10 Tips for Getting Around on Crutches

Article featured on Healthgrades

1. Verify Your Fit

Properly fitting crutches can make the difference between comfort and calluses. When you’re standing up straight with your arms at your side, the top of the crutches should be 1 to 2 inches below your armpit, and the handgrips should be at wrist-level. Your elbow should be slightly bent in this position. If your crutches don’t feel right after using them for a day or two, don’t hesitate to ask your care team for a different size.

2. Walk This Way

To walk, start standing up straight on your good leg with your crutches gripped in your hands. Lean onto your good leg, lift your crutches, and set them down 6 to 12 inches in front of your good foot. Lean your weight into your hands and step your good leg 6 to 12 inches in front of your crutches. Rest as necessary and repeat. Always look ahead—and not down—as you walk. Your body will follow your gaze.

3. Get a (Cushioned) Grip

Your hands—not your armpits—should bear your weight when you use crutches. If you push your crutches into your armpits, nerve damage could occur and send pain down your arms. If your hard-working hands become sore, cushion the handgrips with an adhesive pad. Or consider wearing fingerless gloves with padding if you need to walk a far distance.

4. Scan for Obstacles

You certainly don’t want to take a tumble while you’re on crutches and risk injuring another body part, like a wrist or your good leg’s ankle. While you’re walking, be on the lookout for ice patches, puddles, curled-up rug edges, gravel, and small steps. Think about how to safely and slowly get past your obstacle—or find another way to get where you’re going.

5. Use Care When Sitting

Sit down slowly every time. Transfer both crutches to the hand on the same side as your injured leg. Lean into your crutches, then reach back with your free hand to feel the chair, sofa, stool or bed. Sit down into the seat. Be sure to set your crutches down upside-down within reach. When standing up, slide to the edge of the your seat, and reverse these steps. Keep the back of your good leg touching the seat.

6. Sit Down on the Steps

If there’s an elevator to take you up and down floors, use it. But if you need to negotiate stairs on crutches, The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons recommends that you do so seated. That may feel odd, but it reduces your risk of a tumble and further injury. Be sure to push your crutches up or down in the direction you’re going before you start, so they’re available when you stand up again.

7. Contain Beverages and Foods

When you’re on crutches, carrying a cup of coffee or a sandwich to the couch can be a challenge without help. One way to do this on your own is to transport foods in closed travel containers, such as plastic containers or travel mugs. You can carry even more if you use a backpack or side-slung pack.

8. Equip Your Pad

You may spend more time at home than usual while your leg heals. So outfit your pad with props that save you time and effort. Use a wheeled office chair to roam the rooms of one level of your house. In the kitchen, set up a high, stable bar stool that you can lean on while you prepare food and drinks. And use (clean) trash grabbers or long barbeque tongs to pull small items down from tall shelves.

9. Care for Your Crutches

Once a week when you’re sitting down, check your crutches for anything that may weaken their support. Look for things like loose hardware, worn tips, and items like small rocks or stickers that have become lodged to the rubber ends. The more sturdy your crutches are, the more steady your pace will be.

10. Embrace Your Pace

You simply aren’t going to get around as quickly or as easily on crutches as you could before them. Give yourself plenty of time to get everywhere. And give yourself a pass on most of the items on your to-do list for a bit. The more slowly you go, and the more rest you give yourself and your injured leg, the more quickly you’ll regain strength and speed. And ultimately, you’ll recover quickly and safely.


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

6 Things to Know About Shin Splints

Article features on Healthgrades

Shin Splints: Treatment and Prevention

If you’ve ever had a shin splint, you know all about this unique shooting pain. “Shin splint” is the everyday name for tibial stress syndrome—pain and tenderness in the shinbone (tibia) in the front of your leg. Shin splints happen when there’s too much stress on this bone and tissues in your lower leg. The good news about shin splints is there are ways to treat the pain and keep the condition from happening again. Here are key things to help you cope with and prevent shin splints.

1. Shin splints are common.

Many athletes develop shin splints at some point. So do dancers, runners and people in the military. People with flat feet or a very high arch are also prone to having shin splints. You’re more likely to develop shin splints when you push yourself too hard during exercise. Running or doing other exercise too vigorously can cause shin splints. Increasing the length of your workouts too quickly can cause them, too. Exercising on an uneven surface or a very hard surface, like concrete, increases your risk. Wearing old shoes without proper cushioning and support also can lead to shin splints.

2. Know the signs.

Pain from shin splints usually runs along the inside of the front of the bone in your lower leg. It usually occurs in both legs. Your legs will feel sore and tender. They might even swell. The pain from shin splints usually gets better when you take a break from exercise. It often comes back when you start exercising again.

3. Diagnosis is simple.

A doctor can usually diagnose shin splits by doing a physical exam and asking about your medical history and activities. Sometimes, you’ll need an X-ray to rule out other causes of the pain.

4. Don’t push through the pain of shin splints.

It’s important to challenge yourself when you exercise. However, shin splints are typically a sign you’re pushing yourself too hard. If you’re a runner, it may mean you need to change your shoes or where you’re running. Give your body a rest if you develop shin splints. If not, you could develop a stress fracture in your lower leg.

5. You can often treat shin splints yourself.

You don’t usually need to see a doctor to treat a bout of shin splints. Take a break from very heavy exercise that strains your lower leg, like running. Instead, try biking, swimming or walking. Soothe the pain with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Try acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen. Ease inflammation in your shins with ice. Protect your legs with a thin towel, and then put an ice pack over your shins for about 15 to 20 minutes. You can repeat this several times a day for a few days. As you start to feel better, slowly return to exercise. Very gradually increase the time and intensity of your workouts.

6. Take steps to prevent shin splints.

Give your legs a strong support system. Buy a good pair of cushioned shoes meant for the activity you’re doing. Consider using a pair of arch supports or other inserts that provide more cushioning. Always stretch before you exercise. If you’re a runner, take a look at your form to see if you can make changes in your stride. That could help relieve stress on your shins. Even when you want to challenge yourself with exercise, remember to not go overboard. Mix in other exercises that don’t put as much impact on your shins—like strength training, yoga, biking, walking or swimming.


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

7 Causes of Shin Pain

Article featured on MedicalNewsToday, medically reviewed by Angela M. Bell, MD, FACP — Written by Anna Smith on July 23, 2020

People may typically associate shin pain with shin splints. However, other issues can also cause shin pain.

Medial tibial stress syndrome, or shin splints, is the inflammation of the tendons, muscles, and bone tissue around the tibia. People describe shin splint pain as sharp, or dull and throbbing.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), shin splints are a common cause of shin pain, there are many other causes of shin pain, such as an injury, bone bruise, or stress fracture.

This article will cover a range of reasons why a person may have shin pain, as well as symptoms, treatments, and how to prevent them.

1. Minor injury

A person who has an injury to their shinbone from a fall or blow may experience some pain or bruising.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a minor injury can include:

  • swelling
  • pain
  • bruising
  • a bump
  • bleeding
  • weakness or stiffness in the leg

Treatment

Minor injuries due to a blow to the shin will generally heal quickly. A person with a minor injury to their shin can treat it in the following ways:

  • resting
  • using an ice pack, making sure not to place ice directly on the skin
  • lightly wrapping the injury in a bandage
  • elevating the leg above the heart to help stop any bleeding or swelling

2. Bone bruise

A bone bruise on the shin can occur due to injury, such as a fall or playing sports.

A bone bruise occurs when a traumatic injury to a bone damages blood vessels and blood and other fluids build up in tissues. This causes discoloration to the skin around the damaged area, but the injury is typically deeper than the familiar bruises that appear on the skin. Although a person can bruise any bone, bones nearer the skin, such as the shin, are most common.

Symptoms

It is not always possible to detect whether the bruise is a superficial skin injury or on the bone. Symptoms of a bone bruise on the shin can include:

  • prolonged pain or tenderness
  • swelling in the soft tissue or joint
  • stiffness
  • discoloration in the injured area

Treatment

A person can treat their bone bruise in the following ways:

  • resting
  • applying ice
  • using pain medication
  • raising the leg to reduce swelling
  • wearing a brace to limit movement if required

For more severe bruises, a doctor may need to drain the bruise to remove excess fluid.

3. Stress fracture

Stress fractures occur when muscles become tired through overuse, and they are unable to absorb any extra stress.

When this happens, the muscle transfers the stress to the bone. This causes tiny cracks, or stress fractures, to form. According to the AFP, females, athletes, and military recruits are at higher risk of developing stress fractures.

Stress fractures can be the result of:

  • increasing physical activity suddenly
  • wearing improper footwear, such as worn or inflexible shoes
  • running more than 25 miles per week
  • repetitive, high-intensity training

Females, athletes, and military recruits are all at a higher risk of developing stress fractures, according to the AFP.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a stress fracture in the shinbone include:

  • shin pain when touching or putting weight on the leg
  • prolonged pain
  • tenderness at the site of injury
  • swelling at the site of injury

A stress fracture requires immediate treatment to prevent the small crack from getting bigger.

Treatment

A person who has a stress fracture can treat it in the following ways:

  • reducing activity
  • taking anti-inflammatory drugs
  • using a compression bandage
  • using crutches

4. Bone fracture

The shinbone is the long bone that people fracture most often, according to the AAOS. A fracture to the shinbone can occur due to significant trauma to the leg, such as from a car accident or a bad fall.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a fractured tibia include:

  • severe, immediate pain
  • deformity of the leg
  • possible loss of feeling in the foot
  • bone pushing out skin, or poking through the skin

If a doctor suspects a person has broken their shinbone, they will confirm it with an X-ray.

Treatment

Treatment for a fracture will depend on the type of fracture a person has. For less serious fractures, treatment involves:

  • wearing a splint until the swelling reduces
  • wearing a cast to immobilize the leg
  • wearing a brace to protect and support the leg until fully healed

If the person has an open fracture or one that does not heal with nonsurgical methods, it may require surgery.

5. Adamantinoma and osteofibrous dysplasia

According to the AAOS, adamantinoma and osteofibrous dysplasia (OFD) are rare forms of bone tumors that often begin growing in the shinbone. There are many similarities between the two tumors, and doctors think that they are related. Adamantinoma is a slow-growing, cancerous tumor that accounts for less than 1% of all bone cancers.

Adamantinoma can spread to other parts of the bone. According to the National Cancer Institute, adamantinoma typically appears in young people after their bones have stopped growing. OFD also accounts for less than 1% of all tumors in bones. It is a noncancerous tumor that does not spread and often forms during childhood.A third type of tumor called OFD-like adamantinoma contains cancerous and noncancerous cells and does not spread to other parts of the body.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of both tumors include:

  • swelling near the tumor site
  • pain near the tumor site
  • fracture due to the tumor weakening the bone
  • bowing of the lower leg

Treatment

A healthcare professional will observe and suggest X-rays for both OFD and OFD-like adamantinoma.

  • If the tumor causes the leg to bow, the doctor may recommend wearing a brace.
  • If the tumor causes deformity or bone fractures, a doctor may recommend surgery.

Adamantinomas will require surgery to remove them as they do not respond to chemotherapy or other cancer treatment.

6. Paget’s disease of the bone

Paget’s disease of the bone is a disease of the skeleton that causes newly forming bone to become abnormally shaped, weak, and brittle. Although Paget’s disease can affect any bone in the body, it mainly appears in the spine, pelvis, femur, and shinbone.

Symptoms

Up to 70%of people with Paget’s disease will have no symptoms. However, if symptoms are present, they can include:

  • bone pain
  • dull pain
  • bending of bones
  • bone fractures
  • loss of sensation or movement
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • constipation
  • abdominal pain

Treatment

If a person does not experience any symptoms from Paget’s disease, a doctor may simply monitor it. Treatments for Paget’s disease can include:

  • anti-inflammatory drugs
  • using a cane or brace
  • bisphosphonate medications
  • surgery

The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday

Why are My Legs and Feet Numb?

From Medical News Today; Medically reviewed by Seunggu Han, M.D. — Written by Jennifer Huizenon January 22, 2020

A person may feel numbness in their legs and feet due to sitting in a position that puts too much pressure on the nerves or reduces blood flow. However, long-lasting or unexplained numbness may be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Long-term numbness or a tingling feeling in the legs and feet may be due to conditions such as multiple sclerosis(MS), diabetes, peripheral artery disease, or fibromyalgia. The sensation may be felt in the whole leg, below the knee, or in different areas of the foot.

In this article, we look at some of the reasons why a person might experience numbness in the legs and feet, along with symptoms and treatments.

Causes of numbness in legs and feet

Crossing the legs for a long time may cause numbness and tingling in the legs and feet.

Often, a person’s legs go numb temporarily because of their posture. However, chronic or long-lasting numbness in the feet and legs is almost always a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Conditions associated with feet and leg numbness include:

Posture

Postural habits that put pressure on nerves or reduce blood flow in the lower limbs are the most common cause of temporary numbness in the legs and feet. Many people say their leg has “fallen asleep,” and the medical term is transient (temporary) paresthesia.

Habits that can cause the feet and legs to fall asleep include:

  • crossing the legs for too long
  • sitting or kneeling for long periods
  • sitting on the feet
  • wearing pants, socks, or shoes that are too tight

Injury

Injuries to the torso, spine, hips, legs, ankles, and feet can put pressure on nerves and cause the feet and legs to go numb.

Diabetes

Some people with diabetes develop a type of nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can cause numbness, tingling, and pain in the feet, and if severe, the legs as well.

Lower back issues and sciatica

Problems in the lower back, such as a breakdown or herniation of spinal discs, can cause compression of the nerves going to the legs, leading to numbness or sensory disturbances.

Sciatica is the name for irritation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back to the legs. If this nerve becomes irritated or compressed, a person may experience numbness or tingling in their legs or feet.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when a nerve that runs down the back of the leg and along the inside of the ankle and into the foot is compressed, squeezed, or damaged.

The tarsal tunnel is a narrow space on the inside of the ankle. People with tarsal tunnel syndrome tend to feel numbness, burning, tingling, and shooting pain in their ankles, heels, and feet.

Peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) causes the peripheral blood arteries in the legs, arms, and stomach to narrow, reducing the amount of blood they can pump and reducing blood flow. The legs are one of the most common parts of the body impacted by PAD.

Most people with PAD experience pain and cramping in their legs and hips when they are walking or going upstairs. Some people with PAD also experience leg numbness and weakness.

Symptoms of PAD typically go away after a few minutes of rest.

Tumors or other abnormal growths

Tumors, cysts, abscesses, and benign (non-cancerous) growths can put pressure on the brain, spinal cord, or any part of the legs and feet. This pressure can restrict blood flow to the legs and feet, causing numbness.

Alcohol use

The toxins in alcohol can cause nerve damage that is associated with numbness, especially in the feet.

Chronic or excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to nerve damage that causes numbness. This type of nerve damage is linked to reduced levels of B vitamins, such as B-1 (thiamine), B-9 (folate), and B-12, which is caused by excessive alcohol intake.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic or long-lasting condition that causes widespread body pain, aching, and tenderness. Some people with fibromyalgia also experience numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.

Most people with fibromyalgia experience a variety of symptoms including:

  • stiffness and soreness for no apparent reason, especially in the morning or after sleeping
  • chronic exhaustion
  • memory problems and difficulty thinking clearly, sometimes called fibro-fog
  • restless leg syndrome

Almost everyone with fibromyalgia experiences symptoms in more than one part of their body for at least 3 months at a time. If numbness in the legs and feet is not accompanied by any other symptoms or is not long-term, it is unlikely to be caused by fibromyalgia.

Multiple sclerosis

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience sensory nerve damage that can cause numbness in a small region of their body or whole limbs. Although numbness associated with MS often only lasts for a short period, it can last long enough to become disabling.

Stokes and mini-strokes

Strokes or mini-strokes can cause brain damage that may affect how the mind interprets and processes nerve signals. A stroke or mini-stroke can sometimes cause temporary or long-term numbness in parts of the body.

Symptoms

Numbness is just one of the many symptoms associated with temporary and chronic numbness.

Many people with numbness in their legs and feet experience additional symptoms at the same time or intermittingly, such as:

  • tingling
  • burning
  • tickling
  • itching
  • a crawling feeling under the skin
Treatment

The proper treatment for numb legs and feet depends entirely on the cause.

Medication

Medical options for long-term numbness in the legs and feet include:

  • Antidepressants. Some antidepressants, such as duloxetine and milnacipran, have been approved for the treatment of fibromyalgia.
  • Corticosteroids. Some corticosteroids can help reduce chronic inflammation and numbness associated with conditions such as MS.
  • Gabapentin and pregabalin. Medications that block or change nerve signaling may help reduce numbness associated with conditions such as fibromyalgia, MS, and diabetic neuropathy.

Home remedies

Home remedies that may help to relieve uncomfortable numbness in the legs and feet include:

  • Rest. Many of the conditions that cause leg and foot numbness, such as nerve pressure, improve with rest.
  • Ice. Ice can help reduce swelling that can put pressure on nerves. Apply cold compresses or wrapped icepacks to numb legs and feet for 15 minutes at a time several times daily.
  • Heat. Heat can sometimes help loosen stiff, sore, or tense muscles that can put pressure on nerves and cause numbness. However, avoid overheating numb legs and feet, as this may or worsen inflammation and cause pain and numbness.
  • Massage. Massaging numb legs and feet helps improve blood flow and may reduce symptoms.
  • Exercise. A lack of proper exercise can weaken the heart and blood vessels, reducing their ability to pump blood to the lower limbs. Activities such as yoga, Pilates, and tai chi can promote blood flow and reduce chronic inflammation or pain.
  • Supportive devices. Braces and specially designed footwear can help reduce nerve pressure caused by conditions such as injury, tarsal tunnel syndrome, or flat feet.
  • Epsom salt baths. Epsom salts contain magnesium, a compound known to increase blood flow and circulation. Epsom salts are available for purchase online.
  • Mental techniques and stress reduction. People with conditions that cause chronic numbness, such as MS and fibromyalgia, should try to focus on the fact that the periods of numbness are often short-lived and go away on their own. Stress also tends to make the symptoms of central nervous system disorders worse.
  • Sleep. Many of the chronic conditions associated with leg and feet numbness are known to worsen with a lack of proper sleep.
  • A healthful, balanced diet. Malnutrition, especially vitamin B deficiencies, can cause nerve damage leading to numbness. Getting enough vitamins and other nutrients can also reduce chronic inflammation and pain, which can cause numbness.
  • Alcohol reduction or avoidance. Alcohol contains toxins that can cause nerve damage and numbness. Alcohol also usually makes the symptoms of chronic pain and inflammatory conditions worse and can even cause flare-ups of symptoms.

When to see a doctor

Talk with a doctor about numbness in the legs and feet that:

  • is not related to postural habits or lifestyle factors, such as tight clothing and footwear
  • lasts for long periods
  • is accompanied by any other chronic symptoms
  • is accompanied by permanent or long-term changes in the color, shape, or temperature of the legs and feet

Numbness in the legs and feet is a common disorder, though when it becomes chronic, it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Anyone who experiences numbness that is unexplained, persistent, frequent, painful, disabling, or accompanied by other chronic symptoms should see a doctor for a diagnosis and to discuss treatment options.

 


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm