underactive thyroid

  1. Shots won’t delay carpal tunnel syndrome

    The wrong way to 'treat' carpal tunnel


    Write a text message... feel the burn.

    Type an email... and the tingling starts.

    Try to cook, clean, write or drive... and the telltale pain and numbness starts in your fingertips and works its way through your wrists and right up your arm.

    And sometimes, you might not be doing anything at all. The pain just kicks in and won't let up -- pain so sudden and so severe that it can wake you in the middle of the night.

    If any of that sounds familiar, you could be among the 10 million or so Americans battling carpal tunnel syndrome. And if you complain to your doctor about it, he'll offer up some quick ideas.

    Almost all of them are flat-out wrong.

    One of the most common mainstream treatments is a steroid shot. And, sure, the shots might seem to work in the short term. That's why many of the 111 carpal tunnel syndrome patients who took part in a new study got some temporary relief thanks to the shot.

    But when you mask the pain without fixing the underlying problem, you can actually make it worse, because the lack of pain allows you to engage in the same activities that caused your carpal tunnel syndrome in the first place.

    And that's a long-term recipe for disaster.

    Just look at those patients who got relief in the new study: Three-quarters of them needed surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome within a year.

    To me, that's a sure sign the shots failed -- because if they worked, they'd not only ease the pain, but they'd also prevent or delay the need for surgery.

    So skip the shot and start by working to correct the underlying cause of your pain. That may include limiting your Internet time, adjusting your posture and changing how you do things. Consult with a person trained in assessing and correcting your posture and making adjustments to your workstation.

    Next, turn to natural pain relief techniques such as cold laser and acupuncture for a little help coping with the symptoms as you make those adjustments.

    And third, seek the help of a skilled holistic medical doctor, because carpal tunnel isn't always caused by repetitive stress. In some cases, it's a warning sign of hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, and you'll need to work with your doctor to get your thyroid back on track before you experience any lasting relief.

    Whatever you do, don't wait -- because left untreated, carpal tunnel syndrome can get so bad that eventually you could have no choice other than surgery.

    I offer natural pain relief -- including cold laser and acupuncture -- as well as comprehensive thyroid testing here at my clinic in Southern California. If you're in the area, contact my office to make an appointment or call 855-DOC-MARK to arrange a telephone consultation.

  2. Hidden risks of heart scans

    Diagnostic heart scans such as CT angiograms can lead to cancer, kidney damage, false positives and overtreatment -- and they don't even improve outcomes in healthy patients.

    If that's not enough to scare you away from any doc who orders up a scan "just in case," consider this: These tests can also cause lasting or even permanent damage to the very gland that helps control everything from weight and blood pressure to heart health and sexual function.

    The scans use iodide dye, and not just a little bit. They use hundreds of times the daily limit for iodide -- and the reason there's a limit at all is that iodide can knock your thyroid gland down for the count.

    Now, a new study of 1,800 Boston-area heart patients lays out the risk in black and white: Patients with thyroid problems are up to three times more likely to have had a scan involving iodide dye than those without.

    Out in the real world, that adds up to one extra patient battling an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) for every 33 given the dye, and one extra patient with an underactive one (hypothyroidism) for every 36 given the dye.

    That's nearly six out of every 100 patients with one form of thyroid problem or another, according to the study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

    That's a risk you don't have to face -- because there are much better, safer and far more accurate ways to check on your cardiovascular health.

    One leading naturopath, Dr. Mark Stengler, recommends a simple blood test to measure levels of an enzyme that shows up whenever your arteries are battling the ravages of inflammation.

    The enzyme is called lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2, or Lp-PLA2, but don't worry about trying to memorize any of that. The only name you need to remember is PLAC, which is the test that checks for those levels -- and you don't even have to "go alternative" to get it.

    The PLAC test is actually approved by the FDA as a means of testing both heart and stroke risk -- but you might have to point that out to your own doc if he still wants to pump you full of dye and blast you with radiation.

    If your Lp-PLA2 levels top 235 ng/mL, you're at risk. Some docs will tell you to take statins, but who wants to face all the risks of those meds? Dr. Stengler offers a much better solution: antioxidant vitamins and a sensible Mediterranean-style diet.

    Sounds like a good plan to me even if you're not facing heart risk.

  3. Synthetic thyroid linked to bone breaks

    A new study finds that one of the main drugs used to treat hypothyroidism, aka underactive thyroid, can more than triple the risk of fractures in seniors - and the higher the dose, the greater that risk.

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