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Doctor Housecalls Blog

Healthcare related news and updates

How to Get Rid of Knee Pain

About 18% of the population suffers from knee pain. For some people it comes from knee or hip injuries and for others it may just come with age. Knee pain can be so bad that it forces people to stop having an active lifestyle and become sedentary. However, that can only make the knee pain worse and there are many things you can do to reduce or even eliminate knee pain. Here are some tips to help alleviate knee pain. 

  1. Stay active. Exercising and maintaining an active lifestyle is one of the best ways to prevent and get rid of knee pain. Your joints need movement. Never stop exercising because you think it is causing knee pain, that will only make the pain worse. Just change up the kinds of exercise you engage in.  
  2. Low impact activities. Swimming and cycling are two examples of low impact activities that do not put as much pressure on your knees. These are both great ways to stay active and lessen the pain in your knees.  
  3. Stretch. Knee pain can be reduced when you stretch the muscles that surround your knee. That means stretching your calfs, thighs, hamstrings, quadriceps, gastrocnemius, and soleus on a regular basis.
  4. Buy good shoes. The shoes you wear effect the amount of impact your knees take. The amount of pressure to your knees can depend on how much cushion and support your walking and running shoes have. Be sure to find the best shoes for your body.  
  5. Alternate between hot and cold compressions. Both heat and ice treatments are good for stimulating blood flow and reducing inflammation in your knees.  
  6. Wear a brace. If you are suffering with knee pain while walking or exercising, wearing a brace can provide the support your knees need and help alleviate knee pain. 


An article posted on the New York Times “Well” blog suggests that high-fat diets can be linked to daytime sleepiness. According to research published in the medical journal “Nutrients,” men who were in the highest one-quarter of fat intake in an 1,800 person survey were 78 percent more likely to feel sleepy in the middle of the day and almost three times as likely to have sleep apnea when compared to those who were in the lowest one-quarter of fat intake. The connection between fat intake and sleep apnea was also more apparent in people with a higher body mass index.

A recent article in US News & World Report (10/20, Sternberg) reported on emerging data indicating that it is both safe and beneficial for cancer patients to engage in exercise.  While long thought that cancer patients should take it easy or are much too weak to engage in strenuous activity, one specialist suspected otherwise and put his theories to the test.

Lee Jones, an exercise physiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, has been conducting studies in cooperation with Duke University physicians.  Some studies have shown that cancer patients who report exercising at higher levels have lower death rates and few recurrences.  Other studies indicate that exercise could increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy.  Research is still in its infancy, but Jones has 14 studies currently underway.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’off’][/author_image] [author_info]
Steven J. Lipsky MD, FACEP has been a Board Certified Emergency Physician in Arizona for the last 37 years, and a resident of the Town of Paradise Valley for the last 37 years. Steve Lipsky on Google Plus[/author_info] [/author]

Heat Safety Tips for the Paradise Valley and Phoenix Area

We just lost a foreign visitor today in Phoenix to Heat Intolerance Syndrome who was hiking on Camelback Mountain and fell into a ravine – triple digit heat is serious!

If exercising or working outdoors from sunrise to sunset, please remember to drink a quart of fluid every hour! Alternate between true electrolyte solutions and water.  Eat salty foods, but never salt tablets.  Make sure you’re urinating at least every 3-4 hrs, and clear to pale yellow in color, or you’re not getting enough fluids.

Protect your head with a hat, and apply both UVA and UVB blocking sunscreen (not needed greater than SPF 30) at least every 2 hours to exposed skin when sweating or swimming.

If you develop a headache, nausea, weakness, or clammy skin,  you’re developing Heat Intolerance Syndrome—Heat Exhaustion.  Get into a cool, protected place immediately and then rest, increase fluid intake, and try 2 Tylenol and/or 2-3 Advil (or equivalent).  If this does not help, or if you become confused or stop sweating despite increasing temperature, you’re moving into “Heat Stroke” which can be life threatening!!!  Get to the nearest E.R. immediately or call 911.

We here at Doctor Housecalls of Paradise Valley can administer i.v. fluids, vitamins, analgesics, and antiemetics to you, in the comfort and privacy of your home or business daily – and we have plenty!!!!

Please call anytime!  (480) 948-0102

All the Best, and Stay Safe,

Steve Lipsky MD, FACEP

Owner/Mgr., Doctor Housecalls of Paradise Valley

While hiking is a low impact sport – an activity that doesn’t over stress the joints and body – it can provide a great cardiovascular work-out when you hike at the right speed and duration. Follow these tips and you will be ready to book your hike up Camelback Mountain very soon!

  • If you have a Heart Condition, Hypertension, Asthma, joint problems, or other health issues, please consult a Doctor before you start training.
  • Know your abilities; limits are easy to find! If you are leading a very sedentary life then start off gradually. Aim for half a mile in about 15 minutes the first day, building up to 3 miles per hour over the next 2 – 3 weeks. Hike daily , with a rest day every 3 or 4 days. Make sure you are conditioned before attempting a long hike.
  • Check your posture as you walk. This will help to strengthen your bones and muscles especially if you are carrying a backpack.
  • Take care of your muscles! Warm up gradually and build up muscle strength and endurance.  If you over-do things, there is an increased chance of injury. Training should be slow and steady. Listen to your body – there is a difference between pushing yourself to the limit, and over doing it!
  • Proper hydration is essential. A good guideline is to drink 2 glasses of fluid, every 2 hours before the hike begins. During your hike, try to drink 1/2 to 1 quart every hour. Water is fine, but if your hike is over an hour long consider bringing some diluted fruit juice or sports drinks. These will give you carbohydrates for energy and help replace lost minerals. Increase your fluid intake in warm or hot conditions.
  • Take a 10 minute break every hour. Eat some trail mix, dried fruit or salty snack. Eat before you get hungry, and drink before you get thirsty!
  • Watch your oxygen intake. If you are huffing and puffing along then you are probably not getting enough oxygen. Ideally you should be able to talk as you walk along. As your heart rate gets faster, your body becomes more efficient at pumping oxygen and blood around your body. This improves with regular training.
  • Help avoid injury by wearing the right clothes and boots. Strong hiking boots with good socks prevent blisters. Fingerless gloves can protect the hands against cuts and grazes. On a long hike, bring a change of socks and clothing that can be layered. If the weather is changeable then pack rain gear. Wear a hat and sunscreen.
  • Carry a small first aid kit containing antiseptic wipes, bandages, tweezers, and moleskin.
  • Be mentally prepared. If hiking alone, make sure someone knows your route and what time you aim to be back. Could you cope if you fall, twist an ankle, or meet some wildlife? Consider hiking with a friend.

Whether you are an experienced hiker planning a week long trek, or a beginner going on your first five mile hike, to optimize the experience you need to plan ahead!

“Office Knee” is becoming a bigger hazard than tennis elbow! More than 1/4 of office workers age 16-65 say they’ve had painful knee joints for up to 2 years. Doctors say that long hours of inactivity make the joints stiff, and weight gain by the sedentary jobs stresses the joints too. However a four-year study of middle-aged adults by researchers such as Dr. Thomas M. Link of the University of California, San Francisco found that both those who were most physically active as well as those who were least active, showed an accelerated breakdown in knee cartilage! Thus, those people at higher risk for osteoarthritis can benefit most from doing only moderate exercise in low impact sports such as walking or swimming. Likewise, researchers at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City found that 53% of arthritis sufferers who were given weekly classes in dance, chair Pilates, Yoga, and Tai Chi reported less pain, and more than half showed improvement in activity levels, sleeping, walking, working, and enjoyment of life in general.

Many studies have shown in recent years that one can keep one’s brain from “slipping” as we age by reading, writing, playing board games, attending a play, etc., including a recent study by Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center and Illinois Institute of Technology. However, according to researcher Alan J. Gow of Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, seniors who participated in more physical activity over a course of three years–including walking several times a week–, experienced less brain shrinkage than those who didn’t exercise as much, and there was no benefit from mentally and socially stimulating activities!! Also, Dr. Martin Juneau of the Montreal Heart Institute put overweight, inactive adults through four months of high-intensity interval training and found that besides weight loss, there was improvement in thinking, memory, and making quick decisions. He suggests at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week. (A recent Danish study found that fast walking and jogging slashed heart disease and stroke risk by 50%, but daily one-hour leisurely walks made no difference!).

Back Pain and Blood Pressure – Save Yourself this Holiday Season!

This month we discuss drug-free ways to relieve back pain and lower your blood pressure:

1) Back Pain – It has been estimated that 1 to 4 out of 5 Americans will develop back pain sometime within their lifetime. Correct posture, standing and sitting tall instead of hunched over helps relieve discomfort caused by disk and vertebral compression.

Flatten the spine when standing as if sitting, and keep your weight evenly distributed on both feet — more on the heels than on the balls. Use a straight-back chair when sitting, with the buttocks square on the seat and feet flat on the floor. Align the spine by rolling the shoulders back and down 5 times. Then with the head in a neutral position looking forward, look as far upward and backward as possible, extending your neck. Return to the neutral position, and look upward and backward again even further. Return to the neutral position, and look upward and backward even further, a third time. Do this set of exercises hourly when sitting at a work desk/computer. This will help relieve upper back and neck tension/pain.

For lower back pain, lying on one’s back with pillows behind the knees and a 3″ wide rolled across the back of the neck relieves discomfort. Alternatively, lying on one’s side with a pillow between the knees and another under the side of the head works wonders.

Massage, Hatha Yoga, Pilates, spinal stretching, cold or heat applications, and acupuncture are other non-drug therapies that work as well. Furthermore, doing daily back and abdominal core muscle strengthening exercises both relieves and prevents back strain. And Finally, never sleep prone (i.e. on one’s stomach) or on a soft mattress.

2) Blood Pressure – At least 30minutes of aerobic exercise daily (e.g. brisk walking, swimming, or jogging) has been shown to reduce hypertension. Losing just 10 pounds of weight helps, especially for men and women with waistlines greater than 40″ and 30″, respectively.

Avoiding saturated fats and salt (no more that 1500mg/day has been recommended for everyone), and eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and at least 3 servings of cold water fish like wild salmon/wk (i.e. the DASH diet–Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is beneficial. Alcohol and tobacco products damage arteries, which can lead to hypertension, so limit or eliminate their use.

Cut back on caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and soft drinks. Take Vitamin C, Calcium, and Magnesium supplements, which all have been shown to decrease blood pressure/arterial wall tension.

Finally, reduce stress and anxiety that can cause blood pressures to spike. Do this by trying any form of meditation, deep breathing exercises such as the East Indian study of Prahnayahma, or yoga.

No one likes the hassle or expense of having to take prescription medications. Hopefully by taking the above advice into consideration, anyone with these medical conditions can avoid or reduce the need.

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