large fibroids can even give the abdomen the appearance of pregnancy, along with a feeling of heaviness and pressure. Large fibroids are defined by comparing the size of the uterus with fibroids to the size it would be at specific months during pregnancy.
  5. Pain During Intercourse – Also known as dyspareunia, some women may experience pain during sexual intercourse. The source of the discomfort may be fibroids.
  6. Urinary Problems – Large fibroids may press against the bladder and urinary tract, which can cause frequent urination or the urge to urinate. This symptom is particularly noticeable when a woman is lying down at night. When fibroids press on the ureters – the tubes going from the kidneys to the bladder – the flow of urine may be blocked or obstructed.
  7. Constipation – Pressure against the rectum from large fibroids can cause constipation.