Shedding light on the dark

It’s January and winter has at last arrived in North America. It officially started several weeks ago, but it took a while to really get going.  After a balmy December (for most of the country, anyway), the first month of 2016 has given us, as expected, single digit temperatures and snow:  the Minnesota vs. Seattle playoff game earlier this month was the third coldest NFL game in history. This month is also giving us the shortest days of our year north of the equator.

ACSP 2016

ACSP meeting coming up — Come to Surfers’ Paradise if you can!

[sidebar and shout out to our colleagues in the Australasian College of Sports Physicians (ACSP)–I am so looking forward to the warmth and long, sunny days of Surfers’ Paradise, in a mere 4 weeks!!!]

But the days are lengthening, and the sun will get stronger each day, of course. And metaphorically, at least, I can find light in this darkness by sitting down with this month’s edition of CJSM.  You can, too.

Yes, ‘shedding light in the dark,’ that’s the image I hold as I enjoy this privilege of being one of a group of editors managing one of sports medicine’s premier journals.  The on-going process of scientific investigation continues to expose the dark corners of our knowledge base, and journals like ours–disseminating this knowledge via print, internet, and other media vehicles–help practicing sports medicine clinicians bring the latest evidence-based research to the sidelines, training rooms and clinics.

In truth, I recently wrote about being ‘in the dark’ (literally and figuratively) as I watched the movie ‘Concussion’ and reflected on how much we still lack in our understanding of this clinical entity, in almost all aspects:  diagnosis, management, treatment, prognosis.  I am reading now with pleasure three pieces of original research about concussion just in our January issue, bringing their light to bear on the issue:

And as I have begun to prepare my talk for the upcoming ACSP conference (“School sports and youth injury: the promise and the peril”), I find myself leaning heavily on research published in CJSM. To wit: Read more of this post

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The Nutcracker

Angelina_Sansone_dans_Casse-Noisette,_Kansas_City_Ballet,_-4_décembre_2013_a

Angelina Sansone, Kansas City Ballet

With the holiday season come a host of traditions. There are tree trimming and the lighting of the menorah; there are caroling and jingle bell runs. And there’s that new favorite: wearing tacky sweaters.

There is, as well, the Nutcracker.

My family and I will be watching this weekend at Columbus’ BalletMet production.  This will mark our fifth year in attendance, and I’ve been impressed with the dancers’ artistry and skill each time I’ve seen the show.

Truth be told, I never went to any ballet until I was an adult.  My affection for the Nutcracker derives not from my own childhood Christmas memories, but from the work I did as a sports medicine fellow, where I ‘covered’ the Boston Ballet for a year.  What a great experience that was!

‘Dance Medicine,’ as many of you know, is a special niche of sports medicine.  Like any sport, dance has its own language, it’s own mental and physical challenges, its own equipment, and its own injury patterns.  I have not managed too many cases of hallux rigidus, FHL tendonitis or posterolateral ankle impingement outside of the dance world.

I grew very fond of this field during my training, and I continue to seek out opportunities to participate in this world.  And so I took extra pleasure in our September 2014 editions, which offered two new pieces of original research in dance medicine: Body Mass Index, Nutritional Knowledge, and Eating Behaviors in Elite Student and Professional Ballet Dancers and a brief report, Early Signs of Osteoarthritis in Professional Ballet Dancers:  A Preliminary Study.  I commend both of them to you. Read more of this post

Articular Cartilage Pathology: What to do?

A syringe delivering PRP:
A silver bullet for osteoarthritis?

My fall was so busy, I’m finally getting back to doing a sequel of a post I wrote in early October:  Osteoarthritis Part I.

I’m finally writing “Part II.”

The proximal impetus for finally attending to this item on my personal ‘to do’ list?  The new, January 2014 edition of the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine has a couple of very fine articles on the treatment of articular cartilage pathology. One of the studies, “Treatment of Cartilage Defects of the Knee: Expanding on the Existing Algorithm,” is a general review I hope to post about in the near future.  The study that is in my line of fire today explores the uses of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in the treatment of osteoarthritis and cartilage defects: “Platelet-rich Plasma in the Management of Articular Cartilage Pathology:  A Systematic Review.”

I found this review to be incredibly helpful.  It begins with an overview of articular cartilage pathology and a reminder of the frustrations in treating a tissue that has a limited inherent healing capacity.   Rarely can articular cartilage repair itself.  And when injury penetrates subchondral bone, underlying marrow cells can be stimulated to provide some repair, but inevitably the fibrocartilage that results is a biomechanically inferior substitute for native, articular hyaline cartilage.

ocd for blog 2

OCD of the medial femoral condyle:
what will this joint look like in 2044?

The review notes the increasing incidence of chondral and osteochondral lesions, something as a pediatric sports medicine specialist I can attest to.  The 10 year old with knee OCD I am treating today:  I often wonder what their knee will be like in 30 years?

The authors note:   “Several treatment modalities are available, including microfracture, autologous chondrocyte transplatation, and autograft and allograft osteochondral transplantation.  However, the reported resulst with these procedures have been variable and are not guaranteed to prevent symptomatic degenerative disease at long-term follow up.”

In other words, the hunt is on for an effective, definitive treatment of articular cartilage injury.  Might PRP be the answer?

The brief answer:  we need to learn much, much more about PRP, and probably about articular cartilage, too.

Let’s start with the limitations.  Read more of this post

Osteoarthritis: Part I

I’ve been an Associate Editor for CJSM now for six months, and so some of you in the blog world may already know a little bit of my background as it has come out over time in my various posts.

For those of you who may be new readers of this blog, I thought for today’s post it was important for me to let you know that I work at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the pediatric hospital affiliate of Ohio State University, and my specialty is pediatric sports medicine.

So……I don’t manage a lot of osteoarthritis (OA) in my current practice.

ocd of knee jpeg

Adult OCD of the knee,
unstable lesion: destined for osteoarthritis?

However, I didn’t narrow my clinical scope of practice to the younger crowd until 2010, and I have managed my fair share of OA in my career, injecting plenty of knees with hyaluronic acid derivatives, encouraging weight management and low impact exercise…….Now, I suppose I’m more on the end of the spectrum of primary prevention of the disease: if I manage my young patients’ knee osteochondritis dissecans properly, perhaps I can spare them from degenerative joint disease later in life.

I’m not telling anyone reading this something they don’t know already when I write that career paths are varied in modern medicine.  There’ s no telling if I’ll be taking care of kids exclusively in 10 years.  We all have mandates from Certification Boards requiring us to stay abreast of the current medical literature; we’re tested on it every few years now, as Maintenance of Certification is a phenomenon here to stay.  Forces like these make it incumbent that I read and ‘stay on top of’ developments in the world of OA diagnosis and management, even if I am not seeing much of this disease in my current practice.

After all, OA is the leading cause of chronic disability among older adults in the United States.  That’s a disease worth knowing about.

I thought, therefore, that I would share with you a couple of interesting studies that have come out recently on major issues in the world of osteoarthritis.  Both studies were just published within the last month:  the first, “Shared Decision Making in Patients with Osteoarthritis of the Hip and Knee,”  published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS), I will discuss in my next blog post.  And the second, “Effects of Intensive Diet and Exercise on Knee Joint Loads, Inflammation, and Clinical Outcomes Among Overweight and Obese Adults with Knee Osteoarthritis,” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), I will review now.   They are both large, high quality evidence (Level 1) studies which focus on low tech, low cost interventions that have the potential of having major clinical impact.  They are both studies primary care sports/MSK clinicians like myself might be expected to be aware of. Read more of this post

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