23
May

Bursitis: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

download (37)First things first… there are about 160 bursae throughout the human body. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac lined with special cells which secrete a lubricating fluid rich in collagen and proteins. It functions as a gliding surface to decrease friction between the bones, tendons, and muscles near the joints. Bursitis, then, is inflammation of a bursa, and it can cause mild, moderate, or even severe pain.

Bursitis is commonly located in the shoulder, elbow, knee, and hip, but can also occur in the heel and the base of your big toe. Overall, it tends to localize near joints that perform repetitive movements. Treatment generally involves resting the affected joint and shielding it from further damage, and with proper treatment, the pain associated with bursitis goes away within a few weeks, but flare-ups of bursitis are common.

How Do I Know? Bursitis Causes and Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of bursitis are aching and stiffness in your joints, pain during movement, redness and swelling near the joint, and pain with pressure at the site of the bursitis. You should definitely talk to your doctor if you have any of the following: fever, excessive swelling, redness, bruising, joint pain that is severe or that lasts for over two weeks, or shooting pains when you exercise or exert yourself.

If you have had an injury or trauma to the joint, inflammatory arthritis, gout, or an infection, or even if you make repetitive movements that irritate the bursae around a joint, you are more likely to get bursitis. As a matter of fact, even prolonged sitting on hard surfaces can cause the bursae in your hips to react with inflammation. This is why it’s important to get up and move if you sit most of the day. Even leaning on your elbows or lifting something over your head repeatedly can cause bursitis.

A Risky Business

There are some factors that can increase your risk of getting bursitis. Bursitis, like arthritis, becomes more common with age, but anyone who has a job or hobby that involves repetitive movements or pressure on specific bursae is at a higher risk of developing bursitis. Some examples of occupations that use repetitive motion include tile setting, painting, playing a musical instrument, and carpet installation. In addition, there are some conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and diabetes that can increase your risk of getting bursitis.

Bursitis Treatment

  • Using padding or guards for the areas of the body where the bursae are especially close to the surface of the skin, like the ankles and knees.
  • The areas of the body affected by bursitis can be rested (and if possible, elevated) to help stop the symptoms. Although exercise is important to keep muscles toned, you may need to choose exercises that don’t involve painful motions. The best exercise that does not put too much pressure on the bursae is swimming.
  • Icing the affected area can be quite effective in reducing the pain and inflammation. If you don’t have small ice packs available, you can use packages of frozen vegetables. Apply the ice pack to the area for 10 minutes at least twice a day to help decrease inflammation.

Beyond Bursitis

Living with bursitis, like arthritis, can be very painful and frustrating, but with the right treatment and pain management, you don’t have to let it control your movement.

 

18
May

Body Fat – How It Affects Our Health

download (36)World over, there is the general misinformation about ‘body fat’ and ‘obesity’. While obesity has gained the proportions of a global epidemic, the importance of body fat in the right proportions cannot be dismissed completely. Too little or too much of body fat can lead to health issues.

‘Body fat’ is a term used in familiar tones and most people tend to link it with cholesterol levels and obesity. The body requires certain amounts of fat for metabolic and structural functions although excess amounts of it can have severe health implications. Fat is naturally produced in the body by the absorption of fats from the foods we consume. The metabolism breaks down the fat and two byproducts – glycerol and fatty acids – are released into the body. Glycerol is processed by the liver into glucose which is the storehouse of energy; fatty acids are the major source of energy for the major body tissues, especially the skeletal and the cardiac muscles. Hence, the importance of appropriate amounts of fats in the diet is not to be ignored.

Benefits of body fat

Body fats contribute to some major functions and help in the following areas.

• Maintains healthy hair and skin
• Ensures smooth functioning of body cells
• Provides cushioning effect on organs and tissues
• Maintains right body temperature
• Helps absorb vital vitamins such as Vitamins A, E, D and K
• Acts as a shock absorber for bones
• Provides immunity boost to the body from ailments and illnesses.

Why too much body fat is undesirable

Excess body fat affects the body negatively especially if fats are absorbed and not burnt off. When fat accumulates in the body it leads to obesity and triggers health concerns like breathlessness, arthritis, heart diseases, diabetes etc. While tables indicating ideal percentages of fat can vary from region to region, an ideal percentage for men would be 14-17 percentage of the total weight for men and 21-24 percentage of total body weight for women.

In recent decades, as more and more information is gained about obesity and weight loss, it is essential to know fat percentages and how fat loss differs from weight loss. People who have a healthy lifestyle and are athletically built usually weigh more than others who are heavier by body weight on account of excess fat. Here, the latter is more vulnerable to weight-related health issues than the former and the important point is to lose excess fat. Adopting a plan or program that combines a healthy lifestyle that includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains with moderate but regular exercise regimens is the best way to lose fat.

 

8
May

Health – Some Startling Facts Revealed

download (35)Human health has long been an issue of great interest and curiosity besides the subject of vast research and studies. What makes us tick?

The human body is like a well-oiled machine and functions well when all the systems are carrying out their ‘duties’ properly in conjunction with each other. But the larger ‘duty’ of managing the body well rests with us. Health is the vast sum of all functions that humans have to exercise in order to survive in a given situation or environment, the diverse the environment the greater the emphasis on health and its importance. But the irony is that besides illnesses and diseases that are the leading causes of deaths globally, factors like air pollution, water pollution, exposure to chemicals and pesticides also cause millions of deaths each year.

Let’s get in detail some information on this as well as other health related issues from around the world.

Risk factors

Health studies and medical data provide the startling fact that air pollution from industry and vehicle exhaust lead to the premature death of over 3.5 million people each year. When you find that that number is more than the combined deaths from Aids/HIV and Malaria, it is a rather grim picture indeed!

Particulate matter and gases like nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide from vehicular emissions and burning fossil fuels are the leading causes of suppressed lung growth in young children, asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Fetal brain growth is affected severely when pregnant women are exposed to air pollution. Even in countries that have strict legislation in place and have long histories of tackling air pollution, the solution does not seem to be in sight. Globally, several countries are involved in long-running legal tussles with world environmental agencies and pollution control boards over their failure to cut pollution levels. The ill-effects of global warming and the severity in weather patterns is something we have been witnessing for over a decade now.

Nationwide statistics

A recently concluded report on the health and lifestyle habits of Australians has thrown up some very worrying facts. Australian Health Policy Collaboration released ‘Australia’s Health Tracker’ which examines the health of the people in relation to chronic illnesses and associated risk factors. The report concluded that Australia ranks as one of the most obese countries in the world with every fourth Australian being obese or overweight. An overwhelming 92 percent of teenagers had virtually no physical activity while in the adult category nearly 50% were found to have no regular exercise pattern resulting in high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and record-high suicide rates. The report also found that even when Australians were drinking less overall, the culture of binge-drinking was influencing young people to consume alcohol in excessive amount.

Over 50 public health organizations who are signatories to the report have set targets to be achieved by 2025 for individually listed health factors – 25 percent reduction in country-wide mortality rates from common cancers, diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases.

 

2
May

Seniors: Strategies For Preventing Falls and Remaining Independent

downloadWho wants to be independent? I certainly do. To me, it means being healthy and able to do the things in life that give me pleasure. For many seniors, independence can also mean not depending on others for their care. A major cause for a loss of independence for them is falling.

While it’s true that most falls do not result in serious physical injury, there is a profound psychological impact. Once a person falls, they restrict their activities because of the fear of another fall. This action leads to greater risk of falling again, because inevitably they do less physical activity. This fear is very powerful, and negatively affects their lives. This fear is the greatest obstacle for re-establishing balance.

I’ve given several lectures on keeping seniors independent. Before each lecture, I pass around a sheet of paper for the audience to list the three most important areas of concern in their lives. At every lecture, staying independent and preventing falls is at the top of the list by a long shot. This is why I’ve devoted my practice to helping seniors with this issue. I will briefly cover these areas: eyesight, hearing, medications, and keeping one’s environment safe. I will cover proprioception in a subsequent article.

Balance tends to decline with age because it is dependent on three main factors which all interact with one another: vision, hearing, and proprioception. Proprioceptors are specialized sensory receptors on nerve endings found in muscles, tendons, joints, and the inner ear. Eyesight and hearing decline with age, and we may lose a great deal of our proprioception if we are less active and more sedentary. The majority of seniors are sedentary. For most of us, modern life consists of moving from one sitting position to another, leading to a lack of physical activity and strength. The lack of physical activity results in poor proprioception, decreased muscle strength (muscle strength is a major component of balance), and short, tight muscles in the hips and ankles, making balance, and even activities such as walking, a challenge. It also makes the daily tasks of getting up from a chair or toilet, lifting objects, and getting out to enjoy recreative activities difficult, if not impossible.

We all get old, so what can be done to prevent falls and retain independence.

The cerebellum is the area of the brain which coordinates vision, hearing, and proprioception. Like all body tissues, blood circulation is of utmost importance. There are certain foods which enhance circulation (vasodilation). Some of these are cayenne pepper, garlic, onions, rosemary, ginger, and foods containing magnesium. The best of these foods are dark, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, avocados, barley, and oats. Supplements include arginine, niacin or B3 (flush-free), and hawthorne. Please make sure that the supplements don’t interfere with any medications that you take. Extra help for eyes are a class of nutrients called carotenoids. Orange and red fruits and vegetables are rich in carotenoids; to a lesser extent in green, purple, and blue fruits. Zinc, vitamin C and E are also beneficial, but foods are by far the best.

Medications. All drugs carry side effects, even over-the-counter types. Some of the commonly prescribed medications that can affect balance (courtesy of Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School, include: antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, antihistamines for allergies, blood pressure and other heart medications, pain relievers, and sleep aids. Many times, the combination of drugs can negatively affect balance. Have your doctor or pharmacist review all of the medications you take, even over-the-counter.

Make your home safer. At least one-third of all reported falls in the elderly involve environmental hazards in the home.It is useful to conduct a was-through of your home, both inside and out, to identify problems that may lead to falls.

Outdoors: repair cracks and abrupt edges of sidewalks and driveways. Trim shrubbery along the pathway to the home. Keep walk area clear of clutter, rocks, tools, and kid’s toys. Install adequate lighting by doorways and along walkways leading to doors.

For all living spaces: avoid using floor polish or wax. Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep rugs from slipping. Remove things that you can trip over, like shoes, books, clothes, etc. from stairs and other walkways. Know where your pet is before stepping. If you have tiled or wood floors, watch for spilled water. Re-organize your pantry and cabinets so that you can easily reach the items you use frequently. Improve lighting in your home. Hang light-weight shades or curtains to reduce glare. Use a change of color to denote changes in surface types or levels. I use blue painters tape for this purpose. Have grab bars installed next to shower or tub and toilet. Use a flashlight or nightlight when getting up to use the bathroom at night. Finally, avoid over-reaching for objects. Many folks underestimate how far they reach and end up falling. Simply take another step to keep a leg underneath you for support.