DEAR DR. ROACH: I am 67 years old; my sister is one year younger than I am. Her partner is a little bit younger. All three of us women have very bad tendonitis in our hands and arms. I know I got mine from doing too much artwork and typing on the computer. My sister says it’s because we are old. All three of us use the computer a lot. What I want to know is, Are we getting it because we’re using the computer too much? Or is the culprit that we all are in our 60s, in bad physical shape and not exercising much? I have heard of very young people also getting it. I think that it would help us to stop using the computer so much, and also to take more potassium. However, my sister says it’s because we are in bad physical shape. What do you think, honestly? — D.H.B.
ANSWER: What we call “tendonitis” doesn’t usually have inflammation, so the correct technical term is “overuse tendinopathy,” which tells you that you are more correct than your sister. The higher the degree of load on the tendon, the greater the likelihood of getting symptoms, so a jackhammer operator is at higher risk than an artist, in general.
One treatment for tendinopathy is a supervised exercise program. A therapist helps guide what activities that worsen the problem are to be avoided, and gives exercises that can help. Of course, this needs to be individualized.
I don’t think potassium has anything to do with tendinopathy, but there are many good reasons to have a good diet and exercise regularly.
DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband has CBD (corticobasal degeneration). He is very depressed and frustrated, because you never hear anything about it and there is no cure. He wishes there to be an increased awareness of this condition and more research. There are approximately 3,000 people diagnosed with it per year. It is very likely that some of those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease could have it. Is it possible for you to mention this disease in your column? — Anon.
ANSWER: I am sorry to hear about your husband, as corticobasal degeneration is a very challenging diagnosis. As you suggest, it often is misdiagnosed as other conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, but also other neurological conditions such as progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), frontotemporal or Alzheimer’s dementia and primary aphasia.
In CBD, symptoms often begin on one side, in one limb. Rigidity, abnormal movement, muscle twitching and jerks are common early symptoms, before Parkinson’s-like symptoms emerge. Other symptoms include clumsiness in the affected limb, difficulty standing and falls. Problems with thinking and judgment occur at variable times in the disease, as do speech abnormalities.
Because the symptoms are so variable and overlap with other, more common neurological conditions, CBD often is not recognized. The underlying problem seems to be the tau protein inside nerve cells, similar to PSP. A neurologist with special expertise in movement disorders is the best source for correct diagnosis.
Unfortunately, the response to medication in CBD is poor or nonexistent. In fact, a good response to dopa drugs is evidence that it probably is Parkinson’s and not CBD.
More information about CBD and related diseases is at PSP.org, where you also can make a contribution to research.
READERS: The booklet on thyroid gland problems explains this and other common thyroid illnesses. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Roach — No. 401, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Health newsletters may be ordered from www.rbmamall.com.
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