June 17, 2021
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How To Manage Common Orthopedic Injuries At Home During The Pandemic

During the Covid-19 pandemic, when patients avoid visiting hospitals, how can one treat common orthopedic injuries at home? Dr Debashish Chanda writes.

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How To Manage Common Orthopedic Injuries At Home During The Pandemic
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How To Manage Common Orthopedic Injuries At Home During The Pandemic

The pandemic has instilled a sense of fear amongst patients to visit hospitals for their regular check-ups and treatment. As a result, they either avoid consulting altogether or approach the facility when the injuries have alleviated. Such is the case with common orthopedic injuries. They may sound common to an athlete but even in our homes all that hauling, lifting, reaching, and bending can place us at risk of a truly unforeseen injury. However, these injuries are not a sign of emergency and can be administered at home.

Common orthopedic injuries can be in the elbows, shoulders, knee and wrists. The most common orthopedic injury in the elbow region is caused by an overload of tendons in the elbow, this painful ailment results from excessive stress on the muscles of the arm, forearm, and wrist. Grabbing and lifting heavy trash bags or taking too much at once can easily produce irritation and inflammation of the elbow. A tear to the shoulder’s rotator cuff may sound like something limited to baseball or basketball players but this common orthopedic injury can result from any activity that requires repetitive motions of the shoulder. The reaching, lifting, and pulling of heavier objects from a height can just as easily result in the pain and stiffness associated with rotator cuff tears. The most common knee injuries include fractures around the knee, dislocation, and sprains and tears of soft tissues, like ligaments. In many cases, injuries involve more than one structure in the knee. Pain and swelling are the most common signs. In addition, your knee may catch or lock up. Many knee injuries cause instability which the feeling that your knee is giving way. Ankle and wrist sprains are some of the most common orthopedic injuries.

Caused by a stretch or tear to a ligament, wrist and ankle sprains are most easily identified by pain, swelling, and a limited range of motion. Cluttered floors are a danger zone causing us to overextend, turn sharply in tight spaces, or otherwise risk falling and catching ourselves with our wrists.

To prevent these injuries one can do simple things like switch shoes before their soles wear out, use mats with anti-skid grips, stretch your shoulders and taking frequent breaks, avoid incorrect postures while working out, gradually pick up on the exercises starting from the beginner level. To boost bone and joint immunity, one can consume Vitamin D3 and B12 in the form of tablets and drink turmeric with milk as it is one of the best natural anti-inflammatory agents. One can also consume one teaspoon of desi ghee daily which is good for joint lubrication.

When suffering from such injuries, follow the RICE protocol:

R: One should take complete rest after an acute injury; the problem will alleviate with excessive movement of the joints

I: Apply ice packs to the area at least 3-4 times for a duration of 10 to 15 minutes around the joint area where it hurts; ice packs reduce the inflammation and helps in healing. Do not start hot fermentation because it leads to inflammation. Ice packs are a natural pain reliving therapy as it reduces the circulation and swelling

C: Apply compression with crepe bandage for knee injuries as it reduces the excessive swelling and gives support to the part

E: Elevate the body part which is injured which will reduce the swelling as it increases venous blood flow away from joint towards the central body

RICE protocol can be followed for any bone and joint injury like ankle, foot, wrist, elbow and fingers. We can apply any standard pain ointment or balm but avoid rigorously massaging the area. Rigorous massaging can lead to further injury and increased reactionary circulation leading to increased swelling.

One can take paracetamol tablets, 3-4 times a day available over the counter for relief from the pain. If the pain persists, consult the orthopedic over a tele/video call.

(Dr Debashish Chanda is Consultant Orthopaedics, CK Birla Hospital, Gurgaon)

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