HealthWise at 5: Answers For Our Viewers 4.5 - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/5/05

HealthWise at 5: Answers For Our Viewers 4.5

Fosamax is as drug to prevent thinning of the bones, osteoporosis, and to slow its progression. Many women and some men take this drug regularly.

The side effects are mainly to the gastrointestinal tract, joint pain, and rarely, allergic reactions. If you have an urge to urinate after taking this drug, it may be that you have just drunk 8 ounces of water on an empty stomach or some other problem. Better check with your doctor.

We have had several inquiries about the next issue, a type of pain. About 20 million people in the U.S. and 65% of those with diabetes, suffer from neuropathy, a painful condition caused by irritation to nerves.

Nerves can be irritated by pressure, an infection, trauma, or by a disease such as diabetes. It may be diagnosed under a number of names-diabetic neuropathy, polyneuropathy, peripheral neuropathy, or nerve root irritation.

Depending on the exact diagnosis, the symptoms include muscle weakness, the sensation of pins and needles, numbness, and burning sensations, along with constant, aching pain. The side effects of constant pain can be sleeplessness and depression.

Unfortunately, the incidence increases as we get older. As osteoporosis invades the spinal cord, pressure on nerves can make life very uncomfortable for a number of people. In diabetic neuropathy, the higher the blood sugar level, the more damage and irritation to the nerves.

The bad news is that neuropathy cannot be cured, however it can be treated. Patients do not want to hear this from their doctor. Everyone would like to be pain free and to feel like they did when they were younger. This is an unrealistic expectation and may only make the suffering worse.

For those with diabetes, keeping blood sugar under control is the first step. There is also a new drug specifically to treat diabetic neuropathy coming on the market; it is called 'Lyrica." It might be good to ask your doctor about it.

Physical therapy is great to keep muscles strong and to release those endorphins that make us feel good. Various pain-relieving procedures available in pain clinics may help. Meditation, biofeedback, and other non-traditional treatment help some. 

Pain medications may have to become a way of life. Yes, we would all rather not take 'pills' but that may not be possible if we want relief. And, we should stop worrying about becoming dependent on drugs. To make our life better, we may have to depend on drugs. Addiction, even to drugs such as morphine derivatives, is rare among people with a genuine need for the drug.

The best advice for those with this debilitating problem is to take charge and work with your doctor to find the best treatment for you. You may not ever be pain-free but you can be comfortable enough to continue enjoying life.

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