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home : columnists : dr. john roberts December 17, 2014


Do you suffer from restless leg syndrome?
Someone told me the other day that they thought "restless leg syndrome" was a condition made up by pharmaceutical companies to sell more medications. I'm sure many of you have seen the commercials for Requip® and Mirapex®, both drugs used to treat this malady.

People have described symptoms suggestive of restless legs since the 17th Century. The Swedish neurologist Erik Ekborn, initially coined the term "restless legs syndrome" in the 1940s. It is estimated that between ten to fifteen percent of Americans suffer from RLS to some degree. The incidence in women is about twice that of men. About 40 percent of people develop symptoms prior to age 20. Since symptoms tend to be mild initially and worsen with age, most sufferers are not diagnosed for 10 to 20 years.

Monday, December 15, 2014
Carpal tunnel syndrome is common among folks who do repetitive motion
I see a number of people each month who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel is a very common condition, often related to repetitive injury at home or in the workplace. It is one of a number of repetitive strain injuries or "RSI's."

Carpal tunnel symptoms usually include numbness and/or pain in the hand and wrist that may extend up into the arm, shoulder or even the neck. The numbness, tingling or pain frequently wakes people during sleep.

Monday, December 8, 2014
'My finger is stuck,' a common complaint of trigger finger condition
I've had a run of patients recently, all presenting with problems getting their fingers to move. They all described "catching" or "popping" when trying to flex or extend a finger. They were all suffering from trigger finger, a condition also known as trigger digit or by the medical term stenosing tenovaginitis.

The condition is very common. It is seen up to six times more frequently in women than men and typically starts showing up around 55-60 years of age. It is also seen more often in a person's dominant hand. It can affect any of the fingers, most often in the thumb, followed by the ring, middle , little and index fingers.

Sunday, November 30, 2014
Warts are a common problem for people
I had a patient ask me to re-run my column about warts. It's estimated that up to 12 percent of people worldwide have had warts and that 10-20 percent of school-aged children have them at any given time.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Senior safety is serious business
I've seen a fair number of elderly patients lately who have suffered injuries from falls. This is a very important topic because the older segment of our population is growing rapidly. In fact, 40 percent of deaths after the age of 65 are due to accidents in the home. There are many issues to look at when considering safety for seniors. Falls are probably the most concerning.

Seniors are naturally more prone to falling and as a result, suffer many injuries. As we age, our bones become weaker and our muscular fitness starts to decline. Reflexes start to slow down and dizziness and lightheadedness become more common, particularly from medication side effects. Throw in decreases in vision, depth perception and hearing and you have a perfect recipe for disaster.

It is therefore very important for seniors to do everything they can to minimize their risk for falls. I usually recommend that throw rugs are removed from the home and if not, that they are taped down with double-sided carpet tape. Wood floors can be slick and should be covered with wall-to-wall carpeting if possible. This also provides extra padding in case of a fall.

Electrical cords and water hoses should be kept out of walking paths. Pets are also a common tripping hazard. Many of the falls I see patients for are the result of not using the cane or walker that was prescribed by their physician. These aids can really help with stability and safety.

Sunday, November 16, 2014
Kidney stones are no laughing matter
Kidney stones are a topic near and dear to my heart as I've had the pleasure of having three of them. Stones or calculi, from the Latin for pebble, can form and stay in the kidneys (renal calculi or nephrolithiasis) or move down the ureters, the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder (ureteral calculi or urolithiasis). Stones may also be found in the bladder.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Leave the Monster under your bed
A teacher asked me to address the increasing number of kids who are consuming energy drinks. What are the potential harms? The energy drink business is booming. It is the fastest growing segment of the U.S. beverage industry and big business with 2012 sales topping $12.5 billion (a 60 percent increase from 2008).
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Dr. Roberts weighs-in on topic of lice
I've been asked to write a little more about head lice to add to the article Rick Holtz wrote last week.

Head lice are white and about the size of a sesame seed. They are known as "obligate ectoparasites."

Sunday, October 26, 2014
Be sure to check your blood sugar
A patient has asked me to write about hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. The word originates from the Greek elements hypo- meaning "under," glykys meaning "sweet," and haema meaning "blood."
Sunday, October 19, 2014
It's time to get your flu shot
The weather is getting cooler and it's time to get your influenza vaccine. Most people us the term "flu" in a very generic sense, meaning anything from cold symptoms to having a case of vomiting and diarrhea. The "flu" in this column refers to respiratory influenza.
Monday, October 13, 2014


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