Theresa’s I’m Back Story

Theresa will always remember July 8, 2014 at 8:30 pm. She was halfway through her first season of working at a summer camp when a game of Great Escape almost changed her life.

“I remember exactly how it happened, how I felt, and how the campers were looking at me when they realized what had happened,” Theresa says.

July 8, 2014 was the day that Theresa broke her left arm.

Looking back, she remembers thinking that it wasn’t too bad as she was taken to the hospital. Theresa says, “I thought they would set the bone, put on a cast, and then send me back to camp.”

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. The ER physician told Theresa she needed to see an orthopedic surgeon by the end of the week. Since she was up at camp, her mom helped research options, and they found OSMS.

Theresa met with Dr. Steve Schechinger, and he explained that she had a spiral fracture of her left radial head – the part of the radius bone just below the elbow. Due to the speed she was running and the direction of her fall, Theresa’s fracture was more significant than she had thought.

“At this point, I had so many thoughts racing through my head. I wanted to get back to camp and start working again as soon as possible. The other thing I was worried about was my track season. I was a hurdler on my college track team and had worked really hard the previous year to come back from a different injury. So I really didn’t want to miss any more training,” Theresa says.

Based on Theresa’s desire to get back to her same activity level, surgery was recommended. During the procedure, Dr. Schechinger had to use a plate and seven screws to piece back together all the splintered bone pieces. The initial prognosis for a full recovery was 6-9 months. At Theresa’s first follow up appointment, she and Dr. Schechinger put together a plan to get her back to camp and all of the other things that she loves.

Theresa was able to recover much faster than expected. Six weeks after surgery, she was cleared to start running again, and she was able to compete on her track team through her senior year of college.

At six months post-surgery, Theresa had regained full range of motion, and she was able to have the hardware removed.

Theresa says, “Today, thanks to Dr. Schechinger and the OSMS team, I’ve worked four summers at two camps, and I’m doing all of the things I was scared I’d never do again after I broke my arm. I sometimes think about what my life would be like now if I hadn’t gone to OSMS, and to be honest, I’d probably still have a plate and 7 screws in my elbow, and I wouldn’t be able to do many of the activities that I love. But thanks to OSMS, I’m Back!”

Watch more I’m Back Stories here.

 

10 Years as OSMS. 50+ Years of Providing Expert Care.

OSMS may be celebrating our 10 year anniversary this month, but we have a much longer history of providing orthopedic and rheumatologic care to the community.

Let’s take a look at our history.

More than 50 years ago, there were two independent, physician-owned orthopedic clinics in Green Bay. One was Orthopaedic Associates of Green Bay and the other was Green Bay Orthopedics. For decades these two practices worked in the same city as separate businesses, but both were comprised of highly skilled orthopedic surgeons who valued their independent, physician-owned structure and the benefits it brought to their patients.

In 2004, Green Bay Orthopedics added rheumatology to their practice to better serve the musculoskeletal needs of the community.

A few years later, the two practices recognized that their philosophies of care and the skill level of their physicians aligned. Both groups also had a vision of providing their patients with comprehensive (one-stop shop) care for bone, muscle, and joint conditions and injuries. They decided that the best way to achieve this large patient experience goal was to work together.

In January 2008, the two practices officially joined forces as OSMS: Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Specialists of Green Bay, but they still operated out of two separate buildings. To achieve their goal of a one-stop shop for bone, muscle, and joint care, the next logical step was to move into one location. And at this new location, the physicians wanted to create a full-service clinic that included orthopedics, rheumatology, X-ray, MRI, infusion therapy, and an outpatient surgery center. Two years later – in 2010 – the Lime Kiln Road building opened with all of these services and more!

Since 2008, the OSMS physician team has grown to 15, with 11 orthopedic surgeons and four rheumatologists. In addition to our Green Bay clinic, we now own and operate a rheumatology and infusion therapy clinic in Appleton. We’ve also expanded our outpatient surgery capabilities to include total joint replacements.

With all of this growth over the past 10 years, one thing has remained constant – our firm belief that being a physician-owned practice allows us to provide the best possible patient experience. Here’s why from two of our physicians:

“Practicing in an independent orthopedic clinic allows me to provide medical care that serves the best interest of my patients without the influence of a larger administrative entity. In this setting, I can provide higher quality care at a lower price for my patients.” – Dr. Steve Schechinger

“Being a physician-owned practice enables us to advocate for our patients and make management decisions that are best for our patients. We can truly have a patient focus and can discuss issues with other physicians to reach the best answer, instead of reporting to a non-clinical administrative team. This model of care has been proven to provide low cost, high quality care.” – Dr. Walker Flannery

Watch this video to learn even more about our capabilities and see why we are passionate about being OSMS!

3 Foot and Ankle Conditions that Affect Active Adults

As we discussed in this previous blog article, the feet and ankles play a significant role in keeping us active. So acute injuries or chronic conditions can greatly impact our ability to play sports, participate in outdoor activities, or keep up with our fitness regimens.

Our new orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Gregory Kirwan, provides an overview of three foot and ankle conditions that are common in active adults.

Achilles Tendon Injuries

Achilles tendon injuries can be characterized as acute or chronic. Acute injuries include Achilles tendon strains, partial tears, or acute ruptures. These types of injuries typically occur during strenuous physical activities or sports-related movements, especially sports that require a lot of jumping, pivoting, or cutting such as tennis, racquetball, and basketball. Certain occupations that require strenuous pushing or pulling could also cause an acute rupture.

Signs of an acute Achilles tendon rupture include:

  • Sudden and sharp severe pain in the back of the ankle or calf that may feel like you’ve been hit by a rock or kicked in the back of the leg
  • Hearing an audible “pop”
  • Feeling a tearing sensation
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Difficulty walking and/or pointing the toes

One of the most important factors in treating an Achilles tendon rupture is being evaluated as soon as possible by an orthopedic physician. Early treatment can lead to better outcomes. Typically, all that’s needed to diagnose an Achilles tendon rupture is a physical evaluation of the injury by an orthopedic physician. Treatment can be nonsurgical using a cast and removable boot or a surgical repair of the tendon may be recommended.

Chronic Achilles tendon conditions include tendinitis or tendinopathy. These result in pain, swelling, and sometimes a burning sensation around the Achilles, often after repetitive physical activity. People with these chronic conditions may also feel a nodule in the Achilles tendon that is painful to the touch or when stretched in certain positions.

Chronic Ankle Instability

On the outside of your ankle there are three major ligaments (highlighted in yellow above), which are usually the ligaments injured in a common ankle sprain. Treatment for an ankle sprain typcially includes a short period of immobilization and R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Once the pain and swelling have improved, gentle range of motion exercises are started.

Two of the main causes of ongoing ankle pain or chronic instability are not properly rehabbing a sprain and suffering from multiple sprains. Therefore, it’s important to have ankle injuries evaluated by an orthopedic physician and to complete any recommended formal physical therapy programs. If chronic ankle instability does develop, it can often be treated through physical therapy. If conservative treatments don’t alleviate symptoms, surgery can be an option to repair the damaged ligaments.

Bunion and Hammertoe Deformitites

Forefoot deformities, such as bunions or hammertoe, affect the alignment or position of the toe joints or toes themselves. Hallux valgus – the technical term for a bunion – is when the first toe is misaligned so that it points in the direction of the smaller toes. Usually a bump is present on the inside of the foot at the base of the big toe joint. The bump doesn’t actually grow, but it can become more prominent as the toe alignment gets worse. The bump can cause significant pain and problems with shoe wear. Hammertoe deformity of the smaller toes often develops with a bunion.

 

 

Non-operative treatments for forefoot deformities:

  • Shoe modification
  • Activity modification
  • Occassionaly, anti-inflammatories

It is not recommended to surgically treat forefoot deformitites just for cosmetic reasons. Surgery can be an option if the condition causes significant pain or irritation that leads to other forefoot deformities, wounds, or ulcers. Recovery from a bunion repair surgery usually requires a two-week period of non-weight bearing followed by a period of limited weight bearing using a protective post-op shoe or boot. Normal activities are usually allowed by about eight weeks after surgery with a return to light exercise by 12 weeks.

 

 

Dr. Kirwan is now seeing patients! Call 920-430-8113 to make an appointment.

 

 

 

3 Questions Active Adults Ask Orthopedic Surgeons

Being active as an adult is an important element to staying healthy. However, as we get older, being active in sports or fitness programs can seem to lead to nagging aches and even chronic pain. Watch this video from Dr. Tom Sullivan to learn the answers to three common questions that active adults ask orthopedic surgeons.

See all of our educational videos here.

6 Questions about Foot and Ankle Arthritis Answered by Foot and Ankle Specialist Dr. Gregory Kirwan

Support and balance while standing. Mobility for walking. Shock absorption for running and jumping. These are some of the very important roles that the feet and ankles play in our everyday lives.

Behind these important jobs are the many bones and joints that make up the feet and ankles. In one foot alone, there are almost 30 bones and 30 joints working together to give your foot its wide range of motion.

Due to the complexity of the feet and ankles, sometimes treating injuries and conditions in this area is more challenging. That’s why we are excited to introduce Dr. Gregory Kirwan. He’s a fellowship-trained orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon who will be joining the OSMS physician team in December.

Dr. Gregory Kirwan, orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon

We sat down with Dr. Kirwan to discuss his area of expertise, specifically in the treatment of arthritis of the foot and ankle.

Q: What areas of the foot and ankle are most commonly affected by arthritis?

Dr. Kirwan: While virtually any joint in this area can be affected by arthritis, two of the most common are the ankle joint and the big toe joint.

Arthritis in either of these joints can be primary – what you might think of as normal degenerative arthritis like osteoarthritis – or it can be related to other causes. For example, a past ankle fracture or foot deformity like flat foot or excessively high arches could cause the breakdown of a joint. Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory form of arthritis, could also affect the feet and ankles.

Q: How is arthritis of the foot and ankle diagnosed?

Dr. Kirwan: It is very important for an orthopedic physician to evaluate all of a person’s symptoms and also rule out any deformities or structural changes that may be causing symptoms.

Symptoms that I look for to diagnose arthritis in the foot and ankle include:

  • Pain and stiffness, especially if it’s worse right after waking up or after resting for a prolonged period of time. The pain may improve after “warming up” the joint, but then may get worse again after signficant weight-bearing or use of the joint.
  • Clicking or locking of the joint.
  • Feelings of instability.
  • Swelling.

Warmth or redness of the joint is NOT a common arthritis symptom in the feet and ankles. It could be a sign of another condtion.

Q: What are the treatment options?

Dr. Kirwan: Similarly to arthritis in other joints of the body, foot and ankle arthritis can sometimes be managed through nonsurgical methods such as:

  • Oral anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Activity modifications.
  • Weight loss, if determined by your physician.
  • Off-the-shelf or custom molded braces or shoe inserts.

If these methods don’t provide the relief a patient needs, the surgical options available fall into two main categories: fusion and joint replacement.

Q: What is a fusion?

Dr. Kirwan: In a surgical fusion, I remove damaged cartilage in the arthritic joint and then prepare the bone surfaces to grow, or fuse, together. This typically requires some type of permanent hardware such as plates or screws. Fusions are able to provide very good pain relief; however, motion across the joint is lost.

Q: How does joint replacement work in the foot and ankle?

Dr. Kirwan: It’s very similar to a joint replacement in the hip, knee, or shoulder. I enter the arthritic joint through an incision and remove the damaged cartilage and bone surface. A prosthesis is implanted to replace the damaged tissue and bone. Typically, the implant is made of two metal components with a specialized plastic component. A newer implant for big toe joint replacements uses a material similar to contact lenses.

The one major difference with a big toe or ankle joint replacement is that they require a period of non-weight bearing immediately after surgery. This differs from a knee, hip, or shoulder replacement where immediate physical therapy is used to help maximize movement after surgery. Physical therapy for big toe and ankle replacements starts after a patient goes through the recommended progression to full weight-bearing.

Q: How long do big toe and ankle replacements last?

Dr. Kirwan: This is dependent on many factors, including weight, activity level, and chronic medical conditions that may exist. However, a recently published 15-year study of the most common ankle replacements used in the United States showed that over 90% of patients still functioned well with their initial implant.

As for the big toe, the newer implant that is made of material similar to contact lenses is showing very good results after about five years of use in the United States. Longer-term success has been seen with this implant in Europe.

Dr. Kirwan starts seeing patients at OSMS in mid-December. However, you can call now to schedule an appointment with him! Call 920-430-8113.

3 Surgeries that can be Performed in the OSMS Procedure Room

Hospital or outpatient surgery center. These are probably the two most common types of locations a person would think of to answer the question, “Where are you having your orthopedic surgery?”  But there is actually a third option – the OSMS procedure room. This type of treatment is often called “office-based surgery,” as the procedure is performed right in the clinic setting. The OSMS physicians can perform many hand and minor procedures in this setting, including:

  • Finger cyst removal
  • Trigger finger release
  • Carpal tunnel release
  • Nail bed repair
  • Tendon repair and transfer
  • Some lacerations from injuries at home or work

Learn more from Dr. Ben Zellner, orthopedic hand-to-shoulder surgeon, about 3 of the most common surgeries performed in the OSMS procedure room. You can also learn more about how the procedure room works by reading “The OSMS Procedure Room: A Quicker and Less-Expensive Option for Hand Surgery.”

How Orthopedics and Physical Therapy Work Together

Since October is National Physical Therapy Month, we wanted to discuss the important role physical therapy plays in the treatment and recovery of many of the injuries and conditions that we care for at OSMS. So we sat down with Andy Taber from one of our partners, Advanced Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine, to learn more about how physical therapy and orthopedics work together. Andy is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, and Board Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

If you sustain an orthopedic injury like a torn meniscus or broken elbow, or you are diagnosed with a condition like arthritis, your orthopedic physician might recommend physical therapy as a starting point for treatment. Physical therapy can often be an effective nonsurgical treatment to relieve pain and restore function.

“Physical therapy can assist the body in the natural healing process,” Andy says. “Through physical therapy, we can address mechanical faults to help an injury heal. We also develop prevention strategies to reduce the risk of injury in other limbs that may try to overcompensate for the injured area during the healing process.”

For example: if a person is dealing with pain, stiffness, and inflammation from osteoarthritis, a physical therapist can help relieve symptoms by:

  • Evaluating, diagnosing, and correcting gait and posture abnormalities that may increase the breakdown of a joint or cause injury to another area of the body.
  • Improving strength, range of motion, and flexibility around an arthritic joint to reduce pain and improve overall function.
  • Implementing joint protection strategies in an effort to conserve the remaining cartilage in a joint.

When an orthopedic surgery is needed to treat an injury or condition, physical therapy continues to play an important role.

Whether it’s repairing a torn ACL or replacing a hip joint, the ultimate success of a patient’s recovery after surgery is partially dependent on the condition of the patient going into surgery.

“Doing physical therapy before an orthopedic surgery can help improve flexibility and build strength around the injured or arthritic area,” Andy says. “And as range of motion and strength increases prior to surgery, the patient is likely to have an easier time recovering these aspects of mobility and function after surgery.”

Once an orthopedic surgery is performed, physical therapy helps the recovery process in several ways, including:

  • Implementing interventions designed to reduce pain and improve comfort in the hopes of reducing the need for long-term use of pain medications.
  • Helping patients understand how to properly use assistive devices such as crutches, walkers, and canes.
  • Restoring range of motion and strength of the surgical area.

“Once the body gets through the initial post-operative inflammation, and the healing process is well established, physical therapy continues to help patients return to their previous level of function,” Andy says. “This is done through progressive, individualized retraining of motions, postures, and activities related to what a patient wants to get back to.”

3 Facts About Pediatric Fractures

At this time of year, you see skeletons all over the place…

Skeletons

But it’s important to remember that skeletons are much more than just spooky Halloween decorations. The bones that make up each of our skeletons actually play several significant roles in keeping our bodies healthy and active.

Our bones:

  • Protect vital organs
  • Store and supply calcium for the body’s cells
  • Give structure to the body, and together with muscles, allow us to move

That’s why when a bone breaks, it is important to have it properly treated so that it can heal and continue to perform these important tasks. This is especially true for children, since their bones are still growing.

Watch this video from Dr. Steven Schechinger to learn about a few of the common types of pediatric fractures and their treatments.

You have Osteoarthritis…What’s Next?

You decided to see an orthopedic doctor about your painful joint, and the physician says you have osteoarthritis. You are probably asking, “Now what do I do?”

OA Definittion

Osteoarthritis of the knee

After being diagnosed with OA, your orthopedic physician will go through several treatment options with you based on the severity of your arthritis. In most cases, they will recommend nonsurgical treatments to start.

We talked with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Walker Flannery about some of these nonsurgical methods to better understand how they help relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Medications

One of the simplest ways to try and help relieve the pain, stiffness, and swelling from arthritis is taking over-the-counter medications such as:

  • Ibuprofen – Max does of 2400 mg per day, split into three equal doses
  • Naproxen (Aleve) – Max dose of 880 mg per day, split into two equal doses
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – Max dose of 3000 mg per day, split into three equal doses

(Please consult with your primary care physician before taking any of the above medications).

“These over-the-counter medications not only help relieve pain, but many will actually reduce inflammation within the joint,” says Dr. Flannery.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to over-the-counter medications, there are many lifestyle changes that a person can make to help with joint pain. These include:

  • Staying active, but switching to lower impact activities like walking, biking, swimming, and yoga.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce the pressure put on joints like the knees and hips.
  • Using an assistive device such as a cane or walking stick.

Physical Therapy

“Physical therapy helps maintain or increase range of motion within the joint,” says Dr. Flannery. “It also builds muscle strength, which may help relieve any extra pressure being put on the joint.”

Doing physical therapy at this stage (prior to surgery) can also help with the recovery and overall outcome if a joint replacement surgery is eventually needed.

Injections

A fourth nonsurgical option for arthritis management is joint injections. This treatment method is used to deliver medication directly into the arthritic joint to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

One type is a cortisone (steroid) injection that reduces inflammation within a joint, which can significantly reduce pain. A second type of injection uses a solution that lubricates the joint to reduce pain and improve range of motion and mobility within the joint.

“Any of these nonsurgical methods can be used for arthritis in the hips, knees, shoulders, or other joints,” says Dr. Flannery. “Our goal with recommending these options is to relieve a patient’s symptoms and see if surgery can be delayed or even prevented.”

It’s also important to note that many insurance plans require patients to try nonsurgical methods prior to having a joint replacement surgery if they are looking to have the procedure covered under insurance benefits.

Flannery-bio page

Dr. Walker Flannery is the newest orthopedic surgeon to join the OSMS team. To make an appointment with him or any of the other OSMS physicians, call 920-430-8113.

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of Yoga

Benefits of Yoga

Since September is National Yoga Month, we talked with a couple of local instructors to learn more about the many benefits of yoga.

Some of the most commonly talked about benefits are the physical ones, like improved flexibility, increased strength, and better balance. These are why many people have started to include yoga in their fitness regimens. But beyond being a good workout, yoga has other physical benefits.

“Practicing yoga can help increase respiratory capacity, improve circulation, and enhance digestion,”‘ says Jackie Schechinger, a Green Bay yoga instructor and wife of OSMS physician Dr. Steve Schechinger.

Yoga also has a positive effect on a person’s mental health.

“The increased awareness to mindfully breath helps calm the nervous system and increase oxygen flow in the blood, which causes this wonderful duality of feeling calm yet energized,” says Jen Berres, owner of and instructor at Jenstar Yoga and Dance in De Pere.

While everyone can benefit from the strengthening and stress-reducing outcomes of yoga, it can be especially beneficial for two types of OSMS patients – athletes and those living with arthritis.

Yoga and Athletes

Competitive athletes are always looking to improve athletic skills and reduce the risk of injury. Yoga can help with both!

“Athletes tend to have a ‘go hard’ mentality about training, and a yoga practice brings balance to this mindset by teaching athletes to slow down and be in the moment,” says Jen. “It also creates better body awareness, which allows athletes to gain more range of motion, fluidity of movement, strength, stamina, and coordination. It is definitely a game changer, and many of the best athletes in the world are incorporating yoga into their routines.”

Yoga can also help with injury prevention and recovery.

“The improved body mechanics, balance, stability, and flexibility that an athlete can experience from yoga all work together to reduce the risk of injury,” says Jackie. “But perhaps the most important benefit for athletes is the increased mental awareness and focus to overcome an injury and elevate training and performance to the next level.”

Yoga and Arthritis

Despite the pictures of headstands, arm balances, and intricate twists that you may see on social media, yoga can be gentle enough for people living with arthritis.

“Yoga helps those with arthritis see better overall physical functioning, in particular increased joint range of motion, flexibility, and balance,” says Jackie.

Together, these outcomes can help reduce joint stiffness and pain so that people can continue to live actively.

“Joint pain is uncomfortable, but if you stop being active it can only get worse,” says Jen. “I have seen clients with arthritis feel a world of difference after only a few yoga classes.”

Learn more about yoga and arthritis from the Arthritis Foundation.

If you are new to yoga – no matter your age or activity level – it’s important to find a style and instructor that fits your needs and allows for appropriate modifications for individual restrictions, limitations, or injuries.