Exercise & Prevention

Ask The Doctors: February 2019

When it's cold outside, wearing warm socks, gloves and a hat should keep your feet, hands, and ears sufficiently warm. Some people have a condition called Raynaud's syndrome. This generally benign condition causes blood vessels in the fingers and toes to be overly constricted, making them feel very cold. The nose, lips and ears can also be affected. Raynaud's also causes temporary color changes. An affected finger may turn white or bluish and feel numb. It may turn red as it rewarms and throb or tingle.

The Right Way to Shovel Snow

"For some people, shoveling snow is the first strenuous physical activity they've done in a while," he says. "Preventive measures should be taken." Everyone should be getting regular physical activity, even when it's cold outside. This will keep your body in shape when it's time to do vigorous activities. It will also help to make sure your heart is up to the task.

Ask The Doctors: January 2019

There's a common belief that gout is caused by overindulging in foods high in purines, such as red meat, seafood and alcohol. This is because purines break down to uric acid, which is the substance that at high levels in the body can lead to gout. But it's not that simple. In fact, a recent study, published in the journal BMJ (October 2018), found that genetics was far more likely to be responsible for variations in uric acid levels than food. High-purine foods raise uric acid levels only a very small amount.

Neck Arthritis Is Common

If you have neck pain, modify your activities for a few weeks to avoid putting additional strain on your neck. To relieve more severe pain, you can take an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or get a prescription from your doctor. The drug gabapentin (Neurontin) may help with nerve-related neck pain. If you don't improve on these medications, your doctor might suggest an epidural steroid injection to decrease inflammation around and inside the nerve.

Don’t Fear Osteoporosis Drugs

Bone constantly renews itself. Older bone is broken down and removed (resorbed) and new bone forms. As we age, bone density decreases because more bone is broken down than is newly formed. The bisphosphonate drugs slow down bone resorption. Taking these medications can lower risk of spine fractures by about 50 percent and hip fractures by about 40 percent.

Bringing Healthcare Home

Telemedicine also includes a standard doctor's office visit, with the notable difference being that the doctor is in his or her office and the patient is at home. Using a computer, smartphone or tablet, the patient signs in on a website at the time of the appointment. Doctor and patient can then see and hear each other on their screens. It's like having a chat on FaceTime or Skype. In the case of virtual office visits, the software used for the video conferencing must comply with strict standards of security and confidentiality.

Exercises for Knee Pain

Getting a diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis doesnt mean you have to give up the activities you enjoy. But it will require some effort to establish a routine of doing the types of exercises that will help to ease pain and stiffness.

In The News: December 2018

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that most likely is caused by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Researchers sought to determine a possible role of diet, in particular the mostly plant-based Mediterranean diet, which is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers analyzed data on health and diet for 1,721 people with rheumatoid arthritis and 3,667 people without the disease. Results were published in Arthritis Research & Therapy (September 2018). They found that 24 percent of those with rheumatoid arthritis and 28 percent of those without it highly adhered to the Mediterranean diet. High adherence reduced the chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis by 21 percent compared to low adherence, but only in men who had positive blood tests for rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide, which are antibodies in most people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections

Orthobiologics include substances from one's own body, such as platelet rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell products derived from bone marrow or body fat, and donor products, such as amniotic fluid. Research on most orthobiologics is still in the early stages. The one that has been around the longest is PRP injections, which have become widely available.

Ask The Doctors: December 2018

New drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionized treatment for certain cancers, including melanoma and Hodgkin lymphoma. They are showing promise for other cancers as well. Examples of these drugs are pembrolizumab (Keytruda), atezolizumab (Tecentriq), ipilimumab (Yervoy) and nivolumab (Opdivo). These powerful drugs fight cancer by boosting the bodys own immune system. Cancer cells send out signals that block the ability of immune system cells to recognize and kill them. The new drugs inhibit these blocking signals, thus unleashing a stronger immune system response.

Repairing a Fractured Hip

If you fall and can't get up (just like in the TV commercial), call 911 immediately. Michael Bloomfield, MD, advises everyone who is at risk for falling to always keep their cell phone with them or wear a medical alert device (such as Life Alert). If you fall and don't get help for a prolonged period of time, the consequences can be serious. You may become dehydrated, and muscles can break down, releasing chemicals that can cause kidney damage. SolStock | Getty Images

Download The Full December 2018 Issue PDF

Achy, stiff joints from osteoarthritis get more common as we age. Your genes also contribute to the likelihood that cartilage in joints will wear down. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage, which covers the ends of bones, deteriorates, causing inflammation and structural changes in the joint. This can result in varying degrees of pain and reduced function. Weight-bearing joints, such as the knees and hips, are especially vulnerable.