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Data shows vaccination rates are declining since 2020

One of the greatest frustrations in modern medicine occurs when a safe, tried, and proven treatment exists to prevent deadly disease, but it is not possible to administer it to the potentially vulnerable victims. Over time, the disease unnecessarily spreads exponentially. Malaria in sub-Saharan Africa where one million die from the disease each year and tuberculosis in Haiti where the highest rate in the Western Hemisphere exists, are two examples. Another such disease that can be prevented with vaccination is the Human Papillomavirus, (HPV). While some strains of HPV lead to cancer an almost 100 percent disease prevention rate is associated with those vaccinated before the age of first potential exposure.

Despite validated scientific evidence of safety for more than 15 years, HPV vaccination skepticism not only persists, but is on the increase. Surveys show that the “anti-vaccine” culture fueled by COVID 19 has carried over to other vaccinations, including HPV. For example, provider orders for HPV vaccines decreased 24% in 2020, 9% in 2021 and 12% in 2022 when compared to 2019.

Many parents belonging to the “anti-vaccine movement” justify their actions with completely unfounded and unsupported fears of autism and other illnesses from the vaccine. However, their decisions affect the health of not only their children, but others as well.

According to Paul Offit, MD, professor of pediatrics, division of infectious diseases director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), every year in the United States, thousands of men and women die of cancers that can be prevented with a simple vaccine administered during adolescence to prevent HPV. He states, “It is critical that doctors and parents keep in mind; the disease is NOT ABOUT SEX…IT IS ABOUT CANCER!”

Top 5 Health Initiatives - HPV is one!

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has listed the prevention of HPV as a one of its “Top 5 Health Initiatives.” The pressure will be on health care providers to take the time to educate and dispel myths in order for parents to make informed decisions for the health of their children. In fact, local pediatrician Anders Nelson, who spends significant time educating parents and children about the importance of vaccination, requires parents to sign a “Refused HPV Vaccine” form and boasts a 99% compliance rate.

2013 the CDC reported 13.9% of males and 37.6% of females’ ages 13-19 are completing vaccination for Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Despite such low vaccination rates, a 50% reduction in HPV among 14 -19-year-old females was noted. Moreover, studies demonstrate a near 100% success rate to eradicate HPV in children vaccinated between the ages of 9 and 11 years old, leading health professionals to ask a frustrating and burning question: “Why do parents hesitate to vaccinate their children from a potentially deadly virus when a safe and effective cure exists?”

Reasons cited by parents for not vaccinating are challenging to health providers.  Some of the most common responses include misunderstanding of HPV and its impact, unfamiliarity with vaccine recommendations, distrust of vaccine safety, religious and moral issues with mode of disease transmission, and social pressures. It will be the purpose of this column to dispel myths and address these concerns among parents.

What is HPV?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States.  It is estimated that nearly all sexually active Americans will at some point become infected with the virus.  HPV is spread by direct skin to skin contact.  Although the infection maybe asymptomatic, it is still possible to spread the virus.  Condoms are not 100% effective to prevent HPV because infected skin may be present outside of the barrier.

Studies have demonstrated that 90 percent of sexually active males and 80 percent of sexually active females will be infected with HPV in their lifetime.  Moreover, 50 percent of HPV infections are high-risk, which can lead to cancer if the body does not clear these infections.

HPV is a family of viruses that primarily produce warts, but a limited number are responsible for cancers. There are a total 120 different subtypes of the virus capable of producing warts on skin or mucus membranes.  Specific strains of the virus show preference for sites of infection, and different disease progressions. For example, most types are responsible for common warts on the hands and feet, however, there are strains with a preference for producing genital/anal disease. Moreover, the HPV causing the most of significant concern are those strains responsible for certain cancers. Some HPV strains will directly interrupt a cells repair cycle, resulting in vulnerability to be transformed into a cancerous cell.  HPV types 16 and 18 are high risk for cancer and account for 70% of all 490,000 cases cervical cancer with 3,900 deaths.  In addition, these two types cause penile, anal and head/neck cancers.   

Prevention of HPV

Prevention is paramount because once infected there is no treatment for HPV infections. Only the associated lesions, including genital warts, recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP), pre-cancers, and cancers are treated.  Treatment options professionals utilize are biopsy, cauterization, cryotherapy, and can be mildly to severely disfiguring.  Biopsy results are used to determine the HPV strain and treatment.  High risk subtypes lead to increased medical observation and have the potential for more invasive treatments which can impair fertility and cause facial disfigurement. 

HPV Vaccination

The most popular HPV vaccine available for use is Gardasil.  It has been proven to safely protect against HPV 16 and 18, which account for 70% of all cervical cancers. Gardasil additionally protects against other high and low risk virus types. 

The Gardasil vaccine was initially developed in the mid 1980’s at various institutions in the US and abroad.  HPV proteins were added to a previous vaccine base that was proved safe and effective.  After almost 30 years of testing and scrutiny by the FDA, Gardasil was deemed safe and released to the public in 2006.

Since distribution of the Gardasil vaccine, 270 million were administered worldwide with less than .032% serious adverse events. The reported vaccine reactions are injection site discomfort, dizziness, and fainting. Furthermore, research has concluded that there is no association with neurological conditions such as Guillain-Barre’ and Autism. 

Gardasil is licensed for use for males and females ages 9 through 26 years. The vaccines are administered in a series of three on a 0, 2, and 6-month schedule.  Studies have shown vaccination earlier in the recommended age spectrum has more advantageous results.  For example, vaccinated children between the ages of 9-11 display an almost 100% prevention of disease.  Sexually activity is not a contraindication to receiving the vaccine, but the vaccine is not recommended to those currently pregnant. 

HPV Vaccination Concerns

Despite the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, one reason reported by parents for not vaccinating their children is the concern that vaccination will increase sexual activity in adolescents. Although disconcerting for parents, a study conducted two years before the introduction of Gardasil by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that the number of sexually active teens has increased to 30% in ages 15 to 17 and more than 63% in ages 18 to 19. Furthermore, these numbers continued to increase regardless of public programs in sexual education and abstinence. 

Since released in 2006, Gardasil has made a direct impact on HPV prevalence in adolescents.  Even with less than desirable vaccination rates, HPV prevalence among adolescent females age 14-19 is declining.  The decline in affected teens is predicted to lead to decreased future HPV related cancers. These vaccinations are safe, effective, powerful tools at our disposal to protect our children from the detrimental effects of a preventable disease.  If you would like more information on Gardasil, consult your local Family Physician, Pediatrician, or Obstetrician-gynecologists (OB/GYN). Remember the advice of CHOP pediatrician, Dr. Paul Offit regarding the HPV vaccination for adolescents, “it is critical that doctors and parents keep in mind; the disease is NOT ABOUT SEX…IT IS ABOUT CANCER!”

Sources: CDC, Journal of Pediatrics, JAMA, International Journal of Cancer, Journal of Infectious Disease; www.MerckVaccines.com  (GardasilR)

Medical Reviewer & Contributor: Anders Nelson, MD., F.A.A.P. is a pediatrician with offices in Scranton, PA.

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

Seasonal allergies affect 30 % of adults and 40% of children in the United States. Avoiding the outdoors is often not an option…especially if you enjoy outdoor activities and sports. Not long ago, it was unthinkable that an athlete with serious seasonal allergies could compete at a high level, such as the Olympics. Now, in great part due to advanced research, medications and proper management, an Olympic gold medal for those suffering from seasonal allergies is a reality. Recently, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health have published research on this topic to provide a better understanding and make recommendations.

The most common allergic reactions which athletes suffer from are sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose and coughing. Moreover, 67% of those with these symptoms also suffer from asthma. The athlete in NEPA is particularly vulnerable when the pollen count is high during spring and fall for several reasons. One, after being indoors all winter, one might develop a heightened sensitivity to allergens. Also, increased rapid and deep breathing during exercise makes athletes more susceptible to significant symptoms when exposed to allergens such as tree, grass and weed pollens.

Treatment

Allergy Shots/Drops

Allergy skin testing can be performed to determine the allergens to which you are susceptible. Once determined, allergy shots are effective in building up tolerance to these allergens. If appropriate, you may be able to use allergy drops, administered under the tongue and conveniently used at home.  

Pre-Treat    

Asthma suffers should use their inhaler BEFORE symptoms occur. A recent study found that pretreatment using a short-acting bronchodilator inhaler within 15 minutes before exercise is very effective in preventing asthma symptoms for more than four hours. It is important to keep a bronchodilator available. If you fail to benefit from this, see your physician for other methods to control your exercise-induced symptoms.

Warm-up/Cool Down

Whether you have allergic respiratory problems from rhinitis or asthma, you many benefit from conditioning your airways with a 10 to 15 minute warm-up before and cool-down after the activity. This may serve to gradually prepare your lungs for an increased demand.

Hydrate

In addition to preventing dehydration on hot and humid days, constant hydration is very important for the athlete with allergies to prevent dry airways in athletes.

Guidelines for Athletes with Allergies from the National Athletic Trainers Association:

Educate Staff

Know the signs and symptoms of asthma (coughing, wheezing, tightness in chest, shortness of breath).

Plan for the Problem

Some schools have a file on each student athlete with a allergic or asthmatic problem which requires medication. The file includes information such as medical doctor release and instruction, emergency contacts and medications. Students must have their medications on hand before they can enter the field. The National Athletic Trainers Association recommends using a peak flow meter to monitor at risk players and can determine when a player can return to the field.

Practice in Climate Control

If possible, find an alternate practice facility with climate control for athletes at risk. Plan practices for these athletes when the pollen count is low. Check the newspaper or internet for pollen counts in your area. Training by the water, (ocean) where there is a breeze and less pollen is helpful.

Additional Suggestions:

Shower and change clothing immediately after being outdoors

During a flare up, do less aerobic exercise to limit stress on respiratory system. Try strength training indoors instead. 

When pollen count is high, keep windows shut at home and in your car….use air-conditioning.

Keep pets out of your bedroom…especially when sleeping

Dry clothing in dryer…do not hang on clothesline outdoors

Sources: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. National Athletic Trainers Association.

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

Diabetes Part II of II: Management and Lifestyle

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 11.3% of the population in the United States or almost 37.3 million adults and children has diabetes. Unfortunately, the number keeps rising and one-third of these people are not aware that they have the disease. It will be the purpose of this column to raise the level of consciousness through education and offer recommendations for lowering blood sugar levels naturally.  

Perhaps no goal is more important to a person with diabetes than maintaining a healthy blood sugar level. When managed over time, healthy blood sugar levels can slow the onset of complications associated with the disease. According to the ADA, pre-diabetes, or impaired glucose tolerance, occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal (110 to 125mg/dl) but below type 2 diabetes levels (126mg/dl). 54 million Americans have pre-diabetes in addition to the 20.8 million with diabetes.

While medications are effective in maintaining blood sugar levels, for those who are borderline, there are effective ways to lower your blood sugar naturally. Your physician will determine which treatment is most appropriate for your problem. Also, maintaining your ideal body weight is always important.

10 Tips to Lower Your Blood Sugar Naturally

SOURCES: The American Diabetes Association (ADA), CDC, NIH, and Lifescript

Visit your doctor reguLlarly and listen to your body.

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. This column will present information regarding type 1 and type 2 diabetes and the diagnosis and symptoms of the disease. Next week, Part II will present the role of exercise in the management of the disease. 

What is it?

            Diabetes is a disease where the hormone insulin is not adequately produced or used by the body. Insulin is needed for cells to take up glucose after it is broken down from sugars, starches and other food that we eat. When working properly, this provides the fuel necessary for activities of daily living. While the exact cause is not completely understood, genetics is known to play a big role. However, environmental factors such as obesity and inactivity have also been found to play a large role.

            According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 11.3% of the population in the United States or almost 37.3 million adults and children has diabetes. Unfortunately, the number keeps rising and one-third of these people are not aware that they have the disease.

Diagnosis

A Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPG) or an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) can be used to screen a person for diabetes or pre-diabetes. Due to the fact that it is easier, quicker and cheaper, the FPG is the recommended test by the ADA. A FPG test results between 110 and 125 mg/dl indicates pre-diabetes. A FPG of 126 mg/dl or higher indicates diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the islet cells of the pancreas are destroyed and unable to produce insulin. Without insulin, the cells of the body are unable to allow glucose (sugar) to enter the cells of the body and fuel them. Without the hormone insulin, the body is unable to convert glucose into energy needed for activities of daily living. According to the ADA, 5-10% of Americans diagnosed with diabetes has type 1. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults.

While type 1 diabetes is serious, each year more and more people are living long, healthy and happy lives. Some conditions associated with type 1 diabetes are: hyperglycemia, ketoacidosis and celiac disease. Some things you will have to know: information about different types of insulin, different types of blood glucose meters, different types of diagnostic tests, managing your blood glucose, regular eye examinations, and tests to monitor your kidney function, regular vascular and foot exams.

Symptoms 

While symptoms may vary for each patient, people with type 1diabetes often have increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, weight loss and extreme tiredness.

Complications

Type 1 diabetes increases your risk for other serious problems. Some examples are: heart disease, blindness, nerve damage, amputations and kidney damage. The best way to minimize your risk of complications from type 1diabetes is to take good care of your body. Get regular checkups from your eye doctor for early vision problems, dentist, for early dental problems, podiatrist to prevent foot wounds and ulcers. Exercise regularly, keep your weight down. Do not smoke or drink excessively.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes as most Americans are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It occurs when the body fails to use insulin properly and eventually it fails to produce an adequate amount of insulin. When sugar, the primary source of energy in the body, is not able to be broken down and transported in the cells for energy, it builds up in the blood. There it can immediately starve cells of energy and cause weakness.

Also, over time it can damage eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart from abnormalities in cholesterol, blood pressure and an increase in clotting of blood vessels. Like type 1, even though the problems with type 2 are scary, most people with type 2 diabetes live long, healthy, and happy lives. While people of all ages and races can get diabetes, some groups are at higher risk for type 2. For example, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders and the aged are at greater risk. Conditions and complications are the same as those for type 1 diabetes.

Symptoms

People with type 2 diabetes experience symptoms that are more vague and gradual in onset than with type 1 diabetes. Type 2 symptoms include feeling tired or ill, increased thirst and urination, weight loss, poor vision, frequent infections and slow wound healing.

Sources: NIH; American Diabetes Association; Harvard Health Publications

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body. 

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

3rd of 3 Columns on Balance Disorders and Falls Prevention

Preventing a fall can not only save your independence but also your life! Preventing injuries from falls reduces the need for nursing home placement. Injuries from falls are the seventh leading cause of death in people over the age of sixty-five.

The following suggestions will assist you in minimizing your risk of a fall:

Following these helpful hints will keep you safe by preventing a loss of balance and a potential fall!

Contributor: Janet M. Caputo, PT, DPT, OCS

Medical Reviewer: Mark Frattali, MD, ENT: Otolaryngology /Head Neck Surgery at Lehigh Valley Health Network

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

Jury Out on Value for Running Performance

Runners will attempt to conquer 26.2 miles from Forest City to downtown Scranton in the 26th Annual Steamtown Marathon this Sunday. Participants may want to consider new research that suggests the use of compression socks may prevent post race blood clots.

Completing the long and arduous 26.2 mile journey is not an easy task. In fact, the mechanical and physiological toll on your body is tremendous; from painful joints, muscles, tendons, to black and blue toes. Not so obvious, however, is the damage to your deep veins and tissues of the circulatory system. New research indicates that strenuous endurance exercise, such as marathon running, stimulates the clotting mechanisms in your body in response to the multiple micro traumas sustained over 2 or more hours. While most healthy athletes will naturally heal from post exercise clot formation, others may be at risk…those traveling more than 1 hour (by car, bus, train or plane). The risk increases substantially for those with a longer period of travel/sitting post-race, history of previous trauma, blood clots or have the genetic predisposition for clot formation.

What Are Compression Socks? How Do They Work?

Compression socks are familiar to most people as the tight knee-high support stockings worn after a surgical procedure such as a knee or hip replacement to prevent blood clots. They are made with a special fabric and weave design to provide graduated compression (stronger compression at foot and ankle and less at the top of the sock) to promote better circulation and movement of fluids from the foot, ankle and calf back to the upper leg and ultimately the heart. Compression socks work similarly in runners. As the stagnant fluid with lactic acid and other byproducts of exercise is removed from the space, fresh blood, nutrients and oxygen is replaced to foster healing of micro damage to tissue and promote more efficient use of the muscles.

Is There Any Research?

The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published a study that found wearing compression socks improved running performance. However, similar studies have failed to support this claim. One finding that has been repeatedly supported in the literature, including The British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that compression socks worn in soccer players and runners improved the rate and magnitude of recovery. Moreover, recent studies, including a study with the Boston Marathon, have demonstrated the reduction in clotting mechanisms in those wearing compression socks AFTER the marathon, as compared with those wearing “sham” socks. Benefits seem to be less obvious for short duration activities or when running 10km or less.

Conclusion

In conclusion, only time will tell if compression socks will improve performance in runners will or be merely a fad based on placebo or true fact supported by scientific research. Based on current wisdom, these socks may offer value and benefit AFTER activities of long duration (more than 1 hour) or long distance running (more than 10km) to expedite the recovery from exercise-induced blood clot formation, muscle soreness from the accumulation of lactic acid and other muscle damage byproducts.

It is this author’s opinion that this product is worth a try. However, whenever you try something new for your sport, trials should occur during practice and if successful used during competition. Consider trying a lower compression to begin (the socks come in different degrees of compression). Even if one is hesitant to use the product while running, it appears the greatest value of the sock is after a prolonged training session or competition to reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness and prevent blood clots, especially in athletes at risk for clotting and those traveling for an hour or more after the race. Additionally, in view of the fact that some studies which showed only minimal to moderate improvement in well-trained athletes, it may be that those in greater need, such as deconditioned individuals attempting to begin a fitness program and novice weekend athletes, may benefit more from compression socks than elite athletes.   

TAKE HOME: Runners, cyclists, triathletes, soccer players and others participating in endurance sports should consider compression socks, if not during the activity, certainly following the activity for 24 to 48 hours…especially those at risk for blood clots and those traveling for more than one hour after the race.

Sunday consider trying compression socks and see if they work for you during and more importantly, after your long training runs.

Where to find compression socks:

2XU Compression Racing Sock – www.2XU.com

Scranton Running Company – Olive Street - Scranton

Visit your family doctor regularly and listen to your body.

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

Studies have shown a recent escalation of joint replacements in a much younger and more active group than previously noted…the baby boomer! While the end result is mostly physical, the cause is often psychological. We all know the personality type: type A, hyperactive, goal-oriented, driven, possessed and highly organized – almost at all costs! Many of you have seen fitness enthusiasts running through the streets at 5:30 AM for 5-10-15 miles each day. Moreover, many of these runners have more activities planned later in the day: golf, tennis, ski, swim, play sports with their kids. Well, after 20 years of this behavior, many of these enthusiasts are now suffering the effects of long term multiple micro traumas. They are suffering from what orthopedic surgeons at the University of Pennsylvania call “Boomeritis! Boomeritis is inflammation of the baby boomer from overuse. Lower back pain, hip, groin, and knee pain is almost a daily event.

As baby boomers continue to enjoy sports with the same vigor and intensity as when they were younger, they are finding that their older bodies just can’t keep up. While these individuals often succeed in finding the balance of fitness and craziness, they have had times when they took it too far. Furthermore, nearly all compulsive exercisers suffer from over training syndrome. When take too far compulsive behavior is rationalized by insisting that if they didn’t work to extreme then their performance would suffer.

10 Warning Signs of a Compulsive Exerciser (E. Quinn):

*Each sign is worth 1 point:

10 Warning Signs of Overtraining (E. Quinn):

Managing Overtraining

If you have two or more of the warning sings, consult your family physician to rule out potentially serious problems.

TIPS TO AVOID EARLY JOINT DEGENERATION

Avoid weight bearing exercises two days in a row. Run one day, walk, swim or bike the next.

Use the elliptical instead of the treadmill.    

Avoid squatting…deep squatting is bad for your hips and knees. Even when gardening, use a kneeling pad instead of bending down and squatting.

Visit your family doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

Fall is here, cross-country running season has begun and the 26th Steamtown Marathon is only a few weeks away! With that in mind, running injuries, some very specific to women, are on the increase…

While driving to or from work have you noticed more local running enthusiasts in the past few years? Moreover, have your noticed that most of the runners are women? Scranton Running Company has contributed to NEPA’s participation in a national trend; more women are engaged in running than men! Female runners account for 9.7 million runners (57%) while 7 million males run on a national level.

With this surge, the female runner has been subjected to a host of related injuries, including shin splints, which often lead to stress fractures. New research has found that stress fractures may be related to the loss of weight and body mass associated with the sport.

A recent study from Ohio State University found that female runners with a Body Mass Index (BMI) below 19 may have a higher risk of developing stress fractures than women with a BMI of 19 or above. Furthermore, the study also found that these women took longer to recover from these injuries.

According to Timothy Miller, MD, “When body mass index is very low and muscle mass is depleted, there is nowhere for the shock of running to be absorbed other than directly into the bones. Until some muscle mass is developed and BMI is optimized, runners remain at increased risk of developing a stress fracture,”

The study also found that female runners with a BMI of 19 or higher with severe stress fractures required 13 weeks to recover from their injuries and return to running. Runners with a BMI lower than 19, however, took more than 17 weeks to recover.

They concluded that women should know their BMI and consult with a medical professional to maintain a healthy number. Additionally, women should cross-train and include resistance training to improve the strength and muscle mass of the lower extremities to prevent injury.

The current BMI wisdom, according to the National Institutes of Health, is 19.8 for men and 24 for women, however, strong and competitive women tend to have a BMI of 26. A BMI of 18 is considered malnourished.

What is BMI?

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight of adult men and women over 20 years of age, according to the National Institutes of Health.

BMI = (weight in pounds / height in inches squared) X 703)

Example 1: a person who weighs150 pounds and is 68 inches (5 feet 8 inches) tall has a BMI of 22.8

Example 2: a person who weighs 110 pounds and is 66 inches (5 feet 5 inches) tall has a BMI of 17.7

Underweight      < 18.5%

Normal weight      18.5 to 24.9%

Overweight      25 to 29.9%

Obesity            30 and over

What is a stress fracture?

A stress fracture is fatigue damage to bone with partial or complete disruption of the cortex of the bone from repetitive loading. While standard x-rays may not reveal the problem, a bone scan, and MRI will. It usually occurs in the long bones of the leg, mostly the tibia (shin bone) but also the femur (thigh) and foot. Occasionally, it occurs in the arm.

Who is at risk for stress fractures?

FEMALE RUNNERS WITH BMI LOWER THAN 19 – is a primary risk factor.

10-21% of all competitive athletes are at risk for stress fractures. Track, cross country and military recruits are at greatest risk. Females are twice as likely as males to have a stress fracture. Other athletes at risk are: sprinters, soccer and basketball players, jumpers, ballet dancers are at risk in the leg and foot. Gymnasts are also vulnerable in the spine while rowers, baseball pitchers, golfers and tennis players can experience the fracture with much less frequency in the ribs & arm.           

The problem is much more prevalent in weight bearing repetitive, loading sports in which leanness is emphasized (ballet, cheerleading) or provides an advantage (distance running, gymnastics).

Stress fractures usually begin with a manageable, poorly localized pain with or immediately after activity such as a shin splint. Over time, pain becomes more localized and tender during activity and then progresses to pain with daily activity and at rest.

Other Causes of Stress Fractures

Prevention & Treatment

Source: Ohio State University, Science Daily

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy!

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Paul's Articles, visit our exercise forum!

Ankle swelling is a common symptom that occurs when your body retains fluid in the lower legs, ankles and feet. Most people have experienced it at some point in their lives and it often resolves on its own with elevation and muscle movement. While it is usually benign and occurs on both sides of the body, in some instances immediate medical attention is required. The most common causes of ankle swelling are:

Prolonged Positions – you have probably noticed swelling in your ankles and feet after a long trip by plane or car. Some may also experience symptoms after a long day at work sitting or standing in one position for an extended period of time. It may be the most common cause of lower leg swelling and easiest to resolve.

Diet- excessive salt in your diet is associated with swelling in the lower legs, especially when associated with other risk factors for swelling such as organ function or obesity.

Varicose Veins – when the valves in the blood vessels which carry blood from the legs back to the heart are damaged, blood and fluid can collect in the lower legs. Prolonged standing or sitting without intermittent movement with worsen the condition.

Pregnancy – during pregnancy, the body retains more fluids than usual and most women experience some form of swelling in the lower legs, ankles and feet.

Medications – certain drugs can cause fluid retention in the lower legs such as: anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, diabetes medications, antidepressants and cardiac medications.

Blood Clots – blockages in the blood vessels of the lower leg can limit the movement of fluid from the legs back to the heart. It is often present in only one leg and associated with warmth, pain, and cramping. It is a serious condition and requires immediate medical attention.

Trauma/Infection – after a trauma or injury such as an ankle sprain, bruise or fracture, the damaged tissue leaks fluid surrounding the affected area. Also, when specific area of the lower leg can becomes infected, as in the case of a cut or splinter in the ankle or foot that has not healed properly, swelling occurs in the surrounding tissues. These situations are often associated with warmth, pain and limited to the side of the injury. Treatment to injured tissues and the infection is required.

Lymphedema – swelling in the lower leg can occur when there is a blockage in the lymphatic system is blocked or when lymph nodes are removed in surgery for cancer. Medications, massage, compression garments, and elevation, can address the symptoms.

Obesity – due to the excessive weight placed on the tissues of the legs, ankle and feet and adipose tissue in the abdomen compressing blood vessels, obesity is one of the most common causes of lower leg swelling. It also complicates all of the above conditions associated with swelling in the legs.

Diseases – such as those of the kidney, heart, and liver are associated with swelling in the lower legs.

Tips to Control Swelling in the Ankles and Feet

Change Positions – on a long plane ride or sitting all day at school or work – get up and walk around every 30-45 minutes. Set a timer on your phone to remind you.

Exercise – regular exercises keeps the muscles and blood vessels in you lower extremities healthier. Also, intermittent movement of the leg muscles throughout the day, even when sitting, serve to prevent swelling. Try ankle pumps and toe curls.

Elevation – when sitting or lying down, try elevating your ankles and feet on a pillow to allow gravity to assist fluid movement in your legs.

Low-Sodium Diet – read the labels on your food and you will be shocked by how much sodium is in most foods, especially canned soups and vegetables. But, there are low-sodium options and don’t add more salt to your food.

Weight Loss – maintaining a healthy BMI is the single best thing you can do, not only for lower leg swelling, but for your overall health and wellness.

Compression Socks – for most people, over-the-counter compression socks will adequately prevent fluid retention in the lower legs. For comfort, begin with the lightest compression possible. 12-15 or 15-20 mm of mercury is a good start and put them on as soon as you get up in the morning, before swelling begins.

When to See Your Physician about Lower Leg Swelling –

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.

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This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Paul's articles, check out our exercise forum!

There is little doubt that the workplace has been redefined since the pandemic as many employees continue to work from home. Sitting for many hours at a workstation that may not be optimal has also changed the way we define workplace health and safety. It may be more important than ever to pay close attention to designing an ergonomic workstation, changing position, and stretching regularly to prevent injury.

Since 1894 Labor Day has been designated as the national holiday that pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. Research supports the notion that healthier employees are happier and more productive. When employers encourage healthy behavior and safety at work, they benefit in many ways. For example, in addition to improving job satisfaction and productivity, healthy employees save money by using less sick time, worker’s compensation benefits and health benefits. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 75 percent of employers” health care costs are related to chronic medical problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. De-conditioned, overweight employees are more likely to suffer from these preventable conditions and are at greater risk for injury. Employers, please consider using this holiday as an opportunity to start a health promotion program at your workplace…have a health fair, offer healthy snacks, encourage walking, smoking cessation, exercising at lunch, and offer fitness club stipends.  

Lower back pain, one of the costliest illnesses to employers, is one example of a problem which can be prevented with a good health and safety program. It is widely accepted in the medical community that the best treatment for lower back pain (LBP) is prevention. Keeping fit, (flexible and strong), practicing good posture, and using proper body mechanics are essential in the prevention of LBP. At our clinic, significant time and effort is spent emphasizing the importance of these concepts to our patients, employees, and the businesses we work with through industrial medicine programs. A comprehensive approach can produce significant reductions in LBP injuries through an onsite safety program which promotes education, wellness, body mechanics, lifting techniques, postural and stretching exercises and ergonomics. 

Prevention of Lower Back Pain

1. Maintain Fitness Level

As little as 10 extra pounds puts great stress on your lower back. It also makes it more difficult to maintain good posture. Eat well, exercise regularly and don’t smoke. Smokers have a much higher incidence of LBP and failure from lower back surgery.

2. Practice Good Posture & Body Mechanics

Good posture is critical for a healthy back. When sitting, standing or walking maintain a slight arch in your lower back, keep shoulders back, and head over your shoulders. In sitting, use a towel roll or small pillow in the small of the back. Also, consider sitting on a physio ball, which promotes proper posture for part of the day.

Sitting at Workstation
Sitting at Workstation with Physioball

 Perform postural exercises throughout the day. Most of the day we sit, stand, and reaching forward and bend our spine. These exercises are designed to stretch your back in the opposite direction of flexion. Please perform slowly, hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 6 times each 6 times per day.

Chin Tuck: Tuck your chin back to bring your head over shoulders.

Shoulder Blade Pinch: Pinch your shoulder blades together.

Standing Extension: While standing, put your hands behind back and extend lower back 10-20 degrees.

Good Body Mechanics and ergonomics are also important in the prevention of LBP. When lifting, think twice. Think about the weight, shape and size of the object. Think about where the object is going and the surface resistance of the floor. Does it require two people to lift? Can I safely lift that high or bend that low?

When bending to lift an object think about safety:

Proper Lifting Technique:

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.   

Model: Lexi DiGregorio, PTA  

NEXT SUNDAY IN THE PAPER AND EVERY MONDAY'S BLOG – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM. For all of Dr. Paul's articles, check out our exercise forum!