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Texas Orthopedics, Sports & Rehabilitation Associates

Monday, October 24, 2016

Doctors Are Better Than Google

We’ve all done it. Googled a symptom or ailment in the hopes of diagnosing and treating ourselves (or a child) in order to avoid an often timely, and costly trip to the doctor’s office.

Well, new research suggests that may not be such a great idea.

A recent study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine pitted actual physicians against online medical apps, or symptom-checker programs, in clinically diagnosing patients.

Nearly 235 doctors were given 45 clinical vignettes on patients that they then had to diagnose just using the information provided, no medical exams were performed. The online medical resources, or mobile apps, consulted were those offered by WebMD and the Mayo Clinic in the United States, and the Isabel Symptom Checker in the United Kingdom.

Here’s what they found:

Human doctors got the diagnosis right 72% of the time, compared to 34% for the online medical experts.

When asked to rank possible diagnoses, physicians ranked the correct diagnosis first more often than the online tools.

Doctors were correct more times regarding the diagnoses of “serious conditions,” while the computer methods were better at identifying “less serious conditions.”

Overall, it was clear that diagnosis by an actual healthcare provider is a much safer bet than relying solely on an online resource. However, it was agreed that online resources can be extremely helpful to physicians in verifying potential diagnoses with rapidly changing symptoms or in high-stress settings, such as an emergency room.

(Adapted from Reuters-Health)

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Cold and Flu Prevention for Arthritis Sufferers

A sneeze, a sniffle, slightly cooler temps, and just like that…cold and flu season is here. While a nasty cold or bout of the flu is no big deal for most people, both can be pretty harsh, and even potentially dangerous, to someone with a compromised immune system--or someone suffering from an already serious medical condition like arthritis. 
Arthritis is an inflammatory disease causing painful swelling and stiffness in the joints, and it also renders the body susceptible to greater risk for infection.
Here are some tips we often share with our arthritis patients at Texas Orthopedics to help fend off the flu and curb colds at this time of year:

Keep immunizations current.

Make sure your shots are up-to-date for respiratory infections such as flu, pneumonia, and pertussis (whooping cough). Also consider getting a shingles vaccine if you are over 60. Opt for the actual shot instead of any mist versions as they are “dead,” rather than “life” versions of the virus (which could lead to illness), and a much safer choice for arthritics.

Eat well.

As always, brightly-colored, vitamin-rich fruits and veggies are great for boosting immunity, and even more so in the cooler months. Don’t forget to also include in your diet the usual anti-inflammatory staples like walnuts, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and fatty fishes (salmon, tuna, sardines). 

Stay fit. 

As little as 20-30 minutes of brisk walking a day can help the body fight off germs, and harmful viruses and bacteria. In fact, a study by the Cleveland Clinic of Ohio determined that when people ages 50 and older exercised daily, they were 29% less likely to get sick, but if they did, they recovered 43% more quickly than those who did not exercise. Daily exercise anyway is super important for arthritis patients, to maintain joint health, so keep it up!

Wash your hands.

Pretty simple, but pretty effective. Frequent hand washing keeps germs you touch from traveling to your nose, mouth, or eyes, which can then infect your whole body. Scrub with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer or moistened wipes, after using the bathroom, handling garbage, coughing or sneezing, or before preparing food.  

Assess regular meds.

Whenever there is a change of seasons, discuss your usual dosages for arthritis medicine with your physician. Hot or cold temps can influence the body in different ways and alter the effects of some medications while possibly decreasing your immunity.

At the earliest sign of a cold or flu, be ready to take action. Use OTC (over-the-counter) meds as directed to treat fevers, aches and pains, coughs, and stuffy or runny noses.  Please contact us though for an appointment if your symptoms are severe and don’t lessen after a few days.

(Courtesy of Lifescript)

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Men and Osteoporosis

We are just a couple of weeks shy of November--the month when men’s health is celebrated and several important issues are brought to light, such as prostate and testicular cancers. “Movember” efforts do a great job in educating men of all ages about preventing and protecting themselves from these specific diseases, but what other conditions out there should men be concerned about?
A big one is osteoporosis, and we see patients with it every day here at Texas Orthopedics. It is primarily thought of as women’s disease, so it is often overlooked in men by many healthcare providers. Osteoporosis is the progressive loss of bone density as you age, rendering bones weak and susceptible to breaks and fractures.
Although women tend to experience more fractures than men overall, when men do suffer from one, it is usually to a more serious degree and with added complications. Fractured or broken hips are one of the more dangerous scenarios for men, potentially leaving a man permanently disabled and twice as likely to die within a year than a woman with a similar injury.
According to recent research in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, men lose bone mineral density at the rate of approximately one percent per year. Additionally, one in five men over the age of 50 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture at least once in their lifetime.
Many of the risk factors associated with male osteoporosis are the same for women, including being under or overweight, malnutrition, smoking, a family history of the condition, and side effects resulting from medicine/treatments for things such as GERD (gastric-esophageal reflux disease), and celiac disease. Men with prostate cancer who are on androgen deprivation therapy are also at high risk for decreased bone density.
Any man with any of one of these risk factors should get checked regularly for osteoporosis. A bone density exam is the best place to start.
Once diagnosed, osteoporosis can be treated successfully with a combination of healthy diet and nutritional supplements, exercise to strengthen bones, and medication if needed.
If you are a male over 50 years of age and interested in a bone density exam, please contact us for an appointment.
(Adapted from The New York Times)
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Friday, October 7, 2016

X-Rays for Knee Pain

Nearly one in 17 Americans (ages 40 and older) visits a doctor each year due to knee pain. That's a lot of nagging knees.

We see patients with knee pain frequently in our office at Texas Orthopedics. This common and painful wear and tear on the knee joint is often associated with an inflammatory condition such as osteoarthritis, or even more typical, obesity.  As the majority of the population continues to age, and unfortunately still remain overweight, instances of knee pain are at an all-time high.

To pinpoint the exact cause of any knee pain, many think that an MRI, or some other sophisticated screening/technology, is necessary.

Not true.

New research shows that plain, old X-Rays are the best way to diagnose common knee pain in those over 40.

The September issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) featured a study that looked at 100 MRIs of knees from patients aged 40 and older.

The surprising find was that only half of those MRIs performed prior to meeting with an orthopaedic surgeon actually contributed to a patient’s diagnosis and treatment, especially as related to osteoarthritis.

The study recommends that an X-Ray should always be the first line of screening for minor to moderate knee pain, especially if thought to be associated with an arthritic condition or excess pressure on the joint from being overweight.

 X-Rays are also much more efficient and cost-friendly, to both the patient and medical provider, as compared with an MRI.

If you have a nagging knee issue that you’d like to get checked out, please contact us for an appointment.

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Are you fit enough for surgery?

Are you fit enough for surgery? Seems like an odd question doesn't it (given that you have to have, well, surgery to fix something)?

There is a growing awareness now among healthcare providers, including Texas Orthopedics, hospitals, and insurance companies alike, to make sure that patients are as healthy as possible before entering the OR for an elective surgery such as a hip or knee replacement.

The more fit you are before surgery, the better you'll be.

There are certain risk factors providers look for that could ultimately affect your surgery outcome, such as heart disease, diabetes, anemia, and obesity. Any one of these conditions on its own, or a combination, could lead to higher risk for complications, infection, or extended recovery time due to the body's already compromised state.

Unforeseen complications and extra ays in the hospital contribute to higher costs all around...from you the patient, to the physician, medical facility, and insurance provider.

Things to discuss with your doctor, and ensure all are within normal ranges, prior to surgery include:

  • Weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sugar levels
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Mental health issues or sleep disorders
Many physicians and hospitals are in favor of postponing a surgery for a few days, or even weeks, to make certain that these things are in check.

A healthier patient going into surgery promises to be a healthier patient coming out.

If you would like to discuss how to get into better shape prior to your surgery, please contact us for an appointment.

(Adapted from The Wall Street Journal)

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