Protecting Your Musculoskeletal System
As children, many of us sang ‘The Skeleton Dance’ song (“…. the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone, the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone….”). Unfortunately, there was no follow-up song explaining just exactly how they were connected. That would be your musculoskeletal system, which is made up of joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves, and even your skin. It literally keeps us together.
Our bodies are tough, but we really put them to the test daily. Each year approximately 10 million orthopedic injuries occur across the United States. This number is not comprised of only athletes – anyone, at any age and in almost any environment, is susceptible to orthopedic injuries or maladies. Here are some of the most common that may require surgery:
- Torn Rotator Cuff
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Torn ACL
- Dislocated Shoulder
- Wrist Fracture
Avoiding orthopedic problems is much more effective than having to fix them with surgery and long-term medications. And while it might sound strange – tending to your “connectives” – there are a variety of ways to bolster and protect them.
Follow these tips to help prevent orthopedic issues:
- Eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly or, at minimum, try to keep your body moving often
- Develop a strong core for good balance via yoga or Pilates
- Get plenty of vitamin D and calcium to promote strong bones and prevent the loss of bone mass
- Regular checkups are particularly important for older adults who are more likely to develop arthritis and sustain injuries
- Stop smoking – it puts undue pressure on your body
- Be aware of your posture and aim for “neutral spine,” it’s balanced, natural alignment
- Listen to your body – if you are experiencing fatigue or pain, that is not a sign of weakness, but a warning
In the United States alone, one person is injured from an accidental event roughly every second. Keep your home safe with these suggestions:
- Install handrails on stairs and in hallways
- Add bath mats and bathtub surface grips to avoid slips
- Wear properly cushioned, appropriate footwear around the house
- Always secure and stabilize ladders before climbing
- Use ergonomic household tools for proper form and minimal force against your body
- Engage in proper heavy lifting – use your legs and squat instead of bending
- Carry less weight and make more trips; do not lift more than you can manage
- Slide or push large, awkward, heavy objects
- Take frequent breaks for your body to rest – approximately every 15-20 minutes
Most workplace injuries are preventable; only about 4% of all work-related accidents are caused by technical issues such as faulty equipment.
- Use ergonomic equipment and workstation/desk setups
- Wear appropriate footwear for your job: steel toe, closed toe, slip-resistant; specialty footwear comes designed with adhesive outsoles and tripguard ridging
- Take regular breaks from computer monitors, long sitting, or rigorous activity
- Be mindful of repetitive motions; avoid overexertion
- Practice proper heavy lifting
- Wear braces and support belts for injury prevention
Every year, 3.5 million children under the age of 14 are treated for sports injuries; half of which are because of overuse.
- Stretch before exercise/sports
- Ensure you know how to use equipment properly and understand the correct techniques
- Wear the right gear: footwear, pads, helmets, braces, etc.
- Work at increasing your flexibility and strengthening your muscles
- Take breaks during activity and avoid heat illness
- Don’t play through pain; watch for slow occurring injuries that may show up over time
- Alternate hard and easy workouts, and mix up activities and sports to prevent overuse of the same joints, bones, and muscles
- Always obey rules and play safe
- Take time off to let your body recover; it is not recommended that sports/exercise be performed more than 5 days a week
Bringing in the Experts
With the orthopedic field being so broad and an ever-aging population, there are well over 18,000 orthopedic surgeons currently employed in the United States. These doctors are the ones you should contact if you are experiencing pain or have suffered an injury. One such expert is Dr. Jim Lorge, DO, of Stellis Health. A fellowship trained sports medicine and reconstruction orthopedic surgeon specialist, he says of treatment and surgeries, “…. first and foremost, I consider [the patient’s] quality of life and how surgery and, more importantly, recovery will impact their ability to take care of themselves and their family…. My job is to give patients the knowledge to make the right decisions about what’s right for them and their family.” Trust this surgeon to have you back on your feet in no time.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lorge, call 763-271-3800.