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Monday, May 2, 2016

High Heels and Arthritis

Summer is fast approaching, and women are starting to break out their strappy sandals and stilettos. Letting your toes breathe and get some fresh air after being bundled up in the cooler months is a great idea, but wearing sky-high sandals and stilettos--known for their spiky, slender heel--is another story.

Sporting stilettos or other high-heeled shoes has long brought forth the questions as to weather or not they cause arthritis--a disease of the joints causing pain, stiffness, and immobility. Medical experts agree that high heels are bad for posture and can pose a safety risk, due to tripping and falls, but do they actually contribute to arthritis?

A recent study analyzed the effects of high-heeled shoes on knees using 3-D gait analysis technology. Here are the results:
  • Stilettos (averaging 2.5 inches high) amplified the twisting force in knee joints while walking.
  • This twisting force, known as torque, places the joints at risk for the development of knee osteoarthritis, where the cartilage between bones wears away and results in painful rubbing back and forth.
  • Higher heels put great stress on the foot and ankle to maintain stability when walking, but it is ultimately the knee that suffers and is left susceptible to injury and potentially even arthritis.
The American Podiatric Medical Association claims that the best shoe for women is a simple walking shoe with laces, but if you just can't give up the high heels, here are some tips:
  • Limit how long you wear them, such as for a special event in the evening, then opt for sneakers or flats earlier in the day.
  • Try out shoes with a wider, chunkier, or platform heel for more support but still with the added height.
If you ever experience any suspicious pain or discomfort in your feet or knees, contact us for an appointment.

(Adapted from Healthgrades)

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Distracted Driving / Decide to Drive

We are all too familiar with frequent stories in the headlines regarding fatal car crashes and pedestrian accidents. With our population continuing to skyrocket in Austin, crowded roads and intense traffic can lead to downright dangerous driving conditions. But in reality, one of the leading causes of vehicular accidents is neither. Distracted drivers are often to blame.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that there were an estimated 431,000 people injured in distracted driving-related crashes, resulting in broken bones, fractures, concussions, spinal injuries, and even loss of limbs.

This is a serious yet common issue throughout the country, having led the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Auto Alliance) to create the Decide to Drive initiative in 2009. Decide to Drive is a distracted driving awareness program challenging drivers of all ages to remain free of distractions while behind the wheel. Texting is the predominant distraction, along with eating/drinking, applying make-up, and talking on the phone.

In a split second, any one of these activities can break your concentration and cause you to take your eyes off the road.

Recently just in March, the program unveiled an updated version of their #NoSmallDistractions video series showing how even little things can prove to be a big distraction in the car. The series is currently airing as a public service announcement nationwide.

Some important safe driving tips from the program's "Wreck-less" checklist include:
  • Put on any accessories you need, like sunglasses or earpieces, prior to starting the car.
  • Enter all addresses into your navigation system, or load music into the sound system, before driving away.
  • Pull over and stop your car in a safe area before tending to kids, pets, or having an in-depth phone conversation.

For additional driving tips or more information, visit

(Courtesy of AAOS)

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Dr. Barbara Bergin Featured on

Texas Orthopedics' own Dr. Barbara Bergin was recently featured on She lent her voice to an article about meditation as a way to deal with chronic pain. Meditation is the practice of training the mind to promote relaxation and/or a heightened sense of clarity and focus.

Treatment for severe or chronic pain costs upwards of $600 million a year according to the Institute of Medicine, and overdosing, on pain medications and similar drugs, kills more Americans than car crashes.

With many doctors now trying to steer patients away from narcotic medications due to addiction and potential side effects, meditation and mindfulness have become increasingly popular alternatives for pain management. This is something Dr. Bergin has been prescribing for years.

"I read and article about it in a magazine and realized it was describing what I had already been teaching my patients: that they should focus on situations in which they do not have pain, recognize those situations and try to reproduce those painless episodes. Before reading about mindfulness, I used to tell them to live in the pain-free moment when they identified those moments," said Dr. Bergin.

Mindfulness, and meditation, can empower patients and provide them some control over their pain, rather than solely relying on painkillers.

As Dr. Bergin further explained, they are just one "modality," to help manage pain, but one that is proving more successful every day.

You can view the full article featuring Dr. Bergin right here.

(Courtesy of

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Dr. Savage Shares Cycling Accident Experience with Austin Media

What started out as a routine bike ride last month for Dr. David Savage took a dangerous, unexpected turn when a pick up truck swerved into the bike lane and hit him.

"I heard the impact before I felt it and it was a horrible noise. The bumper of the truck hit the back wheel of my bike first and then it just disintegrated," Dr. Savage shared with Fox 7.

He's got many broken bones to heal, but he's grateful to be alive.

As an avid cyclist, he was doing everything right - riding in the designated bike lane, wearing bright colors and a helmet, and weather conditions were perfect.

But police reports indicate the driver of the truck may have been distracted.

Ironically as an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Savage has treated many cyclists for injuries and accidents, but he never though he'd be on the receiving end.

The purpose of him sharing his experience - create awareness around distracted driving and local cyclists.

Dr. Savage also penned an Op Ed that appeared in the Austin American Statesman. You can read it here.

You can watch Dr. Savage's entire Fox 7 interview here.

April also happens to be National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Improving Balance

Maintaining good balance on your own two feet is an important task in everyday life. Poor balance can lead to instability and even a serious fall or injury. Each year more than 700,000 patients are hospitalized due to a fall, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Here are a few simple ways to improve your balance and help prevent a nasty tumble:
  • Tai chi is an ancient form of Chinese martial arts consisting of flowing movements and poses that rapidly build balance and are though to promote longevity.
  • Ballroom dancing, or any organized type of dance, which forces you to hold your head up while your feet are otherwise engaged in dance steps, can lead to better balance and coordination.
  • Yoga, like tai chi, is an ancient practice designed to bring balance to the body and mind. Carefully orchestrated poses that are practiced repeatedly and with varying intensities can greatly enhance the body's equilibrium.
For easy at-home exercises that can also help with balance, try these:
  • Hold yourself against a wall with one arm then raise and bend one of your legs. Press that leg against your other leg, similar to how a stork would stand. Hold this pose for as long as possible, and try letting go of the wall. Then switch legs and repeat.
  • Try the same standing stork pose near a wall, but do it with your eyes closed or standing on a thick pillow for an extra challenge.
  • Stand on one leg while you brush your teeth or perform other chores around the house, such as cooking or washing dishes.
However, if you have ongoing difficulties with balance, check with your physician to rule out any potential medical conditions or unknown injuries.

(Adapted from The New York Times)

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Sleep is Key in College Athletics

Austin is home to a great number of world-class college athletes. They are guided by an even more stellar staff of elite coaches. Their diets are often closely monitored and their training is rigorous. It can be challenging, to say the least, to perform continuously at a high level both athletically and academically. Something usually has to give. And often times it is sleep.

Many college athletes are required to work out or train in the very early hours of the morning or the latest final hours of the day, when their bodies could actually benefit more from sleep than sports practice. Sleep deprivation can take a toll on student athletes and ultimately lead to burnout and exhaustion, and even injury if not careful.

A recent study from the University of Queensland in Australia found that earlier start times for training and practices led to increased fatigue and less productivity throughout the day.

While coaches and students are both often driven to train around the clock, they should be more conscious of the importance of sleep and downtime to allow the body, and mind, ample time to rest and recharge.

Although it can be difficult for a coach to accommodate everyone's class schedule with gym or facility availability when scheduling practices, they should still be aware of the hours and effect that lost sleep can have on an athlete. Alternating practice times as much as possible during the day with off-hours is one good option.

Student-athletes also should take care to prioritize schoolwork and ensure that sleep itself is an important part of their daily routine.

The greatest talent can never fuller emerge in competition if shrouded in fatigue and sluggishness.

And for everyday athletes, the message is the same, be mindful that you are getting enough sleep and rest to help your body recuperate from your regular workouts and exercise routines.

(Adapted from the Huffington Post-Sleep+Wellness)

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Incentives to Exercise

Show me the money! That’s what a new study says may motivate employees to consider exercising more as an incentive from their employer.
Workplace wellness programs have been around for a while now. This new study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine states that more than 80% of large employers are currently using some sort of financial incentive to increase the physical activity of their employees. As research continues to prove that healthier, more active people tend to be sharper and more productive.  
The study challenged 281 people to try and reach a 7,000 step-a-day goal over 13 consecutive weeks.  Three separate groups were evaluated with three different financial incentives/models:
  • One group received $1.40 each day that they hit the 7,000-step goal.
  • The second group was entered into a daily lottery, but participants were only eligible to collect their cash reward if they reached 7,000 steps the day before.
  • The third group was given $42 upfront each month, and $1.40 was taken away each day that the goal was not met.
Findings indicate that the possibility of losing the money led people to exercise more than the other incentives--resulting in a 50% increase in the amount of days participants met their physical activity goals.
The study suggests that a financial incentive to an employee exercise program can be very effective, but the way in which it is presented can also influence its success.
It also points out that many employee fitness programs tend to favor people who are already physically fit and likely to participate, but care should be taken to develop different strategies to engage those others who are more sedentary or may have trouble committing to a wellness program due to obesity or other underlying medical conditions.
Employers also should consider offering incentives at various levels tailored to different abilities, so that everyone can feel rewarded in some way. The general goal should be to get people moving, with the message that even small steps in the right direction can have a great and positive impact on your health.
 (Adapted from CNN-Health)
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