Take Charge of Your Bone Health!

“Know Your Bones” with Help From TOCA’s Integrated Bone Health Center

Whether you’re a growing child, active adult, or entering your senior years, good bones are important to your overall good health! After all, our bones support our bodies and protect the brain, heart, and other essential organs from injury. However, as we age, bones weaken and lose density, placing us at greater risk for osteoporosis and fractures. The key is to pay attention to bone health before a fracture occurs! That’s why The Orthopedic Clinic Association (TOCA) has an entire team of skilled specialists devoted to your bone health and care. And their mission is to help  patients keep bones strong and healthy at every age.

Helping Patients Identify Risks to Prevent Falls and Fractures

Led by Dr. Dean Cummings, MD, who is assisted by board-certified PA-C Ashlyn Sala, TOCA’s Bone Health Center team offers Integrated Bone Health Solutions™ and works closely with patients to help identify and prevent factors that may place them at risk for a fall or fracture. They created the “Know Your Bones,” program, which is an integrated, results-oriented approach to bone health. It is based around a four pillar system: Biological, Functional, Behavioral, and Environmental patient lifestyle factors.

After an initial patient assessment, the Bone Health Center team creates a multi-disciplinary integrated profile for each patient, with recommendations to help maximize their bone health. This includes input from the patient and their primary care provider in order to put an effective and customized prevention and/or treatment plan into action.

Our First Goal Is Education

According to Dr. Cummings, “Educating the patient is a critical component of our approach. Our first goal is to help the patient truly understand their bone health, and lifestyle issues impacting bone health, before we treat any underlying conditions or disorders. We believe that by building better awareness, we can empower our patients to help them prevent factors that can eventually lead to a debilitating condition like osteoporosis, or a fall or serious fracture.”

Keeping in mind that peak bone mass is achieved between the ages of 25-30, TOCA Bone Health Center specialists look for ways to help patients overcome the decline in bone formation that occurs as we age. Maintaining a proper diet and taking the recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D is critical. Weight bearing exercises, along with a healthy lifestyle, also lessen the impact of bone loss. TOCA’s Bone Health Center team seek input from patients in order to identify potential areas of concern in the home or workplace that could lead to a fall. In addition, medications to either lessen the amount of bone loss or increase bone formation can be started, if and when appropriate.

“We’re very much aware that no two patients are alike and different factors come into play that impact bone health during different stages of life,” adds Dr. Cummings. “Teenagers form bone faster than they lose bone. Women undergoing menopause lose bone more quickly. Whatever age or stage of life they’re in, we offer a range of preventative treatments customized to help each patient protect their bones so that they can live an active and healthy lifestyle.”

It’s never too early or too late to take charge of your bone health. Schedule an appointment with TOCA’s Bone Health Center specialists today! Contact us at 602.512-8452 or bonehealthcenter@tocamd.com.

Stress Fracture Symptoms and Treatment Tips from TOCA’s Orthopedic Experts

“You have a stress fracture” is a diagnosis shared all too often by orthopedic specialists, especially when treating athletes. Athletes are most at risk due to repetitive activity and overuse of their feet and legs. Overuse causes the lower extremities to continually absorb these forces and potentially causing tiny cracks in the bones.

If athletic activity is too frequent, it diminishes the body’s ability to repair and replace bone. And the likelihood of sustaining a stress fracture increases. That’s why runners, dancers, soccer players, and basketball players are particularly vulnerable to stress fractures.

And, according to The Orthopedic Clinic Association (TOCA) orthopedic and sports medicine care expert, Dr. Gerald Yacobucci, MD, “If they are already experiencing consistent pain, the more these athletes train and compete, the more they may be placing themselves at greater risk for injury – and time away – from the sport or activity they enjoy.”

Here’s what Dr. Yacobucci and the TOCA team want ALL athletes, parents, and coaches to know in order to recognize stress fracture symptoms, help prevent stress fractures from occurring, and remain injury-free.

Stress Fracture Symptoms

What are some of the signs of stress fracture to watch out for? Rather than the sharp pain resulting from an acute fracture, stress fractures are typically accompanied by a dull pain that increases gradually. Often, the pain subsides during rest and intensifies during activity. Swelling around the site may be present as well as some tenderness and bruising. As mentioned above, stress fractures can be caused by overuse of lower extremities, common in athletes, but they can also arise from a sudden upsurge in physical activity. Osteoporosis can also increase the chance of a stress fracture.

It’s important to remember that, if dull pain persists, it’s time to seek help from an orthopedic specialist!

Treatment of Stress Fractures

Immediately after injury or stress fracture symptoms occur, patients are encouraged to follow the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method. Once you consult with you orthopedic specialist, he/she will examine the “pain point” and X-rays will likely be taken. If the stress fracture is not visible via X-ray, but your doctor still suspects that you have a stress fracture, he/she may recommend that you get an MRI.

Nonsurgical treatment options for stress fractures include keeping weight off of the area (perhaps wearing a boot or using crutches), and modified activity for a period of up to 8 weeks. In some, more severe, cases, surgery may be necessary to allow the stress fracture to heal properly. This typically entails using a pin, screw, or plate to “fasten” the bones together in order to promote healing. The key to recovery is to allow ample time for rest, healing, and rehabilitation. Taking time off ensures that you can eventually get back to the activities you enjoy safely and without placing yourself at risk for additional injury.

Stress Fracture Prevention

According to Dr. Yacobucci, “One of the most important pieces of advice I share with patients, especially athletes, is to monitor and be mindful of your activity and pain level. If you find that you’re consistently experiencing pain during training or workouts, then it’s time to listen to your body’s signals. Refrain from activity until you seek further treatment from an orthopedic expert.”

Additional stress fracture prevention tips from Dr. Yacobucci and TOCA experts include:

  • Wearing footwear with good support.
  • Strength training and cross-training to avoid overuse of certain muscle sets and strain on bones.
  • Good nutrition, including plenty of calcium and Vitamin D for optimal bone strength.
  • And good common sense. Listen to your body’s signals and seek help if pain persists after adequate rest.

To schedule a consult with Dr. Yacobucci, or one of TOCA’s knowledgeable and highly trained orthopedics specialists, please contact us at 602.277.6211.