June is Men’s Health Month; Commit to Quit Smoking

As Men’s Health Month comes to a close, the Tobacco Cessation Center at Arnot Health is encouraging men to commit to quit smoking. Today, the leading causes of premature death in men in the United States are heart disease and cancer, lung cancer being the leading cause of cancer death. According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking causes an estimated 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and triples a middle-aged man’s risk of dying from heart disease.

“Health risks associated with tobacco use, especially smoking cigarette, are very real,” says Amanda Domineske, Program Coordinator of the Tobacco Cessation Center at Arnot Health. “Sadly, the risks aren’t only to the smoker. Committing to a full quit is the first step in moving toward a more healthy life for you and those you care about.”

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified secondhand smoke as a “known human carcinogen” (cancer-causing agent). In children, secondhand smoke is known to cause acute respiratory infections, ear problems, severe asthma attacks and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In adults, secondhand smoke exposure has been associated with lung cancer, heart disease, and lung infection in non-smokers. The American Cancer Society estimates that the increased medical costs associated with secondhand smoke top $10 billion annually.

“Committing to quit is a big decision, but more than one million people do it successfully every year,” says Domineske. “Those who do not only improve their quality of life, but the quality of life of those they care about too.”

Need Help to Quit:

  • Talk to your doctor.
  • Consider a Quit Class or Support Group offered by the Tobacco Cessation Center at Arnot Health. Contact (607) 737-4463 or adomineske@arnothealth.org for information about offerings in your area.
  • Request free nicotine replacement products by visiting www.nysmokefree.com or calling 1-866-697-8487.
  • Call 1-800-QUIT NOW, a toll-free number to access free quit support across the country.

Dr. Dollinger: Carpal Tunnel

You’re currently sitting at a computer or laptop, perhaps even holding a handheld device, wondering if your job or ‘connected’ lifestyle is putting you at risk for carpal tunnel syndrome. Perhaps you’ve done a lot of typing today and you’re curious about using one of those ergonomic keyboards. Well with my experience and research as an orthopedic surgeon for Arnot Health, I can assure you that there are no good studies to support simple, repetitive motion as a cause for carpal tunnel. I found an article in the NY Times that helps weigh the evidence against these claims.

It may help to understand that although the symptoms appear in your hand and fingers, this syndrome happens in your wrist where there are nine tendons and one nerve all passing through the same canal, or “tunnel.” Since there’s already a limited amount of space in this area, any swelling or inflammation can put you at risk for numbness and pain, the primary symptoms of carpal tunnel. Simple typing or easy repetitive motion would not cause swelling on its own.

Before I diagnose carpal tunnel, I like to get to know my patients a little better to make sure the pain and numbness is not related to a nerve problem somewhere else in the body. I will also perform an electromyogram, or EMG, which is a test with small needles to determine the reaction time of the nerve in your wrist. A slower reaction time is a good indicator of the carpal tunnel.

If it’s determined that you do have carpal tunnel, there are several treatment options:

  • braces or splints to provide support and rest for the wrist
  • inflammatory medicine to reduce swelling and pressure
  • cortisone injection for temporary relief
  • surgery to release the swollen tissue and provide more room within the joint

Sometimes the symptoms can go away by simply reducing the triggers that can cause pain. For example, women who are pregnant may experience discomfort until childbirth, when joint swelling goes away. Obesity may cause pain or numbness until weight-loss occurs.

And if your job really does put you at risk by causing stress or constant vibration on your hands and wrists, it’s important to try to rotate your responsibilities from time to time and give yourself a chance to rest and recover.

If you’d like more information, or want to schedule an appointment, click here to find my contact information listed in the Arnot Health provider directory. And please feel free to email me directly (bdollinger@aomc.org) or comment below with any thoughts and questions.

Have a great day,

Dr. Beth Dollinger

Dr. Dollinger: Plantar Fasciitis

Nice weather, green golf courses, cool mornings, and sunny afternoons; we’re back on our feet, and for some, that can mean pain and discomfort. As an orthopedic surgeon for Arnot Health, I can tell you that one of the most common foot ailments is no more common in the summer as it is in winter.

Plantar Fasciitis is a localized inflammation of tissue on the bottom of the foot, and it’s painful. Many people feel the symptoms of this common problem in the morning, as they take their first few steps of the day. Even Joakim Noah, star basketball player for the Chicago Bulls, notedly battled plantar fasciitis throughout this past season and into the NBA playoffs, cutting his average playing time by several minutes per game.

The hardest thing for many of my patients to hear is, “there’s no quick fix.” It’s frustrating to heal plantar fasciitis because you can’t tell someone to walk on their hands for 4 to 6 weeks. You must really be aggressive with stretching and healing exercises given by your therapist. I read a recent blog post on the NY Times website that goes even more in depth.

It’s important to stay active and do the things you love this summer, so here are some tips on how to prevent or slow the progression of plantar fasciitis:

  • keep a bottle of water in the freezer and roll each foot over it after workouts
  • change or alternate your shoes often (especially avid runners and walkers)
  • maintain a stretching routine to go with other forms of exercise
  • try a pair of over-the-counter orthotics or insoles for extra arch support

And for those who have read about the benefits of barefoot or minimalist footwear, take heed. Researches have found no real evidence that those shoes (or no shoes at all) prevent injuries or improve efficiency. Today, we run on concrete and treadmills, so modern runners need to protect and take care of their feet.

If you’d like more information, or want to schedule an appointment, click here to find my contact information listed in the Arnot Health provider directory. And please feel free to email me directly or comment below with any thoughts and questions: bdollinger@aomc.org

Happy Running,
Dr. Beth Dollinger