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October's Ask The Doc Questions

 

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Dr. Abrams

 

Question: Since the beginning of fall, I’ve been noticing more frequent headaches. Could this be because of the weather?

Answer: Yes. Changes in weather and/or temperature can increase the likelihood that you suffer from headaches or the frequency of your headaches. Extreme hot or cold temperatures, storms, heavy winds, humidity, and dry air can all cause headaches. If you do begin to notice a pattern in your headaches, take note of when you’re experiencing headaches and what the weather is at the time. Try to avoid being outside when the weather is similar to what triggers these headaches, and make an appointment to talk to your doctor about some treatment options.

Dr. Lazowick

 

Question: During this summer’s Olympic games in London, many athletes took ice baths after their games and matches. What benefits do ice baths offer that make them so popular for athletes?

Answer: The practice of taking ice baths, also referred to as cryotherapy, is very popular among athletes for their numbing capabilities. Cooler temperatures constrict blood vessels, which helps to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation after a game or competition.

It’s important to know that athletes who do use cold therapy to soothe post-game muscles do so under the supervision of a medical trainer to ensure their safety. The typical recommendation is to ice in cycles of 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off to avoid damaging muscle tissue and increasing heart rate, which can happen if ice is applied for more than 20 minutes straight.

Although athletes turn to ice baths to combat muscle soreness and inflammation, you can also talk to your doctor about other options that have the same effect. Anti-inflammatory medication could help reduce swelling, and other preventative measures like stretching before and after a game, eating well, and staying hydrated can help ease the recovery process without extreme temperatures. Talk to your doctor before starting any medications.

Dr. Bradley

 

Question: I’ve heard horror stories of student athletes suffering cardiac arrest on the court or the field. My son plays high school basketball. Should he get an EKG before the beginning of the season to make sure his heart is healthy?

Answer: It’s good to hear that you are keeping your son’s heart health in mind. Many athletes are passionate about their sport and performance during a game, but pushing too hard during a game can take a toll on the heart and body. Dangerous or fatal health issues on and off the field may present in student athletes who have pre-existing heart conditions. If you’re not sure whether or not your son has a heart condition, talk to your doctor about an EKG, or electrocardiogram. This test can detect many underlying heart conditions and potentially determine the cause of alarming symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain, which could be the sign of a heart problem.

Even if your son does not have a heart condition, you should still meet with a doctor if you have any concerns about physical health issues prior to the beginning of the season. Typically, student athletes are required to undergo a sports physical prior to the beginning of the season. This examination will allow your doctor to detect any physical abnormalities, and is the right time to ask whether or not your son should undergo any additional tests.

Dr. Grossman

 

Question: My son plays basketball and has been affected by minor cases of plantar fasciitis before. How can we prevent him from getting plantar fasciitis this season?

Answer: Plantar fasciitis is caused by too much tension of overuse of the plantar fascia, the ligament that runs across the bottom of the foot. This overuse can cause the ligament to develop small tears, which leads to pain and inflammation for athletes. Typically, most athletes begin to notice the pain associated with plantar fasciitis in their heel, and addressing this pain at first notice can help reduce the severity of the case. If this pain goes untreated, a more serious case of plantar fasciitis can develop, leading to ruptures in the ligament or a prolonged treatment regimen, which can sideline players for weeks or months.

To prevent your son from being affected by plantar fasciitis this year, take preventative measures like maintaining a healthy weight to reduce the stress on your plantar fascia and choosing supportive shoes with good arch support and shock absorbency. If he does begin to notice pain, have him report it to his coach immediately and stay off the court until a doctor has cleared him to return. A proper stretching regimen and possible orthotics may help minimize the inflammation.

For more information visit http://www.mainlinehealth.org

 

Disclaimer: The information provided during this Ask the Doc¹ feature is for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice nor is it to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any particular medical condition, problem or concern. All medical information presented and any current health related problems you are experiencing should be discussed with your personal physician. Remember, the failure to seek timely medical advice can have serious health ramifications. Any opinions, advice, statements or other information expressed are those of the respective physicians and not of Main Line Health, Inc. Main Line Health, Inc. makes no representation or warranty of the accuracy, reliability or completeness of any opinions, advice, statements or other information made in this Ask the Doc¹ feature. By submitting your health question, you understand that your question, in whole or in part, may be published online and may also be read over the radio or in-arena as part of the Ask the Doc¹ feature. You will not be identified by name in any publication of your question.