Let It Snow – Tips for Shoveling Safely

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 27, 2015

Snow shoveling requires good technique and proper body mechanics to be performed safely.

Today’s medical information comes from Nicole Durand PT, DPT, a physical therapist working for the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Rehabilitation Department at Brigham and Women’s/Mass General Health Care Center in Foxborough, MA.

Many people have been prepping for the winter weeks ahead by making sure they have all the necessary supplies for snow and ice removal. However, whether it’s 2-3 inches or 6-10 inches of snow, we shouldn’t only be concerned about what to purchase, but also how we can protect ourselves. Snow shoveling requires good technique and proper body mechanics to be performed safely and not cause lasting harm. Improper technique can lead to low back or shoulder injuries.

There are several muscle groups at work within the back, legs, and shoulder when shoveling, and therefore, lots of room for error. Here are some helpful hints to avoid injury and to prevent any unwanted pain in the days following a storm:

1.   Hinge your hips

When bending to pick up the snow, think of your hips as a hinge. Bend and move through this joint, keeping your back flat, rather than curving your mid or lower back. You also should use your abdominals as a brace or corset to stabilize yourself every time you bend over.

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Five Tips for a Healthy Rotator Cuff

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 9, 2014

Throwing athletes use their shoulders aggressively and are at increased risk of rotator cuff damage.

Contributor: Elizabeth G. Matzkin, MD, is Surgical Director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Team Physician for Stonehill College Athletics.

The rotator cuff is composed of four muscles surrounding the shoulder joint. They act like cables on a suspension bridge to coordinate movement of the shoulder in space and to enhance the stability of the shoulder joint. Injury to this important group of muscles can cause pain and limit shoulder function. Non-sports activities can cause such injuries, but throwing athletes use their shoulders aggressively and are at increased risk of rotator cuff damage.

Simple everyday measures, however, can significantly improve the health of the rotator cuff and prevent future injuries. Dr. Elizabeth G. Matzkin, Surgical Director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at BWH and Team Physician for Stonehill College Athletics, offers patients the following five simple tips for maintaining a healthy rotator cuff.

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Dupuytren’s: A Legacy Handed Down from the Vikings?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 22, 2013

Dupuytren’s impacts millions of Americans and can be very disabling, resulting in permanently bent fingers.

Dupuytren’s impacts millions of Americans and can be very disabling, resulting in permanently bent fingers.

Dupuytren’s contracture, a benign thickening of the connective tissue in the palm that can extend into the fingers, has often been referred to as Viking’s Disease because of its prevalence among people of Northern European descent. The exact origins of Dupuytren’s are not entirely clear, as the condition also can be found among populations in Spain, Japan, and other regions. Nevertheless, Dupuytren’s impacts millions of Americans and can be very disabling, resulting in permanently bent fingers.

“Until recently, the most effective treatment for Dupuytren’s involved invasive hand surgery with a long recovery period and extensive rehabilitation,” says Dr. Philip Blazar, an orthopedic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) who specializes in Dupuytren’s contracture.

Five years ago, Dr. Blazar participated in a national trial investigating an enzyme therapy for patients with Dupuytren’s. The study found that, on average, patients who received the enzyme therapy improved their motion  from 40 to 80 degrees of motion. The treatment has since been approved by the FDA.

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Heading To a Sixth Olympic Games?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 25, 2012

Dara Torres Swimmer

An innovative cartilage regeneration procedure has helped give Dara Torres another chance at Olympic competition.

On June 25, the fastest swimmers in the U.S. will convene in Omaha, Nebraska, for the start of the 2012 Olympic Team trials. Among those elite swimmers will be 44-year-old Dara Torres, a five-time Olympian vying to compete in her sixth Olympic Game.

To watch her slice through the water, you’d never think her body had any weakness. But several years ago, Dara Torres – winner of 12 Olympic medals (four gold, four silver, four bronze) – had such debilitating knee pain that she had to put swimming aside. In fact, Torres’ knee had deteriorated so badly she could barely pick up or walk with – never mind run after – her then 2-year-old daughter. “Within a year I went from about grade two arthritis to grade four arthritis,” Torres remembers. “I had no cartilage in my knee and it was bone on bone.”

Like all competitive athletes, Torres was no stranger to the aches, pains, and injuries endemic to intense training. But this time it was different. “The biggest thing I was scared about was that I wouldn’t be able to take care of my daughter,” she recalls. She also wondered, “Will I be able to have the same quality of life and be able to swim again?”

The typical treatment for such severe osteoarthritis is knee replacement surgery. But after extensive research both inside and outside the U.S., Torres discovered a new and surprising option at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Cartilage Repair Centercartilage regeneration (also known as autologous chondrocyte implantation or ACI) – in which the patient’s cartilage cells are collected, grown in a culture until they multiply to roughly 12 million cells, then implanted back into the knee, replacing the damaged cartilage.

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