DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 73-year-old woman. I have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. I have sonograms regularly. I am in a bowling league. I bowl each week. My bowling ball weighs 10 pounds. Should I bowl? My last ultrasound shows that the aneurysm is 3.8 cm. — F.S.

ANSWER: Your doctor is the only one who can answer your question with authority. He or she knows all the circumstances of your health. However, I can tell you that most people with an aneurysm of your size are encouraged to be active. Lifting heavy weights is discouraged. A 10-pound bowling ball isn’t considered a heavy weight.

The size of an aneurysm determines its risk of breaking apart and bleeding profusely. Aneurysms smaller than 4 cm are not in danger of suddenly rupturing. When an aneurysm reaches 5 to 5.5 cm, then surgical repair is recommended. You are quite a distance away from the danger zone.

Aneurysms are bulges of an artery wall, and are weak spots.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have never seen you address acupuncture. I have had a bad back for three months, have seen two doctors and have followed their instructions. I have taken medicines that ease the pain. My back isn’t as sore as it once was, but it still bothers me. Acupuncture has been suggested. What are your views on it? — M.L.

ANSWER: I have no misgivings about trying acupuncture for pain relief. The Chinese have used it for centuries. Any treatment that lasts that long must have some value. Fine needles are inserted into the skin at specific points and are left in place for 15 to 30 minutes. From time to time, the acupuncturist stimulates the needles.

The American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society endorse acupuncture. A recent review article in the New England Journal of Medicine, a premier medical journal, also endorsed it. Who am I not to follow suit?

Back pain strikes almost everyone at some point in life. The booklet on it discusses its causes and treatments. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 303, 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.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: How do I get a doctor to correct or change his written report? Twice in my 77 years I have pointed out incorrect statements in their records. Each time I was told they could not change anything once it appears in their written report.

There must be a way to correct an error, especially before sending the report to other doctors. Do you have any suggestions? — G.J.

ANSWER: I do have a suggestion.

The doctors are afraid of changing information because such changes can be damaging to them if the records are required in any legal proceedings.

However, they can make a current note in the chart, explaining how previous information in the record was not correct. That’s not going to get them into any trouble. It seems to me that not doing so would get them into trouble.

If the doctors balk at this, ask them to talk to a lawyer. Tell them you are preparing a document that states what the correction should be and that you will send it to any doctor to whom your current doctor sends your records. That should motivate your doctor to act.

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 www.rbmamall.com.


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