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Reader Question: I am 65 years old. I have been having increased difficulty getting things down from high shelves. I saw my primary physician and he told me that I have lost 2 inches of height. He also told me that I may have vertebral (spinal) fractures and should have a bone density to check for osteoporosis. I have no pain. Is this possible?
No one wants to hear this, but height loss is common with age. Beginning in our early 50s, height begins to normally decrease, often as much as two inches by age 80. It is important to first understand the structure of our back. This includes multiple vertebra (bones): seven cervical (neck), twelve thoracic (chest), and five lumbar (lower back) vertebra. Between each vertebra, there is a vertebral disk that acts as the shock absorber of the spine. There are also tough fibrous bands called ligaments that connect the bones and joints, muscles that give the back stability and strength, and tendons that connect the bones to the muscles.
Now that the weather is turning better and you are starting to shake off those wintertime pains, a walk might sound pretty good right about now. But before you burst out the door with the dog straining at the leash and your brand new walking shoes looking so sparkly, stop to think about what you are doing first. Even though walking seems so easy, there are a few things that could help your first walk of the season be that much more enjoyable and also less likely to cause a flare-up of pain.
First, let's talk about that dog straining at the leash. You are likely to lose that tug-o-war battle and end up with worse pains than when you started your walk. You are supposed to be the one walking the dog, not the dog walking you. Take charge of your walk by expecting the dog to be following you, not out in front of you. As someone who has rescued and trained many excitable bird dogs that want nothing more than to chase small critters, I prefer the Higgins Method for walking a dog .
Patients are surprised after a total hip replacement by how much it can hurt those first few days. They do okay while sitting or resting, but once they get up to move: ouch! Surgeons are working hard to find ways to control that pain without using opioids (narcotics) with their many side effects. A new approach has been started by some surgeons. That's the use of nerve blocks for the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery. In this study, three types of post-operative pain control methods were compared. The first was the standard patient-controlled analgesic (PCA) using a self-administered pain pump. With the push of a button patients can dispense an opioid-based medication. In this study, they used a morphine derivative called hydromorphone . The second group had a femoral nerve block along with PCA. The third group had a lumbar plexus block (also with PCA). All drugs were given for 48 hours. The nerve block was set up in the operating room after the spinal anesthetic that was used during th...
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