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Spring is here! So, too, is allergy season and spring sports! It seems this every year at this time a young little league baseball player wheezes as they cross home plate and desperately tries to catch their breath. Players, coaches, umpires, parents watch in dismay, deciding whether they need to call an ambulance. Minutes later the player recovers from this scary situation…until the next time. Could this be an example of exercised-induced asthma (EIA)?

What is EIA?

Dr. Gregory Cali, a local pulmonologist, (lung doctor) was gracious enough to participate in an interview about this problem…exercise-induced asthma (EIA). The topic was chosen in response to an email question from a concerned mother of an athlete with asthma.  Dr. Cali informed me that the first thing to know about exercise induced asthma (EIA) is that EIA is not a distinct disease in itself-but is one manifestation or presentation of asthma. Putting it simply, EIA occurs in patients who have develop narrowing of the bronchial tubes ( bronchoconstriction) when they exercise.  Some experts would rather we use the phrase exercise induced bronchoconstriction which is what happens when someone has an asthma attack.  This bronchoconstriction occurs because of spasm of the tiny muscles of the airways, plugging of the airways with thick mucous, and swelling or edema of the cells lining the airways. 

In fact, it is inflammation of the airways, mostly due to allergies, that is at the root of most cases of asthma. This inflammation causes the bronchial tubes to become over-reactive-and predisposed to narrowing- when exposed to certain triggers.  Exercise is one of those triggers in susceptible people. The patient with EIA complains of chest tightness, wheezing, and shortness of breath when exercising.  Some patients only experience coughing with exercise.  Symptoms are usually worse in cold, dry air. This is believed to be due to the drying and cooling of the airways, which occurs with exercise, especially if the patient opens his or her mouth while exercising.  Nasal breathing is much better at warming and humidifying air and may help to reduce EIA.  

Diagnosing EIA

Dr. Cali feels that the most important point about EIA is to make sure a specific diagnosis is made.  It is difficult at times to differentiate asthma from the normal breathlessness, which occurs with exercise.  The feature of EIA that distinguishes it from normal breathing, or being "out of shape" is the fact that EIA is ALWAYS associated with a decrease in airflow.  This can be measured with either a peak flow meter or a spirometer.  It is also important that a specific diagnosis be made so that a person will not be labeled as asthmatic when they may be "normal" or have other conditions such as heart problems or anemia. 

Dr. Cali also recommends before a person is labeled asthmatic, they have spirometric testing.  An improvement in airflow after inhaling. A bronchodilator is an important indicator of asthma.  Sometimes a bronchial challenge test is needed to diagnose asthma.  In this test, the subject breathes in a known bronchoconstrictor in small quantities and the response is noted.  Patients with asthma almost always respond to the inhaled agent by a reduction in airflow. 

PREVENTION AND MANAGEMENT OF EIA

Inform Coaches – If coaches are made aware, than they can be prepared for the onset of EIA. Provide emergency contacts and medications with instructions, such as inhalers, should be available.

Warm and Moisten Air - Whatever the patient can do to warm and moisten the inhaled air can help prevent EIA.  Nose breathing during exercise or wearing a loose covering over the mouth in cold weather may help.  Sometimes, in severe cases, switching to an indoor sport like swimming may be necessary.

Start Out Slowly - It is important to start out slowly and warm up first before exercising at full tilt. Slowly jog around the track or field before practice or a game to prepare your lungs for full-speed.

Medications – are often necessary.  Quick- acting bronchodilators like Albuterol, used 15-20 minutes before planned exercise, is recommended.  This can be repeated once more during the exercise, but if tightness or wheezing occurs, the exercise should be stopped. Many patients with asthma require preventative treatment with anti-inflammatory medications.  Inhaled steroids and/or leukotriene inhibitors may have to be added if the asthma is not controlled with Albuterol alone.  In fact, some patients with asthma who are overly reliant on quick acting bronchodilator medications can get into serious trouble if they do not use inhaled steroids. Be sure to communicate your needs with your coaches.

Play Smart - In conclusion, people with asthma should not shy away from exercise.  With proper precautions, people with asthma should be able to participate in all kinds of sports activities: baseball, football, soccer, swimming, tennis and running (even a marathon)! The key point is that the asthma needs to be under control and monitored by the patient, parents, coaches and doctor as a team. 

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

Medical Contributor: Gregory Cali, DO, pulmonary specialist, Dunmore, 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!

This column is dedicated to the memory of John R. O’Brien, Esq., who recently passed due to medical complications associated with multiple sclerosis (MS). John was a source of joy and inspiration for those fortunate to have known him. Twenty years ago, John hesitantly agreed to contribute to my column on MS with two requirements: one, if the column would be valuable to those affected by MS and two, he would remain anonymous. When speaking with his dedicated wife, Sally, it became very apparent that any discussion of John’s life would be diminished if it was defined by the disease because he was committed to turning his “DISABILITY INTO AN ABILITY!”

With the help of his loving wife, family, friends, and devices such as an electric scooter and adaptive car, John not only lived but thrived! He was a skilled lawyer, a respected member of the Bar, and an active member of the community. John served on the executive committee of the Lackawanna Bar Association. In addition, the Lackawanna Pro Bono honored him recently. He also taught business law and healthcare law and coached Prep’s mock trial team.

John shared his thoughts with me about the challenges of redefining life… from Golf Club Champion to living with a physically disabling disease. Anyone who knew him would agree that he succeeded in doing so through his keen intellect and sharp wit and humor…his heart and brain overcompensated for his body! In addition to reading books in Latin and Greek, he had his crossword puzzles published in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. In September 2023, John conducted an interview with presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin before a full house at the Scranton Cultural Center. Ms. Goodwin later reported that John was the most knowledgeable, effective and enjoyable interviewer she’s encountered.

John’s absence will be deeply felt and his legacy will continue to shape our community for years to come!

Multiple Sclerosis:

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease. While it may lay dormant and stable for a period of time, living a healthy lifestyle will make a positive contribution toward how you and your family live with Multiple Sclerosis. Studies show that a life of family, love, and support are essential to maintain a positive attitude with a chronic illness. This combined with a healthy diet and proper exercise can contribute greatly toward taking control and living a relatively normal life with MS.

PSYCHOLOGICAL & SPIRITUAL WELLNESS:

As I have mentioned in many other columns, studies show that people with good attitudes and great faith live longer than others. This is especially helpful when living with chronic disease like Multiple Sclerosis. The Cleveland Clinic offers some suggestions how to maintain a positive attitude:

EXERCISE & PHYSICAL WELLNESS:

Many sources, including the Cleveland Clinic suggest that exercise, when performed properly, can have a positive impact on Multiple Sclerosis symptoms both physically and psychologically. However, because you have a chronic illness, you should consult with you family physician and physical therapist before beginning an exercise program. They will advise you on the proper type and amount of exercise.

TIPS FOR EXERCISE WITH MS:

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 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!

This column is dedicated to the memory of John R. O’Brien, Esq., who recently passed due to medical complications associated with multiple sclerosis (MS). John was a source of joy and inspiration for those fortunate to have known him. Twenty years ago, John hesitantly agreed to contribute to my column on MS with two requirements: one, if the column would be valuable to those affected by MS and two, he would remain anonymous. When speaking with his dedicated wife, Sally, it became very apparent that any discussion of John’s life would be diminished if it was defined by the disease because he was committed to turning his “DISABILITY INTO AN ABILITY!”

With the help of his loving wife, family, friends, and devices such as an electric scooter and adaptive car, John not only lived but thrived! He was a skilled lawyer, a respected member of the Bar, and an active member of the community. John served on the executive committee of the Lackawanna Bar Association and was recently honored by the Lackawanna Pro Bono. He also taught business law and healthcare law and coached Prep’s mock trial team.

John shared his thoughts with me about the challenges of redefining life… from Golf Club Champion to living with a physically disabling disease. Anyone who knew him would agree that he succeeded in doing so through his keen intellect and sharp wit and humor…his heart and brain overcompensated for his body! In addition to reading books in Latin and Greek, he had his crossword puzzles published in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. In September 2023, John conducted an interview with presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin before a full house at the Scranton Cultural Center. Ms. Goodwin later reported that John was the most knowledgeable, effective and enjoyable interviewer she’s encountered.

John’s absence will be deeply felt and his legacy will continue to shape our community for years to come!

WHAT IS MS?

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Multiple Sclerosis affects approximately 400,000 people in the United States. Multiple Sclerosis is second only to trauma as the most common cause of neurological disability for those in early to middle adulthood. MS is almost three times as common in women. Multiple Sclerosis is very uncommon before adolescence or after 50. However, the risk increases from teen years to age 50.

Multiple sclerosis is considered to be an autoimmune disease. The immune system of the body does not work properly when it fails to attack and protect the body against substances foreign to the body such as bacteria. Instead, the system allows the body to attack normal tissues and create diseases such as MS, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

In MS, the immune system attacks the brain and spinal cord of the central nervous system. Each nerve has an outer covering of a fatty material (myelin) for insulation to improve the transmission and conductivity of impulses or messages to and from the brain. The damage to the myelin of the nervous system interrupts the ability of messages to travel to and from the brain, through the spinal cord and to other areas of the body such as the muscles in the arms and legs. Due to this “short circuiting” the brain becomes unable to send or receive messages. In multiple sclerosis, scar tissue or plaques (sclerosis) replaces the fatty myelin in “multiple” areas. This is also called demyelination.

SYMPTOMS

The symptoms associated with MS vary greatly from person to person. The amount, frequency and speed of the demyelination process vary greatly and are directly related to the loss of strength and function in daily activities. Some people are independent and ambulatory with mild and infrequent episodes of weakness and disability and live a relatively normal life. Others suffer from frequent and aggressive episodes that significantly weaken and disable. Some common symptoms in the early stages include: muscle weakness, loss of coordination, blurred vision, pain in the eyes, double vision. Some common symptoms as the disease progresses are: muscle stiffness with muscle spasms, pain, difficulty controlling urination, difficulty thinking clearly.

DIAGNOSIS

The diagnosis of MS can be very difficulty in the early stages because the symptoms are often vague and temporary. Also, MS symptoms are very similar to other neurological problems. A neurologist will run several tests to rule out other possible problems. However, an MRI showing demyelination of the nerves is a primary confirmation.

TREATMENT

Treatment for MS depends upon many factors and requires consultation with your physician. Some medications can control the frequency and severity of MS symptoms such as pain, weakness, and spasticity. Also, some drugs can slow the progression of certain types of MS. Additional treatments for MS include: diet, exercise, physical therapy, support groups, and counseling for the MS patient and their family. Part II of Multiple Sclerosis will discuss these options in further detail next week.

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 - NEXT WEEK: PART II OF II - MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

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!

What is a myth?

A myth is a traditional story, idea, or belief, especially one concerning early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon. It is a widely held but false belief or idea. In medicine, health myths are also widely held beliefs about health issues such as medicines, herbs, treatments, cures, antidotes, etc. which are partially or totally false and unsubstantiated in the scientific literature. This is a partial list of the most common health myths:

  1. 8 GLASSES OF WATER IS ESSENTIAL FOR GOOD HEALTH
    • You don’t need to search very long to find copious information purporting the value of water to maintain good health. Sources suggest between 8 and 15 cups of water per day! Despite the plethora of contradictory information, there is no research to support an exact amount. In fact, most scientifically validated research suggests that healthy adults do not need to count cups and those who drink water when thirsty receive adequate hydration for good health. Remember, there are many water-rich foods to provide hydration; soup, fruit, vegetables, juice, coffee, and tea. However, be aware that if your urine is dark yellow you need more hydration. And, if you are very physically active or live in a warm climate, you may require more water.
  2. EATING EGGS WILL LEAD TO HEART DISEASE
    • In the late 70’s, eggs received a bad reputation when high cholesterol in the blood could increase the risk of heart disease. The love-hate relationship with eggs and egg products has continued to grow since. However, recent findings suggest that eating an egg or two a day will not raise the risk of heart disease in healthy adults. While egg yolks do contain cholesterol, the amount is relatively small and is offset by the fact that eggs also have many nutrients such as omega-3’s, which are associated with lowering the risk of heart disease.
  3. ANTIPERSPIRANTS CAN LEAD TO BREAST CANCER
    • Some research attempted to link the preservatives (parabens) used in some deodorants and antiperspirants with the activity of estrogen in the body’s cells because these parabens are found in breast tumors. However, there is no scientific evidence that parabens cause breast cancer. So, don’t sweat it!
  4. SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME IN THE COLD AIR WILL LEAD TO A COLD
    • Sometimes “old wives tales” are true…but not this one! Grandparents and parents have been telling their grandchildren and children to button up and don’t spend too much time in the cold. In fact, one study found that healthy men who spent several hours a day in cold temperatures (just above freezing) had an increase in virus-fighting activity in their immune systems. Moreover, documentation supports that spending too much time indoors, especially during winter flu season, puts you at risk for getting the flu…so circulate fresh air or get outdoors!
  5. EVERYONE NEEDS A MULTIVITAMIN TO BE HEALTHY
    • Research does not support this theory that everyone needs a multivitamin to supplement for nutrients not in your diet. In fact, most medical experts agree that healthy adults receive all necessary nutrients and vitamins from a well-balanced diet including; fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and healthy oils. However, if your physician recommends a vitamin, do so. It may be that you are insufficient or at risk due to other medical conditions. If you are pregnant, for example, you will need to take folic acid to lower the risk of birth defects. 
  6. EATING A GOOD BREAKFAST IS NECESSARY TO LOSE WEIGHT
    • Some diets purport that eating breakfast is necessary to stimulate your metabolism in order to lose weight. This theory is not confirmed, and for those who enjoy breakfast, it may limit hunger sensation and prevent unhealthy snacking. However, a study from Cornell University found that those who did not eat breakfast did not overeat at lunch and dinner and consumed approximately 400 fewer calories per day. So, for some healthy adults, eliminating breakfast can help lose weight…the premise of “intermittent fasting.”
  7. GREEN MUCUS IS A SURE SIGN OF INFECTION
    • Most would agree, the slimy green mucus in your tissue is disgusting. However, without a lab test, it is not a sure sign of an infection or need for antibiotics. Often, clear mucus indicates a sinus infection, while green mucus represents a common cold.
  8. TOO MUCH SUGAR MAKES KIDS HYPERACTIVE
    • Sugar making your kids hyper? Maybe it’s just kids being kids! It is widely accepted that sugar is not good for kids (unhealthy calories leading to obesity, etc). However, Research shows that it is not the cause of hyperactivity (caffeine or chocolate may). It may be that parents are so focused on their behavior after sugar intake that they expect their kids to be wired when it may just be attributed to the normal behavior of kids just being kids!
  9. A TOILET SEAT IS A COMMON AREA TO SPREAD DISEASE
    • Believe it or not, toilet seats are not the most unsanitary item in the bathroom. So, if you can’t cover it, don’t sweat it. Bugs such as E. coli, norovirus, and other flu viruses cover bathroom doors, door handles, and floors. Thorough hand washing is essential and use a paper towel for door handles.
  10. CRACKING YOUR KNUCKLES OR OTHER JOINTS WILL LEAD TO ARTHRITIS
    • One thing is certain…cracking your knuckles is annoying to everyone around you! But studies show that it is not harmful to your joints or causes arthritis. The popping noise is not because the bones are grinding together; it is due to movement of gas bubbles in the joint capsule.  
  11. ELIMINATING FAT FROM YOUR DIET WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHIER AND HELP YOU LOOSE WEIGHT
    • Total elimination of fat from your diet is not only unnecessary to be healthy and lose weight, but is unhealthy and harmful. Fat provides essential nutrients and is an important component of a healthy diet. Due to the fact that fats have more calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates, limiting fat intake is necessary to avoid extra calories. Instead, chose low fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese) and consider eating small amounts of food with healthy fats, such as avocados, olives, or nuts. 
  12. CHILDHOOD VACCINES LEAD TO AUTISM
    • Vaccines do not cause autism. Despite much controversy, there is no scientific evidence that supports a connection between autism and childhood vaccines. In fact, the original study that started the debate years ago has been disproven and retracted. Fact: childhood vaccines protect children from a variety of serious or potentially fatal diseases.

SOURCES: WebMd; National Institutes of Health, Mayo Clinic

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 does not intend 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!

What is an Ice Bath?

Ice baths have become a new trend or fad in health and fitness, especially among elite athletes and some celebrities. However, it is far from a new treatment modality. In fact, the Ancient Greeks employed cold-water immersion for fever, pain relief, relaxation and socialization. In addition, Hippocrates documented the use of cold for medicinal purposes for its analgesic benefits. 

Ice baths, a type of cryotherapy, is also referred to as cold water immersion (CWI) or cold water therapy. This involves immersing your body in ice water for approximately 5-15 minutes from the neck down at 50-59 degrees. The ice baths are commonly used for pain, delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and inflammation and mood elevation. 

In theory, the cold water lowers the temperature of your skin and body by vasoconstriction (narrow) of the blood vessels. When you get out of the cold, water the vasodilatation (widen) of the blood vessels. Immediately, this brings fresh oxygen and nutrient-rich blood back to the tissues to warm the body and in the process, reduce pain, inflammation and promote healing.

Types of Cold Water Therapy

Purported Ice Bath Benefits

Potential Side Effects of Ice Baths

If you have the following health conditions, ice baths may not be the best therapeutic modality for you. Before you consider trying an ice bath, consult with your physician to avoid potentially serious problems:

In Conclusion: What the Science Says

While some studies have shown that subjects report less muscle soreness following CWI when compared  to rest, most studies suggest that the reported effects are placebo. Also, reports of improved circulation, reduced inflammation and improved recovery or performance has not been scientifically validated. In view of this, it is recommended that those considering the use of CWI for pain and inflammation management, reduced muscle soreness, and mood elevation, should consult their physician to determine if the potential risks are worth the purported benefits.

SOURCES: nih; health.com; health.clevelandclinic.org; prevention.com

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!

Introduction

 As most sports enthusiasts know, Aaron Rodgers, former Green Bay Packer quarterback and recent New York Jets QB (for just over a minute and half) suffered a season ending injury when he tore his Achilles tendon in the first game of the 2023/24 NFL season. Since then, I have been answering many questions from many about the nature of the injury and how to prevent it.

As the days continue to get shorter and temperatures begin a slow steady decline, athletes and exercise enthusiasts will work harder to “fit in” a warm-up before running or other activities during the winter months. But, no matter how limited time is, skipping the warm-up is risky. This time of year, one can expect to feel a little cold and stiff, especially if you are over 40, and therefore a little caution and preparation are in order to avoid muscle/tendon strain, or worse yet, muscle/tendon tears. The more commonly torn tendon is the Achilles tendon . Prevention of muscle tears, including the Achilles tendon includes; gradual introduction to new activities, good overall conditioning, sport specific training, pre-stretch warm-up, stretch, strengthening, proper shoes, clothing, and equipment for the sport and conditions.

Tendon Injury and How It Occurs

A muscle contracts to move bones and joints in the body.  The tendon is the fibrous tissue that attaches muscle to bone. Great force is transmitted across a tendon which, in the lower body, can be more than 5 times your body weight. Often, a tendon can become inflamed, irritated, strained or partially torn from improper mechanics or overuse. Although infrequent, occasionally tendons can also snap or rupture. A tendon is more vulnerable to a rupture for several reasons such as a history of repeated injections of steroids into a tendon and use of medications such as corticosteroids and some antibiotics. Certain diseases such as gout, arthritis, diabetes or hyperparathyroidism can contribute to tendon tears. Also, age, obesity and gender are significant risk factors as middle-aged, overweight males are more susceptible to tendon tears. Poor conditioning, improper warm-up and cold temperatures may also contribute to the problem.  

Tendon rupture is very painful and debilitating and must not be left untreated. While conservative management is preferred, surgical management is usually required for complete tears. The purpose of this column is to present the signs, symptoms and management of Achilles tendon ruptures.

Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon (also called the calcaneal tendon), is a large, strong cordlike band of fibrous tissue in the back of the ankle. The tendon (also called the heel cord) connects the powerful calf muscle to the heel bone (also called the calcaneus). When the calf muscle contracts, (as when you walk on the ball of your foot), the Achilles tendon is tightened, tension is created at the heel and the foot points down like pushing a gas pedal or walking on tip of your toes. This motion is essential for activities such as walking, running, and jumping. A partial tear of the tendon would make these activities weak and painful, while a full tear through the tendon would render these activities impossible.      

With age, the Achilles tendon (and other tendons) gets weak, thin, and dehydrated, thus making it prone to inflammation, degeneration, partial tear or rupture. The middle-aged weekend warrior is at greatest risk. A full or complete tear (Achilles tendon rupture) usually occurs about 2 inches above the heel bone and is associated with a sudden burst of activity followed by a quick stop or a quick start or change in direction, as in tennis, racquet ball, and basketball.

In some instances, the tendon can be injured by a violent contraction of calf when you push off forcefully at the same time the knee is locked straight as in a sudden sprint. Other times, the tendon is injured when a sudden and unexpected force occurs as in a trip off a curb or sudden step into a hole or a quick attempt to break a fall.

Achilles Tendon Rupture Symptoms

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog Next Week: Achilles tendon Part II of II.

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!

2nd of 3 Columns on Balance Disorders and Falls Prevention

Last week we discussed the causes of balance loss. Today, we will discuss treatment for this problem. Two primary treatments are medication and vestibular rehabilitation.

1. Medication

Medication for dizziness and loss of balance requires a visit to your family doctor. In a more involved case, your family physician may refer you to a specialist such as an ear, nose and throat physician or neurologist. There are many medications available for loss of balance. While this can be complicated, the specialist will determine the most appropriate one for your balance disorder.

2. Vestibular Rehabilitation

Vestibular rehabilitation for dizziness and loss of balance is a great adjunct to medication to manage your balance disorder. It is a comprehensive program that addresses a wide range of problems that may cause imbalance such as: addressing the inability to tolerate motion, visual changes, providing balance rehabilitation, instruction in repositioning techniques for BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), correcting postural dysfunctions, muscle weakness, joint stiffness, offering education for prevention, maintenance and self care after discharge. Through experience and motion, vestibular rehabilitation allows: formation of internal models (one learns what to expect from ones actions), learning of limits (learning what is safe and what is not) and sensory weighting (one sense, either vision, vestibular or somatosensory is selected in favor of another in maintaining balance).

In some minor cases, vestibular rehabilitation may be performed at home. However, more serious cases may require an evaluation by a physician specializing in the dizzy patient such as an ear, nose and throat physician or neurologist. These specialists will determine the nature of your problem and may enroll you in a more structured program under the direction of a physical therapist. ­Vestibular rehabilitation addresses not only vertigo (i.e. dizziness) but also balance problems.   

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BBPV)

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and vestibular hypofunction (e.g. unilateral and bilateral vestibular loss) are two causes of vertigo that can be addressed by a vestibular rehabilitation. Your physical therapist will tailor a program designed to address your specific vestibular disorder (i.e. BPPV or hypofunction).

If you have been diagnosed with BPPV, your therapist may take you through an Epley maneuver. In BPPV, particles in the inner ear become displaced and get lodged in an area that produces vertigo. Vertigo is experienced with tilting head, looking up/down and rolling over in bed. The causes include: infection, head trauma and degeneration. During the Epley maneuver the patient is guided through positional changes which clear these particles from the symptomatic part of the ear.

If you have been diagnosed with either unilateral or bilateral vestibular hypofunction, your therapist will most likely design a program to “retrain” your vestibular system with special exercises, including:

If you have a vestibular problem that primarily manifests as loss of balance, exercises to stimulate your balance responses, strengthen your legs, and enhance your joint position sense may be helpful. These exercises encourage reliance on vestibular and/or visual input. The exercises are performed on unstable surfaces (i.e. tilt boards, balance beams, and foam) and include a variety of tasks from simple standing to more complex arm and leg movements requiring coordination.

Other Vestibular Treatment Options:

In addition to the above mentioned treatments, Posturography and Virtual Reality Training are computerized programs that may be used by your therapist to address your vestibular and/or balance problem. Also, Recreational Activities that involve using your eyes while head and body is in motion (i.e. dancing, golfing, tennis, walking while looking from side to side) are shown to be helpful in stimulating balance and vestibular responses. Furthermore, you may consider Alternative Balance Activities (i.e. Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates) which incorporate slow gentle movements to improve strength, balance and posture as well as relaxation techniques for the anxiety that accompanies dizziness/off-balance.

Whatever you do, just DO NOT give into your dizziness. People that just “give up” become sedentary. A sedentary lifestyle further denies your body the necessary stimuli to challenge your vestibular system and make it stronger. Eventually, these people end up in a vicious cycle because the more they sit the dizzier and more off balance they get which only makes them sit more! 

Remember, one fall increases your risk of another fall. It is imperative to determine what caused your fall and take action! Ask your physician or physical therapist to assess your fall risk.                                                                                             

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: Next Monday Part III on Balance Disorders and Falls Prevention

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 clinical professor of medicine at GCSOM.

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

TAKE THE TEST!

Northeastern Pennsylvania is home to a large elderly population and many of the medical problems we expect to see are age related. Dedicated medical practitioners are in constant search for new knowledge and information to prevent or delay many age-related problems. One of the most devastating problems associated with aging is the risk of falling and falling.

Loss of balance causes falls. Falls are a leading cause of injury and death. Thirty percent of women and thirteen percent of men over the age of sixty-five will fall. Twenty to thirty percent of these individuals suffer moderate to severe injuries. Preventing falls is not an easy task. A good understanding of the causes of loss of balance and knowledge of a few fall prevention suggestions can enhance your balance and reduce your risk of a fall.

The Falls Risk Self-Assessment below allows and individual to determine their risk of falling to take the appropriate steps for prevention and treatment. The next three weeks will be dedicated to this topic to educate and inform readers and their families to make good decisions.

The Falls Risk Assessment is from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

WHAT IS YOUR RISK OF FALLING?

  1. I HAVE FALLEN IN THE PAST YEAR.
    • People who have fallen once are likely to fall again.
  2. I USE OR HAVE BEEN ADVISED TO USE A CANE OR WALKER TO GET AROUND SAFELY.
    • People who have been advised to use a cane or a walker may already be more likely to fall.
  3. SOMETIMES I FEEL UNSTEADY WHEN I AM WALKING.
    • Unsteadiness or needing support while waking are signs of poor balance.
  4. I STEADY MYSELF BY HOLDING ONTO FURNITURE WHEN WALKING AT HOME.
    • This is also a sign of poor balance.
  5. I AM WORRIED ABOUT FALLING.
    • People who are worried about falling are more likely to fall.
  6. I NEED TO PUSH WITH MY HANDS TO STAND UP FROM A CHAIR.
    • This is a sign of weak leg muscles, a major reason for falling.
  7. I HAVE SOME TROUBLE STEPPING UP ONTO A CURB.
    • This is also a sign of weak leg muscles.
  8. I OFTEN HAVE TO RUSH TO THE TOILET.
    • Rushing to the bathroom, especially at night, increases your chance of falling.
  9. I HAVE LOST SOME FEELING IN MY FEET.
    • Numbness in your feet can cause stumbles and lead to falls.
  10. I TAKE MEDICINE THAT SOMETIMES MAKES ME FEEL LIGHT-HEADED OR MORE TIRED THAN USUAL.
    • Side effects from medicines can sometimes increase your chance of falling.                       
  11. I TAKE MEDICINE TO HELP ME SLEEP OR IMPROVE MY MOOD.
    • These medicines can sometimes increase your chance of falling.
  12. I OFTEN FEEL SAD OF DEPRESSED.
    • Symptoms of depression, such as not feeling well or feeling slowed down, are linked to falls.

1. YES (2) NO (0)

2. YES (2) NO (0)

3. YES (1) NO (0)

4. YES (1) NO (0)

5. YES (1) NO (0)

6. YES (1) NO (0)

7. YES (1) NO (0)

8. YES (1) NO (0)

9. YES (1) NO (0)

10. YES (1) NO (0)

11. YES (1) NO (0)

12. YES (1) NO (0)

SCORE YOUR RISK OF FALLING.

Add up the number of points for each YES answer. If you have scored 4 or more points you may be at risk for falling.

Accordingly, 0-1 = Low Risk; 1-2 = Moderate Risk; 3-4 =  At Risk; 4-5 = High Risk; 5-6 = Urgent; > 6 = Severe

Low    Moderate     At Risk     High Risk   Urgent   Severe

0          1          2          3          4          5          6          7          8         

Listen to your body and talk to your doctor.

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

Next Monday Part II of III on Balance Disorders and Falls Prevention

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 clinical professor of medicine at GCSOM.

For all of Dr. Paul's articles, check out our exercise forum!