Tag Archives: injuries

Treatment for Strains & Sprains

by: José Zarzuela, M.D.

With the great summer weather, more of my patients are hitting the tennis court, biking, running or taking up water sports. But with more- or new- activities can come minor sports-related injuries.

The first-course of treatment I recommend for most minor sprains (twisted or wrenched ligaments) and strains (overstretched muscles or tendons) is the PRICE method:

  • Protect the injured area
  • Rest the affected limb or area
  • Ice or apply a cold pack right after injury
  • Compress lightly with an ace bandage or brace
  • Elevate the injured limb to reduce swelling and speed healing

If you don’t feel improvement in a few days, follow up with your doctor.

Jose Zarzuela, M.D.

Dr. José Zarzuela practices at the MPCP Pasadena office.

Got Back Pain? Help keep it in check.

by Konni Bringman, M.D.

back-painLow back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide according to a recent study. I see a lot of back issues in my practice. It’s not surprising since our back is literally our body’s support system, made up or more than 30 bones, and hundreds of nerves, muscles and tendons. All of those moving parts mean our back can be vulnerable to problems or injury.

Some research says that eight in ten people will have acute or chronic low back pain at some point in their lives. But there’s a concern that some of these people are getting invasive procedures, or taking long- term strong medications to deal with back pain when conservative methods may be the right approach—and actually just as effective.

First, knowing the cause of an individual’s back pain is key. Did you lift something heavy? Injure it while exercising? Do you have osteoarthritis due to aging? Are you under stress? Or carrying extra weight? Do you sit at a desk most of the day? Many of these things can cause or trigger back issues. A general physical can often tell us the likely cause of back pain, but there are also MRIs and other tests to give us a clear picture of the problem.

Once we’ve ruled out serious injury, here are the first-course things I recommend to help manage most back pain:

  • Chill it. If you’ve “pulled something” in you back or injured it playing a sport, ice is best in the first 24-48 hours to reduce inflammation. After that, you can switch to heat if you prefer. If pain persists or you feel tingling, numbness or weakness in your legs, talk to your doctor. It could be a disk problem that needs attention.
  • Rest, but keep moving. Our spines are meant to move so keep up your daily activity as much as possible without causing too much pain. Don’t overdo it, lifting things, etc. but don’t baby your back either so that you lose mobility. Seeing a physical therapist for specific exercises may be suggested.
  • Think about posture and ergonomics. Change your workspace so you don’t have to hunch forward to see your computer monitor. Use a desk chair with low back support, or even a stool that keeps your knees a bit higher than your hips to help your lower back. When standing or walking try to keep your head up, shoulders back and stomach pulled in as much as possible.
  • Sleep position and support. For those with chronic back pain, a change in sleeping position or the right pillow can sometimes help. Talk with your doctor or a physical therapist for suggestions.
  • Stay fit/Correct weight. Once your back pain has lessened, the best way to prevent its return is to strengthen the muscles that support the back- your “core”- and work on flexibility. Many like yoga for this. Staying near your ideal weight will also put less strain on your back, so try to lose extra pounds!
  • Stretching & Lifting. Don’t sit slumped at your desk or in front of the TV for too long. Get up every 20 minutes or so and stretch your back and your legs. Also learn how to lift correctly, so you’re using your knees and body, not just your back. If you can, push rather than pull heavy objects. If your work requires lifting or pulling, wear a back brace.
  • Keep in touch. Talk with your doctor about OTC or prescription medications that are best for back pain. If your back pain persists, you can discuss other treatments, including injections, therapy or surgical options.
Konni Bringman, M.D.Dr. Bringman is a Maryland Primary Care Physicians, LLC partner and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She received her medical degree from University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1994 and completed her residency program in Family Practice at Franklin Square Hospital Center in 1997.

Concussions & Head Injury

Q: What prompted you to get certified by the CDC in diagnosis & treatment of concussions?

A: I was initially interested as a result of my children’s participation on travel lacrosse teams. I also wanted to expand my knowledge to include head injury assessment in my practice. I see this as key information that needs to be more widely understood by individuals of all ages. The CDC points out that head injuries occur in falls and accidents in young children and older adults, so it pertains to more than sports-related head trauma.

Q: What exactly is a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) or concussion?

A: It’s a complex process affecting the brain caused by a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the brain’s function. It results in a constellation of physical, cognitive, emotional and/or sleep-related symptoms and may or may not involve a loss of consciousness. MTBI symptoms may appear mild, but can lead to significant, life-long impairment. Symptoms can last from several minutes, to days, weeks, months or longer in some cases.

Q: If I’m a parent of a young athlete, how can I help protect my child before a head trauma occurs?

A: To reduce the risk of concussion or traumatic brain injury, individuals should always wear a seat belt when riding in a motor vehicle, wear a properly fitted helmet when biking, skiing, etc., or when playing any contact sport. Athletes should also get a baseline screening every year before the start of the sports season. A set of simple cognitive tests will allow your health care provider to assess changes that may occur with any subsequent head trauma. Also, parents should check with schools or county sports programs to make sure there is a process in place for handling concussions.

Q: What should I know about the recovery process if a loved one is diagnosed with a concussion?

A: It’s important to limit physical and mental activity after a concussion (generally at least one week) until being reevaluated and cleared to return to normal activities by a health care provider.

Julie Henne-Reese, CRNPJulie Henne-Reese, is a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner at our Queenstown office, who has been with Maryland Primary Care Physicians since 2001. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and her Master of Science in Nursing degrees from the University of Maryland School of Nursing. Ms. Henne-Reese is board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center in Family Practice, and has recently received her CDC certification in diagnosis and testing of MTBI (concussions).