DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My son came home from a football game last week and said he had a hip pointer. We’re not sure what this is or what its implications are. Please help. Is this serious? Will it affect him permanently? – S.T.

Feel the top of the pelvic bone, the bone just below belt level or on the same level as the belt – it depends where you wear your belt. A bit to the side of the bone is where a hip pointer happens. The bone is bruised, or muscles that attach in that area have partially broken away from their attachment. A little pressure on that spot brings on severe pain. If your boy leans to the opposite side, he’ll find that motion quite uncomfortable.

The initial treatment is icing the painful spot for 15 minutes three or four times a day. After two days, switch to heat. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (Aleve, Motrin, Advil, etc.) ease pain and soothe inflammation.

He can return to practice in a week if he’s free of pain, but he shouldn’t engage in any contact for two weeks. All of this is predicated on not having pain. If the spot still hurts, he must not compete. Most often, this common injury heals pretty quickly.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My teenage nephews and their friends are football players. They are very muscular and work out daily. They alternate their routine so they don’t stress the same parts of the body. I’m concerned they are getting too bulky. A few of them look like the Hulk. Several also drink a protein supplement.

People ask if they take a steroid drug because they are so muscular. Since they are tested for such drugs regularly, this isn’t the case.

My concern is that later in life, when they do not have time to work out so often, what will happen to their bodies. Do they become flabby?

What are the health consequences later in life because of the physical pounding they take? – A.A.

If, later in life, these teenage behemoths don’t continue to exercise, their muscles will shrink. They don’t turn to fat. However, if they continue to eat like they eat now but have turned into couch potatoes, they will gain weight, and most of that weight will be fat – flab.

None of this happens if they continue an exercise program. They don’t need to devote as much time to it as they do right now, but they must keep exercising.

All contact sports carry a risk of injury. If they sustain a serious injury but take care of it, the threat of permanent damage is greatly lessened. They shouldn’t try to “play through the pain.” Even if they are careful, the possibility of lasting injury comes with the sport. Being sensible reduces the chances.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have seen many people walking while holding weights in each hand. What is the purpose of these weights? Do they do any good or harm? Would using weights help my osteoporosis or harm it? – M.B.

Walking with hand weights increases the energy cost of the exercise. It burns more calories. It stresses bones more, so it benefits bone health.

If a person lifts and lowers the weights while walking, rather than just hold them, the exercise intensity is increased. If hands, elbows or shoulders begin to hurt, ditch the weights.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from

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