HEALTH & FITNESS

 

Why live with pain?
Dr Ravinder Chadha
Chronic
pain in the neck, knee, shoulders and back is indeed very common these days. History usually indicates prior injury, poor or incorrect posture, age-related arthritis and undertaking incorrect exercises. The usual onset is insidious starting with mild pain except in cases of injuries where it is acute.

The healthy heart guide
Julia Stuart
Heart
disease is the biggest killer of men and women in the West, accounting for more than 25 per cent of deaths. It remains the UK's single biggest killer, with someone in this country suffering a heart attack every two minutes. Too many of us don't know how to recognise the symptoms, according to a report published last week. And another showed that a significant proportion of people, including women, are more at risk of a heart attack than they believe. But there are plenty of things we can do to keep our hearts healthy.

Better sleep, better health
Dr R. Vatsyayan
Considered
the most effective way to give absolute rest to the body and the mind, sleep is one of our important physiological functions. So much so that ayurveda has included sleep in the three support pillars of life, the other two being food and the sexual discipline. Acharya Charka has defined it as a stage when physical and mental exertion lowers the activity of the mind, resulting in its disassociation with the sense objects.

Health Notes

 

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Why live with pain?
Dr Ravinder Chadha

Chronic pain in the neck, knee, shoulders and back is indeed very common these days. History usually indicates prior injury, poor or incorrect posture, age-related arthritis and undertaking incorrect exercises. The usual onset is insidious starting with mild pain except in cases of injuries where it is acute.

The progression to chronic pain is the result of lack of proper or adequate treatment, rehabilitation and over-dependence on medicines. The present-day sedentary lifestyle is also a major contributing factor vis-à-vis prolonged hours in front of the computer.

Most people experience low back pain even after treatment because of prolonged sitting, standing, walking, driving etc. There is usually a past history of low back pain due to disc prolapse, muscle or ligament injury or strain. These individuals stop exercising or undergo incorrect or inadequate rehabilitation after pain relief. This causes disc degeneration and muscle weakness, reducing the ability to hold the spine erect and also the shock absorption capacity. Undertaking adequate physical activity and maintaining a correct posture are the mainstay of proper treatment.

Chronic low back pain is indeed very difficult to treat. It severely restricts daily activities, reducing the work capacity.

Knee arthritis is also partially the result of today’s lifestyle. The range of motion of the knee is effectively restricted due to sitting on a chair; using Western toilet seats, etc. In the earlier days everybody used to sit on the floor and Indian-type toilets led to an increase in knee flexibility. “Vajrasana” increases the range of motion of the knee joint and also stretches the muscles of the front of the knee joint (quadriceps muscle).

Patients of knee arthritis are advised analgesics, Glucosamine medicines. After some time when the pain and discomfort are gone, and yet there is difficulty in walking or climbing up and down the stairs, then either they live with pain or have to undergo knee-replacement surgery. If people suffering from knee arthritis start the treatment in the form of proper physical activity, exercises of the muscles and ligament supporting the knee joint, then they can be saved from the disability and surgery.

Neck pain often presents as neck stiffness, headache and restriction of neck and head movements. Depending on the cause, neck pain could radiate to the arms with numbness and weakness (in cases of nerve root involvement). Individuals may feel light-headed or dizzy on neck movement. The common causes include an incorrect posture, overuse of the neck, injury, muscle weakness, etc.

Normally, the body can tolerate around 20 minutes of continuous sitting after which the elasticity of the tissue starts deteriorating, leading to an increase in stress and discomfort. This is due to the tendency of the head and the neck to move forwards (more than 6 cms) resulting in the rounding up of the shoulders thereby exerting pressure on the neck and upper back muscles. Maintaining a correct posture is critical in this computer era. The correct posture acts as a defence shield against future neck problems.

Like neck pain, frozen shoulder is a painful condition resulting in a marked loss of motion of this organ. This is usually preceded by an injury in the shoulder but the problem can be experienced.

Analgesics (medicines) give temporary relief, and with the passage of the time, the range of motion of the shoulder joint decreases. This restricts the movement of the arm above the head. Anti-inflammatory drugs, exercises and the cortisone injection are the usual modes of treatment. Manipulation should be started early to increase the range of motion of the shoulder. Treatment of this condition can be frustrating and slow. There is improvement in most cases, but the process takes a long time.

Patients suffering from neck, shoulder, knee and back pain should initiate the treatment early. This is very important to avoid disability, pain and surgery.

The writer is a former doctor/physiotherapist, Indian cricket team.

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The healthy heart guide
Julia Stuart

Heart disease is the biggest killer of men and women in the West, accounting for more than 25 per cent of deaths. It remains the UK's single biggest killer, with someone in this country suffering a heart attack every two minutes. Too many of us don't know how to recognise the symptoms, according to a report published last week. And another showed that a significant proportion of people, including women, are more at risk of a heart attack than they believe. But there are plenty of things we can do to keep our hearts healthy.

Know the symptoms

A heart attack happens when a blood clot suddenly and completely blocks one of the arteries around the heart. As a result, part of the heart muscle does not get an adequate blood supply and is starved of oxygen, which can cause permanent damage. Most heart attacks occur as the result of coronary heart disease. The common or classic symptoms of a heart attack are a pain in the centre of the chest that can spread to the arms, neck or jaw. Some people can feel sick or sweaty, while others feel short of breath.

Women often experience less common heart attack symptoms, including a dull pain, ache, or "heavy" feeling in the chest; a mild discomfort and a general feeling of being unwell; a pain in the chest that can spread to the back or stomach; a chest pain that feels like a bad episode of indigestion; or a bout of dizziness. Women, whatever their age, are less likely to have heart attacks than men. But women are more likely than men to die from a heart attack, and those who live through one are more likely than men to have a second within four years.

This might be because their heart disease is often more severe by the time they have their first heart attack.

"Far too many people delay calling an ambulance when they have a heart attack," warns Judy O'Sullivan, a cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation. "They either don't recognise the symptoms or think they should be much more severe than they are. The longer it takes you to call an ambulance, the greater your risk of dying.

“Three out of every 10 people who have a heart attack will be dead before they get to hospital. It is essential that you call an ambulance immediately. Paramedics say they would rather attend a false alarm than arrive and find it's too late to help someone,” she adds.

— The Independent

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Better sleep, better health
Dr R. Vatsyayan

Considered the most effective way to give absolute rest to the body and the mind, sleep is one of our important physiological functions. So much so that ayurveda has included sleep in the three support pillars of life, the other two being food and the sexual discipline. Acharya Charka has defined it as a stage when physical and mental exertion lowers the activity of the mind, resulting in its disassociation with the sense objects.

The need for sleep not only varies from person to person, it also keeps changing throughout the lifecycle. Most adults need six or eight hours of sleep, whereas a newly born child sleeps between 16 and 18 hours a day. School-age children need at least seven or eight hours of slumber, and it is believed that all of us spend nearly one-third of our life in sleep. As people age, they often get less sleep - older persons are more often seen wanting for it in a restful manner.

A good sleep has a wide range of salutary effects on our body and mind. Not only it is relaxing and freshening, good sleep enjoyed at the proper time and for an adequate proper period tends to improve all physiological functions. It is said that happiness and misery of a person can be judged from his sleep pattern.

But with changing lifestyle and increasing competitiveness in every sphere, for more and more people sound sleep is becoming a luxury. The rising graph of psychosomatic diseases has led researchers to believe that adequate rest is a vital need both for the body as well as the mind.

Studies show that not getting enough sleep or getting poor quality of it on a regular basis can play havoc with our health. Affecting our over-all performance, it can lead to low immunity, poor digestion, constipation, hypertension, anxiety and depression besides additionally causing cyclic disturbances in women. Insufficient sleep is also responsible for mood swings, irritability and other behavioural disorders resulting in reduced productivity and troubled relationships.

Usually, sleep information is not covered as part of regular patients’ history and most of the doctors enquire less about the sleep habits. Surveys tell that 60 per cent of the adult population in urban India either sleeps during wrong hours like late in the night till late in the morning or suffers from a poor quality of rest. With a disturbed routine, the practice of sleeping in the day is fast catching up. Not tuning our body with nature’s master clock is like inviting many health problems.

A patient suffering from sleeplessness can help himself by modifying his daily routine to include adequate exercise and adopting relaxation and stress-busting techniques like yoga and meditation. One should eliminate caffeine from one’s diet and avoid heavy foods, TV viewing, stimulating music or using computers before going to bed. Setting a regular sleep schedule and sticking to it even on weekends is the basic point in managing sleep disorders. It is the practice of a disciplined lifestyle and a resolve of early to bed and early to rise which holds the key to good health.

The writer is a Ludhiana-based senior ayurvedic physician.

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Health Notes
Protein instrumental in brain development identified

LONDON: Scientists at Children’s National Medical Center have identified a fundamental protein that is instrumental in the development and repair of the brain.

The signalling activity of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) protein is significant for myelination and remyelination, the processes essential to the creation and repair of the brain’s white matter.

The groundbreaking discovery in mouse models may lead to inventions for the enhancement of healthy brain development, and improvement in treatments for brain disorders in both children and adults.

“By understanding the fundamental mechanisms of brain development, we get closer to finding clear instructions to repairing developmental brain disorders and injuries,” Dr. Vittorio Gallo, Director, Center for Neuroscience Research, Children’s Research Institute at Children’s National Medical Center, was quoted by Nature magazine as saying. — ANI

Pumpkins to the rescue of diabetics

WASHINGTON: A new study by boffins in China has given new hope to diabetics by finding that compounds in pumpkin could potentially replace or at least drastically reduce the daily insulin injections.

Researchers led by Tao Xia of the East China Normal University, found that diabetic rats fed the extract had only 5 per cent less plasma insulin and 8 per cent fewer insulin-positive (beta) cells compared to normal healthy rats.

Xia now says that the pumpkin extract is a potential treatment for pre-diabetics as well as diabetics that could help drastically reduce the amount of insulin they need to take.

“Pumpkin extract is potentially a very good product for pre-diabetic persons, as well as those who have already developed diabetes,” he said. — ANI

Obesity drug may hold potent cancer treatment

WASHINGTON: Boffins are designing potent cancer treatments using their knowledge about an obesity drug, orlistat (Xenical or Alli) that was found to kill cancer cells in the laboratory. The drug binds and interacts with a protein found in tumour cells and blocks the protein’s function and causes cell death.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers, including Steven Kridel and W. Todd Lowther, at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

As part of the study, scientists analysed prostate cancer cells to see which enzymes were expressed at high levels to develop treatments to inhibit those enzymes to stop tumour growth. — ANI

New cancer-fighting virus shows promise

WASHINGTON: A team of scientists have designed a virus that is safe to normal tissue but deadly to cancer and the virus has shown promising results in preliminary study.

The virus, called NV1020, is a type of herpes simplex virus modified so that it selectively replicates in virus cells, killing them in the process.

“It doesn’t replicate in normal, healthy cells, so our hope is that it will help fight cancers without causing side-effects in the rest of the body,” said Dr. Axel Mescheder, VP Clinical Research & Development, from the Munich-based biotech company MediGene. The study is conducted in seven leading US-cancer centres, with Dr Tony Reid from the University of California in San Diego, CA, as Principal Investigator. — ANI



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