Friday, July 10, 2009

Bones, Joints, Muscles, Ligaments

Operating Capabilities gives us a unique view into the lifestyles of so many people. While a number of our customers are "seniors," people over age 65, we see very many folks of ages across a wide spectrum. Just the other day I worked with an 11-year old who took a tumble a few months ago and is still trying to figure out what is going on with her ankle. We have one of the few pediatric and youth lines of orthopedic supports in town.

Summer is a big time for broken bones, sprained ankles and wrists, twisted knees and torn ligments. Some folks go see a doctor or PT immediately, others try self-treatments first. We, of course, are not MDs or certified health care specialists, but we do know our way around orthopedic braces and supports and potential tools to help when life gets too rough.

Two weeks ago I heard about a condition that was brand new to me. After nearly four years, I keep thinking I have heard just about every version of what can happen to people, but that is what makes this life choice so amazing. There is always another story waiting for me the next day. I received a call inquiring about leg splints of a certain type. When I began to ask some questions, I learned that "Joe's" family was on the hunt for this type of splint because Joe had been diagnosed with "compartment syndrome" and recently underwent surgery. He would be okay, but recovery required a few supplies. While on the phone, I quickly googled the condition to learn some amazing things.

  1. Compartment syndrome can exist in acute or chronic forms. The acute condition can be fatal.
  2. It is a fairly rare condition but can occur as a result of surgery, a crushing injury to a large limb or surface of the body, or repetitive and extensive muscle use. The leg is one of the common sites.
  3. Acute cases can only be treated surgically. Chronic cases can be treated with rest, elevation of the limb, anti-inflammatory medications, and manual decompression or massage, although surgery is often indicated in these case, too.

Because high levels of compression inside the fascial "compartment" of the area can cause nerve or muscle damage, paying attention to symptoms is crucial. Necrosis or death of tissue is one of the dramatic possible outcomes of compartment syndrome. Extreme deep, severe and consistent pain, more intense than the visible injury seems to suggest, is one of the most significant symptoms. This type of pain will not be quieted with medications, OTC or prescribed. The sensation of "pins and needles" is also common. Swollen and shiny skin is also common with this condition. Full paralysis is a late symptom as is a lack of pulse. Measuring pressure subcutaneously is a relatively easy procedure nowadays, so consulting medical professionals immediately is advised.

As I have said many times, Capabilities brings us so close to challenging situations that are part of people's lives everyday. These experiences not only expose us to conditions and circumstances we would not otherwise know about, but it gives us the opportunity to be part of finding solutions, whether directly or indirectly. We are always grateful to be invited to participate in the ways we can.

Contact us first when you are on the hunt for products and solutions to help you and those you love face an ordinary situation - a sprain or pulled muscle, or something extraordinary like compartment syndrome.

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