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Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center in the News, Issue 1

Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center Introduces the E-Newsletter

Greetings! You have received the first issue of Embrace, a free electronic newsletter from Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center. The e-newsletter is designed to deliver useful information to help people of all ages maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

Most of us have experienced or will experience an orthopaedic injury or disorder in our lifetime, that is, one that affects our muscles, bones, or joints. Examples include shoulder pain, a pulled muscle, or a broken arm. This newsletter will contain information to help you avoid and treat these injuries; topics will include injury trends, injury prevention tips, and new medical advancements to get you back in the game!

Warning Signs of Carpal Tunnel

Injuries, genetics, and repetitive use of our hands can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause pain and irritation, and hinder a person's ability to function at work and home. What are the warning signs of carpal tunnel syndrome?

The most common warning signs are pain, tingling, and numbness in the fingers (all but the pinky). Other symptoms may include:

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which the median nerve becomes compressed. The median nerve travels down the arm into the hand. The nerve can become compressed or squeezed as it passes through the narrow path at the wrist.

This compression can cause the fingers and thumb to feel tingly and numb.

Carpal tunnel syndrome, which can affect one or both hands, is a leading cause of lost time at work in the United States. Once detected, preventative measures can be taken to relieve pain, restore function, and prevent the problem from worsening.

Dr. F. Thomas D. Kaplan is one of nine hand surgeons at Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center who evaluates and treats carpal tunnel syndrome. To schedule an appointment with a hand surgeon, call (317) 875-9105.

Cell Phone Elbow

Cases of "cell phone elbow," where patients experience tingling or numbness in their ring and pinkie fingers, is not a new condition. Actually, it's a condition that can be dated back to 1958.

Cubital tunnel syndrome or cell phone elbow is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in that the pinching of nerves results in tingling or numbness within the hand. However, in cubital tunnel syndrome, the nerve pinched is the ulnar nerve and the pinching occurs behind the elbow.

Bending the elbow for long periods of time like when using a cell phone, sleeping with your elbows bent, or holding your arms bent and by your head can cause cubital tunnel syndrome. Although symptoms may not be immediate, using these positions can aggravate the problem and progressively irritate the nerve.

Nonoperative treatments should be used first and include anti-inflammatory medications, splints, and avoidance of problem positions. But, if nerve damage has occurred surgical treatments can be considered and those include:

Ulnar Nerve Transposition - Requires moving the nerve from the back of the "bump" to the front to avoid pressure.

Medial Epicondylectomy - Involves removing the bump and allowing the nerve to move forward and back as the elbow bends.

What's the Cause Behind My Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain is a common complaint heard in many doctors' offices. Like any medical problem, receiving a proper diagnosis for the cause of the pain is important; as it helps determine the proper treatment method. Here is a list of causes of shoulder pain, along with signs that you should seek medical attention for your pain.

Bursitis or Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

This is the most common cause of shoulder pain. Either the tendons or the bursa in the shoulder are inflamed.

Rotator Cuff Tear

This painful condition occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff separate from the bone.

Frozen Shoulder

This condition leads to a very stiff shoulder joint and is also known as 'adhesive capsuliitis'.

Shoulder Instability

Often caused by a traumatic injury, instability can cause the joint to be loose. This can also be a developed condition.

Arthritis

This condition is less common than arthritis in the hip or knee, but if it is severe enough, could require replacement of the joint.

Signs that you should consult a physician:

It is important to remember that proper treatment of shoulder pain relies on a proper diagnosis of the cause of the pain. If you are unsure of the cause of your pain, medical attention should be sought out before beginning treatment.

Understanding Dupuytren's Contracture

Dupuytren's contracture is a condition that affects the connective tissue beneath the skin in the palm of the hand. The connective tissue contracts, or tightens, causing the fingers to curl in toward the palm. Because of the tightening, the fingers can become permanently bent down and the function of the hand is impaired. There is no way to stop or cure Dupuytren's contracture, but there are treatments available.

Dr. F. Thomas D. Kaplan from the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center recently researched a new nonsurgical treatment for this condition. Dr. Kaplan's study focused on the use of an enzyme injected into the tightened tissue to help loosen the tissue and improve motion without surgery. The enzyme injections worked on the trial patients, allowing the hand to fully open one day after the injection.

To find out more information about Dupuytren's contracture and the enzyme injection treatments, contact Dr. Kaplan at Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center today at (317) 875-9105.