Talking Healthy: New treatments may help old problems

Blake Medical CenterJuly 26, 2011 

Sometimes we hear people with certain chronic health problems make statements like the following: “I saw a doctor a few years ago, and he/she said there was nothing that could be done,” or “they said in 1990 that any treatment would be worse than the pain.”

These statements are applied to many medical woes, but especially to back or joint problems. I sometimes ask them: “Have you discussed this problem with your doctor lately?” or “Have you seen a specialist?” Invariably, the answer is “no” because the door was closed on the problem all those years ago, not to be opened again, because “they” said nothing could be done.

I think to myself: “a rotary telephone was once the latest in communication devices around, but they were nothing like the little smart phone I have now!”

I’m reminded of an acquaintance who learned from her family doctor (salt of the earth, made house calls, would take a chicken in lieu of payment and had been in practice at least 40 years!) some years ago that she had a “bad heart.” He prescribed digitalis, the standard of care for many years, and advised her to get her affairs in order. She was in her early 60s. She became semi-invalid, struggling to survive. Years later, when her doctor retired, she saw a cardiologist who discovered that she needed a mitral valve replacement. After surgery, and a recovery period, she found that she could breathe, walk and sleep so much better that she was able to enjoy living again. However, she lamented the years she had lost to the disease before knowing that effective treatment was available.

Advances in medicine and health care in the last 25 years are astounding, and they continue to improve our chances for a better quality of life for years to come. For spinal and orthopedic anomalies, such as those resulting from compression fractures, narrowing of the spinal canal, certain knee or hip problems, it is possible for physicians to utilize a minimally invasive technique in which technology transmits internal images of the affected body area on a viewing screen allowing them to clearly “see” and treat the problem area without the necessity of making a huge incision. Results are a faster recovery and fewer complications.

Advances in technology and scientific research allow me to surf the web on my tiny phone. It also permits doctors to replace diseased joints with prosthetic parts, allowing patients to walk again. New medicines and procedures appear almost daily. Is there a possibility that the latest treatments now available will make a difference for you? Talk to a medical professional. Knowledge is power and could help you save your own life, or preserve the quality of it.

To speak to a Registered Nurse about a health problem, or to learn about free classes and events, call Consult-A-Nurse at (888) 359-3552.

Talking Health, written by Blake Medical Center staff, runs every other week in Healthy Living. For more information, call (941) 798-6540.

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