Orthopaedic Associates Articles

Recent Articles

Safety Tips for this Gardening Season

April 16, 2024

Planning on using your green thumb this spring and summer? Gardening has both physical and mental health benefits, however there can be some risks to be aware of when helping your outdoor flowers and veggies bloom.

Warm Up

Spending long periods of time weeding, planting, digging, and reaching is considered physical labor and can be hard on the body. Take a little time warming up and stretching beforehand to avoid issues like low back and shoulder soreness. Gardening without proper rest and stretching can also lead to more than just pain - injuries including pulled muscles and tendon issues are common. 

Utilize Tools

To reduce the amount of stress on your body during gardening season, select your tools wisely. Choose ergonomic tools that will work with you instead of against you. Tools with thicker, padded handles work to protect the joints in your hands. Arm support cuffs, extension rods, and grabbers are also great tools to reduce pain and strain. 

Focus in Posture

Remember to focus on having good posture. Move slowly to make sure your posture is correct and you are never feeling uncomfortable. Chores in the garden often require a lot of kneeling and bending. We recommend using knee pads instead of bending over when possible. Utilizing a stool or chair can also ease the stress on your knees. If you do need to bend to complete a task, hinge at the hip instead of the waist. 

When it comes to lifting heavy objects like bags of soil and large planters, avoid strain on your back by engaging your legs, knees, and core. Hold items close to your body and avoid lifting, twisting, and throwing heavy or wet materials. To reduce the risk of injury, use equipment or ask another person for help instead of moving forward solo with heavy lifting.

Break it Up

Avoiding prolonged repetitive movements can also help to limit the chances of tendon or nerve irritation. To minimize strain, vary tasks and rotate movements so that the same muscles are not used over and over again without rest. 

Take breaks when you are feeling tired, especially on hotter days. Make sure to drink water to stay hydrated. This will not only help to prevent injury but will also improve your ability to work and your productivity. 

Protect your General Well-being

For your general health, make sure to wear personal protective equipment to protect yourself from the risk of cuts, scrapes, and skin irritants. Apply sunscreen and insect repellent when necessary. Watch the weather conditions and layer appropriately. Use chemicals and harmful materials carefully. Making sure your general well-being is taken care of will also benefit physical aches and pains later.

If an injury does occur when working in the garden, don’t ignore it. Even if it is small, tend to it immediately before it becomes a larger issue. If you are experiencing any issues with your joints or muscles, contact us so we can help make sure your lifestyle (and gardens) continue to bloom! 


The Role of Stretching and Flexibility Exercises

April 8, 2024

When it comes to physical fitness and athletic performance, flexibility can be just as important as strength and endurance. In addition to lifting weights and keeping up on cardiovascular fitness, incorporating stretching and flexibility exercises into your routine will benefit your overall performance, as well as helping with injury prevention. 

The benefits of maintaining flexibility are not limited to only athletes. Every person’s well-being is enhanced by taking a few minutes in our days to focus on moving our bodies and stretching our muscles. 

Benefits of Stretching 

Stretching keeps your muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. These deliberate movements work to elongate muscles, tendons, and ligaments which increases their elasticity and range of motion. 

A lack of flexibility results in shortened, tight muscles. When your muscles are tight they become weak and unable to extend as they are supposed to when used for physical activity. This puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, muscle injury, and damage. 

In general, flexibility: 

- Improves performance in physical activities
- Decreases risk of injury
- Helps joints move through their full range of motion
- Increases muscle blood flow
- Enables muscles to work most effectively
- Improves the ability to do daily activities

Regular stretching and flexibility maintenance are important for those who are active daily playing sports as well as those who sit for most of the day. For one example, sitting in a chair while working all day causes the muscle located at the back of your thighs, the hamstrings, to become tight. Then, when you attempt to use these muscles they are weak and unable to extend all the way, leading to a higher risk of pain and issues. 

How to Stretch

There are about 600 muscles in the human body, so the thought of stretching them all can seem daunting. Luckily, you don't have to stretch EVERY muscle you have. We recommend focusing on the lower extremities: your quadriceps, pelvis, hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves are critical in your daily mobility. Your neck, shoulders, and lower neck should also be kept in mind for healthy movement. 

There are two main types of stretching that can be incorporated into your routine. 

Dynamic Stretching: controlled movements that mimic activities of daily living or sports motions, used mainly to prepare muscles and joints for subsequent activity.

Static Stretching: holding a position to elongate a muscle without movement. The pose is held where you feel tension but not pain for 15 - 30 seconds.

Muscle flexibility doesn’t happen after just one stretching session, it takes weeks to months to achieve and then maintenance to keep. It is important to include it with your daily movements and workouts, so that when it comes time to take on physical exertion there won't be too much force placed on the muscle being used. 

Flexibility and Stretching During Sports

Ideas on the importance of stretching before participating in sports have gone back and forth. Currently, it is not advised to consider stretching your warm-up. Stretching cold muscles can cause harm to them. Instead, warm up with a ten minute light walk or jog to get blood flowing to the muscles, then stretch them before doing higher-intensity activities like soccer or football. These sports require muscles and tendons that are compliant to high amounts of energy absorption. 

However, some sports may require less flexibility from their athletes. Runners, for example, can become too flexible before they compete and over accentuate their muscles and their movements, ruining form. Work with your coach, physical therapist, or trainer on a custom stretching and flexibility plan for your activity level.

Flexibility is one piece of the puzzle to keeping our bodies working correctly and moving for us - whatever our age, physical activity level, or body composition. We encourage you to find breaks in your day for routine stretching and to find movements that feel good for your lifestyle. A few minutes in your daily schedule or alongside your workout goes a long way in helping you continue to live in motion. 


Hydration and Orthopaedic Wellness: Why Water Matters

March 25, 2024

We’re told to make sure to drink enough water, stay hydrated, keep a water bottle with us to make it a habit. But what is the actual importance of consuming enough water? Read on to learn how H2O benefits the body, how much to consume, and some tips to staying hydrated. 

In short, water transports nutrients to cells, gets rid of waste in the body, and protects joints and organs. Let’s dive further into it all to see how hydration helps keep you in motion! 


Our muscles are energized by water. Inadequate hydration can compromise blood flow to working muscle, causing the cells to shrivel and fatigue. This may result in our muscles not working to the most of their ability and becoming more susceptible to injury. 


Water lubricates your joints. Cartilage, which is found in joints and the disks of the spine, contain about 80% water and acts as a cushion to reduce friction and promote smooth movement. Dehydration can degrade this cushion, reducing the joints’ ability to absorb shocks, causing stiffness and pain, and making you more susceptible to conditions such as arthritis and injuries like dislocations and ligament tears. Staying hydrated also helps maintain the strength and elasticity of our connective tissues, reducing strain and enhancing our range of motion. 


Our bones are made up of about 25% water and need a constant supply to maintain their structural integrity and limit the risk of becoming brittle, making them more prone to fractures. 

Our latest blog addresses the importance of nutrient intake for musculoskeletal health and care. (Read Here!) Crucial nutrients dissolve in the water we consume, making it possible for them to reach the parts of the body that are in need of them. Dehydration limits this ability for nutrient transportation. 

Water Intake

We lose fluid continuously throughout our day from skin evaporation, urine, and breathing. If your water intake does not equal your output, you can become dehydrated. 

Water should always be your go-to beverage. The amount you are recommended to drink in a day depends on your activity level, height and weight, and health conditions. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables that consist of water can help in your daily intake. 

The overall general recommendation is to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. However, for guidelines specific to your health, ask your doctor or dietitian for their recommendation. 

Not a fan of the taste of water? Try adding a lemon wedge, cucumber slice, or fresh mint for a healthy add-in and additional flavor. 

People will often drink sports drinks in place of water. Most sports drinks contain electrolytes including sodium, potassium, calcium, as well as simple sugars. This can be useful for athletes doing intense exercise for a long period of time and sweating, so they need a replenishment of electrolytes. However for non-athletes or those doing typical workouts, they are mainly just a sugary beverage and water is sufficient in hydration. 

Additional Tips 

- Make a goal on how many glasses of water you want to drink a day. 

- Drink water before, during, and after exercise and physical activities. 

- Include water-rich foods into your diet to help with fluid replenishment. 

- There is such a thing as overhydrating, listen to your body’s cues.

Now, with the knowledge of why water is such an integral part of your health, pour a glass and let's cheers to hydration! 

Fueling your Body: Using Nutrition to Benefit Musculoskeletal Health

March 12, 2024

Nutrition helps create the foundation of your health - so much so that in March we celebrate National Nutrition Month! Specifically to orthopaedics, consuming a variety of nutrients is important in maintaining your musculoskeletal system and keeping you in motion. Read more to learn about which nutrients to look for in your foods to aid in bone, joint, and muscular system health. 


Calcium helps in the structure of bones with vitamin D aiding in calcium absorption. Vitamin K helps with bone mineralization. Magnesium and phosphorus contribute to bone density and strength. These nutrients are found in dairy products, leafy greens, fish, nuts, and seeds - all coming together to maintain strong bones.  


Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, and healthy fats are full of antioxidants that work to reduce inflammation and promote joint health. Tumeric and ginger are also rich in anti-inflammatory compounds. 

A balanced diet aids in maintaining a weight that is healthy for your body. Access weight adds additional stress and strain on your joints, which increases the risk of arthritis. Check out our past blog regarding the best foods to fight inflammation - including some fun and tasty recipes!  

Muscular System

Good nutrition also is required for building muscles and strength. Proteins, unrefined carbohydrates, and fats provide the nutrients and energy required. When it comes to athletes, a balanced diet is a large requirement for enhancing sport performance. 

Nutrition After Surgery

When it comes to recovery after a surgery, balanced nutrition can also help in recovery. Your diet impacts your recovery time, infection risk, and energy levels during rehabilitation. 

Protein is beneficial in building and repairing tissue. Vitamins C, E and minerals like zinc support wound healing. In addition to being essential for bone health, calcium and vitamin D are especially important to retain after a procedure. Staying hydrated aids in nutrient transport and removal of waste products. 

While it is important to maintain a lifestyle of eating healthy foods, throughout this month try to add in a source of nutrients you may not be getting enough of. Being mindful of fueling your body so that you can keep living in motion. 


How Orthopaedic Associates's Team Practices Living in Motion

February 29, 2024

Not only is the team at Orthopaedic Associates committed and passionate about being A Better Move for Motion for the community, we also strive to practice what we preach by living in motion and leading active, healthy lifestyles ourselves. 

Here are how some of the members of our team stay active in their everyday lives. 

Erica, a physical therapist at Orthopaedic Associates, enjoys cross country skiing, running, and mountain biking to stay active. Now that she has a daughter, she is sharing her passion with the next generation!

Sam from our Registration Department and her daughter Karmyn stay active by practicing yoga a few times a week together. Having a family member or friend dedicated to staying moving with you is the perfect way to stay accountable and motivated to live in motion.

Physician assistant Tiffany stays active by getting outdoors. She section hiked the entire Superior Hiking Trail and over the last two years has visited and hiked every state park in Minnesota. She also enjoys CrossFit and lifting heavy weights, yoga, and stand up paddle boarding!

Amy in our Accounts Receivable Department lives in motion though horse therapy and rides though the Northland’s wilderness with Royal. Getting fresh air while being active is a productive way to boost your physical and mental health!

Occupational therapist Amber enjoys staying active with her family, whether that involves swimming, kayaking, golfing, biking, or anything else that keeps them outdoors and moving. Her tip: Find what you enjoy and continue doing it so you can stay healthy!

Now that you have seen some of the ways our team stays in motion, we hope that whether you workout every day or are looking to start an active routine, we’ve given you some new ideas and inspiration to add more movement into your own life!

A Better Move for Motion

February 22, 2024

Over the course of the past couple years, you may have seen and heard our team talking about being A Better Move for Motion. What does that exactly mean to us and what can it mean for you? Continue reading to learn more about how we value your movement and the steps we take every day to keep you moving towards your goals. 

Here for Your Care

While we pride ourselves in our sports medical care, it isn't always about the extreme athlete. (However, we will talk more about this later.) 

Every movement in your life is important, from picking up your kids, to weeding the garden, to walking your dog. And whether you experience pain from an unbalanced step off the curb or the natural wear and tear on our bodies over time - we all deserve to receive exceptional care that gets us back to doing the day-to-day things we love. 

That care starts right away at Orthopaedic Associates of Duluth, with an expert team that is experienced in developing unique treatment plans for your care, from the very start. When you reach out to us, we understand a timely response back is crucial in your journey to recover faster. Communication is top priority, making sure you hear back from a member of our team with a scheduled appointment within 24 hours - with no surgeon referral needed!

And if needed, that surgeon care starts from your very first appointment. From there we work towards the best plan of action, whether that be surgery or therapy. 

Through our comprehensive care model, our team of board-certified surgeons, professionally trained physician assistants, physical and occupational therapists, nurses, athletic trainers and staff work together to ensure you receive the highest level of care - no matter how big or small your injury may be, because we know any pain is too much for you to live with every day. 

Sports Medicine

When injuries on the field, court, rink, etc do happen, consider our team, your team. 

We treat injuries ranging from sprains to tears to dislocations, and follow up with therapy and rehabilitation to get you back in the game. With the same attentive and genuine care discussed above, we work together to achieve your goals in a healthy, body strengthening way. 

For more information regarding sports injuries and our sports medicine services, check out some of our past blogs including, Getting you Back in the Game after ACL Surgery, Preparing for a Successful Race Season, and Expert Tips on Avoiding Winter Sports Related Injury

Preventative Services

It goes without saying that it’s best to simply not get injured at all. We know it isn’t that simple, but our team provides programs to help! 

Our therapy teams offer:

Functional Capacity Assessments - a 2-day standardized test to evaluate a patient’s ability to perform work abilities.

Bike Fit Evaluations - offers the expertise of a physical therapist and professional bike fitter to keep you and your bike in motion all season long. This evaluation includes a thorough examination of your flexibility, strength, and alignment both on and off the bike. 

Events - we also offer special events on various subjects throughout the year to keep you informed about best practices when it comes to movement and your body. We announce these events on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OADuluth

These elements make Orthopaedic Associates your better move for motion. Whether you are searching for a facility and provider for yourself or for a family member, we know the health and safety of those you love and care about most is always at the heart of decision making. That is why we focus on the values that we do. Because you and your family deserve it in order to continue doing what you love, every day. 


Orthopedic Issues and Diabetes: Understanding the Connection

December 13, 2023

All the systems in the body work together for proper function and health as a whole. This also means that when one system is facing problems, other systems are often also affected. 

In this month’s blog we’ll discuss diabetes, a disease occurring in the endocrine system, and if not taken care of how it can lead to issues in the skeletal and neurological systems. 

What is Diabetes? 



Most of the food we eat is broken down into sugar, or glucose, and is released into the bloodstream. When our blood sugar goes up, the pancreas is signaled to release insulin which is the key to letting the blood sugar into the cells for use as energy. 

Individuals with diabetes’s bodies don’t make enough insulin or can’t utilize it as well as they should. When this happens, too much blood sugar stays in the bloodstream and over time can cause serious health problems including heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. 

There are two main types of diabetes. Type I is an autoimmune condition and primarily thought to be genetic, often showing up in childhood. The pancreas in individuals with Type I diabetes does not produce insulin of its own, making it necessary for individuals to monitor their blood sugar and take insulin injections when necessary. 

Type II diabetes is an acquired condition that occurs when blood sugar levels are consistently high, causing the body to produce less insulin. This often occurs in middle to late adulthood and in most cases can be attributed to genetics and lifestyle including obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet. For Type II diabetics, the body has an insufficient amount or response to insulin and is managed with lifestyle changes, medication, or insulin injections. 

How does diabetes affect orthopedics?

When not managed, diabetes can lead to inflammation, nerve damage, and joint pain. It can also either accelerate or inhibit bone development and healing due to high insulin levels promoting too much bone growth, or lead to weakened bones if levels are too low.  

Potential Issues

  • Osteoarthritis - The degeneration of cartilage between the main joints in the body. 

  • Osteoporosis - Weakening of the bones to a fragile, porous state to resemble the structure of a sponge. 

  • Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH) - The hardening of the connective tissue, leading to pain, stiffness, and immobility especially in the spine. 

  • Risk of Fractures - Osteoporosis, neuropathy, and hardened ligaments increase the potential for falls, which then increases the chance of fractures. 

  • Joint Issues - The Arthritis Foundation notes that people with diabetes are two times as likely to develop arthritis than those without diabetes. 

  • Frozen Shoulder - Condition in which the bones, ligaments, and tendons of the shoulder joint become thick and hardened leading to restricted movement and pain. 

  • Charcot Joint - Damage to the nerves is the primary cause, wrestling in degeneration and inflammation of the joints, often affecting the feet. 

Impacts on Treatment Options 

When an individual has diabetes and an orthopedic condition, some patients will not respond as well to traditional treatment options and will have to look for more effective options. For example, nonsurgical treatments for a frozen shoulder will not be as effective as surgical intervention. When it comes to surgical treatments, those with controlled diabetes will also have better outcomes than those with uncontrolled diabetes. 


Managing Diabetes and Orthopedic Health


For those with diabetes, keeping your bones healthy starts with keeping diabetes under control. Focusing on a healthy lifestyle with choices that decrease inflammation is key. Prioritizing exercising regularly, obtaining and maintaining an ideal body weight, keeping good glycemic control, and minimizing tobacco and alcohol use will all help with this goal. Monitoring blood sugar and seeing a primary care doctor will also be beneficial in ensuring you catch issues early. 

The importance of keeping diabetes under control is serious when it comes to short-term and long-term joint and bone issues. With the proper management, you will be able to minimize and even stop any connected health issues!

Our Recipe for Joint Health

November 28, 2023

As the temperature outside continues to drop, people may see a raise in inflammation and arthritis symptoms. Cold weather can heighten pain sensitivity, slow blood circulation and cause muscle spasms. Our joints can also detect changes in barometric pressure and react by expanding, adding more stress onto them. 

Inflammation is our body’s natural response to an injury or infection and can be seen in localized redness, swelling, or pain and may cause loss of function of the involved tissues. Certain foods have been identified as anti-inflammatory and may help reduce chronic inflammation and pain - and luckily many of these foods are perfect for upcoming seasonal weather and festivities. 


Certain types of fish including salmon, tuna, sardines and other cold-water fish are rich in inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. These acids reduce C-reactive protein and interleukin-6, which are two inflammatory proteins in the body. 


Fruits and Vegetables

Packed with antioxidants that fight inflammation, colorful foods such as blueberries, blackberries, cherries, strawberries, spinach, kale and broccoli will be the best sources of support. 


Nuts and Seeds

Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and other nuts and seed varieties are all full of inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat, protein and fiber. Sprinkle them on salads, oatmeal or eat them alone as a midday snack! 



Containing many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, beans like pinto, black, red kidney and garbanzo/chickpea are helpful in arthritis relief. 


Olive Oil

Olive oil contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, antioxidants and oleocanthal, a compound that can lower inflammation and pain. Pro tip: extra virgin olive oil is less refined and processed. It retains more nutrients than standard varieties.



A great way to incorporate anti-inflammatories into your diet, spices are versatile, carry compounds linked to easing arthritis pain and add warm flavors and colors to your holiday dishes! 


Spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic, cayenne, black pepper and cinnamon are easily accessible at your local grocery store and can be found aplenty in your favorite meals, baked goods and drinks! 


A Few Recipes out of the Orthopaedic Associates Cookbook


Tumeric Chicken 
Served with quinoa (another great superfood!) this dish is a wonderful option since it is gluten-free but still meaty, and it allows you to play around with spices to be as hot or mild as you like!


Spiced Chickpea Bowl 
This recipe warms our stomachs and souls while mixing garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, turmeric and other tasty spices with chickpeas and fire-roasted tomatoes. It smells amazing, is customizable and is a hearty option for a meatless dish. 


Lemon Basil Baked Garlic Butter Salmon 
A delicious and easy recipe that will leave you feeling good after eating - both health and easy-cleanup wise! Serve it with dark, leafy greens and colorful veggies for an extra boost. 


Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili with Black Beans 
Load up bowls with this chili, garnished with yogurt, cilantro and minced red onion for a satisfying cold-weather dinner that is also full of anti-inflammatory properties. 


Kale, Sausage and Pepper Pasta
Utilizing some of our favorite, colorful veggies and flavors, this pasta entree is healthy, delicious and uses only one pot!



Coconut and Sweet Potato Muffins
Packed with anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, these muffins also feature ginger and cinnamon for a nutrient-rich breakfast or afternoon snack! 


We know the importance of feeling your best, especially around the holidays and hope you’ve found a new favorite recipe or ingredient that both boosts your appetite, seasonal festivities and your joint health.