FAQ Category: General


What do surgeons consider when someone comes in with a mangled arm from a piece of farming equipment? I am a 40 year old farmer and recently had a run in with my tractor and had my arm amputated below the elbow as a result.I am wondering why they didn’t try to reconstruct it.

While this is ultimately a question for your surgeon, the decision to either reconstruct or amputate is based on multiple factors.  These include the complexity of the injury, the soft tissue damage, function following the accident, expected healing times, and chance of infection.


How does platelet rich plasma work to improve cartilage?

The most basic explanation is that human blood plasma and platelets contain cells which cartilage uses for healing. Since cartilage is a poorly healing tissue on its own, it has been shown that providing the injured area with increased availability of these different cells can increase the ability of the […]


I participated in a study at the large medical center associated with our university system. They collected and compared stem cells from two places (bone marrow from my breast bone and pelvic bone). But I never heard the results of the study. What kind of research is being done with bone marrow stem cells?

A great deal of research is focused now on tissue regeneration for soft tissue and bone repair in humans. Stem cells from the person’s own bone marrow have two major advantages: the patient does not experience cell rejection and this source of stem cells avoids the controversy over the use […]


I am a military wife with three small children depending on my husband (U.S. Army) for support. Currently, he is in the hospital with compartment syndrome of the right leg. What are his chances for full return to active duty?

A recent study was done by surgeons from the United States Army reporting on the long-term results of 611 (mostly male) soldiers who had surgery for chronic exertional compartment syndrome of the lower leg. The information they reported may be of help to you in answering this question. As you […]


I am a competitive athlete getting ready for the Hawaii iron man event next month. Unfortunately, I have come up lame with compartment syndrome of both legs. I had surgery to release the pressure but now I have an inflamed nerve. Will this get better? What is the treatment for it?

Compartment syndrome describes a condition in which fluid (swelling or blood) builds up inside one or more of the individual compartments of the leg. The “compartments” are easier to understand if you think of each group of muscles and tendons as being surrounded by a protective sheath or lining of […]


My mother, grandmother, and myself all have hand osteoarthritis but when we compared notes, it seems we all react to the weather differently. Hot temperatures make my hands worse, while Mom gets better and Grandmama says she only feels worse when it’s humid outside. Can you explain this to us?

There has long been debate about the influence of weather on musculoskeletal symptoms. Many people who have injured a joint or other area of soft tissue (e.g., ankle sprain, bursitis, tennis elbow, broken bone) swear they can predict the weather. Their joints start to ache, throb, swell, or stiffen up. […]


This is kind of a touchy question but how do I know if my doctor is keeping up with the latest treatment of rheumatoid arthritis? I want to make sure I am getting everything possible and necessary to keep this problem in check.

You can try a very direct approach by asking your physician this very question in as tactful a way as possible. Consumers have a right to the most up-to-date services and should be able to ask any of their health care providers how they keep abreast of the latest ideas […]


We are looking into all ways to treat osteoporosis for my aging father. He had what they call a low-energy fracture (fell from a standing position without being pushed) and broke his arm. I saw on-line that this problem should be treated with diet, exercise, and medications. What are the most commonly used medications and what should we watch out for?

Your father has suffered what is referred to as a fragility fracture. A fragility fracture is a bone break that occurs without significant trauma, which makes it a low-energy fracture. The person could just be lifting a cup of coffee, turning a key in the door lock, or picking up […]


Can you help explain something to me? Both my brother and I are significantly overweight (more than 100 pounds). He has terrible knee arthritis, which his doctor insists is because he is fat. I am even heavier than he is and I don’t have any knee pain. Why the difference between us?

Although obesity is a known, direct factor in joint arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is considered a multifactorial disease. There’s more than meets the eye on this one. In other words, many factors contribute to the damage and destruction of the joint that leads to arthritis. For example, increasing age, sex (female), […]


I am self-employed so if anything happens to me on-the-job, it’s tough luck, Charlie. I have a couple of friends who seem to take advantage of the Worker Compensation system. It takes them much much longer to heal and recover compared to someone like me who can’t afford to miss a day of work. Wouldn’t we be better off if there was NO Worker Compensation system at all? Then the “no work, no pay” approach would ensure an equal playing field.

There has been much debate around the issue of Worker Compensation, failure to recover due to the possibility of financial gain, and predictable worse outcomes for workers injured on-the-job compared with those who are not covered by Worker Compensation. In fact, studies do show that results after surgery for worker […]


I’m new in the business of industry that involves worker injuries and Worker Compensation. I hear grumbling that workers who have been injured are just holding out for higher settlements. But most of our workers are younger and eager to get back to work. What’s the real truth here?

Many studies have been done comparing results of injury for treatment of Worker Compensation patients compared with non-compensation employees. Until recently, the number one reason workers were out was always low back pain. Now, the number of claims from leg and arm injuries has increased dramatically. And shoulder injuries (e.g., […]


Can a young, healthy athlete really have muscle (and other) injuries from low vitamin D? I heard that somewhere. Just checking it out. I don’t think it applies to me, but want to make sure.

Yes! In fact several studies have been done confirming low vitamin D levels as a possible contributing factor to soft tissue and bone injuries. For example, blood tests taken in preparation for surgery to treat sports injuries show that more than half of the athletes tested were vitamin D insufficient. […]


Can young, healthy athletes really be vitamin D deficient? Our son’s basketball coach wants everyone tested. We think it’s a lot of hype. Do you think this is really necessary?

Most likely your son’s coach has heard something about the perils of low vitamin D. Without it, we can suffer low bone mass, decreased immune function, and altered physical performance. Any of those (and especially all in combination) can pose serious problems for athletes. For example, bone fractures and muscle […]


I am a college-level athlete (women’s basketball). I’ve started taking some supplements my Mom sent me but I also saw some stuff on the Web that says what I really need is Vitamin D3 (not D2) even if I am young and healthy. I don’t want to pollute my body with anything (including vitamins) without knowing they are helping. Do you have any advise on this?

You wouldn’t think athletes with their strong bones and muscles would need any Vitamin D supplementation. But according to a recent report, there are sports health benefits to taking Vitamin D supplements. Some of those benefits actually come in the form of prevention. That is — preventing the musculoskeletal events […]