Take Prednisone For IBD? Why You Need To Be Aware Of Spinal Compression Fractures, How To Avoid Them, And Treatment

If you have to take courses of prednisone frequently to help control your Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) flares, then you need to know what spinal compression fractures are, how to avoid them, and what to do if you suspect you have one. Why? Taking frequent courses of prednisone can lead to bone thinning and osteoporosis, and IBD itself puts you at risk for osteoporosis due to your frequently inflamed colon’s inability to absorb many vitamins and nutrients that support healthy bones. While bone thinning and osteoporosis both put you at risk of many types of bone fractures, if you suffer from a spinal compression fracture, you may not even realize you developed one at all if you already suffer from frequent back pain. Read on to learn more about spinal compression fractures, how to avoid them, and what to do if you suspect you have developed one. 

How Spinal Compression Fractures Develop

When your bones are thin and weak due to osteoporosis, the small bones that make up your back, called vertebrae, can develop small cracks called hairline fractures very easily. These small cracks themselves can go unnoticed by you, and you could even already have a few of them and not feel any pain — yet. However, once a few of these small cracks develop in one back vertebrae, it weakens the bone dramatically, and this weak vertebrae can then collapse. 

Surprisingly, many people feel no pain after suffering from a spinal compression fracture. However, others do. In people who suffer pain from the fractures, the pain typically hits them very quickly and suddenly. Pain from a spinal compression fracture typically worsens when standing and is greatly relieved when lying down on your back. 

How You Can Prevent Spinal Compression Fractures

While you cannot control the fact that you have IBD or the fact that you need to take prednisone when your symptoms are “flaring” and your doctor needs to control the inflammation for your overall health, there are some spinal compression fracture risk factors that you can control. 

First, since smoking leads to bone loss, don’t smoke cigarettes; smoking cigarettes doesn’t just affect your lung health, but it truly affects the overall health of your body. Don’t drink more than four alcoholic drinks each day, since this can also cause your bones to thin, and try to keep your BMI above 19; a too-low BMI can cause your body’s estrogen levels to plummet, which increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. 

Of course, keeping your daily intake of calcium high is important for strong bones, along with vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium more efficiently. Strive to consume about 1,200 mg of calcium each day and 600 or more IUs of vitamin D. Sun exposure causes your body to create Vitamin D naturally, so enjoy a nice walk in the sun each day, if you can, to take advantage of this natural source of Vitamin D. 

Using good body mechanics can also help prevent spinal compression fractures; remember to always bend your knees when picking up objects off the ground. 

Spinal Compression Fracture Diagnosis &Treatment

Only about one-third of all spinal compression fractures suffered in the US are ever diagnosed due to the fact that there are so many causes of back pain that it can be so easy for a doctor to misdiagnose this type of fracture. If you ever suspect that you have developed one, your doctor will likely ask you questions and order back x-rays. However, these fractures can be missed on x-rays, so don’t be afraid to ask for a CAT scan or MRI if your x-rays do not detect the fracture you suspect. 

It is important to receive a proper diagnosis, so your treatment can then be targeted to exactly what you are suffering from. Your doctor may first take a “wait and see” approach to see if your fracture heals on its own; during this time, you will be instructed to rest as much as possible and may be prescribed a pain medication, if you feel you need it. 

If your spinal compression fracture does not heal on its own, then your doctor may suggest a surgery to relieve the pain and help you lead a normal life again. There are two types of spinal compression surgeries that are commonly used: vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. While slightly different, both offer similar benefits — they help stabilize your spine to help you begin performing your normal daily activities again, relieve pain, and restore the height that you lost during the fracture. 

If you suffer from IBD and take courses of prednisone or other corticosteriods frequently to control colon inflammation, then be aware that both having IBD and taking prednisone increase your risk of osteoporosis and the spinal compression fractures that, unfortunately, often occur in people with weak bones. Commit to taking steps to keep your bones healthy and, if you ever experience sudden back pain, know that it could be a spinal compression fracture that your doctor can help you heal. Reach out to a professional, such as Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates, for more information. 

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Dislocate Your Joints Easily? Here’s What You Need To Know About Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

If you regularly dislocate your joints, you may have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is a group of connective tissue disorders that are caused by the disruption of the integrity of collagen. Ehlers-Danlos is not rare, but it is rarely diagnosed. While there is no cure, there are treatments that can help alleviate your symptoms. Here’s what you need to know. 

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

Ehlers-Danlos is a group of six or more genetic disorders. If you have it, chances are high that someone else in your family has had it or does have it since it is hereditary. Collagen is the necessary glue of your body. Collagen is a protein that allows your tissues to stretch to a certain limit and then return back to normal. Collagen can be found throughout the body, which is why there are various types of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in order of prevalence:

  • hypermobile—joints extend further than they should.
  • classical—hypermobility and skin stretches further than it should. 
  • vascular—fragile artery, intestine, and uterine tissues
  • kyphoscoliotic—loose ligaments, low muscle tone, weak sclera (whites of the eyes)
  • arthrochalasia—misaligned vertebrae, hip dislocations, fragile skin
  • dermatosparaxis—severely fragile and sagging skin

It’s important to note that people with this condition can be affected by more than one type. Obviously, the symptoms vary depending on the type(s) you have. The most common type is hypermobility, which is the type that often leads to recurrent dislocated joints. 

Complications

With the various parts of the body that can be compromised, there are a number of complications that can be due to Ehlers-Danlos, including autonomic disorders, cardiovascular problems, chronic pain, compromised immune systems, mast cell problems, and gastrointestinal disorders such as gastroparesis. Autonomic refers to your body’s natural processes that are supposed to happen automatically, such as breathing, body temperature, heart beat, and digestion. When your autonomic functions do not work properly, you may feel fatigued and have difficulty with brain fog. 

Due to all of the various symptoms and complications that can happen, it’s very important that you write down every symptom that you have, even if you don’t feel that they relate in any way to your dislocated joints. Show the list to your primary care physician. This is important because, unless you disclose every possible symptom and complaint, your physician will not know what you are experiencing so he or she can refer you to the appropriate specialists. 

Referrals 

Since Ehlers-Danlos is a genetic disorder, you will get a referral from your primary care physician to a geneticist. During the initial evaluation, you can expect a lengthy and detailed question and answer session regarding all of the symptoms and complaints you have. Your primary care physician will send a detailed history to the geneticist prior to your appointment so he or she can review it. For example, perhaps you had several instances in which you suddenly broke out in hives and the cause was not determined. Instead of those instances being allergic reactions, they may have been symptoms of a mast cell disorder, which is one of the possible complications of Ehlers-Danlos. 

You can also expect referrals to the various specialists who deal with the different types of Ehlers-Danlos. For example, if your Ehlers-Danlos affects your veins and arteries, you will need a referral to a vascular doctor. Another example is if the whites of your eyes are affected, a referral to an ophthalmologist will be needed. As was said before, there is no cure for Ehlers-Danlos. However, there are treatments available. Obviously, treatment depends on the type(s) you are diagnosed with but can include medication, physical therapy, and prolotherapy. Your primary care physician should be kept updated on any new diagnoses and treatment plans. 

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Make Sure To Avoid These Three Common Contact Lens Mistake

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 30 million people in the United States wear contact lenses. If you prefer contacts over glasses, chances are you have a mundane routine you follow every morning and evening. However, what you might not realize is that although you think you are wearing and caring for you contact lenses correctly, you could actually be causing serious damage to your eyes. Here are three common contact lens mistakes that you should never make:

Using Any Old Eye Drops in the Medicine Cabinet

If you’re like many contact wearers, you struggle with dry eye. Even if you’ve switched to daily wear contacts or silicon hydrogels, you might still be dealing with the itching, redness and discomfort that sends you running for eye drops.

However, before you reach for drops that are designed to combat dry eye or get the red out of your eyes, you may actually be doing more harm than good. This is because these types of eye drops are formulated to remain on your eyes for only a few seconds. When you apply these products, your eyes naturally begin to tear up, which flushes out the drops and moistens your eyes.

If you are wearing contacts and use an eye drop that is designed to combat dry eyes, the product will become caught between your lenses and your eyes, which can lead to further irritation and redness.

Instead, use a product that is specifically-formulated for contact wearers. Your optometrist can recommend a product, or provide you with other tips to help combat dry eye, such as drinking more water or switching to a different brand of lenses.

Sleeping in Your Contacts

After a busy day of working, kids and errands, you were just too exhausted to bother taking out your contact lenses – even though you know you should. Forgetting to remove your contact lenses at night isn’t a big deal anyway, right?

Unfortunately, if you begin chronically sleeping with your contacts on, you can develop a number of serious conditions. One of the most common is called corneal neovascularization, which occurs when your eye is deprived of oxygen for long periods of time. This condition is characterized by swollen blood vessels in the eyes. In serious cases, the vessels in your eyes will become so swollen that you won’t even be able to wear contact lenses, at all.

Another more serious condition, corneal ulcers, can also occur, if you habitually wear contacts while sleeping. When you wear contacts for days or weeks at a time, dirt and bacteria will become trapped, which leads to an infection that creates an ulcer on your cornea. If the ulcer erupts, it could lead to severe pain, tearing or even blindness.

As a rule, you should always make sure to remove your contact lenses before you sleep. This will allow you to clean your lenses, and it gives your eyes a chance to breathe.

You Don’t Clean Your Lens Case Properly

Even if you are vigilant about cleaning your cleaning your contact lenses, chances are there is another critical step you’re skipping: cleaning your contact lens case. Cleaning your contact lens case everyday will help prevent a potentially-dangerous film of bacteria from forming on the lens.

To clean the cases, first dump out any old lens solution. Next, wash your hands before rinsing out the case with clean contact solution. Use your clean finger to clean the bottom of the case. Finally, flip the case upside down and let it air dry.

For many, wearing contact lenses is a part of their daily routine. If you’re a contact lens lover, make sure to avoid these common mistakes, and if you have any other concerns, don’t hesitate to contact an optometrist. Visit a site like http://allabouteyes.com.

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2-Step Natural Home Treatment For Treating Your Facial Acne Scars

If you have been plagued by facial acne, you may have some large scars left behind, making you wonder if there is anything you can do at home to minimize the appearance of the scars without damaging your skin. If so, use the following two-step home remedy for treating your scars using natural ingredients.

What You Will Need

Before you make and use your acne scar treatment, gather the supplies and ingredients listed below. You can find them in supermarkets, pharmacies and natural health stores.

  • Small microwave-safe bowl
  • One-quarter of a cup of raw honey
  • Two tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Two wooden tongue depressors
  • Pint-size mason jar with lid
  • One medium-size cucumber, peeled and sliced into quarter-inch pieces
  • One cup of aloe vera juice

The honey used in step one helps stimulate the skin’s tissue, as well as removes the top layer of the scar tissue. It also adds moisture to the dried scars to plump them up, making them less visible.

The citric acid found in lemon juice helps bleach your scars’ discolorations. The antioxidants in the juice also promote healing of the scar tissue. However, because of its acidic properties, make sure you do not leave it on for longer than recommended, and make sure you rinse your face thoroughly after application.

The cucumber and aloe vera juice used in the second step’s skin toner help reduce the inflammation and redness of skin with their cooling effects. Cucumbers also hydrate the skin, while the aloe vera juice’s healing properties rebuild and plump the scar tissue, helping to minimize their appearance.

Step 1:  Apply A Scar-Reducing Mask To Your Scars

The first step in this home treatment is to apply a mask to your acne scars to reduce their appearance, as well as condition the skin and promote its healing. The mask is safe to apply and treat the skin on your entire face, if you desire, or you can use it only on the scars themselves.

To make the mask, pour the honey in the microwave-safe bowl, and place it in the microwave for 30 seconds. This is done to thin the honey to make mixing in the lemon juice easier. 

Add the lemon juice, and stir thoroughly with a tongue depressor. Let the mixture cool to a comfortable temperature for your face. Then, use a clean tongue depressor to apply the mask to either your scars or entire face.

Leave the mask on for 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water. Pat your face dry with a towel, then go on to the next step.

Step 2:  Use A Homemade Skin Toner

After rinsing the mask off your face, the next step is to use a homemade skin toner to further aid in reducing your scars’ visibility, as well as refresh your skin and reduce inflammation.

To make the toner, place the cucumber slices and aloe vera juice in a jar, replace the lid, and shake vigorously. Let the mixture stand for about four hours to allow the slices to absorb the aloe vera juice.

Once the time has passed, remove a cucumber slice, and pat it on your skin. Repeat until your entire face is wet, then let your skin air dry for about five to 10 minutes. Rinse your face with cool water, pat dry with a towel, and apply a moisturizer of your choosing.

Using the above treatment a couple time a week should help you reduce the visibility of your acne scars. However, if you do not see any improvement or continue to have breakouts, you may want to speak to a dermatologist like those at Billings Clinic about the treatment options available to you.

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Does Your Child Have One Of These 3 Vision Problems?

As a parent watching your child grow and develop, it’s important to be on the lookout for signs of developmental problems and delays. Vision problems in children are easier to overlook than you might think. They may not have the language to explain how what they’re seeing is different than what you’re seeing, and they may not even realize that there’s anything unusual about their vision. Take a look at some of the vision problems that may be difficult to recognize, and find out how you can help your child if you spot signs of them.

Color Blindness

You’ve probably heard of color blindness. The most common form of the condition affects 8 percent of males and only about .5 percent of females. Despite the name, most people who suffer from color blindness can see some colors. Often, it’s only a few colors that are affected, like red and green or blue and yellow. The disorder can range from not being able to identify the affected colors at all to simply having difficulty identifying shades of the affected colors. Only the most severe form of color blindness leaves the viewer with a total absence of color.

Because color blindness is an inherited condition, you should have your child tested for it if you or any members of your family have the condition. You should also have your child tested if you notice that they have difficulty identifying or distinguishing between colors – while it’s normal for children to mix up their colors when they’re first learning the names, if they’re still having trouble when they approach school age, it may be a sign of trouble. An eye doctor can test for color blindness with special charts during a routine eye exam. Color blindness isn’t curable, but in many cases, it can be treated with special lenses and visual aids.

Stereoblindness

Stereoblindness is a vision disorder that is characterized by an inability to see depth. Essentially, people with stereoblindness don’t see the world in 3-D, they see it in 2-D. People who are blind in one eye are stereoblind, because they lack the binocular vision that people with two working eyes are supposed to have. However, people with two functioning eyes can also be stereoblind if their eyes don’t work together properly. In this case, the stereoblindness can be corrected with vision therapy.

3-D movies can be a good test of whether or not your child is stereoblind. Children suffering from stereoblindness may perceive the 3-D images as blurry or smeared, rather than seeing them pop out of the screen. Interestingly, 3-D movies may also be used as part of the vision therapy your child receives to correct the condition – there has been at least one case of stereoblindness that was spontaneously corrected after viewing a movie in 3-D, and researchers are looking for ways to incorporate this into vision therapy.

Convergence Insufficiency

Convergence insufficiency is a learning-related visual disorder. Like stereoblindness, it’s a condition that can occur when the eyes do not work together properly, often because of a weakness in the muscles operating one or both of the eyes. Often, convergence insufficiency isn’t diagnosed until a child begins struggling in school. The symptoms vary from person to person, but they may include headaches and eyestrain, double vision, and trouble with concentrating. Children who suffer from convergence insufficiency may squint or close one eye when trying to focus and may complain that the words blur or move around on the page while reading.

Routine eye exams are not always enough to detect convergence insufficiency, but your child’s eye doctor can diagnose the problem by taking a detailed medical history and asking your child to perform focus tests. Convergence insufficiency can be treated in several ways. Vision therapy is the most common treatment. Vision therapy for convergence insufficiency includes manual exercises, like focusing on the tip of a pencil while slowly moving it closer to the face, as well as screen-based exercises performed on a computer. Your child’s doctor may also recommend special glasses with lenses that contain prisms to help the eyes focus properly. In extreme cases, surgery to tighten the eye muscles may be recommended.

Routine eye exams are recommended for all children, and you shouldn’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor if you notice signs of vision difficulties. Write down any symptoms you’ve noticed so that you can be sure to describe them to the doctor in detail.

Click here to find more info or contact a local eye clinic. 

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4 Tips For Dealing With Chronic Compartment Syndrome

Chronic, or exertional, compartment syndrome occurs when the muscles of your legs experience dangerous levels of inflammation after use. Although this condition is more common in athletes, it can affect anyone, especially those who have an established exercise regimen. Keeping the condition at bay can prevent long-term damage to your muscles.

Learn Your Triggers

When you experience compartment syndrome, there may be subtle differences in the type of exercise you are performing or the environment that triggers the problem. For example, you may find exercising on a grassy field is less impactful on your legs than exercising on a hard surface. To help manage compartment syndrome, take quick notes about the type of exercises you do, where you exercise, and if you experience pain or inflammation. This will help you determine if there are specific factors that contribute to compartment syndrome. If you can pinpoint what triggers problems, you can do a better job at reducing future episodes by modifying your workouts or the environment.

Use The Right Gear

Take advantage of any shoes, orthotics, and leg supports available, especially when they are made for your specific sport or type of exercise. The additional support will help alleviate pressure on your legs. Orthotics are an excellent investment because minor alignment problems and pressure points in your feet can contribute to or exacerbate inflammation. By cushioning your feet and increasing shock absorption, you minimize the amount of irritation in your leg muscles. Even when you are not actively participating in a sport or exercise, you should take measures to reduce impact on your legs. Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes with plenty of foot support throughout the day.

Using the right gear is not only about what you wear, but also about creating a better environment to perform activities or do other tasks. Whenever possible, try adding an exercise mat or other foam surface to the floor beneath your feet if you exercise indoors. You can even take a large yoga mat outdoors to reduce the impact of certain exercises, such as jumping squats and other high-impact exercises. Add cushion to other surfaces at work or inside your home whenever possible if you will stand for long periods.

Take Frequent Breaks

If you notice the signs of compartment syndrome occur after doing specific exercises or when exercising for long periods, try to consistently take breaks. During your breaks, prop your legs up on a table or chair to help alleviate pressure and reduce any swelling that may occur. You may also want to apply ice or a washcloth soaked in cool water to your legs to help reduce inflammation. Even small breaks between periods of intense activity may be enough to prevent a flare-up of compartment syndrome.

Consider Medical Treatments

Sometimes modifications are not enough or you may experience significant pain that does not resolve on its own, even with rest. When this occurs, it is time to consider surgical intervention to possibly remedy the problem. Although retail and prescription anti-inflammatory medications may have temporary benefits, it is best to consider a surgical approach for long-term relief. During surgery for compartment syndrome, the fascia is opened to give your muscles more room to expand without impingement. The fascia is a thin membrane surrounding your muscles that encases them within the leg.

Since compartment syndrome can cause long-term damage to the muscles and nerves in the leg, choosing a surgical route is often a better option if you play a sport or exercise frequently. After your recovery, you should be able to return to normal activities without unnecessary concerns about pain or damage from compartment syndrome.

Chronic compartment syndrome can cause debilitating pain and derail the plans of highly active people. When conservative measures are not effective, trying a surgical approach will give you the best chance at returning to your normal activities.

For more information, contact a clinic such as Omaha Orthopedic Clinic & Sports Medicine PC.

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5 Things Lupus Sufferers Need To Know About Libman-Sacks Endocarditis

Lupus is a serious autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation throughout your body. This inflammation can damage a wide range of organs and tissues, including your heart. Heart disease is one of the major complications that people with lupus need to worry about. One of the many heart conditions that lupus sufferers are at risk of is Libman-Sacks endocarditis; here are five things you need to know about it.

What is Libman-Sacks endocarditis?

Libman-sacks endocarditis is characterized by the presence of verrucous (warty) lesions on the endocardium, as well as inflammation of this tissue. The endocardium is the tissue that lines the inside of your heart. This tissue is very important since it controls the function of your heart muscles, and when it’s inflamed, it can’t do its job as well. Your heart needs to work harder to pump blood around your body, which wears it out and can lead to heart failure.

What are the signs of Libman-Sacks endocarditis?

Usually, people with Libman-Sacks endocarditis either have no symptoms or have only minor functional limitations. Your doctor may notice abnormalities in your heart during a routine exam, such as a heart murmur, and follow-up testing such as echocardiography will diagnose the problem. Routine echocardiography may also be performed to ensure that asymptomatic heart issues are not developing.

Sometimes, symptoms are present. These symptoms may include the following:

  • Fever;
  • Tachycardia (a faster than normal heart rate);
  • Embolic phenomenon (blood clots);
  • Anemia.

If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure to seek treatment right away. However, don’t assume that your heart is fine just because you don’t have any symptoms.

How does lupus cause this disease?

Doctors still aren’t sure how lupus leads to Libman-Sacks endocarditis. The current theory is that antiphospholipid antibodies play a role. Antiphospholipid antibodies are autoimmune cells that mistakenly target your blood, which can lead to blood clots. These antibodies have also been linked to abnormalities of the heart valves, and may contribute to the development of the verrucous lesions found in Libman-Sacks endocarditis.

However, not everyone has antiphospholipid antibodies. Lupus patients who don’t have them develop valvular disease at the same rate as people who have the antibodies. More research needs to be performed to figure out the role that these antibodies play and to identify other possible causes.

Is this disease a common complication of lupus?

Libman-Sacks endocarditis is common among people with lupus. One study used Doppler echocardiography to examine the hearts of 342 lupus patients, and 38 of them (11%) had Libman-Sacks endocarditis. The study found that both disease duration and activity were strongly associated with developing endocarditis, so if you’ve had lupus for a long time or if your disease is active, you may have a higher risk. 

How is Libman-Sacks endocarditis treated?

Libman-Sacks endocarditis can be treated with medications like vasodilators or beta blockers. Vasodilators dilate your blood vessels while beta blockers help to regular your heart rhythm, and both can be used to prevent the complications of this condition. Corticosteroids can also be used to reduce the inflammation in your endocardium, though corticosteroids also have side effects, like dysfunction of the heart valves.

If your valves are severely damaged by the lesions, you may need valve surgery. During this surgery, your diseased valves will be removed and replaced with mechanical prostheses. This surgery is very dangerous for people with lupus, and mortality rates are as high as 25%, so it tends to be a last-resort procedure. 

If you have lupus, stay alert for signs of heart disease and make sure to see your doctor regularly so that asymptomatic heart disease can be identified. For more information, talk to a doctor like Friedrich Tomas J MD.

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