• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

    What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

    You could be doing anything; washing the dishes, gardening, or typing a report for work when the first tingling, numbness and weakness in your hands and wrist begins. You probably ignore it, thinking its just a muscle cramp from working so hard. These symptoms progress gradually over weeks, months, and sometimes maybe even years. Then one day the discomfort is accompanied by an intense pain that shoots through your hand and up your arm. This is what Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) feels like.

    Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

    The carpal tunnel is a passageway between the hand and forearm that is made up of bones, connective tissue, several tendons and the median nerve. CTS occurs when the connective tissues swell and cause pressure on the median nerve. The median nerve is responsible for controlling the feeling and sensation in the hand, along with the general nerve function of the upper arm.

    According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), although these symptoms may be presented with other conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common and widely known condition to be chronically compressed or traumatized.

    CTS Risk Factors:

    • Congenital predisposition: Women are at 3x the risk of men
    • Sprain or fracture of the wrist accompanied by swelling
    • Overactivity of the pituitary gland
    • Hypothyroidism, Diabetes or other Metabolic Disorders
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis
    • Mechanical complications of the wrist joint
    • Work stress - especially assembly line and data entry workers
    • Fluid retention from pregnancy or menopause

    CTS has been known to present itself without any prior risk factors identified.

    CTS Treatment & Recovery:

    *Always consult a physician before starting treatment

    • Treating early signs of CTS before the damage progresses is important
    • Use a wrist splint that does not apply direct pressure to the median nerve
    • Corticosteroid injections or prednisone (as prescribed by your doctor)
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug regimen: (aspirin, ibuprofen, and nonprescription pain relievers) may ease early symptoms of pain, discomfort and swelling
    • Stretching and strengthening exercise for the wrist
    • In some cases surgery may be necessary

    wrist splint Wrist Splint/Brace


    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:

    University of Maryland Medical Center:


    Mayo Clinic:                                                                          

  • ACL Injury & Treatment

    If you’re an athlete or know someone who is, then you’ve probably heard of the dreaded ACL injury. ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament, which describes the ligament in the knee that aids in preventing the tibia (shinbone) from sliding in front of the femur (thigh bone), as well as providing stability to the rotation of the knee.

    Healthy Knee                           Knee w/ ACL Tear
    knee acl knee
    Copyright ©1995-2014 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

    The ACL Injury is so common that physicians see approximately 200,000 of them each year, with 100,000 requiring ACL reconstruction surgeries. Women are more likely than men to injure their ACL due to physical and hormonal differences to men. Soccer, Football, Basketball and Skiiing are all considered high-risk sports for this type of injury.


    • A hard hit to the side of the knee
    • Overextension of the knee joint
    • Sudden change in direction or pivot


    • “Popping” sound at time of injury
    • Swelling of the knee within 6 hours of the injury
    • Pain in the knee that increases when weight is applied


    If you think you have an ACL Injury, see a doctor immediately and discontinue all activities. Treatment is based upon a patients individual needs, but the majority of ACL injuries will require surgery. Rehabilitation can take several months, especially if surgery is needed.

    Treatment right after the injury can include the following:

    • Rest & Elevation of the Leg
    Cold Therapy application to reduce swelling
    Knee Brace or Knee Support to aid in stabilizing the knee
    • Acetaminophen or Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).


    • Stretch & Strengthen leg muscles with exercises like leg presses, squats and lunges
    • Cross-training exercises like elliptical, stair climber and stationary bike
    • Learning to jump and pivot correctly can help athletes prevent injuries








  • Ankle Sprains & Strains

    It can happen to anyone at any moment. You’re on a run, playing with your dog, rushing to make a meeting or simply walking down the street. That moment when you lose your balance, trip, fall and inevitably land the wrong way on your foot resulting in a sprain. This has happened to me. It’s no fun.

    Ankle sprains can occur when the foot is extended in a wrong way, usually categorized by a twisting or rolling of your foot. It can happen just by stepping with an uneven force or getting off balance. Any type of movement where you’re over extending the ligaments in your foot can cause ankle pain and strain.

    A sprained ankle is a fairly common occurrence. In fact, approximately 25,000 people sprain their ankle each day. It’s important to note here, that just because ankle sprains are common doesn't always mean they’re simple. Whenever possible, consult a physician before starting a treatment plan. The symptoms of an ankle sprain like pain, swelling, and bruising are also common with a broken bone.

    If left untreated, minor ankle sprains can take a long time to heal and can eventually lead to chronic pain. A common treatment method called “R.I.C.E” (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), is an early way to reduce symptoms of pain, swelling and inability to walk on the injury.


    For the first 48 hours after injury, significantly reduce pressure and activity on your foot.


    Applying an Ice Pack or Ankle Cold Wrap to the injured ankle to help with pain and reduce swelling in the first 48 hours.


    In early treatment, swelling can be reduced by compression using an Ankle or Foot Wrap. Make sure the wrap fits tightly, but not so tight that muscles cannot contract and provide adequate blood flow to your foot.


    Elevate the foot above the heart increasing blood flow and helping reduce pain and inflammation.

    American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons,
    All American Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute,


  • Practicing Good Posture

    We’ve all heard the cautions growing up. Our mothers and grandmothers telling us to stand up straight and to stop slouching in our seats. Although as children it seemed annoying, they were right to start us on an early track to good posture.

    In fact, practicing good posture can be just as important to your health as getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet or exercising regularly. Bad posture can lead to loss of energy, chronic back, joint and muscular pain, headaches, bone and joint misalignment and put you at greater risk for injury.

    Maintaining good posture allows your muscles and skeleton to work together to minimize the pressure on your joints. When poor posture occurs frequently, the structure of your body can begin to change and adapt to the postural mistakes, leading to the pain and misalignment of your joints.

    How to Practice Good Posture:

    While Standing:
    • Stand up straight!
    • Keep feet shoulder-width apart.
    • Keep knees slightly bent.
    • Put chest out and pull stomach inward.
    • Keep your shoulders squared.
    • Align your head with the neck and spine.
    • Distribute weight evenly on the balls of your feet.

    While Sitting:
    • Sit up straight!
    • Align your back with the back of the chair (use an ergonomically designed chair whenever possible).
    • Keep your feet on the ground or footrest, with ankles in front of your knees.
    • Keep your shoulders squared and align your head with the neck, spine and heels.
    • Stand up and stretch or walk around if sitting for long periods of time.

    While Lying Down:
    • Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
    • If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs.
    • If you sleep on your back, keep a pillow under your knees.
    Maintaining a core workout a few days a week is also helpful in strengthening essential posture muscles like your abs, lower back and obliques. Yoga, martial arts, Tai chi and even ballroom dancing are known for promoting proper posture as well.

    Mayo Clinic. (2014). Nutrition. Retrieved from
    American Chiropractic Association. (2014). Nutrition. Retrieved from
    Spine-Health. (2014). Wellness. Retrieved from

  • Obesity and Osteoarthritis in the Knee

    If someone asked you what the leading cause of disability in America is, what would you say? Most people I asked had a lot of great responses, including injuries at work, car accidents, cancer, heart attacks, and stroke. Although there is no doubt that all these conditions are causes for disability, they aren’t the leading cause.

    Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.* The disease destroys the cartilage that cushions your joints and over time causes them to become stiff and painful, eventually leading to inmobility. Once a patient is diagnosed, research has shown that there is a significant decline in their physical activity, with 44% of patients reporting that they have no physical activity at all.

    Reading the statistics alarmed me. It’s becoming a major public health problem. Whats worse is that the growing obesity epidemic in America is only exacerbating the chances of Americans developing osteoarthritis in the knee. For every pound of body weight you carry, you place a force of five pounds onto your knee.** So making healthy lifestyle choices and starting an exercise program can have a huge impact on reducing your chances of developing knee pain and cartilage deterioration that over time leads to osteoarthritis.

    The ADAPT study by Dr Stephen Messier at Wake Forest University found that participants in an 18-month program of exercise and a calorie-restricted diet showed a 24% improvement in physical function and a 30.3% decrease in knee pain. These improvements were better than those seen in patients relegated to exercise only or to diet only, as well as those seen in the control group.***

    If you are at risk or living with osteoarthritis, following a balanced diet consisting of mostly vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, healthy fats, and healthy proteins could assist your weight loss efforts. There are a variety of exercises that can also help:

    - Exercises that promote stretching and range of motion, like yoga, pilates or even Tai Chi can help reduce stiffness in your joints.

    - Exercises that increase blood flow and heart rate, like an aerobics class, kick boxing, jogging, swimming or a brisk walk will help with weight management and may reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis.

    - Exercises that stregthen and build muslces, like resistance band training, kettlebell workouts or weightlifting will make your muscles strong and help strengthen the tendons that support your joints.

    It is important to note that not all knee pain is caused by being overweight. While some people may see significant benefits through weight loss, others may not see any benefit. Return2Fitness reminds you to consult with a physician about your specific knee pain before determining if weight loss is a realistic treatment option.


    * Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Nutrition. Retrieved
    ** WebMD.(2010). Retrieved from:; (2005). Retrieved from:
    *** Medscape. (2004). Retrieved from:

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