Sunday, May 17, 2015

Living with Arthritis - Keep Moving!

Arthritis is an inevitable part of the aging.  It affects 1 in 3 people worldwide. Age-related arthritis usually starts at about 40 with increasing incidence as one gets older.  The more joints it affects the more likely it may become disabling and painful.  The joints most commonly affected are the hands and feet followed by weight bearing joints like the hip and knee.  The spine is also affected causing low back pain, one of the top five reasons for doctor visits.

Arthritis, also called degenerative joint disease (DJD), is just that – degeneration of bone surfaces from years of wear and tear and or occupational overuse.  Over time joint spaces throughout the body become narrow and less mobile leading to a progressive decline in affected joints.  The narrowing of the joint spaces involves an inflammatory process.  Severe degeneration causes bone surfaces to rub against one another in places where cartilage and synovium used to be. All of this can lead to disabling pain and limited movement. 

 Symptoms of arthritis include stiffness, pain, and joint swelling.  This can lead to decreased, limited movement affecting your activities of daily living.  If arthritis worsens, it can lead to mobility issues and may require surgery.  Chronic, debilitating pain may also make all activities more difficult and less enjoyable.

Is this avoidable?  No.  Is it treatable? Yes.  Some studies postulate that cartilage damage induced by inflammatory arthritis that chondroitin sulfate may at least delay progression.  Antiflammatory medications like aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help with inflammation and pain.  Further pain contol may be achieved with narcotics which are potentially addictive.  Dietary adjustments include increase calcium and Vitamin D.

The most beneficial treatment is movement. When it’s hard to move, efforts to move must be made to keep from moving even less.  Ironically so, when you feel like you are having a hard time moving, it’s time to keep moving!  Ask your doctor for an orthopedic doctor consult and a physical therapy evaluation for treatment.  You will be able to implement your own home exercise program. 
Best health!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Family Health: Allergy vs. Adverse Reaction

Do you know the difference between an allergy and adverse reaction?  When taking medication of any type, prescription or non-prescription, reactions from a single or multiple drugs may occur.  An allergic reaction usually involves allergy symptoms which may include difficulty breathing, hives, and itching.  Adverse reactions may include this and much more essentially indicating your body is unable to tolerate the medicine.

It is important that your health care team is aware of any reactions to medication you have taken.  When asked about allergies be sure to include adverse reactions as well.  It is also important to note any drug-drug and drug-food interactions you may have experienced.  Medication in the same drug class are often offered as alternatives. These can also be adversely tolerated.

Be aware of your medication history and include it in your medical history.  Share this with all of your healthcare providers.  This will assure that you will be unlikely to be prescribed anything that may cause an allergic or adverse reaction.  Best health!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Read and Learn for Your Health

Read what you need. Learn about what you need to maintain good health and well-being.  Health literacy is an important part of your self-care health care.  It helps promote better health and quality of life. 

Medical science progresses so rapidly!  It is impossible for health care providers to keep up with all these new developments. Be aware of treatments your doctors and healthcare team have yet to hear about or are unlikely to ever find out about.  The overwhelming amount of new health information that comes out is far too much for many to stay current on every disease and treatment.  This should not stop you the patient from finding out all you can.  The same goes for wellness.  Participating in your health care is mandatory to maintain good health, achieve wellness, and overcome illness.

There are so many different treatments and modalities that compliment traditional medicine.  As many lack training in these areas they are unable to tell the patient.  Asking your doctor is a good starting place as is telling your doctor about the things you have read about or tried that helped.  In turn this may evoke a response by your physician to find out more, and even share with other patients and colleagues who may in turn share their “new” information which your doctor can share with you.

Reading and learning are vital to good health.  Informed choices based on fact have proven to yield better health outcomes.  Best health!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Keep a Happy Heart, Be Heart Smart

A healthy heart is a cheerful heart.  Keep your heart smart and happy with this quick, easy to understand information.

Check your heart list:
___Heart and vascular exam by health care provider
___Blood pressure, pulse, weight, height

For further evaluation, especially if symptoms are present, and/ or if there is a strong family history of heart and vascular disease see a cardiologist.

Tests may include:
___Doppler echocardiogram (checks heart valves, size, etc.)
___Stress test - nuclear, doppler or exercise (heart function)
___Heart MRI scan (artery disease)
___Interventional studies like cardiac catherization, angiogram (checks artery blockage, valve function)

Heart health habits:
  1. Maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Eat healthy small portions.
  3. Exercise regularly - every little bit counts! Just do it regularly.
  4. Keep blood pressure under control.
  5. Keep stress level low.
  6. Get adequate sleep.
  7. Take an aspirin a day if in a high risk group. Check with your health care provider.
  8. Love, laugh, and let go!
Have a happy, healthy heart! Best health and love!

J.L. Richardson, MD, family medicine, is the author of the award winning Patient Handbook to Medical Care: Your Personal Health Guide.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How You Can Save on Health Costs

Rising health care costs are one of the biggest reasons many people refrain from getting medical care when they need it.  Medical care costs deter many from doing what is best for their health. The following suggestions will help you spend your health dollars more wisely.
  1. Eat proper foods. This is more healthy and less expensive especially if dining out or ordering in is eliminated.  Deleting junk food reduces expenses as well.  Home cooking is better for you and less costly.
  2. Keep weight stable. It is the healthy thing to do. This will save on grocery and clothing expenses as well as long term savings on medical expenses.
  3. Get prescription medicines in bulk quantity of 100 versus thirty day supply especially if you are paying outright. Buy nonprescription medication in bulk when on sale. You will be amazed at your savings when you buy a six to twelve month supply on sale. This tip is also effective for emergency preparedness.
  4. Talk with your doctor by phone, fax, and email to save on the cost of an office visit payment. Just think about the number of office visits you have been to where all you did was talk (after waiting for a long while). This will save your time and money.
  5. Monitor blood pressure at home.  Call in, email, or fax your readings to your health care providers. Many doctors will discover that your blood pressure is actually stable when the stress of the doctor's white coat is absent. For diabetics, a home glucometer is very useful for monitoring blood sugar.
  6. Maintain healthy lifestyle changes long term.
  7. Do routine health maintenance check-ups and testing.  Prevention and early detection have proven cost effective and good for overall health.
Invest in your most important asset - YOU. Maintaining your good health is one of the best ways to prosper into longevity.  Best health!