Cauliflower is a versatile wonder vegetable. It is high in nutritional value, including high fiber content, vitamins B and C, potassium, antioxidants and may enhance weight loss plans. It is a trendy food that can be mashed, roasted, used as pizza crust or eaten raw.
But in his sports-focused medicine practice, Dr. Jose Armendariz, M.D. CAQSM, finds cauliflower ears are not as appealing or healthy as the vegetable. Armendariz regularly treats cauliflower ear, or auricular hematomas.
An auricular hematoma is caused by trauma or friction of the ear often from contact sports such as rugby, wrestling, boxing and judo.
The trauma or continuous friction to the auricle (the outer, visible part of the ear) can lead to bleeding into soft tissues of the ear. The bleeding occurs anteriorly at the space between the perichondrium and elastic cartilage of the ear.
"It is important that the injury is recognized and the athlete evaluated. Early recognition of the injury is best,’’ said Armendariz, a fellowship-trained sports medicine specialist and sports medicine director with Genesis Health Group. "Delay in treatment may result in worsening of the injury, or longer delay in return to sports.’’
Untreated, the auricular hematoma can cause pressure, necrosis (tissue death), and scarring leading to a "cauliflower ear" which is the characteristic deformity to the ear. Associated conditions may include auricle laceration, ruptured tympanic membranes, concussions, and perichondritis -- inflammation of the perichondrium -- and cellulitis.
Armendariz said early aspiration during the acute phase is best when the hematoma is palpable. Aspiration followed by compression dressing is necessary to prevent re-accumulation of fluid. Antibiotics, such as Cephalexin, are sometimes given as a preventive measure as an auricle infection will result in poor outcomes. Occasionally, incision and drainage may be needed.
"If you are unable to have the hematoma drained immediately, you can apply ice to the injury and follow up within 24 to 48 hours," Armendariz said.
Auricular hematoma prognosis is best when the injury is treated early. Returning to sports too soon increases the risk of poor outcomes. Awareness of proper use and fit of headgear by the athlete, coaches, and athletic training staff can help prevent this injury.
Auricular hematoma is just one of many sports injuries Dr. Armendariz treats in his practice. Others include sports-related concussion, sprains, strains, knee and shoulder injuries, tendonitis, osteoarthritis, non-surgical fractures, and treatment with platelet rich plasma (PRP) and stem cells.
"With these types of injuries, many people may think about the need for surgery. What they may not realize is that about 90 percent of all sports injuries may have effective non-surgical treatments available,’’ Armendariz said.
He also works closely with people who want to improve athletic performance, improve their nutrition and intensify their physical activity.
For those who may want to resolve to exercise more in the New Year or train for an event, Armendariz recommends first setting a goal for fitness, then adding the following three factors to reach that goal.
• Cardio: "The heart and lungs provide stamina for exercise.’’
• Core exercises: "The spine is the framework supported by muscle.’’
• Weight training: "This will give you the muscle power to do the work you want to accomplish.’’
Dr. Armendariz is with Genesis Health Group, Sports Medicine, at 2140 53rd Ave., Bettendorf. Call 563-421-5700 or send name and number as a request to SportsMedicine@genesishealth.com. Referrals are not necessary.