Joint Preservation Blog

January 19, 2009

Nutrition to Heal Rotator Cuff Injury

Nutrition to heal a rotator cuff injury is all about the building blocks for repair and their helpers.  What are the building blocks?  Collagen and GAG’s (hyaluronic acid for instance) are good places to strat.  Foods that are rich in collogen include Jello.  Vitamins that help support collogen include vitamin C.  Other building blocks include glucosamine and chondrotin sulfate, although these are a bit more joint focused.  One of the big problems with rotator cuff repair is often there is limited blood supply to this area, so getting any nutrients to it can be tough.  Activity can help in this process.  Gentle rotator cuff exercises can help.  How do you know if it’s healed?  Take your arm and place it out to your side with the eblow extended and point your thumb to the ground.  This stresses the rotator cuff.  if you can’t do this or it hurts, then it’s not healed.  Is there a way to get it to heal without sugery, yes newer non-surgical procedures are available (click link).

Torn Shoulder Rotator Cuff

Ruth is like many of our patients with a torn shoulder rotator cuff. She’s a health care professional (nurse) who has had the RIGHT rotator cuff treated twice with traditional roator cuff repair surgery. The several month recovery was difficult, the blue pillow immobilization meant that she couldn’t work as an ER nurse. Because of the muscle atrophy (this means that the sutures from the surgery can hurt local muscle cells, causing them to atrophy and die off) she likely experienced with the first RIGHT sided rotator cuff surgery, she had a retear of the same rotator cuff a few years later. The second time she was again off work for several months and unable to earn her salary. Based on her outcome with her first and second surgeries on the RIGHT, when the LEFT rotator cuff tore (while she was transferring a patient as a nurse), she went searching to see if non-surgical alternatives were available. We treated the LEFT by using her MRI to plan our x-ray guided injections of her own mesenchymal stem cells into the tear. It’s should be noted that this time, she remained working and fully active during the procedures. She has had three injections into her torn shoulder rotator cuff with excellent relief of pain and return of full range of motion. Rather than the doctor continuing to tell what happened, best to let the patient tell her own story:

January 11, 2009

Sprained Ankle Discharge Instructions

torn ankle ligament

torn ankle ligament

As a doctor who has treated sprained ankles and had a severe sprained ankle myself, here are my sprained ankle discharge instructions for my patients:

1.  Stay away from anti-inflammatories if you can help it!  These medications, otherwise known as NSAID’s block inflammation which can make things feel better, but inflammation is the basis of all healing, so blocking it is ill advised.  Use Tylenol if need a pain reliever.

2.  To control the swelling you can use ice and elevation.  Elevation means bringing the ankle above your chest/heart.  Icing means that you keep an ice bag on the ankle until the skin goes numb and then you remove it.  Again, the swelling is there is bring healing cells, growth factors, and new blood supply, so control it when it gets uncomfortable, but realize that it is serving a purpose.

3.  Immobilization as tolerated.   This means stay off of it when it hurts, but animal studies of ligament and joint healing usually show that staying completely off the area for extended periods will reduce the quality of the repair your body is able to muster.

4.  A sprained ankle takes only 4-12 weeks to completely heal.  if you still have pain, swelling, popping, clicking or other signs of an injury that is too big for your body to heal, consider getting an MRI or other type of imaging.  If the ligaments are completely torn in half, you will likely need surgery.  If they are stretched or partially torn, consider an injection based procedure to enhance healing.  In my clinical experience, prolotherapy can usually help.  Other options include surgery (I wouldn’t recommend this for a partial tear), or having the doctor inject your own stem cells into the ankle ligaments to heal the tear.  Below are videos on the newer stem cell procedures:

January 10, 2009

ankle sprain with bone bruise that has taken 5 months

ankle brace

ankle brace

I recently saw the call for help, “ankle sprain with bone bruise that has taken 5 months appear on the Internet. It reminded me of my own problems some 15 years a go as a young doctor just out of residency. I was running and slipped off the concrete path and severely twisted my ankle. It was so bad that I had to limp home at 1/4 walking pace. I placed myself in an immobilizer and waited for it to heal, no healing after 1-2 months. I then began an Odyssey of ankle braces. The air cast was popular at the time, it was a joke, a great way to cut off my circulation without helping any stability. Then 2 months, then 3 months… I was onto seeing specialists. The people who worked with ankle sprains in my community at the time were all podiatrists. I went one who told me he had nothing to offer. Then 3 months became 4 months. I was still limping around the house when I did anything active. I then tried more braces. I bought the old fashioned lace up type, some stability, but getting the beast on and off was a nightmare. I was in a physical free fall of sorts, going from a very active young man to a couch potato. My weight ballooned. 4 months became 5 months. I then finally found my first savior, the Malleoloc brace. While this helped, 5 months became 6 months, 7 months, 8 months, 9 months, a year. Finally I tried prolotherapy, which wasn’t perfect, but got me to the point where I could function and even go out running every once in a great while. If I had injured this today, I would have certainly chosen injecting my own adult stem cells to fix my ankle ligaments. We’ve had great success with this new cutting edge injection treatment using the patent’s own stem cells. The video below tells more:

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