Male doctor measuring the height of a womanAre you shrinking?

Jan stood facing the ruler on the wall at her doctor’s office. “This is crazy,” she thought. “Why do they need to measure my height?” Then she heard the words that surprised her. “You’re 5 feet and 4 and a half inches tall,” said the medical provider.

“No,” said Jan. “You need to check again. I’ve always been 5 feet, 5 inches tall.”

Jan stood up as tall as possible for the second measurement. The results Illustration of a man's height change through agewere the same. Jan was 5 feet and 4 and a half inches tall. She had lost a half inch of her height.

Most people in their 50s and 60s underestimate their height by more than an inch. As people age, it’s not uncommon for them to lose one-quarter to one-half inch of height every decade after age 40. Studies show men and women may lose up to two inches of height as they enter their senior years.

People lose height for several reasons.

Many attribute the loss of height to a decrease of fluid in the discs cushioning the spine’s vertebrae as years take their toll on the body. However, height loss also can be caused by:

  • Vertebral compression fractures
  • Scoliosis
  • Poor posture
  • Spinal misalignment
  • Lack of activity

Rapid or significant height loss often points to a condition called osteoporosis. As the body resorbs the calcium and other minerals it needs from the bones, they become porous. When osteoporosis occurs in the spine, vertebrae fracture easily, reducing height. Porous vertebrae are cause for concern. A person who loses more than two inches in height before turning 65 years old also may be more likely to fracture a hip.

Can height loss be reversed?Older woman jumping rope

Some people have genetic factors that put them at a higher risk for height loss. Others will experience a loss of inches due to illness or injury. But everyone can make healthy lifestyle choices to minimize their risk or slow the progression of height loss.

  • Practice proper posture. Poor posture may cause the spine to curve, weaken supporting muscles and lead to a dowager’s hump.

  • Add weight-bearing exercises to your daily routine. Researchers found jumping 50 times each day on one foot can increase bone mineral density in the hips of healthy older adults.

  • Eat foods rich in calcium. Dairy, leafy green vegetables, broccoli and salmon are a few foods high in calcium.

  • Maintain adequate levels of vitamin D, vitamin K and magnesium. These vitamins help the body absorb calcium to keep bones healthy and strong.

  • Eat five to six dried plums each day. Studies found eating dried plums, which are high in vitamin K and boron, prevented bone resorption in postmenopausal women.Plums and Prunes

  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium and produce vitamin D.

  • Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke. Smoking slows new bone growth and delays healing.

Keeping your skeleton straight and strong can help you maintain your height.

If you experience back pain or stiffness, loss of movement or have noticed a change in your height, contact your primary care provider or an orthopaedic specialist for an evaluation.

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Blue illustration of a man with highlighted jointsSmoking affects your joints

Decreased circulation. Increased bone resorption. Fatigue. These are just three ways smoking increases joint pain.

As tobacco smoke enters the lungs, nicotine and other toxic chemicals are transported throughout the body by the bloodstream. Carbon monoxide, one of tobacco's chemicals, displaces the amount of oxygen the blood carries. According to Medical News Today, the hemoglobin in red blood cells picks up carbon monoxide 200 times easier than oxygen, limiting the amount of oxygen-rich blood available to nourish cells in the arms and legs.

To complicate the matter, smoking seems to provide short-term pain relief. Each drag of a cigarette, pipe or vaping device triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. This feel-good brain chemical masks pain as toxic chemicals damage cells in the body. Smoking not only affects the heart and lungs, but it also wreaks havoc on bones, muscles and supporting tissues in the body by:

  • Hindering the absorption of calcium necessary for building bone.
  • Interfering with the production of osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) and bone growth.
  • Decreasing hormone levels necessary for a healthy skeletal system.
  • Slowing the body’s ability to heal itself.
  • Increasing the risks of complications after a fracture or surgery.

These are just some of the reasons that many orthopaedic surgeons require patients quit smoking before a major surgical procedure. Smoking interferes with the body’s ability to fuse broken bones together, heal muscle, cartilage or ligament tissue, and prevent infection. Preliminary research at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis also found that smoking interferes with tendon-to-bone healing.

 The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons also reports smoking increases the risk of:Osteoclasts and osteoblasts illustration

  • Tendon tears
  • Overuse injuries
  • Sprains
  • Low-back pain
  • Bursitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rotator cuff tears

Fortunately, quitting can reverse many of tobacco’s harmful effects.

When a person quits smoking, the body begins to recover and restore function in as little as 20 minutes. The health recovery timeline from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be a motivational tool for people who want to quit. 

  • Twenty minutes after your last cigarette your elevated heart rate returns to a safer level.
  • After 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal.
  • During the first 14 to 30 days, you’ll find yourself coughing less and breathing better.
  • Fifteen years after your last cigarette, your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as a non-smoker’s.

Woman kickboxing a cigarette buttWhen it relates to smoking, quitters ALWAYS win.

If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you used to smoke, don’t give into the temptation to have a cigarette when you're stressed or going through a life change.

If you still smoke, today is a good day to stop.

How to Quit InfographicQuitting is difficult.

Some people can quit “cold turkey,” but they are rare.

Nicotine is highly addictive and causes intense physical cravings. Studies suggest it can take up to 30 attempts for some people to kick the smoking habit.

Going through nicotine withdrawal is not pleasant. The Quit Smoking Community has published a timeline listing the withdrawal symptoms most smokers experience during their first week without cigarettes. Knowing what to expect can help people make it through the first 168 hours. After the first week, the cigarette cravings should be easier to handle.

Knowing what to expect can help people make it through the first 168 hours. After the first week, the cigarette cravings will be easier to handle.

You don’t have to do it alone. Help is a phone call or a click away.

The medical community knows smoking affects people physically, behaviorally and socially. Today, there are many medications, support groups and tobacco cessation programs in place to help individuals stop smoking.

Ask your primary care provider about a medically supervised smoking cessation program.

If you want to quit on your own, visit to access helpful tips and tools. You also can speak to a trained-smoking-cessation counselor at 800-QUIT-NOW, (800.784.8669).

Quitting is one of the best choices you can make for your health.

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Baseball traveling toward a player in the outfieldDon’t let these common baseball injuries take you out of the ballgame

America’s favorite summer pastime has provided fans with entertainment for centuries.

From home-run-record breakers to the stunning 2016 World Series win by the Chicago Cubs, baseball has captured the attention of fans and non-fans alike.

With the arrival of spring and summer, umpires are dusting off home plate as players of all ages head to the ball diamond to play ball.

Stay safe on the field.

Illustration of an Achilles tendon ruptureAwareness of common baseball and softball injuries can help you reduce your chances of sitting on the bench this season.

Ankle sprains and Achilles tendon ruptures.

Stealing second base or sprinting to catch a fly ball puts increased pressure on a player’s feet and ankles. Fast moves and unbalanced landings can rupture an Achilles tendon or cause a sprained ankle.

Prevent ankle sprains and tendon ruptures by:

  • Warming up the feet and ankles before playing ball.
  • Strengthening the foot and ankle with weight-bearing exercises off the field.
  • Stretching the foot and ankle before and after games or practice.
  • Wearing supportive gear recommended by a sports medicine professional.


Elbow pain.Woman with elbow pain

Repetitive pitching and throwing can cause elbow pain. Practice makes perfect, but working long hours to execute that perfect pitch or throw can also cause an overuse injury and elbow instability.

Elbow pain that occurs when the wrist bends toward the palm of the hand is a common symptom of medial epicondylitis or thrower’s elbow. Medical professionals treat thrower’s elbow more often than they treat lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow, but they see both types of injuries during the baseball and softball season.

To minimize the risk of an overuse elbow injury:

  • Don’t play for more than one team during the regular season.
  • Limit practice time.
  • Don’t hold the bat too tightly.
  • Vary the field positions during the season.
  • Stop playing and seek medical treatment if you experience elbow pain.

Shoulder pain
.Rotator Cuff injuries

Whether a player is pitching, hitting or throwing, his or her shoulder is actively engaged. The complex structure of the shoulder makes players susceptible to torn rotator cuffs, impingements and shoulder instability.

Sports medicine professionals suggest people strengthen the muscles supporting shoulder movement by completing arm-lifting exercises. They recommend using light weights and increasing the number of repetitions of shoulder exercises, rather than doing fewer reps using heavy weights.

To avoid shoulder injury:

  • Limit practice time.
  • Don’t throw or pitch when your arm or shoulder is tired. 
  • Don’t keep playing through the shoulder or arm pain.


Knee pain.

Baseball and softball games require players to sprint and stop quickly to keep their foot planted firmly on base. As the leg twists or flexes under the added pressure of sudden starts and stops, players can tear the anterior (ACL) and medial (MCL) collateral ligaments supporting the knee. These fast movements also pose a risk to the meniscus, which cushions the bones of the knee.

Medial collateral ligament rupture illustrationTo prevent ACL, MCL and meniscus tears:

  • Strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee with squats and lunges during the pre-season.
  • Maintain a proper strength ratio between the quadriceps and the hamstrings.
  • Warm up and stretch the legs before asking them to dash, pivot or stop short.



Though they are not as common in baseball and softball as they are in football, concussions do occur on and around the ball diamond. Falls, player collisions, line drives and foul balls have caused concussions for players and fans, alike.

To reduce the number of concussions during a ballgame:

  • Players should always wear the recommended protective head gear.
  • Players and fans should always be aware of the ball’s location during the game.
  • Batters should never throw the bat.

If a player or spectator experiences a blow to the head, the injury should be assessed by a medical professional as soon as possible. Whether they are mild or severe, all concussions are classified as a form of traumatic brain injury and require attention. 

Knowing your risks and taking a few precautions can keep you on the field for the entire season. If you experience pain while playing baseball or softball, don’t ignore it. Playing through the pain can turn a minor injury into a more serious condition that can cause permanent damage.

If you have pain that lasts more than a week or interferes with movement, contact your primary care provider or an orthopaedic expert for an appointment.

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Pamela Glennon, MDMeet Pamela E. Glennon, MD

Pamela Glennon, MD, is board-certified, fellowship trained orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in the restoration of movement and function in the shoulders, arms and hands. Dr. Glennon provides surgical and non-surgical care to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, circulation problems, elbow conditions, fractures, tendon tears, hand and wrist issues, shoulder conditions and sports, work and recreational injuries. She provides expert orthopaedic care to patients of all ages at Bone & Joint’s Medford and Wausau locations. 

Dr. Glennon encourages her patients to ask questions during their appointments. Her goal is to help patients understand their conditions and treatment. She also believes in promoting health and wellness for her patients and the community. Recently, she appeared on WSAW’s “The Doctor is In” to discuss the health risks of knuckle cracking.

“I enjoy helping people get back to doing the things they like to do,” said Dr. Glennon. “It’s one of the reasons that I like orthopaedics. I help people move better and live a higher quality of life. It’s very rewarding.”

A native of the East Coast, Dr. Glennon received her medical degree from Hahnemann University of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She completed her residency in orthopaedic surgery at Tufts/New England Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Glennon completed a hand surgery fellowship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa. She is board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and holds a board-certified Subspecialty Certificate in Surgery of the Hand. Dr. Glennon joined Bone & Joint in 2004.

When she’s not taking care of patients, Dr. Glennon enjoys exercising, competing in obstacle course runs, reading, and spending time with her family.

To make an appointment, call 715.359.6442 or 800.445.6442.

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