Ouch! My back hurts:
Q: I am 69 years old and have a pain in my lower back which, when I stand, radiates down both my legs. I am a housewife and the pain makes it very difficult for me to do housework. The orthopaedic I consulted said I have spondylolisthesis but none of the tablets I was prescribed seem to work.
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A: Spondylolisthesis can be congenital but usually, especially if it occurs after the age of 50, is due to degeneration of the spinal vertebrae. One vertebra then tends to slip over the other and presses on the nerves (in your case the ones going to the legs) causing the pain.
This condition can usually be managed without surgery. A few days of bed rest should be followed by physiotherapy, concentrating on exercises that help with flexion of the spine and strengthening of the “core” muscles. You should also walk or take up a similar aerobic activity for 40 minutes every day. A lumbosacral brace should be worn at all times, except when lying down or exercising. If you are overweight, you will need to reduce.
Warts and all:
Q: I have had a wart on my finger for some time. Now another one has appeared near it. Both have a repulsive cauliflower like appearance.
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A: Warts are a viral infection spread by contact from person to person. They are more likely to occur in children and young adults. They are harmless and not cancerous. They usually disappear on their own without treatment in six months to two years.
Dermatologists also remove them with cryotherapy (freezing), laser and cauterisation. Sometimes they may advise repeated application of medication.
Q: I want to buy a treadmill but do not know how effective exercise on it will be. Also I do not know what type of treadmill to buy.
A: Manual treadmills do not use a motor and move only when the person moves. Electric treadmills use a conveyor belt and motor. There is no wind resistance in a treadmill so unless the incline of the platform is set at 1 per cent, the calorie consumption is 10-15 per cent less than running the same distance on the road. The gait on the treadmill is also more bouncy because of the platform. This leads to bad running form and difficulty when returning to running on the road. Using the treadmill also tends to get repetitive and monotonous so that more mental effort is needed to persist. In short treadmill is expensive, occupies space and is less efficient and interesting than running on the road.
Life after work :
Q: I looked forward to retiring for 30 years, but once I did retire, I feel more stressed and depressed. My wife, who is a housewife, seems to have more to do than me. Also she is stressed because I am around all the time and in her way.
A: The retirement age in India is 58-60 and that is really too early! Most people are healthy, active and still in their prime. If you just sit around the house watching television, eating and sleeping, you will soon deteriorate mentally and physically. To ward this off, try getting a part-time job, starting a small business, joining socially relevant political peoples movements or doing volunteer work. You will feel needed and everyone (including your wife) will be happy.
Salt control :
Q: I have high blood pressure and am on enalapril to control it. My doctor told me to “control salt intake” but was not very specific about how exactly that is done. What should I do?
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A: You need around 2.5gm (half a teaspoon) of salt a day if you are less than 50 years old and 1.5gm (quarter teaspoon) if older. This includes hidden salt intake from pickles, pappads, chips and other salty snacks. A rule of thumb is to take half a teaspoon of salt per day per person in the household and use it for cooking. People in the family who do not have high blood pressure can add extra salt if needed.
Down at heel :
Q: A severe pain shoots up my leg whenever I put my foot down in the morning. The doctor took an X-ray and said I have a calcaneal spur. He said I need surgery but I am not really willing to go for it. Is there any other remedy?
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A: A calcaneal spur is an extra growth of bone under the heel. It can cause agonising pain. Before you consider surgery, try a few simple measures.
Soak your feet in salted hot water morning and evening. Rock your feet gently in the water.
• Always wear soft footwear. Do not go bare foot even in the house.
• Go to a physiotherapy centre. Ultrasound treatment often helps.
• Lose weight if you are obese.
Q: What should you do if an insect enters your ear?
A: Immediately place your ear near a bright light and turn off all other lights. The insect will usually fly back out again.
Source: The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)