HEALTHY MATTERS

with Dr. David Hilden

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Pins and Needles – Let’s Talk About Acupuncture!

As many of you know, I’m the last kid of four, and I wasn’t immune to a bit of needling from my three older sisters. And they’ll even tell you today that it was for my own good. Which brings me to the topic of today’s podcast – acupuncture. But this, my dear siblings, is a truly therapeutic form of needling with proven benefits – and actually relieves pain (vs. inflicting). A bit of levity there but I’m sure some of you can relate to having those overly helpful older siblings.

Jessica Brown, LAc, DiplAc, MOm is an acupuncturist at Hennepin Healthcare who many patients find extremely helpful in treating mostly complaints about pain, but also concerns related to digestion, sleep and anxiety. She joined me for Episode 16 of the Healthy Matters Podcast. Her team of eight acupuncturists specialize in treatments for oncology support, orthopedics, and women’s health issues. But what really gets people in the door for acupuncture is relief for pain – and headaches are a common complaint.

“Headaches are multifaceted and can be from many different causes,” Jessica said. “And sometimes they are hormone related. Oftentimes I’ll see women who have increased headaches around their cycle, but sometimes they’re also due to things like trauma. We get a lot of referrals for patients in the Traumatic Brain Injury Center just to help with managing their headaches after  head trauma. Those headaches can be long lasting and difficult to resolve.”

A benefit of treating patients with acupuncture is that no medication is required.

“There are side effects to many of the medications that are used to treat headaches,” Jessica explains. “So acupuncture is a nice tool to use in order to manage them.  A lot of headaches are also related to tension and acupuncture’s extremely good at diffusing neck and upper back tension, which, if that is the cause of the headaches, sometimes takes care of it.”

We’ve all heard that acupuncture has been around for a long time (like 3,000 years), but how does it work, exactly? Jessica describes it like this:

“Essentially with the needle that we use, we’re creating a stimulation in the body that engages multiple systems of the body, including the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, the endocrine system and the immune system. If there is a local pain area, we’re definitely treating that area, but we’re also stimulating increased circulation. We’re stimulating the release of endorphins and enkephalins, which are your body’s natural pain killers.”

She said that after treatment, people find that even though they may come in for one specific issue, they experience an impact on other systems including digestion and sleep – so acupuncture can have a local as well as a systemic response.

Women are also experiencing the benefits of acupuncture for menopause symptoms like hot flashes, energy issues, pelvic pain and headaches. While the actual mechanism of how this has proven beneficial for helping these hormonal issues is not fully understood, it is being studied.

If you’re curious about this safe, effective alternative to treating pain, nausea, sleep and anxiety issues, please take a listen to Episode 16 of the Healthy Matters Podcast with my guest Jessica Brown.

The Hilden family with my parents and lovely (helpful) sisters.

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Hilden’s House Calls – An AMA with the MD

More words of wisdom from Hilden’s House Calls in Episode 15 of the Healthy Matters Podcast – or at least some handy information to chew on before you train for a marathon, clean your ears, or donate bone marrow.

We start out by tackling something a lot of you can relate to at nighttime – trying to get to sleep with a bed partner who is shaking the house with their snoring. Kate from Willmar is ready to trade in her husband of 25 years who has this issue.

Hold on Kate – the good news is that there are new treatments for snoring – but first you must convince your husband to do something about it. Snoring is usually an anatomical problem like sleep apnea, but it can also be a symptom of other problems. A sleep study can help diagnose what’s going on, but a visit to your doctor with your concerns may be the best first step toward a good, healthy night’s sleep for both you and your bed partner.

Seth from Green Bay wrote in with a very common concern. “Is there anything that can be done medicinally or nutritionally to prevent hair loss?”

Most hair loss is age-related, and it happens to both men and women but is found more prominently in men. There are a few things you can do including treating it with medications under the care of a physician, laser treatments, and hair follicle transplants. But if your hair loss is significant, you can also choose to embrace it by wearing a wig or a Vikings hat. I’m kidding! Of course, any hat will do. Go Packers (and Vikings!).

Harry from Iowa City was wondering about limbs that fall asleep. “What does it mean when your legs fall asleep? What’s happening in your body?

Well now you’ve really hit a nerve. Seriously! What you’re talking about is called paresthesia and it’s actually not your blood supply getting cut off. It’s almost always a nerve problem – you’re pinching a nerve. There are people who live with permanent paresthesia or neuropathies, but for those of us whose leg just falls asleep because we’re sitting on it and pinching a nerve – it’s a just a temporary thing and it usually resolves within 30 seconds.

Arthur from Ann Arbor, Michigan says, “I have a twitching eyelid that’s driving me nuts. What causes this? And is there anything I can do to make this stop?”

Our eyeballs are finely tuned, small parts of our bodies with many muscles. There are six muscles along that control each individual eyeball. And there are little muscles that control your eyelids, and microscopic nerves and very small blood vessels that go to your eyelids. Anytime those things get irritated, they twitch, and the vast majority of these twitches are not dangerous. It can happen if you’re sleep deprived, if you have a little viral inflammation on your eyelid, or something in your eye that’s just irritating it, but it’s temporary. If it doesn’t get better and goes on for days and days, you should see someone with neurologic expertise.

Check out the rest of Hilden’s House Calls in Episode 15 of the Healthy Matters Podcast and don’t hesitate to dial in your questions to 612-873-8255 or simply send an email to healthymatters@hcmed.org. Thank you for listening to Healthy Matters – be healthy and well!

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Get a Foothold on Feet with Specialist Dr. Nicole Bauerly

In Episode 14 of the Healthy Matters Podcast, I talk to podiatrist Dr. Nicole Bauerly – a foot and ankle surgeon. Yeah. Everyone loves the foot doctor.

“They do!” Dr. Bauerly humbly agreed, because most of the time podiatrists are successful at treating some very uncomfortable foot pain. And at Hennepin Healthcare, this includes open wounds from diabetes complications, trauma, fractures and much more.

One pain many of us can relate to is plantar fasciitis. I got it when I was running and it was a bugger. But evidently it can also be related to not wearing the right kind of shoes – or not wearing shoes at all.

“I would say, since the pandemic, plantar fasciitis is very common because people have transitioned to working at home and they are barefoot and not getting the support from shoes anymore,” explains Dr. Bauerly. “We’re seeing an uptick in biomechanical-related pain – or just wear-and-tear aches and pains.”

So what exactly is plantar fasciitis? Dr. Bauerly said that it’s a structure that starts at the heel bone, runs through the arch of the foot and out to the toes.

“It can be as simple as inflammation in there, or if it’s left untreated some really small tearing can occur. It’s very painful – it feels like your heel is broken, but it’s not. It’s just the attachment of the fascia on the heel bone.”

Dr. Bauerly was kind enough to offer some tips on how to avoid foot pain and one included a trip to the shoe store for an annual upgrade. If your shoes are more than a year old, the lining can start to break down and won’t offer the cushion and support you need. And yuck – apparently bacteria and fungus can break down the lining.

She also answered questions about gel and over-the-counter shoe inserts work, as well as the availability of custom-fit inserts made by an orthotist – when needed – right at Hennepin Healthcare’s podiatry clinic.

The significance of diabetes and wound care cannot be overlooked when talking about podiatric care. I asked Dr. Bauerly why people who live with diabetes get sores on their feet.

“It’s related to the neuropathy – the kind of the inappropriate sensation where the nerves don’t work correctly because of the years of high blood sugar that damages the nerves,” she explained. “If we lose sensation in the feet, a diabetic patient might end up with a blister or a sore spot from a shoe but not know it. And then they’ll end up rubbing into a deeper wound. But you or I would take our shoe off and look at it right away, change shoes, and figure out why it’s hurting. People with neuropathy don’t have that pain sensation and will end up with a wound. They also have an increased chance for infections. So even though we would heal from a simple wound — a diabetic patient would have a harder time healing that wound and it might lead to an infection.”

Dr. Bauerly also described Hennepin Healthcare’s unique limb preservation program that combines four different departments – podiatry, hyperbaric medicine, vascular surgery, and interventional radiology.

When we’re talking about feet there are many directions we can go – but don’t take my word for it. Check out Episode 14 of the Healthy Matters Podcast to hear the feats we’re taking to keep your feet healthy.

 

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