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Bones / Orthopedics

Types and causes of leg pain

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Pain is a typical symptom of a wound or disease in any part of the body.

There are many causes of pain to the legs.

Sports injuries include traumatic causes. Other triggers can affect the blood vessels , nerves, muscles , joints, soft tissues, or bones.

The medication time depends on the source of the pain in the leg.

Leg pain can often be treated at home, but medical attention may be needed if pain is sudden, severe, or persistent, or if there are other symptoms.

This article will look at some common causes of pain in the legs and certain home treatments.

Important facts about leg pain

Here are a few key points regarding pain in the legs. More information is in the main article.

  • The causes of leg pain can be musculoskeletal, neurological, or vascular.
  • Shin splints and stress fractures can result from repetitive sports, such as running.
  • Leg pain can sometimes indicate a serious vascular problems. These can occasionally be fatal, and they require medical intervention.
  • Many types of pain can be treated at home, but severe or persistent pain can indicate a more serious condition.

What is leg pain?

A lady having leg pain
Leg pain has many different causes and can be managed at home.

Pain occurs when nerves respond to stimuli such as high pressure , high or low temperatures, and chemicals that can be released through damage to the tissue.

Leg pain could be sharp, dull, numbing, tingling, burning, radiating, or aching.

It can also be acute, meaning sudden and short-term, or chronic and persistent, too. Severity can be rated from 1 to 10 on a scale, or from mild to severe.

Injury sustained during a game of sport or in an accident is usually both acute and traumatic. The person can identify the cause quite often.

Certain factors, such as peripheral arterial disease ( PAD), appear to build up over time, though the patient may be able to recognise the onset of pain.

Many sports injuries, such as repetitive strain injuries and stress fractures, build up over time. If the patient does not rest or seek care, traumatic injuries may also become long-term, or chronic, problems.

It’s important to be aware of what happened before and around the time that leg pain emerged, as this can help decide when to look for medical treatment.

Causes

For the most part, leg pain may be categorized as neurological, musculoskeletal, or vascular or these may overlap.

Musculoskeletal pain: Examples include crepitus, known by a knee popping or cracking tone, or arthritis, an autoimmune disease that affects the hip, knee, or ankle joints. For example, if a muscle, tendon, or ligament is damaged during a fall, then any musculoskeletal pain will be present.

Night cramps, compartment syndrome and stress fractures are also problems with the musculoskeletal system.

Vascular pain: Causes include PAD, deep vein thrombosis ( DVT), cellulitis, infections, varicose veins, and varicose eczema, where pain is accompanied by discoloration of the skin.

Neurological pain: situations include restless legs syndrome, where the legs twitch uncontrollably, neuropathy, or nerve damage, and sciatic nerve pain. Neurological pain may even occur while resting.

Here we’ll look in more depth on each of these.

Types

Various sources of pain in the leg can have common symptoms. Having a correct diagnosis, if possible, increases the likelihood of getting appropriate treatment. Identifying the symptoms and their onset might help to find a suitable diagnosis.

Leg cramps, or Charley horses

Charley horses are transient pain episodes that can last for a few minutes. The muscle tends to tighten and go into spasm, usually the calf at the back of the lower leg.

Cramps are more common at night and in older people. An estimated 1 in 3 people over the age of 60 experience night cramps and 40 percent experience more than 3 attacks a week.

PAD

Due to poor circulation PAD can cause pain in the leg. This can be fatal without treatment. Intermittent claudication is key symptom.

Intermittent claudication induces restriction of the blood flow to the muscles of the legs. The consequent loss of oxygen and nutrients is causing pain.

Claudication involves:

  • a cramp-like muscle pain during exercise or exertion
  • pain in the buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet
  • pain when walking or climbing stairs

The cramps consistently occur after the same walking distances, and they often ease on resting.

DVT

DVT causes one type of leg pain and can become a blood clot on the lung if not quickly treated.

DVT refers to a blood clot within the leg’s deep veins. This can appears after, for example, having spent a long time sitting on a long-distance flight.

Symptoms include swelling, on one side of the body, and a soft, painful feeling. This can only happen when one walks or stands up.

The clot may dissolve on its own, but emergency attention is needed if the person experiences dizziness and sudden shortness of breath, or if they cough up the blood.

These may be signs that DVT has developed into a pulmonary embolism, or a lung blood clot.

Vascular problems can be severe. It can present both PAD and DVT without symptoms. People whose lifestyle or medical history makes them vulnerable to leg vascular problems should be aware of any signs they may have.

Shin splints

Engaging in severe exertion during sports can result in different types of injury.

Jogging and running can generate forces of repeated impact overloading the muscles and tendons. Shin splints in the muscles produce severe, localized tenderness and sometimes bone pain is commonly felt around the shin bone.

One apparent cause such as a fracture can not explain the shin pain.

Fractures and stress fractures

For example , heavy pressure from a fall may trigger fractures. Some fractures are evident quickly and rapidly, with extreme bruising, swelling and deformation. These typically receive urgent medical attention.

Stress fractures are small fractures that may result from repetitive stresses that are sustained during sports, often when activity intensity increases too fast.

There is no major injury, although there are occasional fractures. Throughout each exercise session the pain can begin at an earlier level, and gradually become present all the time.

Popliteus tendinitis

This causes knee pain while running downhill. This is caused by inflammation of the tendon of popliteus which is important for stability of the knee.

Hamstring strain

Acute trauma could result in sprains and strains. A sprain signifies stretching or tearing. A strain is Muscle or tendon injury.

A hamstring strain often associated with running can cause acute pain in the back of the thigh muscle, usually due to a partial tear.

Sprains and strains typically evolve before an exercise due to insufficient strength preparation, over-stretching or not warming up. Exercising when injured raises the risk.

Compartment syndrome

If a leg injury causes swelling, dangerous levels of muscle pressure may lead to acute or chronic syndrome in the compartment.

This could be due to a fracture or severe bruising.

Swelling allows pressure to build up before the flow of blood to the muscle tissue is cut off, depleting the oxygen and nourishing muscles. The pain, considering the injury, can be unexpectedly serious.

In severe cases numbness and paralysis may follow early pain. It can result in permanent muscle damage.

Sciatic nerve pain

Sciatica happens when pressure is put on a nerve, often in the spine, resulting in pains running down the leg from the hip to the foot.

It can happen by “pinching” a nerve in a muscle spasm, or by a herniated disk.

Long-term consequences include strain on other areas of the body, as the gait changes to make up for the pain

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer can lead to pain and swelling in the legs.

Home treatment

Many cases of leg pain can be resolved at home, without medical intervention.

Self-help for muscle cramps

Cramps, or Charley horses, can be alleviated by stretching and massaging the leg.
Cramps, or Charley horses, can be alleviated by stretching and massaging the leg.

When severe causes of cramps are ruled out, methods of self-help may be necessary.

Painkillers aren’t going to improve leg cramps because they start suddenly, but stretching and muscle massaging can help.

To relieve the pain when cramps occur:

  • Hold the toe and pull it up towards the body, while straightening the leg.
  • Walk around on heels until the cramp eases off.

To prevent cramps:

  • Always stretch and warm up before and after exercising.
  • Avoid dehydration by drinking 8 to 12 glasses of water a day.
  • Regularly stretch and massage the legs.

Sports injury treatment

Minor sports injuries, such as leg sprains and strains can be treated with RICE:

  • Rest: to prevent further injury and allows healing time to reduce swelling.
  • Ice: to reduces swelling, inflammation, and pain. Applied for up 20 minutes wrapped in a cloth, not directly on the skin.
  • Compression: use an elastic bandage, firmly but not tightly wrapped, to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Elevation: lift the leg above the level of the heart so that gravity assists with draining, to reduce swelling and pain.

Drugs such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help with some pain, but should be sought specialist medical advice if pain persists for more than 72 hours.

A return to action should be graded in its intensity, safely building flexibility, strength and endurance.

Circulatory problems

Claudication and other signs of vascular disease need medical treatment, due to the risk of heart attack or stroke.

To reduce cardiovascular risk factors, people are advised to:

  • avoid or quit smoking
  • do moderate exercise, as recommended by a doctor
  • manage levels of blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and lipids
  • control blood pressure
  • adhere to antiplatelet therapy to reduce blood clots, if appropriate
  • Exercise and a healthful diet are beneficial. Those who have a treatment plan for a cardiovascular or other condition should follow it carefully.

There are several common reasons for leg pain and the symptoms sometimes overlap. The individual should see a doctor if they persist, worsen or make life difficult.

A strategy for differential diagnosis can help rule out inappropriate causes, narrow down the possibilities and provide timely response.

Bones / Orthopedics

Things to understand about the shoulder

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The shoulder is a complex upper-body structure that connects the arms to the torso. It is made up of a number of parts that work together to offer stability and a wide range of motion.

The shoulder is a huge and complicated ball-and-socket joint with several bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These structures work together to construct and support this very flexible joint, which allows the arms to move freely. However, because of this mobility, the shoulder can be damaged by overuse, instability, or injury.

The anatomy, function, and structures of the shoulder will be discussed in this article.

Overview

Shoulder

Because of the variety of structures that make up the shoulder, it is a complex part of the body that can move freely. The shoulder includes the body’s most mobile joint, allowing for a high range of motion but at the sacrifice of stability. It’s prone to getting hurt.

Three primary bones meet at the shoulder to form a 90-degree angle. The pectoral girdle is made up of two of these bones: the clavicle and scapula. The collarbone and shoulder blade are the common names for these bones. The humerus, which is the biggest bone in the arm, is the third bone.

The glenohumeral, acromioclavicular, and sternoclavicular joints are formed by the intersection of these bones and the sternum, or chest bone. The great range of motion of the shoulder is due to these joints.

The joints are subsequently surrounded by cartilage, ligaments, muscles, and tendons, which unite the bones and provide stability. Muscles also enable movement.

Anatomy

Shoulder anatomy

Functions

The primary purpose of the shoulder is to offer a wide range of motion for the arms. People who can raise, lower, and rotate their arms can accomplish a variety of actions, including tossing and reaching, as well as athletic movements like swimming.

The shoulder’s bones and joints

The shoulder is made up of three bones. These are the following:

  • The clavicle: This bone, also called the collarbone, connects the arm to the chest and is located in front of the scapula. It is connected to the arm, the neck, and the chest through a number of muscles.
  • The scapula: The shoulder blade is also known as the scapula. It’s triangular in shape. It primarily adheres to the body through muscle and “floats” off the rear of the chest. The acromion, a bony component of the scapula, connects it to the clavicle. On the scapula, the glenoid is a shallow socket.
  • The humerus: The humerus is the bone in the upper arm. Between the elbow and the shoulder is a lengthy bone called the humerus. At the top of the arm, the humerus bears a spherical part that acts as a “ball” for the scapula’s “socket.”

The shoulder is made up of three joints. These are some of them:

  • The glenohumeral joint: A ball-and-socket joint is what this joint is. It is the joint that links the humerus to the scapula. It is the body’s most movable joint. The shoulder can move in various planes, including arm rotation and moving the arm up and away from the body, thanks to the joint.
  • The acromioclavicular joint: The clavicle is joined to the scapula by this. The clavicle joins to the scapula by a bone component known as the acromion. The shoulder is stabilized by this joint, which also aids movement such as elevating the shoulders.
  • The sternoclavicular joint: The clavicle is connected to the sternum by this. The sternum is the flat bone in the center of the chest, often known as the breastbone. The clavicles can move thanks to the joint.

Muscles of the shoulder

Extrinsic and intrinsic muscles make up the shoulder. Extrinsic muscles come from the torso and attach to the shoulder’s bones, whereas intrinsic muscles come from the scapula or clavicle and attach to the humerus.

The following muscles make up the intrinsic muscles of the shoulder:

  • The deltoid: The deltoid is a triangular-shaped muscle on the outside of the shoulder. It connects the clavicle to the scapula. The deltoid muscle permits you to move your arm forwards, backwards, sideways, and away from your body. It also helps to keep the shoulder stable while carrying and lifting.
  • Teres major: The scapula gives rise to this muscle, which joins to the humerus. Internal rotation of the arm is possible because to Teres major.
  • Supraspinatus: This muscle originates from the scapula and attaches to the humerus. It helps to support the glenohumeral joint and allows the arm to move out from the body.
  • Infraspinatus: The scapula gives rise to this muscle, which joins to the humerus. It turns the arm externally and stabilizes the glenohumeral joint.
  • Teres minor: The teres minor stems from the scapula and connects to the humerus. It rotates the arm laterally while also stabilizing the glenohumeral joint.
  • Subscapularis: The scapula gives rise to this muscle, which joins to the humerus. It permits the arm to rotate towards the body while also stabilizing the glenohumeral joint.

The rotator cuff muscles are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis muscles. All of them come from the scapula and connect to the humerus. These muscles work together to raise and rotate the arm.

The following muscles make up the extrinsic muscles of the shoulder:

  • The trapezius: The trapezius is a muscle that runs from the base of the head to the clavicle and scapula. The scapula is raised.
  • Latissimus dorsi: The humerus bone is attached to this muscle, which originates in the lower spine. It assists with pull-ups and rowing exercises by bringing the arm backwards and towards the torso.
  • Levator scapulae: This is a long, narrow muscle that aids in scapula elevation. It also aids in glenoid cavity rotation, spine stabilization, and neck extension and lateral flexion.
  • Rhomboid major and rhomboid minor: The rhomboid muscles help rotate the glenoid cavity by stabilizing the scapula and maintaining it in place.

Common conditions

While the shoulder is incredibly mobile, its suppleness leaves it vulnerable to injury and instability. These injuries can limit your range of motion and cause shoulder pain. The following are some of the most prevalent shoulder ailments:

Rotator cuff injuries

Trauma to any of the muscles and tendons that make up the rotator cuff is referred to as a rotator cuff injury. The following are some of the most common rotator cuff issues:

  • Tears: When a tendon is torn, it no longer fully adheres to the bone, which is a common injury. Injury and age-related deterioration are the most common causes of rotator cuff tears. While treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition, it usually include rest, pain medication, and rehabilitation activities. Surgery may be required in more severe situations.
  • Bursitis: The bursa, which are fluid-filled sacs that cushion and protect tissues by decreasing friction, is inflamed. The bursa can be irritated and inflamed by infections or too much friction from repetitive movements or injuries. Antibiotics, rest, corticosteroid injections, and surgery may be used as treatment options in more severe cases.
  • Tendinitis: This is an inflammation of the tendons that might cause it difficult to lift the arms. It usually happens as a result of tendons irritation or damage caused by sports or repetitive overhead movements. It’s also known as a shoulder impingement by certain people. Rest, physical therapy, and injections are common treatments, but if these don’t work, surgery may be required.

Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition in which the joints become inflamed. The cartilage in people with arthritis is destroyed, and the joint no longer has a smooth surface.

Arthritis can cause pain, decreased range of motion, and a clicking sounds in the shoulder joints, especially the acromioclavicular and glenohumeral joints.

The following are examples of arthritis that can affect the shoulder:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • avascular necrosis
  • osteoarthritis
  • rotator cuff tear arthropathy
  • post-traumatic arthritis

Treatment will vary depending on the type and severity of the arthritis, but it will usually start with nonsurgical options including rest, physical therapy, and pain relievers. When these methods fail or the pain becomes incapacitating, a doctor may recommend surgery.

Fracture

Broken bones are also known as fractures. As a result, a shoulder fracture develops when the scapula, clavicle, or head of the humerus breaks. Fractures can occur as a result of:

  • car accidents
  • collisions
  • falls

Shoulder fractures can often be treated without surgery by a doctor. This usually entails wearing a sling to immobilize the shoulder and allowing it to heal. However, if the bone is entirely out of place, surgery may be required. This usually entails placing plates, screws, or rods inside the bone to stabilize the fracture.

Dislocation

When the humerus comes partially or completely out of the glenoid, it is referred to as a shoulder dislocation. The shoulder is the most often displaced joint due to its mobility, with forward, or anterior, dislocations accounting for roughly 97 percent of all occurrences.

A doctor will most likely conduct a closed reduction to repair a shoulder dislocation. This is a process in which the humerus is reinserted into the joint socket. After that, a doctor may recommend resting or immobilizing the shoulder before beginning rehabilitation exercises once the pain and swelling have subsided.

A dislocation can sometimes be so severe that it necessitates surgery. If the shoulder becomes unstable following a dislocation, surgery may be required to prevent recurrent dislocations.

Shoulder health advice

The following steps can be taken to ensure that a person’s shoulder is healthy and has a decent range of motion:

  • before exercising, make sure you extend your shoulder muscles properly
  • when working or playing sports, avoid overusing the shoulder muscles
  • using an exercise program to strengthen the shoulder muscles
  • shoulder pain should not be ignored, and if the pain persists, a doctor should be consulted
  • attempting to stay away from activities that could result in a fall or accident

Conclusion

The shoulder is a complex structure with numerous bones, muscles, and tendons. These components come together to form a movable joint that allows the arms to move freely.

The shoulder, however, is prone to instability and injury since it is a mobile joint that many people utilize regularly. Rotator cuff injuries, shoulder arthritis, fractures, and dislocations can all cause pain and interfere with shoulder function. Treatment, rest, stretching, and exercising as soon as possible might assist to strengthen the shoulder and speed up healing.

Sources:

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459125/
  • https://www.assh.org/handcare/blog/anatomy-101-shoulder-bones
  • https://www.training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/skeletal/divisions/appendicular.html
  • https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/arthritis-of-the-shoulder
  • https://www.assh.org/handcare/safety/bones
  • https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/bursitis/advanced#tab-overview
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537018/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537258/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/parts-of-the-shoulder
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536933/
  • https://www.training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/muscular/groups/upper.html
  • https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/recovery/rotator-cuff-and-shoulder-conditioning-program/
  • https://medlineplus.gov/rotatorcuffinjuries.html
  • https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/rotator-cuff-tears/
  • https://ota.org/for-patients/find-info-body-part/3832
  • https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/shoulder-impingementrotator-cuff-tendinitis/
  • https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/shoulder-pain-and-common-shoulder-problems/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499858/

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Bones / Orthopedics

Secondary osteoarthritis: What is it?

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Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of arthritis in which joint cartilage breaks down. There is no known cause of primary OA. Secondary OA, on the other hand, develops as a result of a pre-existing medical condition, joint injury, or abnormality.

Although primary and secondary OA are the same condition, they are caused by different causes.

OA can affect any joint in the body, causing pain, stiffness, and a restricted range of motion.

The symptoms and causes of secondary OA are discussed in this article. We also talk about treatment choices and the outlook for people who have the condition.

What is osteoarthritis (OA)?

Osteoarthritis (OA)

OA is the most common type of arthritis, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), and it typically affects elderly people.

OA is a joint condition in which the cartilage in the joints breaks down. It can occur in every joint of the body, however it most commonly affects the:

  • lower back
  • knees
  • fingers
  • hips
  • neck

According to the NIAMS, OA symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • limited range of motion in the affected joint
  • a loose or unstable-feeling joint
  • swelling around the joint, which may worsen after activities that require using that joint
  • joint pain, which may get worse at night
  • stiff joints, which may occur after periods of rest or after sleeping

Primary vs. secondary OA

People with OA might have either primary or secondary OA. The symptoms of these illnesses are the same, but the causes are not.

There is no known cause of primary OA. Secondary OA, on the other hand, comes as a result of an existing medical condition, abnormalities, infection, or injury.

Causes

Secondary OA can be caused by a variety of causes, including:

  • hemoglobinopathies, which are conditions affecting red blood cells
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Marfan syndrome
  • inflammatory arthritis
  • an existing joint abnormality
  • injury or trauma to the joint
  • metabolic disorders
  • a joint condition present from birth
  • infectious arthritis
  • osteoporosis
  • osteochondritis dissecans, where bone underneath joint cartilage dies due to a lack of blood supply
  • Paget’s disease
  • avascular necrosis, where bone tissue dies from a lack of blood supply

Treatment

Secondary OA treatment seeks to alleviate pain, reduce stiffness, and improve range of motion and joint function. It may also assist to keep the condition from worsening.

Among the treatment options are:

Exercise

According to research, combining aerobic and resistance activities can help reduce pain and enhance physical function.

Exercise can also assist to build muscle, enhance endurance, and increase flexibility. An OA workout regimen may include:

  • Stretching exercises can help you enhance your range of motion.
  • Strengthening muscles using weights or exercise bands, which then aids to support joints.
  • Exercising to increase balance and agility, which can assist people maintain daily activities
  • Exercise in water to alleviate joint tension, or engage in low-impact exercises such as walking, tai chi, or cycling.

People must avoid any activities that aggravate their symptoms or put additional strain on their joints.

Getting rid of excess weight

Losing additional weight can help alleviate joint tension.

In people with knee OA, decreasing one pound (lb) of body weight can ease four pounds of pressure on the knees.

Losing excess weight may also be beneficial:

  • slow down progression of OA and cartilage breakdown
  • decrease inflammation
  • relieve pain and improve physical function

Joint support

Braces, splints, and walking canes can assist stabilize joints and remove excess pressure.

Furthermore, if joints are misaligned, remedial equipment such as orthotics or knee braces may be beneficial.

Medications

Certain drugs may aid with pain relief and inflammation reduction. These could include:

  • Anti-inflammatory and pain relievers taken orally
  • To reduce pain, administer topical ointments to affected joints.
  • Corticosteroids are pain relievers that a doctor may inject into the joint.
  • Hyaluronic acid injections into the knee to promote joint lubrication are used to treat knee OA.
  • Long-term pain relief with oral selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.

Surgery

If other therapies are ineffective, a person is suffering from serious joint degeneration, or OA is interfering with a person’s daily life, surgery may be required.

An osteotomy is a surgical procedure in which a physician removes a portion of bone near the injured joint in order to redistribute weight away from that joint.

A partial or whole joint replacement is another surgical option for OA, depending on the level of joint deterioration. This entails removing a portion or all of the joint and replacing it with a synthetic joint composed of plastic, ceramic, or metal.

Risk factors

Secondary OA risk factors include:

  • having an abnormal joint structure or unusually aligned bones
  • having muscle weakness
  • being female
  • having a family member with OA
  • being over the age of 50 years
  • having had a bone fracture, ligament or cartilage tear, or other joint injury
  • overly using the same joints, which may happen as a result of certain occupations or sports
  • having obesity, as excess body weight can put extra stress on joints and increase inflammation

Outlook

The prognosis for OA varies from person to person and is determined by which joints are affected, the severity of symptoms, and level of physical function.

OA may be minor in some people, and they may be able to effectively manage their symptoms with treatment.

In other circumstances, people with OA may suffer from significant disability. For some people with severe OA, joint replacement surgery may be the best long-term option.

Conclusion

OA is a joint condition in which joint cartilage degrades, resulting in pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion in the joints.

Secondary OA is caused by an existing condition, injury, or infection, whereas primary OA has no clear cause.

Treatment may help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and prevent the condition from progressing.

Exercising, losing excess weight, using support equipment, and taking drugs are all possible treatment strategies. In some circumstances, surgery may be required to relieve joint stress or to replace a damaged joint.

Sources:

  • https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/osteoarthritis/advanced
  • https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/osteoarthritis
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-is-secondary-osteoarthritis
  • https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/arthritis/osteoarthritis
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482326/
  • https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/weight-loss/weight-loss-benefits-for-arthritis

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Bones / Orthopedics

What you should know about babies born with spina bifida

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Spina bifida is a spine condition that is usually detected at birth by doctors. It is a neural tube abnormality that appears early in the development of a fetus and can occur anywhere along the spine.

The backbone, which normally protects the spine, does not form and seal properly in spina bifida. As a result, people with spina bifida frequently suffer from spinal cord and nerve damage.

Every year, around 1,500 babies in the United States are born with spina bifida. Although specialists are unaware of the exact causes of the condition, they advise females of childbearing age to ingest folic acid to lower the chance of neural tube defects.

This page discusses baby spine issues, such as spina bifida. It also discusses symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Infant spine problems

infant

The spine is made up of tiny bones called vertebrae that are piled on top of each other with discs in between. A healthy spine should have moderate bends from front to back to help absorb movement stress, but it should run straight down the center of the back.

Infants may have a variety of spine disorders that cause their back to twist or rotate. These are some examples:

  • lordosis, an excessive inward curve of the spine
  • spina bifida
  • scoliosis, an abnormal sideways spinal curve
  • kyphosis, an abnormal forward bending of the spine

The most frequent crippling congenital condition is spina bifida, which means “divided spine.” Doctors categorize the condition as a form of neural tube defect (NTD), in which the neural tube of a growing embryo does not develop or close as predicted. This causes nerve and spinal cord damage.

These complications appear throughout the first 28 days of pregnancy and may occur before a woman realizes she is pregnant.

Spina bifida is commonly referred to as the “snowflake condition” because no two cases are alike. Depending on the size and location of the incision, the condition might range from minor to severe.

Spina bifida is classified into three types:

  • Myelomeningocele: This is the most common and severe type of spina bifida. It is also known as spina bifida cystica. Some vertebrae do not form normally in babies with this condition and do not properly encase the spinal cord. As a result, some of the spinal cord, nerves, spinal fluid, and other tissues push through the spine, forming a sac on the baby’s back. An individual may suffer from moderate to severe handicap as a result of nerve involvement.
  • Meningocele: The baby with this kind of spina bifida has a bag bulging from the back. However, because the sac does not contain parts of the spinal cord and there is minimal nerve involvement, the individual may only endure modest problems.
  • Spina bifida occulta:  This is the least severe kind of spina bifida. Because there is merely a gap in the spine and no opening in the back, a person may be unaware that they have this problem. Babies that have spina bifida occulta may have a birthmark, dimple, or hair patch at the base of their spine.

Causes

Doctors are unsure what causes spina bifida. However, it appears to run in families, implying that genetics have a role in the condition.

Taking folic acid when pregnant lowers the chances of having a child with spina bifida. As a result, people who may get pregnant should take this B vitamin on a daily basis. Females of reproductive age should take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Symptoms

Spina bifida symptoms vary depending on the severity of the condition and may differ between individuals.

Myelomeningocele symptoms include:

  • bowel and bladder issues
  • paralysis
  • seizures
  • curved spine
  • open spine
  • a skin-covered sac protruding from the back
  • hydrocephalus
  • learning disabilities
  • physical disabilities

A person with a meningocele may have no symptoms other than the sac protruding through their back.

Individuals with spina bifida occulta may be unaware of their condition until late childhood or adulthood. It may not cause any symptoms and, in most cases, does not cause in disability.

Diagnosis

To detect spina bifida before birth, doctors can perform one of three tests:

  • A blood test: During weeks 16–18 of pregnancy, doctors can obtain a blood sample from a woman. The level of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) in the sample is then measured in a laboratory. AFP is a protein produced by the unborn baby and passed to the mother. If the fetus develops spina bifida, around 80% of pregnant people have high levels of AFP.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound, often known as a sonogram, is a type of imaging that takes photos of the fetus in the uterus. Ultrasound is widely used by doctors to detect indications of spina bifida, such as an open spine.
  • Amniocentesis: This test involves extracting a little amount of fluid from the uterus using a fine needle. Doctors can examine the sample for AFP levels, which may suggest that the fetus has spina bifida.

Treatment

Spina bifida has no known cure. There are, however, various therapeutic options available for infants with spina bifida.

  • Myelomeningocele: In the case of open spina bifida, a surgeon can seal the hole before or after the infant is born.
  • Hydrocephalus:  If a newborn has hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, a surgeon can insert a tube to drain the fluid. This tube, also known as a shunt, aids in the relief of head pressure and related symptoms.
  • Tethered spinal cord:  The spinal cord adheres to the spinal canal in this condition, limiting proper movement. The spinal cord extends unnaturally as the kid grows. A surgeon can untether or detach the spinal cord from the surrounding tissue, allowing the patient to resume normal movement. Doctors anticipate that up to 50% of children who have surgery for spina bifida shortly after birth will need surgery to untether their spinal cord later on.
  • Catheterization:  Individuals with open spina bifida may have nerve damage that prohibits them from having normal bladder function. A doctor may advise the child’s carers to catheterize the bladder and enable it to drain completely. This is accomplished by putting a small plastic tube known as a catheter into the bladder many times per day. Children with spina bifida must be evaluated on a regular basis by a urologist, a doctor who specializes in the urinary tract.

Furthermore, many people with spina bifida require mobility aids such as braces, crutches, or wheelchairs. Doctors may also advise patients to continue receiving physiotherapy.

Outlook

The outlook of an infant with spina bifida is determined by the severity of their spinal abnormalities. For example, if an infant has full paralysis, hydrocephalus, and other congenital defects, his or her outlook may be bleak.

However, with proper care and medical attention, most infants with spina bifida survive into adulthood.

Conclusion

Spina bifida is one of various baby spine disorders that can occur during the development of a fetus in the uterus. There are three major varieties, with varying degrees of severity. Myelomeningocele is the most dangerous condition, in which a fluid-filled sac containing the spinal cord and other tissues protrudes through the infant’s back.

Meningocele is characterized by the presence of a sac but the absence of the spinal cord or nerves, and the patient may not feel severe symptoms. Spina bifida occulta is the mildest form of spina bifida, in which no sac protrudes through the back yet there is a breach in the spine. Individuals with this type of spina bifida may be unaware of their condition until they reach maturity.

Spina bifida has no cure because the nerve damage is irreversible. Surgery and other therapies, on the other hand, can help people manage their disability and mobility issues.

Sources:

  • https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/spinabifida/data.html
  • https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/about.html
  • https://medlineplus.gov/spinabifida.html#cat_78
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/spina-bifida-in-infants-and-treatment-options
  • https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Spina-Bifida-Information-Page#
  • https://www.spinabifidaassociation.org/resource/occulta/
  • https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/spinal-deformity-in-children-with-myelomeningocele/
  • https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Tethered-Spinal-Cord-Syndrome
  • https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/spinabifida/conditioninfo/treatment
  • https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/spinabifida/facts.html
  • https://www.spinabifidaassociation.org/what-is-spina-bifida-2/

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