Compiled and edited by Angie Kay Dilmore
Do you ever just wish you had a doctor friend who you felt comfortable asking medical questions, no appointment necessary? In this feature debut, we rounded up a wide variety of local physicians to answer some of your most pressing health-related concerns.
“Shin splint” is a common term for pain experienced in the front of the lower leg. This pain occurs when the connective tissue around the bones of the leg is stressed due to overuse. This is a very common complaint in athletes. The shins become very tender to the touch and are especially sore after activity. If you experience shin splints, you should stop exercising for a few days and give your legs a rest. Ice your shins for 20 minutes several times a day during this time. If the problem persists, see a qualified specialist.
Alex Anderson, MD, primary care sports medicine physician, Center for Orthopaedics
It may be impingement syndrome, one of the most common causes of shoulder pain. This can be the result of an inflamed, weak, or torn rotator cuff tendon, or the bursa (sac that lubricates the shoulder joint) may become inflamed. Bone spurs are a major cause of internal impingement; weakness of the rotator cuff and muscles around the shoulder blade are typically seen with external impingement. Evaluation includes a physical exam, x-rays, and sometimes an MRI in long-standing cases or if a rotator cuff tear is suspected. Most patients do well with a course of physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication.
Trappey, MD, orthopaedic surgeon, Center for Orthopaedics
It has been repeatedly demonstrated that regular exercise prevents low back pain, and for those suffering an acute injury resulting in lower back pain, doctors may recommend an exercise program that begins with gentle exercises and gradually increases in intensity. Once the acute pain subsides, an exercise regimen, particularly one focused on strengthening abdominal and back muscles may help prevent future recurrence of back pain. Improving cardiovascular endurance is also beneficial. Low impact exercise such as walking, swimming, and cycling are particularly useful for a good cardiovascular workout. Crunches, pelvic tilts, and gentle stretching are beneficial for improving strength and flexibility.
William Lowry, MD, physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, Center for Orthopaedics
A flat foot deformity is a condition of the foot resulting in loss of arch height. Congenital flat feet are present at birth while acquired flat feet progress as one ages and become symptomatic around skeletal maturity. Flat feet are usually the result of biomechanical abnormalities. Other causes include poor footwear and trauma. Symptoms include pain, swelling around the ankle, difficulty standing on your toes, and a fallen, depressed arch. Treatment of the condition can include supportive orthotics, physical therapy, bracing, and in extreme cases surgical intervention.
Dr. Christine Palma, Podiatric Surgical Specialist, Imperial Health
This is a very important question. Diabetes represents significant risk for development of atherosclerotic disease including heart disease. Presence of diabetes is equivalent to already having heart disease. Other risk factors include hypertension, lipid abnormalities, tobacco use, family history of early heart disease or stroke, sedentary lifestyle. Additional risk factors increase the risk of developing heart disease. Thus it is important to check blood pressure, cholesterol, and other risks in a person with diabetes, and manage them appropriately.
Prasanna Sugathan, MD, cardiologist, Imperial Health
Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid (produces too much thyroid hormone). Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid (does not produce enough). Hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism. Although the two conditions have different signs and symptoms, sometimes they overlap Hypothyroidism causes symptoms symptoms Having an underactive thyroid can decrease or slow down your bodily functions. With hyperthyroidism, you may find yourself with more energy, as opposed to less. You may experience weight loss, tremors, anxiety and possibly heart palpitations. Balanced thyroid hormone levels are vital to your overall health. If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to tell your doctor.
Tyler Zachary, MD, endocrinologist, Endocrinology Center of Southwest Louisiana
Glaucoma is a condition in which the eye’s intraocular pressure is too high. This means that your eye has too much aqueous humor (a fluid) in it, either because it produced too much, or because it’s not draining properly. Most types typically cause no pain and produce no symptoms until the optic nerve has been damaged and noticeable vision loss has occurred. That’s another reason routine eye exams are so important. If you’re over age 60, African American, diabetic or have a family member with glaucoma, you are at higher risk for glaucoma than others, and should be tested regularly.
Marcy Hanudel, MD, ophthalmologist, The Eye Center
The reasons for picky eating are numerous, but often can be overcome with a few simple strategies. Children learn eating habits from their family. Eat meals together and eat the same foods. To learn how to prepare a well-balanced meal, see the “My Plate” guide at
www.myplate.gov. Children should eat until they feel satisfied. Forced eating can lead to negative food relationships. Don’t expect them to empty every plate. Encourage them to try one bite of everything on their plate but avoid second servings unless they finish their plate. If they get hungry between meals, offer a healthy snack. If these strategies don’t help, your child may have a medical or developmental condition. Consult your medical provider for an evaluation.
Anatole Karpovs, MD, The Children’s Clinic
Age 35 is a prime time for a “healthy eye” exam. An ophthalmologist will ask about systemic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, pregnancy problems, and other health conditions that could affect vision. A complete eye exam is then performed and related to your personal and family history of disease. The results of the exam can be stored in your electronic medical records—your “health database”—so future changes can be more clearly understood. Many hidden eye diseases can benefit from early diagnosis, for examples melanoma and glaucoma. Early detection is the key, and that’s why regular eye examinations are so important.
William B. Hart, MD, Hart Eye Center
The way medicinal cannabis is consumed by a patient makes a difference, and ingesting and smoking are two of the more popular routes of administration. Inhaled cannabis enters the lungs and is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, which is very beneficial for patients that need immediate relief for their symptoms. Edible cannabis is slower to take effect because it must be digested and metabolized, but the results can be more powerful and last much longer than inhalation. Patients with chronic conditions that require around-the-clock treatment will often utilize multiple methods of consumption depending on their needs at any given time.
William R Condos, Jr, MD, medical director, Medicis Pharmacy
Cosmetic fillers have come a long way. Today’s options are safer, longer lasting, and look more natural. As we age, our lips lose collagen and fat and lose definition, especially at the cupid’s bow. Factors such as sun exposure, repeated sipping, pursing, and smoking add to the problem. The goal with lip injections is not only to make lips fuller, but also to create a proportional balance between the upper and lower lips. Injections add volume where this loss of definition is most apparent, smooth out creases in the skin around the lips, and give the corners of the mouth a lift to help restore a younger looking appearance.
Dr. Allison Clement, master injector, The Skin Studios
Everything builds on a yearly wellness exam. The annual blood work will show a complete blood count, looking for anemia, heart disease, autoimmune disease and other concerns. It checks kidney function and identifies any diabetic concerns as well as showing the levels of cholesterol. We’ll discuss any concerns or difficulties, and we’ll talk about recommended screenings such as a mammogram or colonoscopy. If anything of concern is detected, we’ll address it and create a path forward. One of the best ways to live a healthy lifestyle is to have a yearly wellness exam.
Kelly Fuqua, MD, family medicine physician, Calcasieu Family Physicians and member of the WCCH medical staff
While family history is a risk factor, most women with breast cancer have no family history. Lifestyle changes make a tremendous impact on breast cancer – maintaining a healthy body weight, getting regular exercise, lowering or eliminating alcohol consumption, and not smoking are all strategies to lower one’s cancer risk, including breast cancer. Getting regular mammograms is key because early detection makes a big difference in outcomes. She should talk with her doctor about concerns. In some cases, medication and/or surgery can be a beneficial tool.
Stephen Castleberry, MD, general surgeon, Sulphur Surgical Clinic and member of the WCCH medical staff
PCOS is a syndrome that involves having enlarged ovaries on ultrasound with multiple small follicles, irregular periods, and/or symptoms of hirsutism, which is when a female grows hair in a male pattern. Also, this is a diagnosis of exclusion so it’s important to have a hormone panel performed to evaluate other causes for these symptoms. Diet and lifestyle changes are helpful. Hormonal therapy is helpful, as well and metformin to stabilize insulin levels.
Uzma Naeem, MD, OB/GYN
Neck pain often masks itself as shoulder pain. Conservative care and a careful evaluation often help differentiate these. Start with your primary care physician for pain. They can order initial testing, direct you in the right direction, and refer you to an orthopedic, if necessary. New pain as a result of an identifiable incident is best evaluated by a specialist. After several weeks of conservative management to ease the pain, advanced imaging is often encouraged. At this time, a specialist will be able to help you understand what is seen on advanced imaging, such as a MRI. They can also discuss with you the benefits of surgery vs. continued non-operative pain management.
James Jackson, DO, Orthopedics/Sports Medicine, LCMHS
Most mosquito-borne illnesses are not known to be endemic in the United States and are of little concern at this time. Malaria, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever more commonly affect travelers; however, there is a risk that these may be transmitted in the United States. We are privileged to live in a country with a strong fight against mosquito-borne illness, but as we’ve seen, sometimes illnesses break through. I recommend having a supply of mosquito repellant, repellant candles, and mosquito netting. These items may prevent an annoyance now, but if there was a surge in mosquito-borne illness, they could be lifesaving.
Joshua Bacon, MD, Family Medicine, LCMHS
Eighty percent of the population will suffer from serious back problems at some point in their lives. While most people recover quickly, twenty percent experience chronic back pain which interferes with work, homelife, and may require medical treatment. Surgery is rarely required for back pain; instead, the focus becomes pain management which often utilizes specialists such as physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, and mental health specialists working together. Pain management physicians are generally anesthesiologists who specialize in spine and joint injections such as epidural steroid injections, and other minimally invasive procedures. Physical therapy strengthens the body and teaches patients how to prevent further harm or injury. These may not completely cure back and neck pain, but it helps a patient live a more functional and predictable life..
Seth Billiodeaux, MD, Anesthesiology and Pain Management, LCMHS