Monday, August 31, 2009

Tennis Elbow: New Treatment

Physical therapists at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in New York City report that eccentric exercises offer a simple and effective cure for tennis elbow (July 2009 annual meeting of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine). The researchers prescribed standard physical therapy for tennis elbow to 10 patients, and physical therapy plus special eccentric exercises to 11 others. In less than two months the eccentric group reported an 81 percent improvement in pain and a 72 percent improvement in strength, while the control group had not improved.

(Eccentric contractions occur during a biceps curl when you lower the weight and your biceps lengthens. Concentric contractions occur when you raise the weight and your biceps muscle shortens.)

You don't have to play tennis to develop tennis elbow. It can be due to any movement that puts excessive force on the wrist muscles. Tennis elbow refers to elbow pain as the result of an injury to the elbow tendons that bend and straighten the wrist. Hold your hand down with your thumb on the outside (lateral to your hand) and your elbow straight. Pain on the lateral (outside) part of your elbow is called backhand tennis elbow. Pain on the medial (inside) part is called forehand tennis elbow.

The exercise is done with an inexpensive piece of equipment called the Thera-Band Flexbar, available at www.Amazon.com. Hold the bar upright with your hand of the affected side. With your hand of the healthy side, grasp the bar near the top and twist it in front of the body. Then use the sore elbow-side hand to slowly untwist the bar by flexing the wrist. Video of the exercise

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Burning on Urination May be STD Infection

One in three single, sexually-active Americans who have more than one partner carry a sexually transmitted disease that may not respond to treatment. These people may have no symptoms at all, or they may have pain during sexual relations, burning on urination, discomfort when the bladder is full, frequency, urgency and night-time urination, vaginal discomfort, difficulty starting the urinary stream, or discomfort in the pelvis. These people go from doctor to doctor, get lots of tests which fail to yield a diagnosis, and continue in their misery and spreading of disease.

This month, researchers in Greece showed that many of these people suffer from infections with intracellular bacteria: mycoplasma, chlamydia or ureaplasma (Urology, July 2009). Most cultures done in medical laboratories fail to pick up these infections. 153 patients had some of the above symptoms and had either failed a course of antibiotics or had negative routine cultures. The patients had cultures taken from their urine, urinary tube, vagina, and cervix. Fifty-three percent of these "incurable" patients were infected with ureaplasma urealyticum. Eighty-two percent of patients positive for ureaplasma urealyticum had other pathogens. A single dose of one gram of azithromycin was given to all culture-positive patients and their sexual partners. Those with a positive culture one month after therapy (4.9 percent) were successfully treated with seven days of doxycycline 100mg twice daily. All of the patients improved, but many continued to suffer pain in the pelvis.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Faster Runners Have Longer Strides

When most experienced runners go as fast as they can, they run at close to the same stride rate. For example, a video at the New York City Marathon showed that the top 150 runners had the same cadence, taking 92 to 94 steps a minute. The difference between the top runners and the others is that the best runners took longer strides.

However, you cannot run faster by consciously trying to increase your stride length. When you try to take longer strides than what feels natural to you, you lose energy and run more slowly.

Your heel hits the ground with great force. The tendons in your legs absorb some of this energy and then contract forcibly after the heel strikes the ground so you regain about 60 to 75 percent of that stored energy. When you try to take a stride that is longer than your natural one, you lose a great deal of this stored energy, tire much earlier and move your legs at a slower rate.

The key to running faster in races is to make your leg muscles stronger so you can contract them with greater force so they drive you forward with a longer stride. Competitive runners strengthen their legs by running very fast in practice two or three times a week, and by running up and down hills once or twice a week.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Explanation for DASH Diet Success

If your systolic (heart contraction) blood pressure is above 120 mm/hg before you go to bed at night, you have high blood pressure and are at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and premature death. You can protect yourself from premature death caused by high blood pressure with the DASH diet, exercising, avoiding overweight, and getting adequate amounts of vitamin D.

The DASH diet is based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts and legumes, and low-fat dairy. Several studies have shown that the DASH diet lowers high blood pressure as effectively as most blood pressure drugs, prolongs life, and prevents heart attacks and strokes. The most common explanation for this success has been the high potassium, magnesium and fiber content of vegetables. However, a study from Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston (Journal of Human Hypertension, August 2009) shows that the DASH diet lowers blood pressure better than a diet supplemented with extra potassium, magnesium and fiber, so there must be other factors.

Now a study of 4706 men and women aged 40-59 in the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and Japan suggests that glutamic acid, an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels, may explain why a high-vegetable diet treats high blood pressure. (Circulation, August 2009.) A vegetable-based diet has five percent more glutamic acid than a diet rich in meat and prepared foods.

Calories do count; the DASH diet may not lower high blood pressure if you eat too much food. More on the DASH diet