Orthopaedic Associates Articles

Recent Articles

Orthopaedic Associates Begins Partnership with New Rock Ridge High School

October 2, 2023

We're pleased to announce a new partnership with Rock Ridge High School, offering a unique approach of exposing the student body to a multitude of medical related professions while serving as a clinic to the community. 

The brand new Iron Range high school’s vision is to bring healthcare careers and learning opportunities directly to their students. We'll be able to support this goal through offering on-going learning sessions and workshops, one-on-one job shadowing opportunities, real life lessons and experiences, as well as any additional curriculum to fit future needs and bring benefit to the students and the community. 

Students will be able to see how every position within a healthcare practice functions, including physicians, surgeons, physician assistants, physical and occupational therapists, athletic trainers, radiologic technologists, administrators, business office professionals, and other medical staff. Our model of practice ensures each member of our team works together for the best outcome of the patient, this will be emphasized to students. 

We're currently involved and an intricate part of the Virginia Community, seeing patients at Laurentian, Mountain Iron, and VRMC among other surrounding clinics. We also provide athletic training services at Virginia Schools. Continuing our work in the region by mentoring students in an optimally beneficial way, as well as having an additional clinic at the Rock Ridge facility, allows us to continually better impact on the community. Physicians will be available for appointments at the new clinic location starting October 2, this will be instead of seeing patients at VRMC, Laurentian and Mountain Iron. 

Physicians seeing patients at the new facility include Dr. Kristi Hultman, Dr. Robin Hendricks, Dr. Joel Zamzow, Dr. Patrick Hall, and Dr. Katherine Schnell. 

The school opened Fall of 2023 and will house the latest technology as well as non-traditional learning studios and rooms in order to expand learning and take on a more collaborative approach. Paired with the partnership, students will graduate better prepared for the next step in their lives. 

An open house will be held from 5-7 pm on Monday, October 9 with refreshments, giveaways, and tours of the new facility. The address of the new clinic is 1405 Progress Parkway, Suite 100, Virginia, MN 55792.


Getting You Back in the Game after an ACL Injury

September 12, 2023

If you have ever participated in a high demand sport like football, soccer, basketball or tennis, chances are you know someone or have experienced first hand an ACL or anterior cruciate ligament injury. Read on to learn more about the ACL, recognizing an injury, treatment, and how to avoid injury from the start. 


Anatomy and Function of ACL

The knee joint is a complex structure of bones, ligaments, tendons, and other tissues, which all need to work together for healthy movement. The ACL is the tissue (ligaments) that connects the thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia), crossing over at the knee. 



Injuries of the ACL typically happen during sports and fitness activities that put stress on the knee. Movements including pivoting with your foot in place, landing from a jump, suddenly changing direction or stopping, and participating in a collision that causes a direct blow to the knee can cause torn or sprained ligaments. 

You may be at increased risk if you are female due to difference in anatomy, hormone influences, and muscle strength. Other risks include having poor movement patterns and conditioning, or using equipment that doesn't fit or that has not been well maintained. 

Recognizing Injury

Most people hear or feel a popping sensation in their knee when experiencing an ACL injury. 

While some people may be able to function normally with a torn or sprained ACL, most people experience knee swelling, instability, a limited range of motion, and pain. Leaving an ACL injury untreated can lead to further knee damage and discontinuation of your same level of play. 

Seek immediate care from your physician if there are any signs or symptoms of an ACL injury. 


Diagnosis and Imaging Techniques

During your appointment, a physician will check your knee for swelling and tenderness. They will also check for range of motion and overall function of the joint. In order to diagnose the severity of the injury, our team may also do imaging which could include X-rays to rule out a bone fracture, MRI to see both the hard and soft tissues, or an ultrasound to check the ligaments, tendons, and muscles. 


Treatment Options

Immediately after injury, follow the R.I.C.E. model of self-care to reduce pain and swelling. R.I.C.E. stands for: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. 

Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment can range from rest and rehab exercises to surgery. Surgery will replace the torn ligament, followed by rehabilitation. 

When it comes to rehabilitation, a physical therapist will teach you exercises to do in-office and at home. You may also wear a brace to stabilize your knee and crutches in order to avoid putting weight on the knee. This course of treatment is successful for those who are relatively inactive. 

We may suggest surgery if you are an athlete in an intense sport and want to continue playing, more than one ligament in your knee is injured, or your injury is causing the knee to buckle during daily activities. 

During the surgery, your surgeon will remove the damaged ligament and replace it with a graft, or a segment of tendon. This graft will come from another part of your knee or a donor’s knee. 

There is no set time frame for recovery, every athlete and injury is different. Your physician and physical therapist will perform assessments to test your knee’s stability, function, and strength to determine readiness to return to sports intermittently throughout your recovery. The goal is to ensure the injury is fully healed before returning, in order to limit the risk of a recurring injury. 


Preventative Measures

You can prevent an ACL injury through proper training. Members of our Sports Medicine team provide assessments and offer feedback to help reduce your risk. Practicing techniques to strengthen the muscles of the core, hips, and legs, as well as utilizing jumping and landing techniques that prevent the inward turning of the knee also can go a long way in preventing injury. 

Wearing the correct gear and padding will also prevent injury. Make sure all bindings and equipment are adjusted to your needs and working appropriately. With these precautions in place, you will limit the likelihood of an ACL tear. 

However, if you do suffer from an injury and need medical attention, you can set up a same day appointment with our team. Learn more about our Sports Medicine services and schedule an appointment: https://www.oaduluth.com/sports-medicine.php

Advanced Spinal Reconstruction Procedure Now Available in The Northland

August 16, 2023

Dr. Matthew T. Davies, a Board Certified and Fellowship Trained Neurosurgeon recently performed the first Multi-Level Lumbar Disc Replacement in The Northland using Centinel Spine’s prodisc® L Total Disc Replacement (TDR) technology.  The prodisc® L system is the only total disc replacement device in the U.S. approved for two-level use in the lumbar spine. 

Whereas lumbar disc replacement was previously only FDA approved for single-level problems, Centinel Spine’s clinically proven prodisc® L Total Disc Replacement (TDR) technology received FDA approval for two-level implantation in 2020.  Many patients who previously were not candidates will now have access to this life-changing procedure.  Lumbar Total Disc Replacement offers a surgical alternative to spinal fusions in the lumbar spine and works to relieve pain in patients suffering from degenerated spinal discs, while maintaining motion over the long term at the diseased spinal segment, and reducing adjacent-level degeneration and re-operations.

The prodisc® L TDR is an alternative to spinal fusion surgery. It enables motion within the spine— rather than fusing the motion segments together, which can result in a decrease in mobility. Even in the short- to medium-term, a comparative five-year study showed a three times lower likelihood of adjacent level degeneration in those patients receiving the prodisc® L total disc replacement versus those who received a fusion2. (Adjacent-level degeneration was characterized by a composite score including disc height loss, endplate sclerosis, osteophytes, and spondylolisthesis.)

As spine treatments continue to advance through innovative technologies and motion preserving techniques, patients are seeking out alternatives to fusions.  “With newly approved two-level use for prodisc L, more of my patients will be able to benefit from disc replacement technology, which enables motion in the diseased segment of the spine,” stated Dr. Davies. “Using a minimally-invasive anterior approach, my patients also benefit from a much faster recovery and return to active life, while decreasing the likelihood of adjacent level degeneration.”

Dr. Davies went on to say, “Most people over the age of 40 have some degree of degeneration in their spine—it is just a part of the aging process. Many younger patients have pain due to back injury.  For those patients who don’t respond to non-surgical means of managing their pain, disc replacement surgery can be a successful option.” 

The prodisc® L system received one-level FDA approval in 2006 and since 2020 is the only total disc replacement device in the U.S. approved for two-level use in the lumbar spine. Recent expanded insurance coverage for lumbar TDR with the prodisc® L device has contributed even more to my patient’s ability to have this procedure.

For today’s patient looking forward to a speedy recovery to an active life-style, prodisc® L is a powerful treatment option worthy of consideration for appropriate patients.  For more information about Total Disc Replacement or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Matthew T. Davies, please visit: www.OADuluth.com  or call 218-722-5513.


About Orthopaedic Associates and Dr. Matthew T. Davies: 

Dr. Davies earned his medical degree from the University of Vermont College of Medicine while earning AOA honors. He then completed his neurological surgery residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX, and also trained at Parkland Hospital, UTSW, the North Texas VA, and Children’s Medical Center Dallas. He went on to complete his fellowship training in spinal oncology and spinal deformity, as well as receiving additional training and certification in SI joint fusion.  Dr. Davies sees patients at our Duluth and Hibbing Clinics and Grand Itasca Clinic & Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Serving the Northland since 1969, Orthopaedic Associates is the go-to team for orthopaedic and sports medicine health care. From diagnosis to recovery, they offer a complete range of treatment and rehabilitation services to help get you back to living an independent and mobile lifestyle…faster and without pain.

Their main office is in Duluth, with an additional clinic in Hibbing. Orthopaedic Associates Therapy is located in both their main office and Hermantown location. Their physicians are also available and practice at a number of established clinics, medical centers and hospitals throughout northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin making Orthopaedic Associates ready, able and available to serve you. For more information about Orthopaedic Associates, to make an appointment, or ask questions about whether a referral is needed, please give us a call at (218) 722-5513 or (800) 225-1321.


About Centinel Spine, LLC:

Centinel Spine®, LLC is a leading global medical device company addressing cervical and lumbar spinal disease through anterior surgical access. The company offers a continuum of trusted, brand-name, motion-preserving and fusion solutions backed by over 30 years of clinical success—providing the most robust and clinically-proven technology platforms in the world for total disc replacement (prodisc®) and Integrated Interbody fusion (STALIF®).

Centinel Spine continues to advance its pioneering culture and corporate mission to become a catalyst of change in the spine industry and alter the way spine surgery is perceived. Centinel Spine remains the only company with comprehensive motion-preserving and fusion solutions for both cervical and lumbar anterior column reconstruction.

For more information on Centinel Spine products and technologies, please visit the company’s website at www.CentinelSpine.com and connect on Twitter and Facebook.

Train Smart this Running Season: Tips From our Build Your Run Seminar

June 7, 2023

As the weather warms, paths clear, and the outdoor running season continues, our team at Orthopaedic Associates wants to make sure our community stays safe and healthy when they start putting in the miles. 

On May 2nd our Build Your Run, A Smart Approach to a Successful Running Season seminar was held by physical therapists Dani Morse, DPT and Shyanne McGregor, DPT. The goal of the seminar was to educate and inform attendees on how to decrease the risk of injury while training for any upcoming races or for those who just like to run recreationally. 

In case you missed the event, this blog will cover a few important takeaways. 

Most injuries occur due to training errors, so a smart progression to running is important to limit the chances of runner’s knee, shin splints, achilles tendinitis, stress fractures, and other lower body pain. 

5 things to consider when starting a running program: 

Where are you starting from? 

Have you been running all winter or did you take a break? What is your current level of fitness and experience? These things will determine where you start in your running program in terms of mileage and intensity. 

Additional information to take into consideration is if you have been running on a treadmill or outside. Different terrain will have a different impact on your joints and muscles. You may also want to think about where you want your end goal to be. Are you training for a specific distance or race? How quickly do you want to reach a place where you are in top physical condition to be able to reach your running goals, whether that be a personal record or simply finishing your longest race so far. 

Our bodies will adapt to the stresses we put on them as long as we progress gradually and give our body the time it needs to reach our goals. We recommend: 

  • Building volume before building intensity

  • Start with interchanging walk/run intervals and progressing the amount of running versus walking gradually

  • Increase this volume by 10% each week

  • Increase your intensity 10-20% each week

Ensure a strong core, hips, calves, and feet. 

Making sure your body is strong and healthy will provide a solid base for efficient and injury-free running. Incorporating some strength training into your program at least two times per week will help achieve this base. 


A few tests you can do to see if you have the strength needed for running are: 

  • Single Leg Calf Raises: 30 reps

  • Single Leg Squats: 20 reps

  • Single Leg Balance: 30 seconds

  • Unilateral Hip Bridges: 20 reps

  • Planks: 60 second

  • Side Planks: 30 seconds

Is Cross Training part of your plan?

Adding in movements like biking, swimming, rowing, or cross-country skiing is a great way to increase overall aerobic fitness without the mechanical stress running causes. This will also limit burnout and mental fatigue that can come with long distance running. 

Purchase the right pair of shoes.

The key for shoe choice is comfort (sorry, look isn’t really important here). Everyone’s feet are different so what works for your running partner might not be the best fit for you. 

Consider the type of running you will be doing. For longer runs, you could use a more cushioned shoe. For shorter, faster runs and races, use a more responsive shoe with a different midsole foam, geometry, and stiffness level. There are many running shoe retailers in our area that can help you find your perfect fit! If you are looking into new running shoes check out places like Tortoise & Hare Footwear, Austin-Jarrow, or Duluth Running Company.

Fuel and refuel correctly. 

As training volume ramps up, proper fueling becomes more and more important for high performance and the ability to recover after training. Before a training session, eat a small meal or snack containing about 35 grams of carbs and 10 grams of protein. Pack an energy gel or a few energy chews to take every 30-45 minutes during your runs. Then for post training, we recommend a 3:1 carb to protein ratio, for example 60 grams of carbs to 20 games of protein. 

If you are interested in more information on how to stay safe this running season, our therapy team at Orthopaedic Associates also offers running assessments and custom running programs to help you start your training on the right foot! Fill out our contact form to request an appointment: https://www.oaduluth.com/contact.php


Kristi L. Hultman, MD Joins Orthopaedic Associates

May 24, 2023

With over 50 years under our belt of our excellent board-certified surgeons setting the standard for Orthopaedic care in the region, we’re always happy to strengthen our team even more and welcome a new surgeon to Orthopaedic Associates! 

We are excited to introduce Dr. Kristi Hultman, MD to our community! 

Dr. Hultman has joined the surgical department, focusing on sports medicine. She specializes in ACL reconstructions, rotator cuff injuries, cartilage procedures, and shoulder and knee replacements. 

Enjoying the hands-on aspect of her work, finding the root problem of her patients’ pain and actively fixing it to get them back to their regular life, drew her to orthopaedics. She is dedicated to making an impact on the lives of her patients. 

She is a graduate of University of Minnesota Medical School and completed her residency at Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University. Dr. Hultman completed her fellowship at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. 

Previously working with members of the Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies, and Flyers, as well as St. Cloud State Women’s Hockey and other college and high school teams, she is passionate about helping athletes get back to playing the sports they love. 

Originally from Minnesota, Dr. Hultman is happy to be back working in the area. You can schedule an appointment with her at Orthopaedic Associates’ Duluth, VRMC, or Hibbing clinics. Once opened, she will also be available to see patients at the new Rock Ridge clinic in Virginia. 

Learn more about Dr. Hultman

Hip Pain? Relief Through Hip Replacement

April 25, 2023

When necessary, hip replacement surgery can have a profound impact on the betterment of your lifestyle, allowing you to live your life to its full range of motion. As we age, we start to feel aches and pains that didn’t affect us before - so how do we know when it is time to look into surgical options to help relieve pain?