Health Resources

~~Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressive and sometimes painful joint disorder caused by a compression of the median nerve of your hand. The compression causes swelling, which exerts pressure on the nerves.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is probably the most common source of wrist pain. Symptoms may include soreness, numbness or tingling, or a burning sensation. Some people who develop carpel tunnel find it difficult and painful to rotate their wrist, or move their hand up or down or from side to side.
Carpal tunnel is more common among people who make the same wrist movements over and over (as in sewing, painting, and writing), using a computer, and playing racquetball or handball. Diabetes, arthritis, pregnancy, and obesity also have been linked with carpal tunnel.
~~Eighty percent of Americans experience one form of back pain or another during the course of their lives. More men over the age of 45 are disabled by back pain than any other condition. It is the third most common reason for surgeries. Because of this, people complaining of back pain cannot be easily diagnosed. This is because the spine is such an incredibly complex structure of bones, muscles, nerves, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Injury or disease affecting any one or more of these structures can often trigger an episode of pain.
Lower back pain is often caused by a muscle strain. The erector spinae, or large paired muscles in the lower back that help keep your spine erect, can become inflamed and spasm. In more serious cases, the pain may be caused by a degenerative condition, such as arthritis, disc disease, or disc herniation.
A degenerative disc condition can sometimes cause a chain reaction of other events in your spine. When a disc is not in its proper place, or is malformed from disease or some other condition, it can allow additional undue pressure on other healthy structures, such as neighboring discs, nerves, muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons.
Rest, ice or heat therapy, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine, such as aspirin, are often the first course of treatment for mild lower back pain. This allows your muscles to return to their normal position and begin to heal.
Because the thoracic spine is the sturdiest part of the spine, it is less prone to injury. That said, upper back pain, while less common than lower back pain, is often caused by irritation of the muscles or a problem with a joint. Other less common causes of upper back pain include herniated or degenerative discs.
However, rest for a sore back should be kept to no more than two weeks. Otherwise, the muscles in the lower back begin to atrophy and can become significantly weak, leaving you open to further undue pain and injury.
~~Back injuries are sustained in a myriad of ways and some people are more likely to develop back pain and injury than others are. Some people incur back injuries from doing seemingly nothing; a simple twist or turn the wrong way in bed, for example, could cause a vertebra to go out of alignment. Others incur injury at home or on the job, while others sustain back injuries from traumatic events such as a vehicular accident.
Back injuries can be sustained on any number of structures in the spine. Although lower back injuries are the most prevalent, many people have sustained injuries to the thoracic (middle spine) or cervical (neck) portions of their spinal cord. Injuries can occur to the vertebrae, discs, nerves, joints, muscles, and other soft tissues. Once an injury has been incurred, other parts of the body, from the toes to the head, also can be affected.
Nationally, back injuries cost U.S. businesses approximately $30 billion per year, at an estimated average cost per claim of $24,000. If surgery is involved, the cost for claims increases significantly to $40,000 per injury or higher. One recent back injury involving surgery totaled $240,000.
Health care industry workers sustain nearly five times more back injuries than any other type of worker and are among 6 of the top 10 professions at greatest risk for back injury, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

~Lower back
 Lie flat on your stomach. Raise one arm at a time. Hold for 5 counts, then slowly lower. Do 20 repetitions for each arm.
 Try raising one leg at a time. Hold for 5 counts, then slowly lower. Do 20 repetitions for each leg. Advanced versions of this exercise involve raising both legs or arms simultaneously
Upper back
 Bend your elbows.
 Slowly press your elbows straight back, squeezing the shoulder blades together.
Hold 5 counts. Do 20 repetitions.

In general terms, arthritis is a gradual breakdown or deterioration of the joint spaces in your musculoskeletal system. According to some experts, 8 out of 10 Americans over the age of 55 suffer from one form of arthritis or another. In many cases, arthritis can become so painful and debilitating, simple tasks such as opening a jar or holding a pencil can be difficult. Arthritis affects everyone in different ways. In some, joints in the spine, fingers, wrists, shoulders, knees—even toes—lose their normal shape and large amounts of fluid and debris fill the joint space.
There are many causes of arthritis. A major cause is simply age. Injury or suppressed or weakened immune systems are others. Some people have no choiceit is simply hereditary.
In most people, the body responds to the onset of arthritis by making extra bone. Your body makes this material in an attempt to shore up the degenerating joint. This additional material, or overgrowth, is called a bone spur or osteophyte. Bone spurs are typically found in the joint or disc spaces, where cartilage has begun to break down or deteriorate. Bone spurs sometimes block the spaces where nerve roots leave the spinal canal.
There are many symptoms of arthritis, including:
 Burning
 Cramping
 Inflammation
 Joint pain
 Loss of muscle control
 Muscle spasms
 Numbness
 Pain
 Stabbing pain in the extremities
Major types of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The degenerative form of arthritis that mostly affects the elderly is called osteoarthritis. In some, osteoarthritis may affect the spine's facet joints, making it extremely painful to bend or twist. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to break down and away from the joints.
Stripped of their protective material, the joints begin rubbing against each other, causing pain and impeding movement. This action further irritates the surrounding nerves. Advanced forms of spinal osteoarthritis lead to disc collapse and other problems. An equally painful and destructive form of arthritis is called rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of the joint tissues, leading to pain, weakness, low red blood cell count (anemia), and loss of appetite.
Physical therapy has been shown to help people with arthritis.
Physical therapy can be used to reduce pain, restore mobility, function, strength, and flexibility, and prevent unnecessary disability.
Physical therapy can also help people suffering from arthritis to self-manage their pain, giving them a sense of confidence, empowerment, and hope.
Common exercises may include wall walking (which targets the shoulder joints) and the chair rise (which strengthens your legs and makes standing and sitting safer). Good examples of appropriate activities for those living with arthritis include aquatic exercises (such as swimming), walking, bicycling, golf, and cross-country skiing.


Folic Acid and Alzheimer’s
Over the past year I have published a number of articles regarding Alzheimer’s disease. This is, in part, due to a personal concern I have for this disorder as a result of my experience with a close family member. Over the years, I have made nutritional and lifestyle recommendations to patients who are either suffering themselves or who have loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. According to many researchers in this field, what we used to call dementia or memory loss due to aging is, in fact, all lumped into one category, simply “Alzheimer’s disease.”

A group of Dutch researchers have found that one specific vitamin may improve memory, and in fact slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. This study along with others have found that folic acid appears to reduce the progression of memory loss. Many of you are aware that folic acid is a nutritional supplement, specifically a B-vitamin, that has been recommended for years by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the March of Dimes for mothers to consume during their pregnancies, particular in the first trimester, to assist in reducing the likelihood that their children will have birth defects.

The interesting thing is that folic acid, like many B-vitamins, are helpful in avoiding or treating nerve related disorders. Alzheimer’s disease is actually a degeneration or atrophy of specific regions of the brain that cause memory loss. These researchers found that taking 800 micrograms of folic acid a day slowed the progression of memory loss in the elderly. 818 individuals were utilized in this study, ranging in age from 50 to 75 years. This double blind study had individuals taking either 800 micrograms of folic acid or taking a placebo. Memory testing indicated that the individuals utilizing the folic acid supplement had scores comparable with individuals 5.5 years younger than their age. On tests of their cognitive speed, those individuals taking folic acid performed as well as individuals 1.9 years younger than themselves.

According to Dr. Marilyn Albert of Johns Hopkins University, a neuroscientist who is also the chairperson of the Alzheimer’s Association Science Advisory Council, “this is significant brain protection with a supplement that is already well known to be safe.” She goes on to state that “I think I would take folic acid, assuming my doctor said it was okay. We know Alzheimer’s disease, the pathology, begins many, many years before the symptoms. We ought to be thinking about the health of our brain the same way we think about health of our heart.”

There are many ways that we can guard against the onset or prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. These include, but are not limited to, specific nutritional support. I refer you to my previous articles on Alzheimer’s disease for what I called at that time, The “Alzheimer’s Cocktail” of nutritional supplements. Also, exercising your brain is extremely important. By that I mean utilizing games or puzzles to stimulate the brain. These can include crossword puzzles or word find puzzles. Physical exercise also helps retard the progression of this disease by increasing circulation to the brain. Increased blood flow to the brain helps ward off or slow the progression of memory loss.

Equally important is maintaining social activities. A lack or decline in social stimulation and interaction with age correlates with a decline in cognitive function. If you can combine all three of these activities, something mentally, physically and socially stimulating you’re way ahead of the game. For example, being able to strategies a golf game during play, or coaching a little league baseball team. These will be two ways you will incorporate physical, mental and social stimulation.

The interesting thing is that what’s good for your heart is also good for your mind. In other words, physical activity when regulated properly under the guidance of the supervision of your doctor can be equally as beneficial for your brain as it is for your heart.

Also, the use of folic acid has been shown to have beneficial cardiovascular effects as well as beneficial cognitive effects, or positive effects on your brain.

Some theories about the reason for this include the fact that folic acid decreases inflammation in the body and may play a role in expression of dementia related genes. Some foods that contain folic acid include strawberries, oranges, dark green leafy vegetables and beans, all of which should be consumed to increase your levels naturally; however, folic acid supplementation may be an effective way to enhance your overall cognitive skill and performance.

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