How Technology Affects Your Body

It’s no secret that we are inundated with technology everyday. The way we communicate with family members and loved ones, how we read our news, pay our bills, receive healthcare and go to work are all streamlined by technological advances.

While information is now readily available at our fingertips and we are more connected than ever, our bodies are prone to suffer from the adverse effects technology can have. Whether sitting too long at our desks, losing proper spinal alignment or not being active enough, it has become increasingly easy to develop poor habits and suffer from greater health risks.

Instead of accepting these conditions as the norm, there are many ways to help maintain your health and wellbeing and keep your body in check.

Ergonomic Accessories

There are numerous ergonomically friendly devices that can help prevent the onset of health issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Ergonomic keyboards, mouse pads and arm rests help keep resting posture correct and alleviate pressure on various points of the arm that may cause problems.

Standing Desks

One of this generation’s biggest health concerns is being stagnant or sitting at a desk for extended periods of time. Numerous studies have been conducted that show how detrimental this can be to multiple aspects of your health, so standing desks help counteract these effects. By standing, the body can circulate blood more freely and keep posture aligned. Many companies now offer standing options to help lower healthcare costs.

Lumbar-Supporting Chairs

Okay, so let’s assume you check with your company and can’t get a standing desk installed, another great option is a ergo and lumbar-supporting chair. These provide the support your body needs to maintain natural alignment and reduces “slouching” significantly. This also helps create natural tendencies to sit and move properly. Ultimately, if you’re going to have to sit, at least you’ll have proper alignment while doing so.

Wearable Fitness Trackers

Speaking of sitting too long, one of the biggest advancements in the health field is fitness trackers. Many wearable tech companies offer their own iteration that allow you to track and monitor how active you stay throughout the day. By keeping a close eye on activity level, you can help combat inactivity and get a bit of exercise along the way. So get up and get moving!

Staying Mindful

Alright, so this isn’t technology and not something you’re able to buy online, but it’s easy to do. When texting or browsing on your phone, sitting at a desk or table, or just using any type of technology, think about your neck, spine, arms and legs. If you’re staring down at your phone, your neck is in a vulnerable position, so raise your phone to stay more aligned. Sitting up straight or maintaining good posture allows us to develop good habits when we sit, stand, walk or run. Keep your legs bent or elevated appropriately. When you type, try your best to not rest your wrists on the keyboard or desk. The next time you find yourself slouching or when your back or neck starts feeling sore, correct your positioning. All of these are slight changes that can produce drastic results for your body.

We’re only provided one body in this lifetime, so we must do whatever we can to make sure it’s in the best condition. If you’re already suffering from orthopedic or spine issues, our specialists can help get you back on the fast track to healthy living!


Warming Up for Summer Activities

Whether swimming laps at the pool, joining a competitive baseball or softball league, running trails at your favorite park or simply playing a game of HORSE with a good friend, summer is one of the best times of the year to get outside and be active.

Yet, before you get started, it’s crucial to always warm up and stretch properly to help avoid injury. And while there are numerous ways to help get your body primed and limber, these are some of the best methods to use:

Dynamic Stretching

It’s been found that static stretching can actually hinder your body’s performance when exercising, so dynamic movement and stretches are much better for warming up all those muscle groups. Stretches such as lunges, squatting, arm circles, butt kicks and leg kicks move you through a continuous range of motion and help loosen your body up properly.

Foam Rolling

If you have one readily available, utilizing a foam roller before and after your workout keeps your muscles relaxed and capable of moderate to strenuous exercise. Also, post-work out rolling helps your muscles regenerate and grow more efficiently.

Just Jump

Yes, seriously. Jumping rope or in place for 5-10 minutes will get your heart rate and body temperature up, loosening up your arms, legs and core. Obviously, don’t over exert yourself and do however much that your body or fitness level will allow and build from there.

Speaking of jumping, jumping jacks address all major muscle groups and open up your flexibility and range of motion significantly. Try substituting in a few sets of 20 pre-workout to help get that blood flowing.


Nothing demonstrates flexibility and stretching quite like yoga. While there are many stages and degrees of difficulty to the art, performing basic functions allows the body to regulate oxygen through the bloodstream and loosen up and stretch those major muscle groups. Obviously, don’t go above and beyond your body’s limits the first few times, but begin incorporating different positions in as you become accustomed and more flexible.

Get to Walking – The easiest way to warm up and cool down after any exercise or sport is walking. You’re able to help regulate your breathing and, depending on the amount of energy you plan to exert, can adjust your speed accordingly.

Clearly, there are multiple ways to help get your body prepared for any physical activity or sport you want to participate in. If you have fallen victim to strains, sprains or other injuries, contact the physical therapists at Methodist Hospital Surgery are get back on the road to recovery today.


More Than A Crick—Common Spinal Injuries In Sports

You’ve long doffed your winter coat and have already spent plenty of afternoons basking in the sun. At Methodist Hospital for Surgery, we certainly hope that your coming days are going to involve summer sports and weekend campouts, but we also want to know that you’re taking care along the way.

Specifically, as people become more active, especially in school or community athletic programs, our orthopedic specialists want to highlight some of the more common spinal injuries that can occur in these scenarios, along with how to prevent and treat them.

Because spinal injury should never be the reason for summer coming to a swift end.

Knowing When Things Are Out of Whack

Spine-related injuries common to sports is a lengthy topic, with a mile-long list of injuries one could sustain. But let’s shorten our focus to specific types of spinal injury and narrow it down to the top three: disc injury, pinched nerves—called stingers—and fractures.

  • Disc Injury: herniated or “slipped” discs can occur as a result of prolonged pressure throughout the spine; an individual disc can tear out of its normal position and begin pressing against the spinal column. This kind of pressure against the spine’s root nerves can cause numbness, pain, and tingling in the limbs. Treatment generally begins conservatively, with anti-inflammatories, ice, and rest, but may progress to bracing, physical therapy, and steroid injections depending on the injury’s severity.
  • Stingers: known clinically as a brachial plexus injury, stingers are common in contact sports and are caused by the head being forcefully pushed down or to the side (usually in a collision). The resulting pinched nerves cause stinging electrical-type pain, usually in one arm, and can lead to overall weakness in the limb if not treated. Much like disc injuries, treatment may include rest, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, or steroid or cortisone injections.
  • Fractures: while it sounds scary, “spinal fracture” is not synonymous with “spinal cord injury” and the severity depends on the location of the fracture and whether surrounding ligaments were also injured or dislocated. Symptoms vary in accordance with the severity of the fracture but can include back or neck pain, numbness and tingling, muscle spasms or weakness, or paralysis. In many cases, spinal fractures heal with conservative treatments of rest and medication, otherwise braces, orthotics, and surgical fusion may be necessary.

Prevent Injury & Play It Safe

With spinal injury, it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re engaging in any kind of contact sport, make sure helmets, padding, and other protective gear are worn and properly fitted. If you or another athlete suspects a spinal injury after a fall or collision—especially if you experience pain, numbness or tingling, or muscle weakness or paralysis—see an orthopedic specialist right away.

Not sure who to see regarding spinal injuries? Learn more about our orthopedic spine specialists visit our website or email us at


Under Pressure: Hyperbarics In Wound Healing

Atmospheric pressure and exposure to a key chemical element may not sound like the ideal mix for treating persistent wounds, but it’s actually one of medicine’s most long-standing and highly effective solutions.

The chemical element? Oxygen. And the method itself is known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy or hyperbaric medicine, which has long been used to address not just wounds, including skin grafts and burns, but also decompression sickness (common among divers), carbon monoxide poisoning and even anemia.

It’s a unique specialty not intended for every patient. But if you suffer from open wounds that refuse to heal, whether as a result of diabetes, radiation or other ailment, this could be your ideal road to wellness.

Understanding Hyperbaric Treatment

Hyperbaric treatments combine a stream of 100% oxygen, delivered inside a pressurized atmosphere (air pressure about three times greater than normal), to increase the amount of oxygen in your blood. The additional oxygen in turn triggers the release of growth factors, such as hormones and vitamins and stem cells, to promote and expedite healing from the inside-out.

According to J.R. Williams, II, MD, medical director of the Center for Wound Care & Hyperbarics at Methodist Hospital for Surgery: “Most chronic wounds are suffering from poor blood circulation and, therefore, poor oxygen delivery, which is immediately improved by hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) by forcing more than 100% oxygen into the tissues.”

Are You A Candidate for Hyperbarics?

Generally speaking, anyone dealing with a condition that could benefit from hyperbaric therapy is an ideal candidate. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind.

First, you must be able to withstand the pressure. Literally. Hyperbaric chambers do not utilize a painful degree of pressure, but it is greater than what is normally experienced—not unlike swimming to the bottom of a deep pool. Expect some ear popping and a little chest heaviness.

Second, those with lung or heart disease or with inner ear troubles may not do well in the hyperbaric environment. If these conditions prohibit you from hyperbaric therapy, your physician will certainly explain the why.

What To Expect During Treatment

Hyperbaric treatment sessions can last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours and require only that you lie back, breathe normally and relax—you can even watch TV or listen to music. The chamber itself is a long, see-through tube that, once sealed, fills with pressurized oxygen. Following treatment, you may feel a little lightheaded or hungry, but the feeling passes quickly and treatment does not limit your performance in any way.

“Research proves that HBOT is a very beneficial advanced therapy in treating many types of wounds,” said Dr. Williams. “It is proven to advance wound healing, returning patients to a better quality of life.”

Don’t let stubborn wounds slow you down. Find out if hyperbaric therapy is right for your situation, and then take full advantage of this simple and painless procedure. If you’re curious to know more or have already been cleared to pursue treatment, be sure to contact the hyperbaric specialists at Methodist Hospital for Surgery.


Sweet Dreams for Complete, Quality Health

If you only remember one thing for the sake of your health, let it be this: sleep well.

Sleep is one of the most critical components in your overall health, affecting your physical, mental and emotional states of being. Unfortunately, in this age of mobile phones, digital clocks and televisions in bedrooms, getting proper rest has become a unique challenge. But don’t accept the idea that sleep deprivation is part of life—it shouldn’t be! There are things you can do to slumber soundly, and Methodist Hospital for Surgery is here to help.

Enter the Center for Sleep Disorders at Methodist Hospital for Surgery. Sleep studies are the modern man’s tool for determining what hinders proper sleep, so physicians (or dieticians or therapists) can prescribe targeted remedies. The Center for Sleep Disorders at Methodist Hospital for Surgery just might be your ticket to improved rest and better health.

What happens inside the sleep lab?

A Sleep study, officially termed polysomnogram, involves lots of measurements. When preparing for a sleep study, sensors are attached to your scalp, legs, chest and neck, and record things like:

  • Brain Waves
  • Eye Movements (this helps determine when you’re in deep sleep)
  • Heart Rate
  • Breathing Pattern & Oxygen Levels (these readings may indicate sleep apnea)
  • Body Position & Movement
  • Leg movements

There are also microphones throughout the sleep lab to help monitor snoring or other sounds you make during sleep. After a sleep study, all of your measurements are evaluated to determine whether you suffer from any number of sleep disorders, which may include:

  • Sleep Apnea
  • Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Narcolepsy
  • Sleepwalking

So I can’t sleep, now what?

Good news—treatment methods for sleep disorders are as innovative as the labs used to diagnose them. In addition to pharmaceuticals created to promote proper sleep cycles, breathing devices like the CPAP are helpful in alleviating sleep apnea and simple dental appliances can help with snoring.

Other times, devices and drugs are not the trick. That’s when your physician may prescribe certain lifestyle changes, such as tobacco cessation, exercise programs, stress management or dietary adjustments.

It’s time to get some sleep.

Don’t let sleep loss lower your quality of life. If you wrestle with daytime fatigue, unusual shifts in mood or anxiety levels, slow reaction times and suspect that sleep may be the underlying problem, contact the bedtime pros at Methodist Hospital for Surgery and take the first step to a good night’s sleep.

Winter Orthopedic Injury

Avoiding Orthopedic Injury During Winter Play

Texans don’t really catch “fresh powder” at home, but we somehow maintain a hearty love of snow and ski slopes. And whether we choose a weekend in New Mexico or a grander getaway to Colorado resorts, Texans are always seeking exciting winter escapades.

But before you head up a mountain—and certainly before you glide back down—prep yourself to stay safe and avoid all-too-common orthopedic skiing and snowboarding injuries.

Common Orthopedic Offenses In Skiing

Arguably the single most common type of injury associated with skiing or snowboarding is a sprain or tear in the knee, in particular the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Ascending the slopes, working your way back down, and attempting to correct a fall all present opportunities to injure the knee.

Other common injuries are unsurprisingly associated with falling and tend to affect the hands and wrists or shoulder. You know the scene, even if you don’t snowboard or ski: the fall is approaching, it’s happening in slow motion, and so you extend your arms to catch yourself. This scene almost never concludes with you unscathed.

Keep Yourself Unscathed On the Slopes

So how do you stay safe while taking full advantage of snow sports? Here are three pro tips to keep you in one piece.

  1. Conditioning: Athletes don’t just train to perform well; they train to remain uninjured. The same applies for regular Joes hitting the slopes; snowboarding and skiing are athletic endeavors and the appropriate physical preparation will do a lot for your safety. Maintain your cardio power and muscular strength throughout the year, and then be sure to warm up immediately before your activity.
  2. Equipment: This may seem like a no-brainer, but too many accidents can be blamed on ill-fitting boots, worn bindings (this device keeps your ski attached to your boot) and ski poles that are the wrong length for the skier’s height. Whether you own your gear or are renting it from a ski facility, check it before every outing and don’t rely on anything that isn’t up to par.
  3. Weather & Environment: You traveled all this way, have only two days to hit the slopes, and that’s when an icy storm blows through. It’s disappointing. But high winds, low visibility, wet snow and ice, or a sudden drop in temperature can all spell disaster when you’re zipping down a steep hill. So mind the weather and know what conditions you face on the slopes.

Make It Memorable, Keep It Safe

An epic winter adventure shouldn’t be remembered for the injury that brought it crashing to a halt. So do yourself a favor and take the proper steps to ensure your own safety, and possibly that of others. And if you find yourself nursing an orthopedic tweak or injury, contact Methodist Hospital for Surgery’s renowned orthopedic team.

Methodist Hospital for Surgery Earns ACR Accreditation

Methodist Hospital for Surgery, has been awarded a three-year term of accreditation in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as the result of a recent review by the American College of Radiology (ACR). MRI is a noninvasive medical test that utilizes magnetic fields to produce anatomical images of internal body parts to help physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.

The ACR gold seal of accreditation represents the highest level of image quality and patient safety. It is awarded only to facilities meeting ACR Practice Guidelines and Technical Standards after a peer-review evaluation by board-certified physicians and medical physicists who are experts in the field. Image quality, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility equipment, quality control procedures, and quality assurance programs are assessed. The findings are reported to the ACR Committee on Accreditation, which subsequently provides the practice with a comprehensive report they can use for continuous practice improvement.

The ACR is a national professional organization serving more than 36,000 diagnostic/interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians, and medical physicists with programs focusing on the practice of medical imaging and radiation oncology and the delivery of comprehensive health care services.

Don’t Take a Back Seat to Back Pain

Most adults consider back pain a common part of life. Long days behind a desk, toting toddlers, gym routines and even daily chores all seem to become known as a twinge in the neck, a throb in the shoulders or just an endless ache along the spine. But how can you know when back pain is something more than just a symptom of the norm?

Your spine is a control tower—pay attention to what it controls!

Think of your spine as a control tower that affects the performance of your limbs and even several vital organs. With that in mind, it makes sense to note when these “satellite” areas are being affected by pain. As for what kinds of pain, consider these:

  • Tingling and/or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Shooting pain that travels down the leg
  • General weakness affecting the legs or upper body

If you experience these symptoms in conjunction with back pain, there’s a lot that could be happening. Specifically, you could be suffering from one of several conditions that cause inflammation and subsequent pressure on the major nerves in your back and shoulders.

Symptoms such as numbness, tingling, shooting pain, pain that travels or general weakness—especially when they accompany back pain—are a sure sign that it’s time to chat with your doctor, because delayed treatment of potentially injured nerves can lead to permanent damage.

Time of day determines a lot.

Have you noticed that your pain peaks at night? Perhaps more specifically when it’s time to lie down in bed? This can be a telltale sign of many things, from degenerated discs to neuropathy or even tumors. While sprains can generally be treated with rest and perhaps pain medication, other conditions will require your doctor’s attention.

Track the days you’re spending in pain.

orthopedic spine specialists at Methodist Hospital for Surgery are industry leaders in diagnosing and treating all manner of back pain, spine and disc deformities and injuries, as well as underlying medical conditions that can cause pain along the spine and in the limbs. If you’ve begun to suspect that your pain is a result of more than the daily grind, give us a call and let our spine specialists set you upright again!

wound care

Closing the Gap with Specialty Wound Care

Not all wounds are created equal.

If you’ve tried all the ointments and employed countless bandages but your wound persists beyond a week or two, it may be time to visit a specialist. And maybe you’ve never thought of wound healing as a struggle, but there are millions who are uniquely prone to dealing with stubborn—even life-threatening—cuts, abrasions and bruises.

Recognizing Common Chronic Wounds

Venous and foot ulcers are arguably the most common of all chronic wounds, generally because of their frequent occurrence in diabetics. But diabetes isn’t the only key risk factor. Other common conditions and habits associated with this type of wound include:

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (blood clot)
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Physical Immobility/Paralysis

When a venous or foot ulcer begins, it usually appears as a dark red or purple patch on the bottom or side of the foot, around a toe or on the side of the lower leg. Over time, the area will develop into a shallow red crater and the edges will likely become thick and calloused.

The real challenge is when these wounds go unnoticed. For those with poor circulation or certain complications of diabetes, the nerves around the wound may not be fully functioning—this means the wound won’t actually hurt like it otherwise would. If left untreated, the wound could become infected and even begin to cause nerve and tissue damage.

Benefitting From Specialty Wound Care Treatment

Such a unique problem demands a unique approach. Enter the wound care specialist.

“The body has an amazing ability to heal itself, however many times, it needs a little help from evidence-based research and applied knowledge to achieve healing,” states Joseph Williams, MD, Medical Director, Methodist Hospital for Surgery’s Center for Wound Care & Hyperbarics. “Our center offers advanced treatment options for those living with non-healing wounds.”

Depending on the type and severity of a chronic wound, specialists have incredibly advanced treatment options at their disposal. For example, most treatments can begin with debridement. During this simple treatment, diseased tissue is trimmed away, the wound is bandaged and then specialty footwear is used to relieve pressure from the area; this process is usually repeated several times over a course of weeks or months until the wound is completely healed.

Perhaps one of the best things a wound care specialist can do is teach patients how to properly care for themselves and their chronic wounds at home. A specialized home care regimen may include:

  • Specialized Diet
  • Antibiotics to Prevent Infection
  • Smoking Cessation (if applicable)
  • Elevation of Affected Limbs
  • Routine Walks or Daily Exercise (to improve circulation)
  • Compression Stockings or Bandages

But if a wound persists after routine debridement and comprehensive home care, your specialist will have numerous advanced treatment options to discuss, some of which may include topical solutions, hyperbaric treatments or surgery. Talk to your physician today if you have questions about chronic wound care, or contact Methodist Hospital for Surgery’s Center for Wound Care and Hyperbarics for information on our wound care specialists.

Step Up! Podiatric Insight for Happy, Healthy Feet

Sometimes it’s easy to write off foot pain—blame a long afternoon, ill-fitting shoes or yesterday’s workout—but it’s not something to ignore, especially if it’s persistent.

Fortunately, the podiatric specialists at Methodist Hospital for Surgery have some insight for keeping your feet happy, healthy and steadily stepping along.

The Most Common Foot Pain Offenders

The list of common causes for foot pain is extensive and includes everything from bunions and bone disease to flat feet and fractures. For most of us though, the culprits are injury, overuse, inflammation or arthritis. But we’re going to narrow our focus even more, since arguably the most common foot ache complaints stem from those first two offenders: injury and overuse.

Foot ache that stems from overuse may include:

  • Dull ache
  • Painful arch
  • Difficulty wearing shoes
  • Tenderness to the touch

Meanwhile, symptoms of injury could include any of the above as well as:

  • Inflammation
  • Inability to walk or apply pressure
  • Pain in ankles, knees or hips
  • Visible bruising or redness

If you have pain or swelling that you consider severe (especially if it’s stopping you from walking or standing), or if you’re a diabetic with open wounds on your feet, it’s time to call your doctor. Otherwise, consider some targeted home remedies.

A Good Excuse to Prop ‘Em Up

That euphoric feeling of relief when you prop your feet up isn’t just in your head. By elevating your feet, especially if they’re at or above the level of your heart, you’re using gravity to help reduce inflammation and redirect blood back to your heart. Plus there’s a lot to be said for simply taking your body weight off your feet, which helps further reduce inflammation and lets your muscles recover.

In addition to simple rest and elevation, ice or a hot Epsom soak are great healers, too. If you choose to ice an injured foot, we recommend leaving your ice pack in place for about twenty minutes then removing it; after twenty minutes off, you can put the ice pack back in place, then continue the on-and-off rotation as needed.

As for the Epsom soak, Epsom salts are actually a form of magnesium sulfate, which is a mineral that can be absorbed through the skin and provides numerous benefits including pain relief, reduced inflammation and improved circulation. Just fill a small foot tub with warm water up to your ankles and add one cup of Epsom salts; soak your feet for 10-15 minutes, then dry them off and prop them up!

Learn More About Happy, Healthy Feet

For more insight regarding how to care for your feet, check out “Tips for Healthy Feet” from the American Podiatric Medical Association. Then take a moment to consider whether it’s time for you to visit the podiatric specialists at Methodist Hospital for Surgery