Stop Restless Legs Syndrome From Stealing Sleep

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SleepingWomanRestless legs syndrome (RLS) involves uncomfortable sensations in the legs at night and an irresistible urge to move them, which can disturb sleep.

People with restless legs syndrome (RLS) describe it as a tingling, aching, pulling, itching, cramping, or “creepy-crawly” feeling in the legs. No matter how it feels, restless legs syndrome can dramatically interfere with sleep, reports the May 2015 Harvard Men’s Health Watch.

“People come in describing insomnia, but they don’t put two and two together,” says Dr. John Winkelman, an RLS specialist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “You have to make that connection and then address the restless legs, and that helps people sleep better.”

The sensations caused by RLS feel like they come from deep in the legs. They trigger an irresistible urge to move the legs. The symptoms typically start or get worse at night, and often disrupt sleep.

For men with infrequent or moderately bothersome symptoms, self-help efforts can reduce the symptoms of RLS and improve sleep. Dr. Winkelman suggests these strategies to his patients:

* Don’t drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, especially within several hours of bedtime.

* Don’t smoke or use other nicotine-based products.

* Before going to bed, massage the leg muscles, do gentle stretches, take a warm bath, or apply heating pads.

* Exercise every day, but not too close to bedtime.

* Schedule activities that require prolonged sitting or reclining in the morning rather than the afternoon.

If these don’t help, five FDA-approved medications are available for people with severe and frequent symptoms of RLS.

Read the full-length article: “When sleeplessness starts in the legs”

Also in the May 2015 Harvard Men’s Health Watch:

* Easing osteoarthritis without adding pills

* Soy and men’s health

* Smartphone apps for men’s health

* Probiotics for the colon

The Harvard Men’s Health Watch is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $20 per year. Subscribe at http://www.health.harvard.edu/mens or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

Demystifying Facet Joint Syndrome

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newsSpine specialist Dr. Kaixuan Liu with Atlantic Spine Center explains this common cause of back pain and offers tips for treatments.

When you’re suffering from back pain, the causes might not seem as important as just finding some relief. Identifying the causes of lingering back or neck pain is important to determining a solution. In many cases, the cause of chronic back pain is due to facet joint syndrome, which is even more common than other diagnosable causes of back pain and offers many possible treatments, according to Kaixuan Liu, MD, PhD, founder and president of Atlantic Spine Center.

Dr. Liu clarifies the term “facet joint syndrome” by revealing that the condition is essentially the same as having osteoarthritis of the spine. As part of the connection between two adjacent spinal vertebrae, the facet joints are often the primary source of pain for many back and neck pain sufferers because these joints are almost constantly in motion.

Also referred to as facet disease, facet joint syndrome develops as the discs between spinal vertebrae become thinner, leaving bone rubbing on bone and triggering the growth of painful bone spurs.

“People with this condition have difficulty twisting and bending their spine, which of course is something we need to do all the time,” explains Dr. Liu. “If facet joint syndrome is in your neck, you may have to turn your entire body in order to look left or right. If it’s in the lower back, it may make it challenging to straighten your back or rise from a chair.”

Who develops facet joint syndrome?

Since our facet joints are almost constantly in motion and can break down from wear and tear – as well as repetitive injury – as we get older, the biggest risk factor for developing facet joint syndrome is advancing age. But a combination of other risk factors contributes to this condition, Dr. Liu notes.

These risk factors include:

* Excessive weight

* Engaging in sports or heavy labor

* Family history of facet joint syndrome

* Experience with various types of joint disease, including gout, other forms of arthritis or infections

* Injuries such as whiplash or sleeping with a twisted neck position

* Sudden trauma to the spine, such as abrupt neck-jerking or twisting while lifting overhead

“Obviously, we can’t control our age or our family history of facet joint syndrome,” Dr. Liu says. “But several risk factors for this very painful condition can be modified, and everyone should make a habit of protecting their spine health by avoiding sudden or unusual movements of the spine and by maintaining a healthy weight. We may have more control over developing facet joint syndrome than we think at first glance.”

Tips for facet joint syndrome treatment options

Treating facet joint syndrome can greatly relieve the powerful muscle spasms it often triggers, which can complicate the condition by forcing the spine out of alignment. Fortunately, many possible treatments are available, Dr. Liu says, ranging from simple lifestyle modifications to surgical intervention.

Remedies include:

* Heat (via hot water bottle, heat wraps, hot showers) or cold (cold pad applications) during painful episodes

* Anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs (ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen) or COX-2 inhibitors (Celebrex)

* A restraining collar or supportive neck pillow when facet joint syndrome is in the neck

* Physical therapy involving massage, muscle stretching and appropriate exercises

* Ultrasound or electrostimulation to calm muscle spasms

* Spinal injections of cortisone into the affected facet joint(s)

* Minimally invasive surgery known as endoscopic facet rhizotomy to deaden affected nerves

Non-surgical “conservative” measures are almost invariably tried before surgery for facet joint syndrome would be considered, Dr. Liu says. But by “ablating” or destroying specific nerve fibers implicated in this condition, endoscopic facet rhizotomy can significantly improve patients’ lives by targeting the source of pain.

The brief surgery uses local anesthetic and x-ray guidance to place an electrode-tipped needle alongside nerves connected to problematic facet joints. The heated electrode then deadens the nerves carrying pain signals to the brain.

“The good news is that people with facet joint syndrome don’t have to suffer in silence, with no options,” Dr. Liu says. “Using one, two or a combination of treatments, we can offer dramatic relief to most patients, allowing them to move on with their lives.”

Atlantic Spine Center is a nationally recognized leader for endoscopic spine surgery with several locations in NJ and NYC. http://www.atlanticspinecenter.com, http://www.atlanticspinecenter.nyc

Kaixuan Liu, MD, PhD, is a board-certified physician who is fellowship-trained in minimally invasive spine surgery at Atlantic Spine Center.

Shin Splints Or Anterior Compartment Syndrome

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By John Harmata

askmredgeOne of the most common overuse injuries to the lower legs of skaters is shin splints. Although the term is routinely used, it does not represent a specific clinical pathology, but instead describes chronic shin pain as a result of overuse.

In skaters, shin splints are often accompanied by pain at the beginning of practice that gradually subsides, only to return much later after skating. To say that skating actually caused the shin splints is sometimes hard to determine, especially if the skater is involved in other outside activities such as track, basketball, volleyball, etc.

Masking itself as shin splints is a condition known as anterior compartment syndrome, which sometimes occurs as an acute injury from a direct blow to the lower leg. High-level skaters whose boots are too stiff will often inadvertently land their jumps in such a way that it causes a direct blow to the outside of the leg at a point where the top edge of the boot comes in contact with the leg.

Repetitive overuse of these muscles when jumping causes these tissues to swell, increasing compartmental pressure.

The muscles in this area of the lower leg are enclosed within fascial compartments that separate them from other muscles. Repetitive overuse of these muscles when jumping causes these tissues to swell, increasing compartmental pressure. As a result, the peroneal nerve and tibial artery are squeezed within the compartment; the more pressure within the compartment, the worse the pain will be. Ceasing to jump allows the pain to subside, usually within about thirty minutes as compartmental pressures return to normal. However, immediately upon jumping again, the pain returns.

Anterior compartment syndrome and shin splints are frequently confused with one another because they are commonly felt in the same region of the lower leg. Criteria to determine the difference include:

• Compartment syndrome: reduction of pain within a short period of time after ceasing to jump. Shin splints: pain usually increases after the activity, with delayed onset of soreness.

• Compartment syndrome: usually produces pain with palpation, but only if the compartment pressure is increased, such as immediately following a long jump session. Shin splints: likely to be tender to palpation long after skating has ended for the day.

• Compartment syndrome: less likely to be painful from stretching or manual resistance because neither of these increases the pressure within the compartment. Shin splints: produce pain while stretching and using manual resistance.

Posterior tibial tendon issues can also mimic shin splints, but the distinction is obvious to a physical therapist through evaluation and palpation.

True compartment syndrome is a rare condition, and making the proper diagnosis between the two is extremely important since the treatment strategies differ. Preventing these conditions requires properly fitted boots; good support in the boots (but not too stiff); a correctly mounted blade; routine stretching exercises before skating; and myofascial release with rolling after skating. The use of custom orthotics also is highly recommended.

– Guest Author, John Harmata

Pickwickian Syndrome And Bariatric Surgery

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By Dr. Jeremy Korman

bellyObesity is in the news, on people’s minds, and on the agendas of the nation’s public health agencies. Rightfully so; 35% of U.S. adults are considered obese while 68% are overweight. Obesity is considered one of the leading causes of death in America and can contribute to a variety of health issues. The most often cited are type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and metabolic syndrome. However, obesity is a major risk factor for a condition you may never have heard of, .

What is the Pickwickian Syndrome?

Pickwickian Syndrome, also known as Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome or OHS was first diagnosed in 1950. In this condition, the brain’s inability to adequately control breathing combined with the excessive weight pressing against the chest makes it difficult for a person to take a deep breath. This results in low blood oxygen levels and high levels of carbon dioxide. People affected by the condition often stop breathing completely for short periods of time, especially during sleep, resulting in several awakening during a night, similar to sleep apnea.

The main symptoms of the condition include:

• Daytime sleepiness
• Shortness of breath
• Filing tired after very little effort
• Hypertension
• Headaches
• Depression
• Drowsiness
• Leg swelling

Besides these symptoms, the condition also puts pressure on the heart, which may cause heart failure. There are various treatment methods available for the condition, including noninvasive mechanical ventilation. The most efficient treatment, however, is weight loss.

Bariatric surgery for Pickwickian syndrome

For obese patients suffering from Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome, weight loss is often the only long-term solution. Patients should attempt traditional weight loss methods, such as diet and exercise. saladplateIf those methods fail to produce the expected results, however, bariatric surgery may be a viable option. In cases of extreme obesity, weight loss surgery could be the fastest solution to counter the worsening effects and complications of OHS. A study published in the 2009, Volume 44 of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery shows that weight loss achieved through bariatric surgery significantly improved the patient’s quality of life suffering from Picwickian Syndrome.

How does bariatric surgery work

Though many weight loss procedures exist, they all work through the same mechanisms: either food intake is limited or calorie absorption is reduced (or both). Whichever procedure is recommended, patients should also make serious life style changes, to ensure results.

Pickwickian Syndrome is not a commonly diagnosed disease. Nor is it as common as other obesity-related diseases. However, for those who suffer from this condition, weight loss can improve symptoms. If you are considering bariatric surgery, talk to your primary care physician and an experienced bariatric surgeon to see if you qualify.

– Dr. Jeremy Korman is a board certified bariatric surgeon, Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, medical director and practicing surgeon at Marina Del Rey Hospital’s L.A. Bariatrics weight loss program, helping overweight patients struggling with obesity associated comorbidities to lose weight by offering gastric bypass, LAP Band, gastric sleeve and gastric plication procedures since 2006. More information about Dr. Korman and L.A. Bariatrics is available at: www.marinaweightloss.com

Sedentary Habits During Teen Years Linked To Mid-Life Metabolic Syndrome

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Reduce Sedentary Lifestyle As A Family…..Go For Walks Instead Of Playing Video Games Or Watching TV

From Your Health Journal…..”I love the Red Orbit web site and always try to promote their informative articles. I found a great one recently on Red Orbit called Sedentary Habits During Teen Years Linked To Mid-Life Metabolic Syndrome written by Connie K. Ho. A recent study found that 16-year-olds who watch television on a regular basis and live a sedentary lifestyle have an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome in their 40s. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that include higher levels of blood lipids, abdominal obesity, hypertension and impaired glucose. Additionally, having metabolic syndrome can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The bottom line, we need to reduce sedentary lifestyle. Modern day children spend a lot of time involved in technology, which does promote sedentary lifestyle. Children need to be active NOW to invest in the future. Many times, they need to understand that not taking care of their bodies at young ages may have ‘unhealthy’ repercussions later in life. So much research has also pointed to the fact that obese or overweight children grow up to obese or overweight adults. Change is needed…..and soon. Please visit the Red Orbit web site to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

A new study from researchers from Umeå University in Sweden found that 16-year-olds who watch television on a regular basis and live a sedentary lifestyle have an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome in their 40s.

In particular, the team of investigators found that a lack of exercise along with TV watching at age 16 resulted in a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 43 years old. Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of conditions that include abdominal obesity, higher levels of blood lipids, hypertension and impaired glucose. In addition, having metabolic syndrome can elevate the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

“The results demonstrate that we need to consider how we can reduce sedentary lifestyle among children and adolescents,” explained the study’s lead author Patrik Wennberg, an adjunct professor of Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University, in a prepared statement. “It may be more important than only focusing on increased fitness and sports activities for those who are already interested.”

Past studies have also shown a link between a lack of physical activity and a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome. The current study has shown how the connection between the two can extend past youth and into adulthood. The researchers were able to observe a group of 888 participants from 1981 to 2008. The subjects, who lived in Sweden and were in ninth grade at the start of the study, were given self-administered questionnaires. The findings were recently published in the journal Diabetes Care.

To read the full article…..Click here