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Back Pain A Sign of Teen Problems 

Parents looking for early warning signs of serious and sometimes life-threatening teen problems can now add back pain to that age-old upset stomach. 


The Journal of Public Health now publishes an Australian study of nearly 6,400 teens that reveals back pain in these 14 to 16 year olds is consistently associated with smoking, drinking, depression, and missed school days. The more frequent and severe the back pain, the greater the likelihood of tobacco and alcohol abuse, the greater numbers of school days missed, and higher incidence of significant clinical depression. 


These findings only indicate an association between back pain and health risk factors rather than a cause. There is also the chicken and egg question as to whether the pain led to the puffing, boozing, and sad feelings or visa versa. 


What is important is that parents and teachers of children and adolescents who report repeated or continuing back pain should begin to ask more questions and offer more support in order to prevent an eventual disaster.  


With this Health News You Should Use, I’m Dr. Howard Smith for the PENTA Medical Network. 


S J Kamper, Z A Michaleff, P Campbell, K M Dunn, T P Yamato, R K Hodder, J Wiggers, C M Williams. Back pain, mental health and substance use are associated in adolescents. Journal of Public Health, 2018; DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdy129



Breakable Humans

We all want to live longer but certainly not as cripples. Unfortunately, as we age, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer extremity fractures due to bone thinning osteoporosis, These fractures will sadly confine many to wheelchairs and even kill one in five. 


This tragedy can be prevented according to a British study of 12,000 women published in the journal Lancet. The data shows that a simple questionnaire and a painless bone density test will identify those at risk and permit timely initiation of therapy. 


This would prevent as many as 8,000 hip fractures a year in the UK alone and keep nearly 3,500 folks out of wheelchairs and walking in the mainstream of life. 


Losing the miracle of unassisted standing and walking drives a severe deterioration in quality of life, To prevent it, women over 55 but also men over 65 should ask their doctors about osteoporosis screening. After all, as you live longer, you do want to live better.


I’m Dr. Howard Smith for the PENTA Medical Network.


Lee Shepstone, Elizabeth Lenaghan, Cyrus Cooper, etal. Screening in the community to reduce fractures in older women (SCOOP): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/ S0140-6736(17)32640-5



Common Shoulder Surgery Not Effective

More than a quarter million people around the world who suffer from shoulder pain could well be having unnecessary surgery each year. Although most of these patients live in the US, this conclusion comes from a randomized study in Finland just published in the British Medical Journal. 


Researchers studied patients with so-called shoulder impingement, thought to be the chief cause of most shoulder pain, and compared the common surgical treatment, endoscopic keyhole decompression surgery, with medical therapy and ongoing physical therapy alone. Two years after treatment began, those who had the surgery fared no better in terms of pain relief and functional improvement than those receiving physical therapy alone. 


If you are having shoulder pain, be certain to complete an extended course of physical therapy under the guidance of an experienced clinician before you consider any surgical options. 


With this Health News You Should Use, I’m Dr. Howard Smith for the PENTA Medical Network.


 Mika Paavola, Antti Malmivaara, Simo Taimela,  Kari Kanto, Jari Inkinen, Juha Kalske, Ilkka Sinisaari, Vesa Savolainen, Jonas Ranstam, Teppo L N Järvinen. Subacromial

 decompression versus diagnostic arthroscopy for shoulder impingement: randomised, placebo surgery controlled

 clinical trial. BMJ, 2018; k2860 DOI: 10.1136/ bmj.k2860



Exercise Creates happiness

Physical activity will make you more likely to smile at any age. So says a University of Michigan meta-analysis of 23 studies that examined the associations between physical activity and positive mental attitudes. 


The data shows that the odds of being happy increase by 20, 30, and as much as 50 percent in those who are mildly, moderately, or very active. This positive pattern was seen in subjects of all ages, in children with special needs, and in cancer patients.  The results were published in, where else, the Journal of Happiness Studies. 


This study puts a positive spin on already reported findings that physical activity and exercise reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. It adds to the considerable body of evidence that keeping your body active optimizes your heart function, keeps your muscles, bone and joints healthy, and turbocharges your immune system to fight off disease. 


Thirty to forty five minutes of sweat pro- voking activity at least 3 times a week will do the trick. Don’t miss the opportunity!


I’m Dr. HS for the Pediatric Ear, Nose & Throat Associates Medical Network.


Zhanjia Zhang, Weiyun Chen. A Systematic Review of the  Relationship Between Physical Activity and Happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2018; DOI: 10.1007/ s10902-018-9976-0



Kinder Bosses Have Better Bottom Lines 

You’ve heard it before, but a cooperative US-Chinese study shows once again that management honey catches more flies, wins more hearts, but also fuels higher profits than vinegar. 


The researchers at SUNY-Binghamton and several Chinese Universities studied job performance and productivity as a function of a boss’s leadership style. Those managers 

that were kind and personable yet firm and who presented as either parental or coach-like extracted the best results from their team of reports. The managers who exercised absolute power and insisted on a heavy-handed and inflexible approach ended up with the poorest results. 


Both the American and Chinese  workers responded best to leaders who walked around, interacted with them frequently, and took a genuine interest in their welfare and that of their families. 


It seems that we are going back to the future when companies really were what the name suggests: groups of people who care about each other and work together to achieve superior results. 


With this Health News You Should Use, I’m Dr. Howard Smith. 


An-Chih Wang, Chou-Yu Tsai, Shelley D. Dionne, Francis J. 

Yammarino, Seth M. Spain, Hsiao-Chi Ling, Min-Ping Huang, Li-Fang Chou, Bor-Shiuan Cheng. Benevolence-dominant, authoritarianism-dominant, and classical paternalistic leadership: Testing their relationships with subordinate performance. The Leadership Quarterly, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2018.06.002



Parents Should Stay With Hospitalized Kids

We’ve known for years that hospitalized children do better with their parents by their sides. A new Canadian study now pushes that envelope even further by showing that age is no limit and that parents themselves are very effective primary caregivers even for newborn premies. 


Researchers studied 25 neonatal intensive care units in three British Commonwealth countries.  Close to 900 prematurely born infants were either part of Family Integrated Care or traditional nurse-delivered care. 


The results show that our littlest newborns breastfed better and had a higher weight gain velocity under the loving gaze of their moms and dads. As a bonus, their parents demonstrated less stress and anxiety. The parent-tended babies had equally good outcomes with no more complications and stayed no longer than those premies with nurse-only care. 


If your child or grandchild is slated for a hospital stay, even as an outpatient, plan to participate in their care. You are their best advocate and your presence boosts their chances of safe, effective healthcare.


I’m Dr. HS for the Pediatric Ear, Nose & Throat Associates Medical Network.


 O'Brien, KarelO'Brien, Karel et al. Effectiveness of Family Integrated Care in neonatal intensive care units on infant and parent outcomes: a multicentre, multinational, cluster-randomised controlled trial The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health



Qualities of a Good Doctor

What do you look for in the ideal doctor? Should you want a smart but human Dr. Mark Green from ER or a brilliant smartass like Dr. Gregory House. Here’s a checklist of desirable qualities assembled by the British Medical Journal and MDLinx that you can measure your doctor or would-be doctor against. 


  1. COMPASSION: the doc noticeably “feels your pain.” 

  2. UNDERSTANDING: the ability to conduct two way communication. 

  3. EMPATHY: a doc who can show warmth. 

  4. HONESTY: the word says it all. 

  5. COMPETENCE: ditto, and you can often check this by reviewing news and reviews on the web. 

  6. COMMITMENT: no golf club cover on the stethoscope. 

  7. HUMANITY: doc treats the whole patient. 

  8. COURAGE: fights for your patient rights with hospital, other doctors’ office, and insurance companies. 

  9. RESPECT: not using first names except apppropriately and listening to you. 

  10. OPTIMISM: no explanation needed.

Now that you have a list, don’t hesitate to use it. 


With this Health Tip You Can’t Skip, I’m Dr. Howard Smith for the PENTA Medical Network.

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