Orthopedic Surgery | Sports Medicine | Westwood | Hackensack Orthopedic Services | Westwood | Hackensack Orthopedic Surgeons Westwood | Dr. Michael L. Gross MD | Dr. James C. Natalicchio MD | Dr. Steven Weinfeld MD | Hackensack Specialties Physical Therapy | Sports Rehabilitation | Westwood | Hackensack Patient Information Orthopedic Care | Westwood | Hackensack Orthopedic Services | Westwood | Hackensack The Active Center for Health & Wellness Active Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine - Westwood Office: 390 Old Hook Rd. | Westwood, NJ 07675 | Tel: 201.358.0707

What Are PRP Injections?

January 5th, 2015

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections have been used to heal injuries since the mid-to-late 90’s and are routinely used to repair soft tissue to stimulate the healing process. PRP injections often relieve pain almost immediately, while also promoting long-lasting recovery. The injections are also safe for older patients as well as younger, more athletic individuals. Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions surrounding this treatment.

What can PRP injections help relieve?

Knee sprains and instability are some of the most common ailments treated by PRP injections. However there are several other issues that can be treated through PRP  injections, such as hamstring pains, tennis elbow, rotator cuff injuries and ankle sprains. PRP injections are an excellent pain reliever for various athletic injuries and a good tool to aid in soft tissue recovery. As PRP injections are a long-term healing process, it is meant to be permanent.

PRP injections are safe and are formulated to work when injected directly into the aggravated tissue.

How many PRP injections do I need?

Depending on the severity of your issue, you may require more than the average amount of PRP injections at the same site. Generally, patients only need three to four injections.

What is the process of getting a PRP injection?

After thorough cleansing and preparation, the injection is prepared by the doctor and injected into the pain site. The entire process only takes about an hour. After the injection, you’ll take a bit of time to recover in our office.

What is the recovery time for PRP injections?

Typically, patients will want to avoid returning to any strenuous activities for about three weeks to better give yourself time to heal. You should also discuss at-home rehab and exercise options with your doctor. This is done in an effort to prevent future injury as well as potential re-injuries as a result of physical activity.

Interested in Learning More About PRP Injections? Contact Our Doctors To Learn More.

For more information, contact Active Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Emerson, Hackensack or Montclair to schedule an appointment today. We can be reached at 1-844-ACTIVE-ORTHO for 24-hour emergency care.

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Who Is A Candidate For Total Knee Replacement?

December 1st, 2014

Pain in the knee and swelling could be the result of a degenerative knee joint. Should this be the case, a total knee replacement surgery may be required to reconstruct the knee and help the individual recover.

Total Knee Replacement Diagnosis

Difficulties surrounding a degenerative knee include a reduced range of motion, sometimes resulting in the inability to completely straighten out. Oftentimes, bone spurs can be spotted via X-rays of the knee, as well.

In advanced cases, pain can be persistent and keep patients up all night.

X-rays and blood tests are often done to rule out pain due to forms of arthritis, which are painful in their own right or some kind of infection that could occur in the knee.

Total Knee Replacement Surgery and Recovery

Surgery for a total knee replacement makes use of plastic and metal surfaces that are shaped to restore damaged bone and cartilage. The metal and plastic pieces are connected to the ends of the tibia and the femur, resulting in a new knee. A plastic piece is then inserted as a bearing.

Patients often begin physical therapy with their new knee within 48 hours of surgery. Knee immobilizers are used while walking, engaging in physical therapy and sleeping to better prevent injury during recovery. A continuous passive motion (CPM) machine may be used to keep the knee moving while the patient relaxes.

Interested in Learning More About Total Knee Replacement Surgery? Contact Dr. Gross for an Evaluation.

For more information, contact Active Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Emerson, Hackensack or Montclair to schedule an appointment today. We can be reached at 1-844-ACTIVE-ORTHO for 24-hour emergency care.

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What Causes Trigger Finger?

November 26th, 2014

Trigger finger is a common disorder of the hand that results in painful “snapping” or “locking” of any of the digits of the hand when opened or closed. Symptoms of trigger finger may occur when any of the fingers attempts to bend in a gripping motion. Instead of a smooth closure, the finger snaps closed. When attempting to extend the finger, a similar snapping may occur. In severe cases, the digits may be locked in an open or bent position. Read on for some of the common trigger finger causes and their treatments.

Top 5 Trigger Finger Causes

Tendons attach muscle to bone and act as springs when the muscles are moved. They are covered in a protective outer coating. Trigger finger occurs when this coating becomes swollen or inflamed. This may be caused by:

  • Repetitive strain or trauma – Repeated strain of the fingers due the repetitive grasping or the prolonged use of tools, such as the use of scissors, screwdrivers or power tools, can cause trigger finger. This type of strain is most commonly seen in farmers, industrial workers, or certain hobbyists since they repeat these movements often.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – Trigger finger is also associated with rheumatoid arthritis. This condition causes inflammation of tissues of the hand, which can commonly develop into trigger finger.
  • Metabolic disorder – Metabolic disorders, such as diabetes or gout, may produce changes in connective tissues that result in trigger finger.

Trigger Finger Treatments

There are a number of interventions for the treatment of trigger finger, including:

  • Rest and ice application – Some common home remedies include stretching, ice, and rest of the affected hand.
  • Over-the-counter medication – Anti-inflammatory medications, including ibuprofen and naproxen, may be helpful in reducing the symptoms.
  • Cortisone injection – An orthopedic surgeon can inject a local cortisone treatment into the tendon sheath around the affected finger. This is one of the quickest and most effective treatments, but it may only provide temporary relief for some patients.
  • Surgical procedures – When trigger finger does not respond to cortisone treatments, surgical intervention may be required. Surgery may be performed to release the tendon sheath or remove scarred tissue.

Treatment for Trigger Finger in Hackensack, NJ.

If you suspect you have trigger finger, contact Active Orthopedics & Sports Medicine immediately at 201-358-0707 to discuss treatment options. We look forward to hearing from you.


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Treatment for Herniated Disc

November 26th, 2014

A herniated disc is a common source of pain in the neck, lower back, arms, or legs. A “disc” is a rubbery pad composed of tissue that works as cushion between the vertebra (bones that make up the spine). Discs allowed the spine to bend, and also serve as shock absorption when running, jumping, or carrying our daily activities. The outside of the discs are protected by a shell composed of cartilage that protects the nucleus (gel-like center of discs). When a disc becomes herniated, it means that a crack, tear, or disruption in the disc allows the nucleus to push out of the disc, and into the spinal chord. This puts pressure on the nerves that run through the spinal chord and causes pain, and possibly numbness or weakness in the arms and legs.

Causes and Risk Factors for Herniated Disc

  • Trauma
  • Improper lifting
  • Obesity. Excess body weight in the abdominal area places extra stress on the lower portion of the spine.
  • Smoking
  • Other spinal conditions, such as degenerative disc disorder.

Treatment for Herniated Disc

There are two main courses for treatment, non-surgical and surgical methods. Surgery is reserved for cases in which non-surgical treatment methods have been exhausted and failed.

Non-Surgical Treatment for Herniated Disc

  • Non-surgical treatment is effective in treating nearly 90% of all cases of herniated disc, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
  • Patients are advised to get plenty of rest, and take over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Prescription muscle relaxers, analgesics, and anti-inflammatories are often effective.
  • Ice should be applied throughout the day at 20 minute intervals.
  • Heat may be applied after spasms have subsided.
  • Bending and lifting should be slowed and restricted.
  • Physical therapy.

Surgery for Herniated Disc

  • If a piece of a disc breaks entirely off and travels into the spinal column, surgery may be required.
  • The type of surgery performed depends on the location of the disc in the spine.
  • Often spinal fusion is required.
  • Patients that undergo surgery for herniated disc require an overnight hospital stay, but can expect to return to normal activity often within 2-6 weeks.

Are You Experiencing Neck or Back Pain? You May Have a Herniated Disc. Contact Dr. James Natalicchio or Dr. Richard Rhim for Evaluation.

For more information, contact Active Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Emerson, Hackensack or Montclair to schedule an appointment today. We can be reached at 1-844-ACTIVE-ORTHO for 24-hour emergency care.

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10 Facts About Bone Health for Women

October 30th, 2014

Your bones play a big role in your overall health. With statistics as high as one in two women over 60 will break a hip this year, it is important more than ever that women take interest in keeping their bones healthy. To follow are 10 facts about bone health for women.

  1. Bones are living things. Although bones serve as the architecture of the human body, they are alive. One set of sells called osetoblasts work to build new bone while another set of cells, osteoclasts are breaking down old bone. This constant activity is why bones can heal after they have been fractured. This activity between the two classes of cells is rapid and begins to slow later in life. The slower bones regrown, the less likely an individual is to successfully heal from a break.
  2. Exercise makes your bones more dense. In women, bone density peaks at age 3 and begins to degenerate from that point forward.
  3. Anorexia, which may cause young women to stop menstruating, causes bone loss.
  4. Bones act as storage units for the body. When a woman is breast feeding, extra calcium is passed on to the child from the mother’s bones. This process happens without ever compromising the mother’s health.
  5. Excessive alcohol use can damage bone-density. In alcoholics, bone loss turns into a condition called osteopenia, which is a precursor for osteoporosis.
  6. Milk is good for your bones, but spinach is better. Leafy greens contain higher levels of calcium.
  7. Calcium supplements are not as effective in aiding bone health as a calcium-fortified diet.
  8. Women over 65 are more likely to fracture a hip related to osteoporosis than they are to develop breast, ovarian or uterine cancers.
  9. Twenty five percent of those who break a hip die within a year.
  10. Vitamin D, the sun vitamin, plays a critical role in keeping bones healthy. Vitamin D improves bones abilities to absorb calcium.

Need More Information on Keeping Your Bones Healthy?

Contact Dr. Michael Gross at Active Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Emerson, Hackensack or Montclair to schedule an appointment today. We can be reached at 1-844-ACTIVE-ORTHO for 24-hour emergency care.


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How Can Epidural Injections Help Your Back Pain?

October 6th, 2014

An epidural injection is a type of back pain treatment that uses a combination of corticosteroids and local anesthetic to relieve pain and inflammation. Epidural injections are directed into the epidural space, located around the spinal cord and nerve roots. During an epidural injection, patients lay on an X-ray table with a pillow placed underneath their stomach. The area targeted for treatment is cleaned, and medication is administered to sedate the patient. A needle is inserted into the back, with an X-ray machine producing images to guide the needle to the affected area.

Can epidural injections help your back pain? Take a look below to see if you may be a candidate for this treatment.

  • Epidural injections are highly-beneficial for patients who have back pain that radiates down the lower spine into the legs or hips. The injections can relieve back pain caused by neurological conditions, such as degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, or spinal stenosis.
  • Epidural injections may be recommended if prior conservative treatments, such as medications or physical therapy, have failed to provide you sufficient relief.
  • Epidural injections are generally safe for all patients, although pregnant women are not considered good candidates for the procedure. Potential complications following an epidural injection include severe headaches, dizziness, and infection or bleeding within the spinal area.
  • Epidural injections contain medicine, which works to decrease pressure being placed on the larger nerves around the spine, which decreases back pain and swelling.
  • Epidural injections usually take only 15 to 20 minutes to complete. After the injection, patients should experience significant pain relief.

While epidural injections do not cure back pain, they are considered highly-effective for temporarily relieving it. If patients experience relief from the injections, they may wish to consider additional injections in the future.

Contact Dr. Michael L. Gross to learn more about back pain treatment

Patients who are suffering from back pain that is not responding to conservative treatments may benefit from an epidural injection. Patients in the Emerson or Hackensack areas of New Jersey who are experiencing back pain and need to be evaluated by an orthopedist, are encouraged to contact Dr. Michael L. Gross today.

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Why is Physical Therapy so Important After Orthopedic Surgery?

September 29th, 2014

After orthopedic surgery, it is common to experience pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness, and a limited range of motion. Physical therapy helps to accelerate the healing process and increase circulation to the area that was operated on. Here are a few facts about how physical therapy assists and improves orthopedic surgery outcomes.

  1. Blood circulation. Blood contains cells that help the body heal. Physical therapy exercises help restore and increase blood flow to the area that was operated on. Increased blood flow also helps alleviate swelling, which causes pain. By restoring blood flow, healing occurs at a faster rate.
  2. Strength. Depending on the part of the body that was operated on, it is common to have limbs and joints immobilized following orthopedic surgery. When muscles are immobilized, a weakening and loss of mass occurs, called atrophy. Physical therapy helps rebuild the muscle, helping to prevent further or repeat injury. Strengthening exercises can also improve your overall health.
  3. Range of motion exercises. Stiffness and swelling are part of the healing process following orthopedic surgery. During physical therapy, patients are guided through range of motion exercises that help to break up the swelling in a joint and restore natural motion. Physical therapists will measure your healthy joint’s range of motion and compare the measurements against the joint that was operated on to gauge progress. Increasing range of motion is essential to healing properly and preventing other injuries. A decreased range of motion can shift your body’s natural gait and cause problems elsewhere in the body.
  4. Decrease stress and increase confidence. Suffering from an injury requiring orthopedic surgery can be an extremely stressful and traumatic experience. Physical therapy can help alleviate stress and increase confidence in patients. Physical therapy helps patients set goals for themselves while reestablishing independence and confidence.
  5. Safety. Practicing rehabilitative exercises under the supervision of a physical therapist is important to ensure safety. By improperly performing exercises, patients can cause more harm than good to their healing efforts.

Sports Medicine in Emerson and Hackensack

If you suffered a sports injury and need to be evaluated by an orthopedist, contact us today to schedule your appointment. You can reach our Emerson office at (201) 358-0707 or our Hackensack office at (201) 343-2277. We look forward to hearing from you.

Posted in Post Surgical Care, Sports Medicine | No Comments »

RICE Method for Sports Injuries

June 27th, 2014

Athletes are at a considerable risk for ankle and knee sprains, as well as other soft-tissue injuries. Practicing the RICE method, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, can help jump-start the healing process in such injuries. Following these steps can even help stop complications from arising, and promote faster healing to get you back in the game. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly this method involves.


Immediately after getting hurt, make sure you rest and protect the injured area. Stop what you’re doing, and do not try to “play through the pain,”  as this may further complicate your injury. Do not put any pressure or weight on the injured area, and have someone help you safely off the field.


Icing an injured area directly after getting hurt can stop excessive swelling before it even starts. Never place ice directly onto the skin; always be sure to put a protective layer of cloth between your skin and the ice pack. For 48 hours, ice the injured area for 10-20 minutes, then remove the ice for 20 minutes. Repeat this step as needed for up to 3 days. Call your orthopedist if swelling and pain persists for longer than 3 days.


Wrapping the injured area with an elastic bandage (such as an ACE™ bandage) can help decrease swelling. Howver it’s important not to wrap too tightly, as the area beneath the injury may swell and pain, numbness, and tingling can increase.


While resting, elevate the injured area as often as you can. Elevation is most effective when the area that is injured is kept higher than your heart. This can also help cut down on swelling.

If pain and swelling persist after practicing the RICE method for 2-3 days, a more serious injury may have been sustained. In these cases, it is important to visit an orthopedist and have x-rays taken of the injured area. Fractures and sprains/strains share many similar symptoms, and only a doctor can determine the extent of your injury.

Sports Injury Treatment in Emerson and Hackensack

If you suffered a sports injury and need to be evaluated by an orthopedist, contact us today to schedule your appointment. You can reach our Emerson office at (201) 358-0707 or our Hackensack office at (201) 343-2277. We look forward to hearing from you.

Posted in Injury Prevention, Sports Medicine, Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Sports Injury | No Comments »

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

May 7th, 2014

Generally speaking, degenerative disc disease refers to the everyday “wear and tear” of the back. It involves the many changes that take place within the discs separating the bone of the back. Disc diseases are very common, and for most patients, treatment will offer the patient a positive outlook.

There are many factors that can contribute to this condition. Some factors include a person’s genetic background, as well as continually placing stress on the discs in the back. The condition is most common at the joints which link the bones of the spine together, known as the facet joints. This condition can cause additional problems, including spinal stenosis (which occurs when the spinal canal becomes narrower), and herniated discs in the back.

So what are the symptoms of this condition? For most patients, severe back pain is the most reported  symptom of disc disease. However, patients with a more severe form of disc disease may experience both back and leg pains. Degenerative disc disease can also result from imbalances within the muscles or the ligaments that surround the spine.

One of the most common ways to treat degenerative disc disease is through physical therapy, which works to correct pain and other issues within the lower back. Patients may also benefit from the use of anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen. In order to treat more severe cases, the patient may need to undergo an injection of steroids to help reduce pain and symptoms. Lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight) may also be necessary. Exercising on a regular basis will also be extremely helpful!

For most patients with degenerative disc disease, surgery will not be necessary. Surgery is only usually considered for those who have been unresponsive to nonsurgical treatments, or those who are experiencing issues with nerve compression.

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment in Westwood and Hackensack

If you are seeking treatment for back or pelvic pain, or simply would like more information about our practice,  contact us today to schedule your appointment.  You can reach our Westwood office at (201) 358-0707 or our Hackensack office at (201) 343-2277.  We look forward to hearing from you.


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How PRP Injections Can Help You

May 7th, 2014

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections are used to stimulate the healing of various injuries, especially chronic ligament and tendon sprains/strains that have failed with more conservative treatment. Platelets are rich in connective tissue growth factors, so when a concentrated platelet solution is injected into the injured area, it promotes a natural repair process. After only 1-3 sessions, patients will have a strong chance of permanent recovery. Let’s learn some more about PRP injections and how they are administered below.

5 Interesting Facts about PRP Injections

  1. While platelet rich plasma injections work for a wide variety of injuries, they are most effective for injuries like chronic ligament and tendon sprains  and strains, especially when other treatments have proven ineffective. Injuries in these categories include, but are not limited to, rotator cuff injuries, ankle sprains, shoulder pain, hamstring and hip strains, and tennis or golfer’s elbow.
  2. The injection of the PRP is a bit uncomfortable as the injured area is first anesthetized with lidocaine, and there is some mild pain for a few days following the procedure. Your doctor may prescribe you pain medication, or simply suggest other medications you can take without interfering with the procedure itself.
  3. After the first visit, patients should expect to schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor in 6-8 weeks. Sometimes you will only need 1 shot, but other cases may require up to 3.
  4. Many patients express that they no longer feel pain after getting this treatment, and studies suggest that PRP injections are estimated to have an 80-85% success rate. Results found are typically permanent, as well.
  5. Along with the injections, your doctor will provide you with additional therapies to help your developing connective tissue grow strong. Exercise and a home-based rehabilitation regimen will be included as part of your treatment.

PRP Injections in Westwood and Hackensack

To learn more about ligament and tendon sprains/strains and how PRP injections can help, contact us today to schedule your consultation. You can reach our Westwood office at (201) 358-0707 or our Hackensack office at (201) 343-2277. We look forward to hearing from you.

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