Author Archives: MidMichigan Health

September is Pain Awareness Month

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Did you know that more people suffer from pain than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined?

Nearly one fourth of Americans suffer from pain annually, making pain the major driver of primary care physician visits.

There are various factors that cause and create pain, such as:

  • Family history. You may be more likely to develop arthritis and some other conditions if you have a family history of the disease/diagnosis.
  • Age. The risk of many types of diagnoses and pain injuries increases with age.
  • Gender. Women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Previous injury. Some people who have experienced previous injuries have pain related to those injuries throughout their lives.
  • Obesity. Carrying excess pounds puts stress on joints, particularly your knees, hips and spine.
Continue reading.

Football Helmet Safety Tips

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There is a growing trend in high school and youth football where players are buying their own helmets for use at practices and games. Traditionally all equipment, including helmets, are provided by the youth programs or high schools where the athletes participate. The advantage of this is all helmets are required to be reconditioned following each season by a National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) approved provider.

All helmets are required to have completed NOCSAE inspection and meet their standards before they can be used in competition. NOCSAE requires “the complete disassembly of all helmet parts, cleaning, sanitizing, replacement of worn parts and shell inspection” before a helmet can be released for use in another season. Helmet use is limited to 10 consecutive seasons if the helmet has suffered no shell damage. Helmets purchased by an athlete will have to undergo the same reconditioning and receive the NOCSAE approved sticker before they can be used in competition.

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Strep Throat in Children

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Strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by bacteria called group A Streptococcus (group A strep). Overall, viruses are the most common cause of a sore throat. However, most viral infections are self-resolving.

How do people get this infection?

Group A strep live in the nose and throat and can easily spread to other people. It is important to know that all infected people do not have symptoms or seem sick. People who are infected spread the bacteria by coughing or sneezing, which creates small respiratory droplets that contain the bacteria.

People can get sick if they:

Continue reading.

Our Perception of Pain

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People have pain for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it’s because of an injury, other times it’s a result of repetitive overuse. Sometimes we don’t know why someone’s in pain. It’s important to note that pain is a perception that our brain experiences. Did you know that the way we experience pain can be affected by other variables in our lives?

Our brain’s perception of pain can change with an alteration in different factors, such as when our bodies get warmer or colder. An increase in stress or anxiety can exacerbate our pain. Perhaps a particular movement similar to how we injured ourselves excites our pain response. Even our immune system and cardiovascular system can have an effect on the way we perceive pain.

Our bodies become sensitive to pain once we become injured, or once we hurt. We have a heightened awareness of this negative feeling and we almost come to expect it whenever we have an experience that reminds us that we “should” be having pain. However, sometimes when a pain becomes chronic, our pain threshold lowers and even the smallest of stimuli can be perceived as painful.

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The Uncomfortable Side Effects of Menopause

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The average woman in the United States is 51 years old when she goes through menopause. Menopause marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and is diagnosed when 12 months have passed without a menstrual period.

There are several common side effects that can occur during menopause. Some are talked about often: hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes and a slow metabolism. But there are other side effects that aren’t discussed as often, perhaps because they’re uncomfortable to talk about. But the reality is, they are common for many women. Painful sexual intercourse and vaginal dryness are both likely to happen during menopause.

During menopause, estrogen levels decrease, and vaginal tissue becomes more sensitive and susceptible to injury, which can lead to pain, especially during sexual intercourse. It’s estimated that 20 to 30 percent of women experience this during menopause. In addition to fragile vaginal tissue, other factors can contribute to intercourse pain, such as injury or trauma from childbirth, pelvic surgery or any other type of accident.

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Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play

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A question I always ask during the initial physical therapy evaluation of an infant is, “How is tummy time going?” The majority of the time, the response from the parents is a muttered, “Not well.”

Since the Back to Sleep campaign was initiated in the early 1990’s to decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), babies have been spending more and more time on their backs. While it is very important that an infant be placed on his back to sleep, as it has reduced the incidence of SIDS by 40 percent, it is equally important to a baby’s development that he be given frequent episodes of supervised tummy time throughout the day.

Most infants find tummy time difficult, and will often fuss and cry during it, making parents less likely to place their infants in tummy time positions.

Tummy time promotes the development of muscles in the neck, shoulders and back. It helps build the strength and coordination needed for rolling, crawling, reaching, and playing, and helps improve body awareness.

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5 Reasons Why Wounds Don’t Heal

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There are four key phases for a wound to heal successfully:

Infographic showing five common reasons why wounds don't heal: poor circulation, diabetes, infection, nutrition deficits and repeat trauma to the wound site.

[click image to enlarge] Specialized Wound Treatment Centers have better outcomes because they bring together many disciplines to not only treat wounds, but also to address the underlying barriers to healing.

  1. Hemostasis – clotting to control bleeding.
  2. Inflammation – swelling occurs as helpful materials are transported to the wound site and invasive microbes are pushed out.
  3. Proliferation – a protective layer of tissue is formed.
  4. Remodeling – rebuilding of tissue and revascularization and reorganization of the new tissue to function like the surrounding tissue.

Any factors that interfere with one or more of these phases can prevent wounds from healing. Some of the most common factors include:

  1. Poor Circulation – Oxygen and materials needed for healing can’t get to the wound site. Dead cells and harmful materials can’t be carried away.
  2. Diabetes – Diabetes interferes with healing in many ways, including lower oxygen levels, weaker immunity and decreased ability to form new skin cells and blood vessels. Diabetic nerve damage can also make it harder to sense a wound and seek treatment.
  3. Infection – Harmful bacteria can prolong inflammation and prevent new
  4. Nutrition Deficits – Wounds need energy, protein and other vital nutrients to heal.
  5. Repeat Trauma – Wounds on feet, moving joints and any body parts that may easily get bumped, rubbed or pressured are more susceptible to reopening.

Continue reading.


Diabetes Can Lead to Non-Healing Wounds and Amputations

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Infographic: 29.1 million Americans have diabetes. Approximately 25% will develop a foot ulcer. 15% of diabetic foot ulcers progress to amputation. 50% of people who undergo amputation will die within 5 years.

[click image to enlarge] Every hour, ten Americans will undergo an amputation due to diabetes. Of those, 50% will die in five years. People with diabetes need to be on the lookout for non-healing wounds and seek treatment right away.

It is estimated that 25 percent of the 29.1 million people living with diabetes will develop a diabetic foot ulcer. Without treatment, these wounds can lead to amputation or even death. Every hour, ten Americans undergo an amputation as a result of diabetes.

What’s even more startling – 50 percent of people who have an amputation will die within five years.

“The statistics are truly sobering when you realize that about 60 percent of non-traumatic limb amputations are performed on people living with diabetes,” said General Surgeon James R. Shepich, M.D., medical director of the Wound Treatment Center at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland.

But there are steps you can take to avoid becoming a statistic.

Check Your Feet

Patients with diabetes – or their caregivers  – should check their feet at least every other day to Continue reading.


Why is Meningitis Still Causing Death on U.S. Campuses?

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This year alone there have been three outbreaks of meningococcal disease on college campuses around the United States. In response to these outbreaks Rutgers University, Columbia University and San Diego State University, along with their respective municipal health departments, have recommended vaccination of at-risk populations.

But what is meningococcal disease? Why is dealing with it so important to college communities?

Meningococcal disease refers to any illness that is caused by a type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitides. There are several serogroups, including A, B, C, Y and W-135. The illnesses they cause are often severe and include infections in the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections. Up to 15 percent of people who contract it die, usually within 24 hours.

It is a vaccine-preventable disease.

Continue reading.

Peripheral Arterial Disease Can be Silent but Serious

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Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the arteries that reduces blood flow to the legs. It affects between eight and 12 million people in the United States. While the majority of people with the condition don’t know they have it, they have the same five-year mortality rate of those with breast and colorectal cancer.

M-8338-PAD-Infographic (edited) (2)PAD is often underdiagnosed by health care professionals. One in 20 Americans over age 50 has PAD, and one in three Americans over 50 with diabetes is likely to have it. If left untreated, PAD can lead to chronic non-healing wounds, lower limb amputation and even death.

“Often there are no symptoms of PAD, so it is important to be aware of factors that put you more at risk,” said James Shepich, M.D., general surgeon and medical director of MidMichigan’s Wound Treatment Center in Midland. “These include smoking, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a personal history of heart or vascular disease. People are also more likely to get PAD as they get older, and African-Americans are twice as likely as Caucasians to have the disease.”

Though many people may not have noticeable symptoms, the following could be warning signs of PAD. If you have any of these symptoms, you should tell your doctor:

  • Leg pain or cramping while walking that goes away after resting
  • Leg or foot pain that keeps you from sleeping
  • Feet that are pale, blue or cold to the touch
  • Toenails that do not grow as well as before
  • Decreased hair growth on the toes and legs

Treatments for PAD may include lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, physical therapy, medications, and in extreme cases, surgery.

PAD can also lead to ulcers on the legs and feet that are stubborn and difficult to heal. The Wound Treatment Center at MidMichigan Health specializes in treating chronic, non-healing wounds like those related to PAD.

With locations in Alpena, Alma, Clare, Midland and West Branch, MidMichigan’s Wound Treatment Centers take a multi-disciplinary approach to treat not only the wound, but also the underlying conditions that can otherwise block healing. These include diabetes, vascular conditions, infectious disease and more. The Centers have specialized equipment and protocols that result in a median healing  time of 28 days and 94 percent patient satisfaction, placing them in the top 21 percent of nearly 800 Healogics (R) centers nationwide.

Treatments for leg ulcers may include dressings, compression therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy to increase the blood flow and reintroduce the body’s innate ability to heal.


If you or someone you love is living with a non-healing wound, don’t wait – seek specialized care. Call the Wound Treatment Centers toll free at (877) 683-0800.