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While bone fractures are usually the result of sports injuries, accidental injuries, or overuse, they can also be caused by other serious conditions. A fracture can either be a crack or a full break in the bone. There are a wide variety of fracture types that can occur in the shoulder and elbow. Any one of them can range from minor to severe and may require varying degrees of treatment.

Symptoms of fractures include an obvious deformity of the shoulder or elbow, pain, swelling, discoloration (bruising), and an inability to move the joint.

If a break is relatively straightforward, rest and immobilization tend to be the best treatment, while more complicated fractures may require surgical intervention. Broken bones must be treated carefully to ensure proper healing and regained range of motion.

After sustaining any type of fracture, it’s important to visit your orthopedic surgeon so that the injury can be evaluated by a specialist who will know exactly what type of treatment is needed to ensure proper healing and regained range of motion.

Your rotator cuff isn’t something that you think about all that much…until, of course, you injure it – THEN it’s pretty much ALL you can think about.

A tear in your rotator cuff can weaken your shoulder and make it difficult to perform even everyday activities like washing your hair, and can even make it painful to lift your arm out to the side.

What is a Rotator Cuff?

Your rotator cuff located in your shoulder and is a network of muscles – four, to be exact – that come together as tendons to form a covering around the head of the humerus and work to keep your arm in the shoulder socket. The rotator cuff also attaches the humerus to the shoulder blade and helps to lift and rotate your arm. Between the bone and rotator cuff is a lubricating sac – called a bursa – which lets the tendons within the rotator cuff glide smoothly and freely when your arm is moved. When one or more of the tendons in the rotator cuff are torn, it’s no longer fully attached to the head of the humerus – in many cases, torn tendons begin by fraying and, as the damage progresses, the tendon can tear completely. It’s also important to note that when the tendons of the rotator cuff are injured, the bursa can become inflamed and painful.

Closeup of man holding his injured painful shoulder.Types of Rotator Cuff Injuries

There are two main causes of rotator cuff injuries, which are degeneration and injury.

With a degenerative (chronic) rotator cuff tear, the tendon is worn down slowly over time as we age and are more common in your dominate arm. Repetitive stress caused by performing the same shoulder motion for long periods of time – like throwing a baseball, swinging a tennis racquet, rowing, or lifting above your head – can cause stress on your rotator cuff. As we get older the blood supply to the tendons that make up the rotator cuff lessens, which inhibits the body to efficiently repair any damage that is sustained.

Injuries – such as falling on an outstretched arm or lifting something that’s too heavy – can result in a tear in the rotator cuff as well. This type of tear can occur with other shoulder injuries, too, such as a dislocated shoulder or a broken collarbone. When it comes to younger adults and rotator cuff injuries, most tears are caused by traumatic events, such as a fall.

Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury or Tear

The most common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear are:

  • Pain at rest and at night, particularly if lying on the affected shoulder
  • Pain when lifting and lowering your arm or with specific movements
  • Weakness when lifting or rotating your arm
  • A crackling sensation when moving your shoulder in certain positions

Tears that happen suddenly, such as from a fall, usually cause intense pain. There may be a snapping sensation and immediate weakness in your upper arm.

What Can Be Done for a Rotator Cuff Tear?

Just like acute pain, chronic shoulder and arm pain are good reasons to see your doctor. Early treatment can prevent your symptoms from getting worse. It will also get you back to your normal routine that much quicker. The goal of any treatment – be it for a chronic or acute injury – is to reduce pain and restore function. There are several treatment options for a rotator cuff tear, and the best option is different for every person. If you have a rotator cuff tear and you keep using it despite increasing pain, you may cause further damage. A rotator cuff tear can get larger over time.

Nonsurgical treatment of a rotator cuff injury includes rest, activity modification, anti-inflammatories (such as ibuprofen), physical therapy, and steroid injections. If nonsurgical treatment isn’t successful, your orthopaedic surgeon may recommend surgery to correct the tear. There are a few different options for repairing rotator cuff tears, and your orthopaedic surgeon will discuss with you which one is best for your particular situation.

Dr. Hurlbut and his incredible team of nurses and physical therapists here at Prairie Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery specialize in diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating shoulder disorders and injuries. So, if you’re dealing with shoulder pain, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!

source: aaos.org

The shoulder is the most moveable joint in your body, allowing you to lift and rotate your arm. This greater range of motion, however, can cause instability. Shoulder instability is a condition in which the head of the upper arm bone slides around or completely slips out of its socket. This is commonly referred to as a dislocation.

A dislocation can be partial, where the ball of the upper arm just partially comes out of the socket, or it can be total, where the ball comes all the way out of the socket. Once the ligaments, tendons, and muscles around the shoulder become loose or torn, the shoulder is susceptible to repeat episodes of dislocation. This repeat dislocation often causes chronic shoulder instability, and if left untreated, can lead to arthritis of the shoulder joint.

In addition to repetitive dislocations, other symptoms of shoulder instability include pain caused by a shoulder injury, repeated instances of the shoulder giving out, or a persistent sensation of the shoulder “hanging there” or feeling loose.

 

Shoulder replacements are less common than hip and knee replacements, but are just as effective in relieving joint pain. Like other joint replacement surgeries, damaged bone and cartilage are removed and replaced with prosthetic components.

Shoulder replacement consists of removing the damaged parts of the shoulder and replacing them with prosthesis. Treatment may include replacing either just the head of the humerus bone or the head and the socket.

Common symptoms include severe shoulder pain that interferes with daily activities, moderate to severe pain while resting, and a loss of motion and/or weakness in the shoulder. Shoulder replacement is best for people who have failed to meaningfully improve their shoulder pain with other treatments such as medication or physical therapy, and find severe shoulder pain that takes away from their everyday life.

This is an extremely safe and effective procedure that allows for the relief of pain, the correction of any deformities, and can help you resume your normal, daily activities.


Elbow injuries (diagnosed via exam, x-ray, CT or MRI) can involve the arm muscles and bones, as well as the ligaments and tendons, and treatment is specific to the affected structures.

Tennis elbow, aka lateral epicondylitis, affects the tendon that runs along the outside of the elbow and is caused by playing racquet sports or working in a variety of professions that involve repetitive arm movements. Symptoms include pain or burning along the outside of the elbow, as well as problems with gripping items. This particular ailment tends to improve with rest, physical therapy, or the use of a brace.

Now, medial epicondylitis, or golfer’s elbow (also called little leaguer’s elbow when it occurs in children), affects the tendons that run along the inside of the elbow and is caused by the repetitive throwing motion that’s seen in baseball, or the downward swing of a golf club. Medial epicondylitis causes pain along the inside of the elbow that is particularly noticed with wrist movements. This condition typically improves with conservative treatment methods, such as rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen.

Olecranon bursitis – often called “student’s elbow” – affects the bursa (small sac of fluid that helps to protect and lubricate the joint) that is responsible for protecting the “pointy” portion of the elbow. It can be caused by leaning on the elbow for an extended period of time, a blow to the joint (like hitting your elbow on a doorframe), or other conditions like arthritis or infection. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and difficulty with elbow mobility. This particular ailment can be treated by wearing elbow pads or taking medication; in severe and/or chronic cases, surgery may be necessary.

If you are experiencing elbow discomfort, call us today to set up a consultation. Dr. Hurlbut’s team uses the most advanced treatment options for recovery of maximum mobility, strength, and return of function. Dr. Hurlbut’s passion has been the diagnosis and treatment of shoulder, elbow and hand injuries but he also continues to practice in many areas of orthopaedics including total joint replacement and knee arthroscopy.


While bone fractures are usually the result of sports injuries, accidental injuries, or overuse, they can also be caused by other serious conditions. A fracture can either be a crack or a full break in the bone. There are a wide variety of fracture types that can occur in the shoulder and elbow. Any one of them can range from minor to severe and may require varying degrees of treatment.

Symptoms of fractures include an obvious deformity of the shoulder or elbow, pain, swelling, discoloration (bruising), and an inability to move the joint.

If a break is relatively straightforward, rest and immobilization tend to be the best treatment, while more complicated fractures may require surgical intervention. Broken bones must be treated carefully to ensure proper healing and regained range of motion.

After sustaining any type of fracture, it’s important to visit your orthopedic surgeon so that the injury can be evaluated by a specialist who will know exactly what type of treatment is needed to ensure proper healing and regained range of motion.

Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation to the joints and the tissue surrounding the joints. Arthritis is characterized by swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. Arthritis affects over 50 million adults in the United States.

Most cases of arthritis can be caused by wear and tear, natural aging, or may develop after an injury. However, lupus arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are autoimmune disorders.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, the result of wear and tear through aging. Age is not always the factor, as overuse can also cause arthritis. For example, professional athletes may develop arthritis-related symptoms earlier than someone who works a sedentary job.

Forearm and hand fractures are most often caused by direct impact. The signs and symptoms may include immediate pain and swelling upon impact, an audible “pop” or “snap”, a deformity at the site of the impact, or pain experienced when using the affected arm or hand.

The forearm is made up of two bones, the radius and ulna. These two bones can break in several ways. Each bone can crack just slightly, or can break into many pieces. Many times, a doctor will need to temporarily realign the bones to ensure proper healing.

A hand fracture includes a break in any of the bones from the small bones of the fingers (phalanges) and the long ones within the palm (metacarpals). In most cases, hand fractures will heal with nonsurgical treatment. Depending on the type and location of the fracture, recovery may include wearing a cast, splint or buddy straps for a period of time. In more serious fractures, surgery may be required to realign the broken pieces of bone.

Proper healing ensures the patient regains full movement of the affected area.

Distal radius fracture, or a broken wrist, is the most common fracture in the arm. Distal radius fractures usually happen as a result of a fall on an outstretched arm. These fractures are characterized by pain, swelling, bruising, and sometimes deformity of the wrist.

Patients can wait until the next day to visit a doctor if the injury is not very painful and the wrist is not deformed. Prairie Orthopedic recommends that you protect the fracture with a splint, elevate the injury and apply an ice pack if you choose to wait to see the doctor. An x-ray will be used to diagnose the injury.

There are many treatment options for a broken wrist, which depend on age and activity level. There are both nonsurgical and surgical treatment options, but this will depend entirely on the nature of the fracture. A cast may be applied immediately if the bone is already reset. But out of place bones must be put back into place, requiring surgery. Recovery length also depends on the age of the individual and the nature of the fracture.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a very common source of hand pain and numbness. Often times it’s not noticed – or diagnosed – right away, because the symptoms usually begin gradually, and not as a result of a specific or discrete injury.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is more common in women, and then to be more severe on the thumb side of the hand. Some of the most common symptoms verbalized by patients who suffer from carpal tunnel are numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand; “strange sensations” and/or pain traveling up the arm towards the shoulder; and/or an electric shock type of feeling that occurs in the thumb and first few fingers of the hand.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve – which travels down the forearm and into the hand via the wrist, and controls the muscles around the base of the thumb as well as the feeling of the palm side of the thumb, index finger, and long fingers – is compressed. The carpal tunnel is a narrow, “tunnel-like” structure in the wrist. The bottom and sides of the tunnel are comprised of the wrist (carpal) bones, while the top of the tunnel is covered by a very strong band of connective tissue (transverse carpal ligament). The tendons that work to bend the fingers also travel through this tunnel – they are called the flexor tendons.

When the tissue, or synovium – which works to lubricate the tendons so that they’re able to move easier – swells, it puts pressure on the median nerve. Over time, this swelling narrows the already limited space that exists in the carpal tunnel which, in turn, crowds the nerve.

What Are the Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

In the majority of those with carpal tunnel syndrome, there is no one particular cause. However, there are a multitude of factors that can contribute to the development of the ailment, including:

Heredity – this is the most important factor. The carpal tunnels are smaller in some individuals, which is a trait that can run in families.

Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy.

Repetitive use of the hands and/or wrists.

Age – carpal tunnel syndrome tends to occur more frequently in older individuals.

Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid issues can be a contributing factor.
It should be noted that the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can occur at any time. Initially they will come and go but, over the course of time, they will become constant. Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause feelings of weakness and/or clumsiness, and can cause people to experience problems with performing delicate hand maneuvers, like buttoning a shirt.

In addition, many people tend to sleep with their wrists curled, which can cause nighttime pain severe enough to awaken the individual. Otherwise, the pain tends to occur when an individual is holding an object – like a phone or computer mouse – or while driving or reading. Sometimes moving or shaking the affected hand can help to temporarily decrease symptoms.

How is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Diagnosed?

At your doctor’s visit, your physician will review your health history with you, as well as the symptoms that you’ve been experiencing. Your physician will also perform a thorough examination of your hand(s), checking for weakness in the muscles around the base of your thumb, bending and holding your wrists in certain positions to check for numbness or tingling, as well as x-rays and/or an electrophysiological test, which is electrical testing of the median nerve function. The electrophysiological test is often done to aide in the diagnosis, as well as help clarify the best course of treatment for your particular situation.

Treatment Options – Surgical vs. Nonsurgical
Without treatment, carpal tunnel syndrome will typically worsen over time. However, if caught in the early stages, it can be managed or, sometimes, the progression halted all together by modifying activities and such. If treatment is necessary, there are a variety of nonsurgical options available, such as:

Changes in activity – as mentioned previously, simply changing the way you perform certain tasks – like typing – can help immensely.

Medications – Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can help to relieve both pain and swelling.

Bracing or splinting – By wearing a brace or splint during activities that tend to aggravate symptoms – or while sleeping – the wrist can be held in a neutral position, thereby avoiding irritation to the medial nerve.

Steroid injections – an injection of a corticosteroid can often provide relief, but symptoms may return.

If nonsurgical treatment fails or becomes no longer sufficient to manage symptoms, your orthopaedic physician may recommend surgical intervention. This is especially true of more severe cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, simply because the likelihood of nonsurgical treatment not working. One of the newer surgical treatments is an endoscopic method. This allows for smaller incisions than the traditional surgical technique, and may speed recovery as well. If surgery is opted for, your orthopaedic physician will discuss with you the surgical procedure that best suits your particular circumstance.

Recovery and Long Term Outcomes

After surgery, you may experience some pain, swelling, and stiffness, which is completely normal. You should be able to resume light activities relatively soon after surgery. Your physician will let you know when you can return to normal activities and/or work, as well as any restrictions that you may be asked to follow.
Most patients experience symptomatic relief after surgery, but it should be noted that recovery may be gradual – especially in more advanced cases. Complete recovery can take up to a year and physical therapy may be recommended by your physician to assist with regaining strength, mobility, and function.

If carpal tunnel syndrome is something that you think (or know) you’re suffering from, please don’t hesitate to give us a call! Dr. Hurlbut specializes in disorders of the upper extremity and has highly advanced training in a multitude of surgical procedures.

Congenital hand deformities are deformities in the hand that are present at birth. These deformities can include missing structures in the hand, structures in the hand that failed to separate, and fusions between hand tissues or bones.

Conditions are either hereditary, medical or a syndrome that affects multiple body parts, but the causes are generally unknown.

The main goal of treatment is to improve the function and appearance of the affected hand. Some scenarios only require treatment to help the patient adapt, while others may require surgery.

Studies show that people with congenital hand deformities have a very high quality of life, but certain tasks will require adjustments.

Dupuytren contracture is a condition that occurs when knots of tissue form under the skin of the palm. This deformed tissue pulls the fingers into a bent position. This condition moves slowly over many years and in some cases can hinder hand function.

Fascia is a layer of tissue that stabilizes the skin on the palm side of the hand, this is why the skin on your palm is immovable but the skin on the back of your hand is elastic. Dupuytren’s disease thickens and tightens the fascia, slowly hindering the functionality of the fingers.

The cause of dupuytren’s disease is mostly unknown, but what evidence is available suggests genetics plays the biggest role. Symptoms progress very slowly, over a span of years. Signs and symptoms include:

Nodules: small lumps under the skin of the palms.

Cords: as the nodules thicken and contract, dense cords thicken and form under the skin that hinders mobility in the fingers.

Contractures: As the nodules and cords tighten, one or more fingers may start to contract toward the palm and patients to lose the ability to spread their fingers. The ring and little fingers are the most commonly affected.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Dupuytren’s, but the condition is not dangerous. Steroid injections help ease the spread and slow progression of the disease. Surgical treatments can be used to “set back the clock” by disrupting the cords or removing them. Splints will be warned after to help the healing and allow the skin to heal in a less-restrictive manner.

Ganglion cysts are fluid-filled cysts that most commonly occur on the back of the wrist. Ganglion cysts can be identified by location (typically along tendons/joints on wrists/hands or ankles/feet), shape and size (round/oval less than an inch), and they are typically painless. Causes for these cysts are unknown, and while they are not cancerous, they can press on nerves causing pain and interfering with function.

These cysts are most common between the ages of 15 and 40 years old, with women being more likely to be affected than men. The cysts are common among gymnasts as they repeatedly apply pressure on those areas.

Both surgical and non-surgical treatment options are available. Non-surgical options include:

Observation: simply reducing stress on the area until the cyst disappears in time.

Immobilization: similar to observation but instead forcibly reduces or eliminates stress on the area by using a brace or splint.

Aspiration: draining fluid from the area if it becomes increasingly painful.

Surgical options will be used if the cysts persevere through the non-surgical treatment. Surgery is simple; the surgeon cuts out the ganglion causing the cysts. Patients can expect to return to normal activities within 2 to 6 weeks.

As the primary tool with which you interact with the physical world, your hands are at risk for injury, overuse and degenerative arthritis. Nerves and tendons can sustain damage from pressure, stretching, or cutting, making even simple daily tasks a chore. Over time, even normal wear-and-tear can trigger extremely painful hand problems that can cause serious, irreversible damage if left untreated.

Hand reconstruction is a broad term that covers a variety of procedures that seek to restore hand and finger function. Hand reconstruction may be done for many reasons including rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, structures damaged by accident, nerve injuries, and Dupuytren’s contracture. Common symptoms include numbness, weakness, and pain in the hand, wrist or fingers.

By rebalancing the hand and fingers, hand reconstruction surgery is performed to restore the useful functions of the hand, getting you back to your regular, daily activities.

Stenosing tenosynovitis, also known as trigger finger, is a condition in which one or more fingers get stuck in a bent position due to inflamed tendons. This is caused by prolonged repetitive movements or use of fingers or thumbs. The finger may suddenly straighten with a snap, like a trigger being pulled and released. Without proper treatment, the inflamed tendons can result in scarring that will limit the tendon’s ability to move properly.

    • Signs and Symptoms

One of the most common symptoms of trigger finger is pain near the base of the finger or thumb. A painful snapping or clicking when trying to straighten or bend the finger is also a symptom. This symptom in particular often worsens over time, to the point where individuals may need to use care when straightening the affected finger or thumb.

    • Diagnosing Trigger Finger

If you think you might have trigger finger, your best course of action is to schedule a visit with your doctor. During the office visit, your doctor will examine your fingers and hand, looking for any swelling or bumps near the joints. Severe trigger finger cases are simple to diagnose, as the affected finger will likely be locked, bent, or stiff.

    • Treatment

Patients who have been diagnosed with trigger finger are often instructed to rest their affected finger and sometimes need to use a hand splint to immobilize the joint. In more severe cases, involving prolonged inflammation, drugs may be prescribed, or steroid injections might be injected into the tendon to help relieve discomfort and pain. If the condition persists, surgery may be necessary.

After an injury, some of your muscles may not move correctly. A tendon transfer is a surgical procedure in which a working tendon-muscle unit is moved from one location to another to replace a non-working tendon-muscle unit. Tendon transfers are performed in order to restore function to damaged areas in, most commonly, the hands, feet and shoulders. You may need a tendon transfer to restore function after loss of muscle or tendon function from injury to the nerve or muscle, a neuromuscular disorder, or a birth defect.

Recovery may include having a cast or splint to protect the new tendon-muscle unit until it heals.

Nerve and tendons can sustain damage from pressure, stretching, or cutting. Symptoms include numbness, weakness, and pain. These injuries can be extremely painful and cause serious, irreversible damage if left untreated.

When a hip has been significantly damaged by arthritis, a fracture, or other conditions, a total hip replacement may be considered. In a total hip replacement, the damaged bone and cartilage is removed and then replaced with prosthetic components.

A hip replacement will not completely replace your hip. Like every joint, even a hip replacement can wear down. High-impact activities and being overweight will cause a hip replacement to wear down faster than usual.

Recipients of hip replacements can still remain active through low-impact activities such as golfing, walking, swimming, or hiking. It’s recommended to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle to increase the longevity of the hip replacement.

The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) keeps the shin bone in place. When damaged, the ACL can cause the knee to give way during physical activity. ACL reconstruction is a surgery in which the damaged tissues in the ACL are removed and replaced.

  • Symptoms of an ACL tear

Swelling and knee instability are common immediately after an ACL tear. Patients will experience heavy swelling within 24 hours, accompanied by a loss of range in motion, tenderness, discomfort and instability while walking.

ACL reconstruction is a quick outpatient procedure and is almost always successful. The ruptured ACL is repaired with a graft from the hamstring or patellar tendon. Surgeons use an “outside-in” technique that places the new ACL graft at the exact same angle that the ACL would be. A tunnel is drilled through the knee joint to where the top of the ACL would be, and a second tunnel is then drilled from the tibia through the knee joint from below, where the bottom of the ACL anchors. The harvested graft is then pulled through the tunnel at the exact same angle as your old ACL. The upper portion of the graft is anchored in at the top of the tunnel in your femur, while the bottom is stabilized by a bioabsorbable screw.

Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation to the joints and the tissue surrounding the joints. Arthritis is characterized by swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. Arthritis affects over 50 million adults in the United States.

Most cases of arthritis can be caused by wear and tear, natural aging, or may develop after an injury. However, lupus arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are autoimmune disorders.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, the result of wear and tear through aging. Age is not always the factor, as overuse can also cause arthritis. For example, professional athletes may develop arthritis-related symptoms earlier than someone who works a sedentary job.


Did you know that over 600,000 knee replacements are performed annually in the United States? It’s true. In fact, one of the single most effective ways to reduce severe knee pain – and to restore mobility – is via knee replacement.

The very first knee replacement was completed in 1968 and, since then, vast improvements have been made in both technique and efficacy. Therefore, if nonsurgical treatments such as medications are no longer of use in helping you manage your condition, then a knee replacement might be exactly what you’re looking for. Joint replacement surgery is an extremely safe and effective procedure that allows for the relief of pain, for the correction of any leg deformities, and can help you resume normal, daily activities.

Common Causes of Knee Pain

Some of the most common causes of knee pain are arthritis and disability. And, while there are many types of arthritis, the majority of knee pain is due to either osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis.

Osteoarthritis

This is an age-related “wear and tear” type of arthritis. It usually occurs in people 50 years of age and older, but may occur in younger people, too. The cartilage that cushions the bones of the knee softens and wears away. The bones then rub against one another, causing knee pain and stiffness.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is a disease in which the synovial membrane that surrounds the joint becomes inflamed and thickened. This chronic inflammation can damage the cartilage and eventually cause cartilage loss, pain, and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of a group of disorders termed “inflammatory arthritis.”

Post-Traumatic Arthritis

This can follow a serious knee injury. Fractures of the bones surrounding the knee or tears of the knee ligaments may damage the articular cartilage over time, causing knee pain and limiting knee function.

So, on to the big question – is total knee replacement for you?

Well, the decision to have a total knee replacement is a decision that you and your surgeon will need to make together. There are several reasons why your orthopaedic surgeon may recommend a knee replacement surgery, including:

  • Severe knee pain or stiffness that limits your everyday activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs. You may find it hard to walk more than a few blocks without significant pain and you may need to use a cane or walker.
  • Moderate or severe knee pain while resting, either day or night.
  • Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that does not improve with rest or medications.
  • Knee deformity — a bowing in or out of your knee.
  • Failure to substantially improve with other treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, lubricating injections, physical therapy, or other surgeries.

Are You a Good Candidate for Knee Replacement Surgery?

While there are recommendations for surgery based on pain and/or disability, there is no specific age – or age limit – when it comes to knee replacements. Nor is there a weight restriction attached to the procedure. A large portion of individuals who opt to undergo total knee replacement are between the ages of 50 and 80, but recent advancements have made the procedure more accessible to younger patients. In fact, there is now something known as a “thirty year knee” that well surpasses the typical 15 year lifespan of traditional knee replacement hardware.

If you think that a total knee replacement may benefit you – or someone you love – please give Prairie Orthopaedic & Plastic Surgery a call to schedule a consultation. Dr. Hurlbut – along with his team of highly skilled practitioners and therapists – are Lincoln’s top choice for both traditional knee replacements as well as the highly innovative “thirty year knee” that’s revolutionizing knee replacement procedures around the world.

source: aaos.org

If you have diabetes, it’s important to have regular medical check-ups to detect and treat any issues before they become more serious. Prairie Orthopaedics offers comprehensive diabetic foot care services, including inspections, routine nail care, surgical care, and more.

It’s not uncommon for diabetes to cause nerve damage in the feet, also called Charcot’s. In addition, the disease can damage blood vessels and restricts blood flow to the feet. This can lead to weakened bones and joints in the lower extremities.

The most common signs of Charcot’s foot is swelling and redness in the foot and ankle, even without obvious injury. X-Rays will be done for further diagnosis.

Nerve damage and poor circulation are common in people with diabetes. There are many steps a patient can follow to monitor a diabetic foot, even if they do not yet have the symptoms.

• Wash and inspect your feet every day. This will improve circulation while giving the patient time to check for any signs of Charcot foot.

• Moisturize the foot to prevent cracks that may lead to infections

• Always keep both feet warm to promote circulation

• Avoid or stop smoking, as smoking damages the blood vessels and can hinder circulation.

• Avoid walking barefoot, as the nerve damage may cause an injury, such as a cut, to go unnoticed.

• When inspecting, look for wounds, bruises, redness, ulcers, nail problems and other abnormal damage.

We provide care for patients who are at risk for foot and leg amputation due to diabetes, infections, or other serious diseases. Limb preservation methods include both surgical and nonsurgical practices.

Whether the deformity was caused by a birth defect, disease, infection, or injury, they can make life difficult and painful. Fortunately, surgical and non-surgical treatment options are available to relieve the pain and make life a little easier for our patients.

Here are some common foot deformities:

Club Foot

Also known as congenital talipes equinovarus, occurs when an infant is born with a foot that is turned or twisted inward. In most cases, the bottom of the foot faces sideways rather than flat and gives the appearance that a person is walking on their ankles or sides of their feet. Clubfoot can be extremely painful for a child as they mature, if left untreated. Fortunately, there are treatment options available to not only fix the condition, but potentially allow the patient to participate in athletics and lead an active lifestyle.

High Arch

Cavus foot occurs when the arch of the foot is too high. Due to the high arch, an excessive amount of weight and force is applied to the heel and balls of the feet, causing pain and instability. A high arch is usually caused by an underlying condition but can also be inherited.

Symptoms of a high arch include pain and excess stress and calluses on the heel and ball of the foot, hammertoes, instability, and pain while standing or walking.

Non-surgical treatment options include orthotic devices, shoe modifications, and bracing to provide stability in the foot and ankle.

Surgical treatment options are necessary if the cavus foot worsens or causes immense pain and instability. The surgeon will determine the surgical course of action based on a patient’s specific case.

Prairie Orthopaedic treats a wide range of foot conditions. Contact our offices if you have any questions regarding your condition or if you’d like to schedule an appointment.

Arthritis in the feet and ankles can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. Although incurable, Prairie Orthopaedics offers both surgical and nonsurgical treatment of arthritis in the lower extremities to relieve and manage pain and help patients lead an active, fulfilling life.

If you have not been diagnosed with arthritis but are concerned you have it, the common symptoms are:

    • Pain with motion,
    • Pain during physical activity
    • Swelling, redness, warmth, and tenderness
    • Increased pain after a period of sedentariness, such as sleeping.

Nonsurgical methods include:

  • Lifestyle modifications: minimizing actives that irritate the area and increasing activities that allow patients to stay active while avoiding pain, and weightless
  • Physical therapy: to strengthen eh surrounding muscles to take the pressure of the arthritis-stricken joint
  • Assistive devices: such as a cane, brace or shoe inserts.

Surgical methods include:

  • Arthroscopic debridement: a surgery that removes loose cartilage, inflamed tissue and bone spurs to alleviate and clean up the joint.
  • Arthrodesis: a surgical technique that fuses the bones of arthritis stricken joint. This will eliminate arthritis from the joint completely but can cause mobility issues.

Prairie Orthopaedic offers treatment for common nerve, skin, and nail conditions in the lower extremities, including calluses, fungus, ingrown toenails, plantar warts, athlete’s foot, and more.

Ingrown toenails

When a toenail is incorrectly cut, the odds of the nail growing into the skin and forming an ingrown toenail are increased, but ingrown toenails can also occur when a person wears too tight or too short of shoes. The first sign of an ingrown toenail is a hard, swollen, tender, and red area around the ingrown nail, usually where the corners of the nail and skin meet.

The first step to eliminating an ingrown toenail is to soak the foot in warm water and wear comfortable shoes until the pain subsides. Reach out to a doctor if you do not see improvement in 2-3 days as the toenail can become infected.

Surgical treatment is the next treatment option. The first surgical option will be to simply remove the portion of the nail that is infected. For patients experiencing more chronic or nagging ingrown toenails, the grow center of the nail will be removed. For example, if one side of the big toe is frequently ingrown, the surgeon will remove the ingrown portion of the toenail as well as part of the growth center. The removal of the growth center will mean the removed portion will now grow back.

Plantar Warts

Plantar warts can occur anywhere in the foot but are most common in the heel. A plantar wart appears as a small lesion that hardens, thickens, and causes pain in the affected region. Plantar warts are commonly confused with a callus, as a callus usually forms over the plantar wart. But once the callus is removed, the plantar wart is revealed and black pinpoints or specks can be seen within the wart, bleeding may also occur as well.

Visit Prairie Orthopaedic if the plantar wart does not respond to treatment and if you have diabetes or a weakened immune system. The removal of the plantar wart is simple, but treatment options vary. For instance, immune therapy and laser treatment can be used. For more stubborn warts, the surgeon will numb the foot and remove the plantar wart. For the latter option, the patient will experience an indentation where the wart was removed, but scar tissue will eventually build up within a few months and replace the removed tissue.

Athlete’s Foot

Fungus loves warm, moist, and dark areas, making feet an optimal environment for growth. Athlete’s foot is usually scarlet red and begins between the toes, but can spread and cause itching, burning, and stinging sensations in the infected regions. Treatment is straightforward and usually involves over the counter anti-fungal medications.

Prairie Orthopaedic treats a wide range of nerve, skin, and nail conditions. Contact our offices for scheduling or if you have any questions regarding your condition.

A bunion is a dislocation of the joint in the big toe. These conditions are often caused by a hereditary, faulty structure of the foot as well as the rubbing of the toes against tapered shoes.

Bunions develop slowly over time. Tight shoes squeeze the toes together and increase the likelihood of developing bunions or worsen the symptoms if a bunion already exists. Wearing wider shoes with more toes space is the best immediate way to relieve bunion pain. For more extreme cases, surgery may be required.

A person can become eligible for bunion surgery if they experience significant foot pain after nonsurgical treatment, chronic big toe inflammation, toes stiffness and deformity. Bunions vary from person to person, so multiple surgical procedures are available. Osteotomy, arthrodesis, exostectomy, and resection arthroplasty all aim to realign the bunion. The surgery is outpatient and only uses a local anesthetic.

Hammertoes occur when a toe or toes curl upward. They are mostly caused by wearing shoes with restrictive toe space, which means it’s not uncommon for patients to experience multiple hammertoes at once. Wearing more spacious shoes, toe splints, and strapping techniques are used to alleviate hammer toe.

Hammertoe surgery is based on a patient’s specific problem. Tendon transfers are often used for flexible hammertoes. For fixed hammertoes, patients will undergo joint resection or fusion to alleviate the pain caused by a hammertoe. The surgery is outpatient and only uses a local anesthetic.

The best way to prevent hammertoes and bunions is to wear wide, properly fitted shoes.

Adult acquired flatfoot is a common culprit of foot, ankle and knee pain.

Flat feet are the result of a collapsed arch that causes the entire foot to lay flat when standing. This can cause foot pain, difficulty stretching and standing, swelling of the feet and ankles, and dry, flaky skin.

Flat feet can also cause pain in other areas of the body. For instance, it can influence knee posture and cause the joints to twist inwards, aggravating muscles, ligaments and tendons in and around the joint.

Treatment options for flat feet include orthotics, braces, physical therapy, and surgery if the nonsurgical treatments are unhelpful.

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain and is especially common in runners. This injury occurs when the thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, called the plantar fascia, becomes inflamed. People use their feet in almost every daily activity, so an injury as simple and common as plantar fasciitis can have a significant impact on day-to-day life.

While plantar fasciitis is common and a relatively minor injury, it must be treated immediately to avoid further damage, like tearing of the ligament. Most causes of plantar fasciitis are unidentifiable, but there are specific risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of developing inflamed plantar fascia:

    • Tight calf muscles: typically a result of a lack of flexibility. Increasing flexibility in the calf can combat and prevent plantar fasciitis as well as Achilles tendonitis and calf strains and sprains.
    • A very high arch
    • High levels of stress on the region: Usually caused by obesity, repetitive use, new and increased activity levels or anything that applies increased pressure to the feet resulting in an overuse injury.

Some techniques for alleviated pain and curing plantar fasciitis include rolling the bottom of the foot on a tennis ball or a frozen plastic water bottle and stretching the region. Stretching can be done by grabbing a bath towel, placing it on the balls of your feet and slowly pulling your toes toward your shins and elongating the plantar fascia. On the other end, calf stretches may also combat and prevent plantar fasciitis.

Achilles tendonitis is the inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects calf muscles to the heel bone, and causes severe pain and discomfort when inflamed. This condition is caused by a sudden increase in physical activity, tight calf muscles, and bone spurs.

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. While the tendon can take significant amounts of stress, it is still susceptible to overuse injuries such as tendonitis. Patients will often feel pain in the middle or bottom portions of the tendon near the heel. It’s essential that those with Achilles tendonitis rest the area, as fibers often become damaged with slight tears which can lead to a ruptured Achilles tendon. A common sign of Achilles tendonitis is visible swelling and thickness along the Achilles tendon.

There are two main forms of Achilles tendonitis: noninsertional and insertional.

Noninsertional Achilles tendonitis occurs when the fibers break down in the middle portion of the tendon. The middle portion of the large tendon will swell and thicken and is usually visually noticeable.

Insertional Achilles tendonitis occurs when the fibers in the lower portion begin to break down and if often accompanies by bone spurs. Patients will notice apparent swelling just above the heel bone.

Symptoms include:

    • Pain, swelling and stiffness along the Achilles tendon.
    • Pain which worsens with activity
    • Severe pain after exercising
    • Bone spurs

Doctors can use either surgical or nonsurgical treatment options to combat Achilles tendonitis. The most common form of treatment is nonsurgical:

    • Rest
    • Ice
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication

Despite Achilles tendonitis being an overuse injury, exercise is still a common nonsurgical option. For instance, increasing flexibility and strength in the calf muscles can take pressure off the Achilles tendon.

Other nonsurgical options include physical therapy, cortisone injections, supportive shoes and orthotics, and extracorporeal shockwave therapy.

A fractured ankle can range from a simple crack in the bone to multiple breaks that force the ankle out of place. Ankle fractures must be treated carefully so the patient regains full mobility.

Three bones make up the ankle joint: The tibia (shinbone), fibula (small bone next to the tibia) and talus (sits between the heel bone, tibia and fibula). If you are unsure if you have an ankle fracture, common signs include swelling, bruising, and immediate pain.

Ankle fractures are usually caused by a sudden twisting, rotating, or rolling motion or by a sudden, heavy impact. Overuse is also a common cause of stress fractures in the foot and ankle.

Doctors will perform x-rays, stress tests and possibly CT or MRI scans to diagnose ankle and foot fractures. Treatment includes both nonsurgical and surgical methods depending on the injury. Nonsurgical treatment can be used when the fractured bone is still in place, but surgery is needed when the fracture is out of place or the area is unstable. However, this may vary from case to case.

The foot and ankle are built by 26 bones and 33 joints. There are numerous types of fractures with an even larger amount of recovery methods based on the injury. Patients usually recover within three to four months of an ankle or foot fracture and it’s not uncommon for nagging side effects. Studies show that some patients may still be hindered from the fracture for a couple of years after the injury and may even experience chronic outcomes, but these chronic ailments are relatively uncommon.

Soft tissue injuries are quite common in the ankles. Strains, sprains other damage to ligaments, muscles and tendons can occur during physical activity, anytime the foot is placed in an awkward position, and even during casual activities. Fortunately, the acute injuries are usually minor and only take a few days of rest to recover from, but it’s not uncommon for these injuries to be nagging or severe. A person may still experience chronic problems in their ankles if these injuries are not properly managed.

People often use sprains and strains as interchangeable terms, but they actually carry distinct medical definitions. Understanding this terminology will help a patient understand their injury.

Tendons attach muscles to bones and act as a muscle’s anchor. When a tendon is damaged, it’s called a strain.

Ligaments attach bones to other bones and stabilize joints. A sprain occurs when a ligament is damaged, usually from an abnormal twisting or rolling motion.

The type of treatment needed for ankle sprains is based on the grade, or severity, of the sprain. There are three categories of sprains:

Grade 1: slight stretching or tearing of the ligament

Grade 2: a partial tear

Grade 3: a complete tear resulting in significant mobility loss

Most ankle sprains and strains are treated without surgery. The treatment starts with resting and protecting the damaged ankle, followed by restoring flexibility and strength, before finally returning to activity.

Arthroscopic surgery, a minimally-invasive surgical technique, may be used for more severe or persistent injuries. This technique requires the surgeon to insert a pencil-sized instrument with a camera into the joint to view, diagnose and even repair the injury.

Total ankle replacement is a procedure that can help patients with chronic, persistent pain, arthritis, and significantly limited mobility due to pain.

Candidates for a total ankle replacement surgery are those who experience a life that is limited by their ankle pain. If conservative treatments, such as bracing, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy, have not reduced the pain, a person is likely eligible for a total ankle replacement surgery.

The ankle joint is made up of the two lower leg bones, the tibia, fibula, and the ankle bone, called the talus, and is held together by multiple ligaments with cartilage in between the bones, allowing the joint to glide smoothly. When the cartilage, bones, and ligaments become damaged from wear and tear, a traumatic injury, or other diseases, chronic pain caused by arthritis can occur and severely limit a person’s mobility. If left untreated, the cartilage can wear away entirely and cause the joint to become bone-to-bone. This, coupled with arthritis, can lead to a change in the bone shape of the joint and cause painful bone spurs.

During the procedure, the surgeon will make an incision on the anterior (front) side of the ankle. Portions of the damaged bones will be removed and a prosthesis will be cemented in with bone cement. The prosthesis is made of two metal components, which are implanted into the bones that make up the joint, with a plastic glider in between to allow for smooth, fluid movement of the joint.

The procedure is typically inpatient, so expect to spend a few nights recovering in the hospital. The foot will be elevated and there will be a period of immobilization until the joint fully heals. Even though physical therapy may be difficult in the beginning stages, patients still tend to experience immediate pain relief.


Shoulder replacements are less common than hip and knee replacements, but are just as effective in relieving joint pain. Like other joint replacement surgeries, damaged bone and cartilage are removed and replaced with prosthetic components.

Shoulder replacement consists of removing the damaged parts of the shoulder and replacing them with prosthesis. Treatment may include replacing either just the head of the humerus bone or the head and the socket.

Common symptoms include severe shoulder pain that interferes with daily activities, moderate to severe pain while resting, and a loss of motion and/or weakness in the shoulder. Shoulder replacement is best for people who have failed to meaningfully improve their shoulder pain with other treatments such as medication or physical therapy, and find severe shoulder pain that takes away from their everyday life.

This is an extremely safe and effective procedure that allows for the relief of pain, the correction of any deformities, and can help you resume your normal, daily activities.

When a hip has been significantly damaged by arthritis, a fracture, or other conditions, a total hip replacement may be considered. In a total hip replacement, the damaged bone and cartilage is removed and then replaced with prosthetic components.

A hip replacement will not completely replace your hip. Like every joint, even a hip replacement can wear down. High-impact activities and being overweight will cause a hip replacement to wear down faster than usual.

Recipients of hip replacements can still remain active through low-impact activities such as golfing, walking, swimming, or hiking. It’s recommended to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle to increase the longevity of the hip replacement.


Did you know that over 600,000 knee replacements are performed annually in the United States? It’s true. In fact, one of the single most effective ways to reduce severe knee pain – and to restore mobility – is via knee replacement.

The very first knee replacement was completed in 1968 and, since then, vast improvements have been made in both technique and efficacy. Therefore, if nonsurgical treatments such as medications are no longer of use in helping you manage your condition, then a knee replacement might be exactly what you’re looking for. Joint replacement surgery is an extremely safe and effective procedure that allows for the relief of pain, for the correction of any leg deformities, and can help you resume normal, daily activities.

Common Causes of Knee Pain

Some of the most common causes of knee pain are arthritis and disability. And, while there are many types of arthritis, the majority of knee pain is due to either osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis.

Osteoarthritis

This is an age-related “wear and tear” type of arthritis. It usually occurs in people 50 years of age and older, but may occur in younger people, too. The cartilage that cushions the bones of the knee softens and wears away. The bones then rub against one another, causing knee pain and stiffness.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is a disease in which the synovial membrane that surrounds the joint becomes inflamed and thickened. This chronic inflammation can damage the cartilage and eventually cause cartilage loss, pain, and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of a group of disorders termed “inflammatory arthritis.”

Post-Traumatic Arthritis

This can follow a serious knee injury. Fractures of the bones surrounding the knee or tears of the knee ligaments may damage the articular cartilage over time, causing knee pain and limiting knee function.

So, on to the big question – is total knee replacement for you?

Well, the decision to have a total knee replacement is a decision that you and your surgeon will need to make together. There are several reasons why your orthopaedic surgeon may recommend a knee replacement surgery, including:

  • Severe knee pain or stiffness that limits your everyday activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of chairs. You may find it hard to walk more than a few blocks without significant pain and you may need to use a cane or walker.
  • Moderate or severe knee pain while resting, either day or night.
  • Chronic knee inflammation and swelling that does not improve with rest or medications.
  • Knee deformity — a bowing in or out of your knee.
  • Failure to substantially improve with other treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, lubricating injections, physical therapy, or other surgeries.

Are You a Good Candidate for Knee Replacement Surgery?

While there are recommendations for surgery based on pain and/or disability, there is no specific age – or age limit – when it comes to knee replacements. Nor is there a weight restriction attached to the procedure. A large portion of individuals who opt to undergo total knee replacement are between the ages of 50 and 80, but recent advancements have made the procedure more accessible to younger patients. In fact, there is now something known as a “thirty year knee” that well surpasses the typical 15 year lifespan of traditional knee replacement hardware.

If you think that a total knee replacement may benefit you – or someone you love – please give Prairie Orthopaedic & Plastic Surgery a call to schedule a consultation. Dr. Hurlbut – along with his team of highly skilled practitioners and therapists – are Lincoln’s top choice for both traditional knee replacements as well as the highly innovative “thirty year knee” that’s revolutionizing knee replacement procedures around the world.

source: aaos.org

Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation to the joints and the tissue surrounding the joints. Arthritis is characterized by swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. Arthritis affects over 50 million adults in the United States.

Most cases of arthritis can be caused by wear and tear, natural aging, or may develop after an injury. However, lupus arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are autoimmune disorders.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, the result of wear and tear through aging. Age is not always the factor, as overuse can also cause arthritis. For example, professional athletes may develop arthritis-related symptoms earlier than someone who works a sedentary job.

Reconstructive surgery is sometimes needed to repair facial trauma and improve the appearance and function of the face. Causes may include an accidental fall, automobile accident or even sports injuries each of which may cause facial lacerations, fractured facial bones (cheek, nose, teeth), and fractured jaw bones.

In addition to repairing the aesthetic appearance of the face after facial trauma, facial reconstructive surgery may also be necessary to restore function to the face and alleviate the health and dental problems that can result from trauma such as, affecting the ability to breathe, swallow and speak.

Reconstructive microsurgery is a very specialized area of surgery that uses operating microscopes and instruments to perform intricate operations on the tiniest of structures within the human body. This allows surgeons to utilize magnification up to fifty times greater than what we can see with the naked eye! Because of this intense magnification ability, surgeons can repair structures – like blood vessels and nerves – that are less than a millimeter in diameter and require sutures (stitches) that are finer than a single strand of hair.

What does this mean for patients? Well, first and foremost, it means that injuries that couldn’t have been repaired previously – before the technology was available – probably wouldn’t have been routinely successful. Microsurgical techniques allow surgeons to do things like reattach fingers that have been amputated, or to transplant sections of tissue (muscle, bone, etc.) from one area of the body to another. All of this culminates into the surgeons’ ability to (re)attach blood vessels and nerves, allowing the transplanted tissue to thrive in its new location AND so that the feeling (sensation) of the tissue can be maintained.

Since the early 1960’s, surgical advances in regards to replanting severed digits and limbs have made huge strides, allowing what once was once only a dream to become a reality. Microsurgery has provided a way to effectively reestablish blood flow to incredibly tiny nerves and vessels – which has had a tremendous impact on the potential for restoration of form and function in a variety of applications and areas, ranging from trauma patients to cancer patients to those dealing with congenital issues. Some of the most sensational advances in the field of microsurgery over the course of the last decade or so include the emergence of procedures like hand and face transplantation. These are techniques that allow severely injured patients (so much so that more “traditional” surgical treatments have or would be ineffective) a new hope in regards to quality of life.

Here at Prairie Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery, we have a surgeon on staff that specializes in microsurgery. Dr. Machado has helped many patients reclaim a portion of their life that would not have been possible previously.

Prairie Orthopaedic provides care for post-surgery wounds, diabetes-related wounds, and other open sores. It’s important to receive professional care for any lower extremity wounds to help prevent infection.

Post-surgery wounds:

Prairie Orthopaedic will treat your post-surgery wounds throughout the healing process. We will inform you on how to care for the wound, and monitor it through check-ups.

Diabetes-related wounds:

Diabetic foot ulcers affect 15 percent of people with diabetes. It’s common for people with diabetes to develop wounds or ulcers that are slow to heal. The longer a wound exists, the more likely it is to become infected. Infections caused by these painful sores can eventually lead to foot amputation.

Diabetes causes blood glucose levels to remain chronically high, which impairs white blood cell functioning and hinders the body’s ability to fight off bacteria. In addition, poor blood circulation caused by diabetes makes it difficult for the white blood cells to travel throughout the limbs. The combination of uncontrolled glucose levels and poor circulation has a hindering effect on nerves in the feet. People with diabetes may be less likely to notice when they receive a cut or wound on their foot due to this nerve damage–it’s hard to treat a wound when it goes unnoticed–and the body will struggle to fight off bacteria that enter the wound. All of these factors make the feet highly susceptible to bacterial infections.

People with diabetes should wash and inspect their feet on a daily basis to notice any wounds. If a wound is being problematic, stop into Prairie Orthopaedic.

Most people think of osteoporosis, which is a condition characterized by thin, brittle bones, as something that only affects elderly women. However, starting at around age 30 or so, you begin losing bone tissue at a rate that’s faster than what your body can produce. This means that from that point on, you’re actually losing a bit of bone mass each year. This process accelerates in women once menopause takes hold and their estrogen levels begin to drop (usually between the ages of 45 and 55). Men begin to experience greater bone loss when testosterone production begins to slow, which is usually around the ages of 45 to 50. Because women tend to have smaller and lighter bones than men to begin with, women are more prone to developing the condition than their male counterparts. With all of that said, noticeable effects of bone loss aren’t usually experienced until after age 60.

Whether or not an individual will develop osteoporosis depends on several factors, such as the thickness of their bones in their younger years, as well as their overall health, diet, and activity levels. Some of the things that can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis include:

Alcohol use– Heavy alcohol use (more than 2 drinks per day for men, or more than 1 drink per day for women) can decrease bone formation.

Being very thin and/or having a small frame – Individuals who are very thin or have very small body frames are also at increased risk of developing osteoporosis. This risk factor can be exacerbated in female athletes who have stopped menstruating, which happens when body fat levels drop below a certain level. Osteoporosis is also a concern for those individuals who diet excessively or suffer from an eating disorder such as anorexia.

Medical conditions – Certain medical conditions that involve the thyroid and/or parathyroid glands can put an individual at greater risk for developing osteoporosis. In addition, women who have had their ovaries removed prior to menopause are at greater risk due to the drop in estrogen that occurs during that time. Ovaries produce estrogen, which protects women from bone loss.

Medications – Long-term use of certain medications such as steroids can cause bones to thin.

When it comes to osteoporosis, the best thing you can do is talk with your doctor about any risk factors that pertain to you. There may be certain dietary, lifestyle, or medication changes that can be made to help keep your body strong and healthy. These changes may, in turn, decrease your chances of developing osteoporosis later in life.

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