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Tips For Dealing With The Chronic Pain Of Osteoarthritis

Severe osteoarthritis of the hands

One of my patients came to see me today with severe right knee pain.  This is not a new problem, and in fact, we have been dealing with flare ups of her osteoarthritis for years.  It mainly affects her knees and hands and today her right knee was swollen and felt like the “bone was rubbing together” with each step. She could hardly walk because of the pain.

Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis and it is one of the most common maladies of aging joints, affecting millions of people.  The cartilage in joints wears down and inflammation causes the bones to build up spurs and small micro tears.  It affects women more than men and  the cause is unknown.  There are likely genetic factors as it tends to run in families.  Arthritis can occur in any joint but the most common are the fingers, wrists, hips, neck and spine and knees.  Stiffness (especially in the morning) and pain are the main symptoms that limit mobility.

You can see Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Is A Compressed Spinal Nerve Causing Itchy Arms?

Medical science is getting closer to understanding one of the most common causes of chronically itchy arms called brachioradial pruritus.

This means we’re also getting closer to helping people who suffer from this extremely frustrating condition!

A new study exploring the cause of brachioradial pruritus was just reported in the October issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.  The authors used MRI imaging to look at the cervical spine of 41 patients suffering from chronic itching of what was otherwise normal appearing skin on the outer surface of their forearms arms (called brachioradial pruritus).  MRI imaging showed a very strong correlation between the itch and nerve compression in the patient’s neck. In fact, the exact site of the itch on the skin correlated precisely with the spinal location in the neck where the nerve resides that supplies that part of the arm skin (we call this a dermatome*).

What’s so interesting is that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Bailey's Skin Care Blog*

CDC Outlines Injury Prevention Strategies In Extreme Weather Conditions

Photo: the sun.It may seem rather unusual to talk about injuries and weather in the same context, but extreme weather can pose significant risks for many kinds of injury.  Currently, many parts of the United States are experiencing a major heat wave, with record-setting heat and heat indices over the next few weeks.  As we have seen in the recent past, deaths are occurring from heat-related and possibly from participation in outside activities that increase the risk of heat-related illness.

During the month of August, many athletes train for the fall sports season, sometimes participating in two practices a day over the course of a few weeks.  While training is necessary and important for athletes to build up their stamina and to improve their performance, health consequences can be deadly if Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at CDC Injury Center: Director's View Blog*

Tips To Beat The Heat

Dehydrated, cramped, limping? on a bike. Road nationals 2010.

People who exercise outdoors face a new threat.

It’s unrelenting.

Consistent.

Inescapable.

Perhaps, even more dangerous than distracted or mean motorists.

It’s the heat. Gosh, is it hot. If only I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, “Doctor M, you aren’t riding in this heat; are you?”

Well…Other than the fortunate souls smart (or lucky) enough to live in cooler climates, most of us are facing an extreme wave of hotness. As a Kentuckian, I live in the epicenter of this summer’s cauldron. Louisville sits in a wind-protected valley alongside the heat sink that is the Ohio River. Think hot and steamy.

The excessive heat smacked me hard last evening. Normally, my highly-veined skin and northern European heritage serves me well in the heat. But last night, while riding in sight of our city’s skyline, it started: My mouth grew dry and my breathing labored. And why was that helmet feeling so tight? Next came the sensation of tingles—not the pleasant kind of tingles, like when your teenager hugs you. And then came the deal-breaker: chills. I stopped, swallowed my pride and called for a ride home. (Here’s an always for you all: When it’s ninety degrees out and you feel cold–stop exercising, immediately.)

After last night’s brush with heat exhaustion, I thought it reasonable to ramble on about the dangers of exercising in the heat. And of course, I will offer some nuggets of wisdom for beating the heat. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Cardiovascular Problems? Stay Out Of The Heat

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The brutal heat wave gripping much of the country this week is unpleasant for healthy folks. For people with cardiovascular trouble, hazy, hot, humid days can be downright dangerous.

Your body shouldn’t get too hot (or too cold). If your temperature rises too far, the proteins that build your body and run virtually all of its chemical processes can stop working. The human body sheds extra heat in two ways, both of which stress the heart:

Radiation. Like water flowing downhill, heat naturally moves from warm areas to cooler ones. As long as the air around you is cooler than your body, you radiate heat to the air. But this transfer stops when the air temperature approaches body temperature.

Radiation requires rerouting blood flow so more of it goes to the skin. This makes the heart beat faster and pump harder. On a hot day, it may circulate two to four times as much blood each minute as it does on a cool day.

Evaporation. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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