Archive for July, 2012

What are the possible complications of hip replacement?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm scheduled to have hip replacement surgery. What complications can occur with a replacement joint?

DEAR READER: I'm answering your question as both a doctor and a patient, since I had a hip replacement about a decade ago. Hip replacement surgery involves replacing the bony ball and socket of the joint with an artificial device made of metal or ceramic.

What happens during a root canal?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I have to have a root canal. Why do I need it? And what will happen during the procedure?

DEAR READER: If you've never had a root canal, and if you've heard someone say, "I'd rather have a root canal than have ..." you probably think it's very painful. I've had several root canals. They're no fun, that's for sure. But you get an anesthetic before the procedure that greatly reduces or eliminates the pain.

What’s the best way to treat shin splints?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm on my high school track team. I've developed painful shin splints. What's the best way to treat them?

DEAR READER: I was on my high school track team, too, but based on where I placed in my races, I'm not sure anyone noticed. Like you, though, I got shin splints. Shin splints commonly occur in runners.

What is post-polio syndrome?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My grandfather had polio decades ago. He recently went to the doctor and was diagnosed with post-polio syndrome. What is this? And what can he do to regain his strength?

DEAR READER: Post-polio syndrome is the term for a collection of symptoms that occur decades after infection with the polio virus. The main symptom of the condition is new muscle weakness. Polio is caused by infection with the polio virus. The initial symptoms often include muscle weakness, and sometimes complete paralysis, that develops over a few days.

What would cause numbness and tingling in my little finger?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm bothered by numbness and tingling in my little finger and general weakness in my right hand. Could I have carpal tunnel syndrome?

DEAR READER: Based on your description, I'd say you have cubital (not carpal) tunnel syndrome. Another name for this condition is ulnar neuropathy. Cubital tunnel syndrome, like carpal tunnel syndrome, is a "pinched nerve" problem. The affected nerve is the ulnar nerve.

What is intestinal angina?

DEAR DOCTOR K: For years I've endured stomach pain after every meal. My doctor finally diagnosed me with intestinal angina. I've never even heard of this.

DEAR READER: You've probably heard of cardiac angina. That's when cholesterol-filled plaque in the heart's arteries limits blood flow to a part of your heart muscle.

Is it safe to use a sauna?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I love saunas, but my wife worries they're dangerous. Is she right?

DEAR READER: Many cultures use heat for relaxation and therapy. One of the oldest -- and hottest -- of these techniques is the sauna. The modern sauna is a simple, unpainted room with wooden walls and benches. A rock-filled electric heater keeps the temperature at about 90 degrees at floor level and boosts it to about 185 degrees at the top. Saunas are very dry; humidity levels are just 10 percent to 20 percent. A good sauna is also well-ventilated.

How can I teach my children healthy eating habits?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I keep hearing about childhood obesity. What can I do now to make sure my 5- and 7-year-olds learn healthy eating habits?

DEAR READER: You've definitely got the timing right: Now is the time to start. Not only can you establish healthy eating habits, you can also influence the chemistry of your kids' bodies so that they are less likely to get fat as adults. All the talk about childhood obesity is not just media hype. The number of children who are overweight or obese is increasing at an alarming rate.

How can I ease the pain of ankylosing spondylitis?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'd like to learn more about ankylosing spondylitis. What treatments will help manage my pain?

DEAR READER: Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that mainly affects the lower back. It causes inflammation and damage at the joints. A person with ankylosing spondylitis commonly feels pain or stiffness in the lower back, especially in the morning or after periods of inactivity.

What causes hair loss in women?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My daughter is only in her 30s and she's starting to lose her hair. What can she do?

DEAR READER: About one-third of women experience hair loss at some time in their lives. Most of the time it happens after menopause. There are many potential causes of hair loss, including medical conditions, medications and physical or emotional stress.