Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Dr Sarah:

A copper heel insert might prove beneficial



I GET a lot of pain in my feet, hips and knees due to arthritis. Glucosamine has helped, but can you suggest anything else?

Are copper bracelets worth trying?

IF glucosamine alone isn't giving good relief, try taking glucosamine plus chondroitin (eg Chondromax from www.healthspan.co.uk) which some people find more beneficial.

You could also take omega-3 fish oils for their anti-inflammatory action.

The way copper helps to reduce joint pains is not fully understood. It is needed by a number of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase which help to reduce inflammation. Lack of copper reduces activity of these enzymes and may contribute to the development of inflammatory diseases.

Trace amounts of copper are absorbed through the skin and the efficacy of copper bracelets is thought to depend on the level of copper in your body.

If deficient, as many people are, you may benefit, but if your levels are already adequate, it may not help. Bracelets don't provide copper that quickly as only a small area is in contact with the skin.

You may find it more helpful to wear a copper heel insert developed by an orthopaedic foot specialist. Copper Heelers interact with sweat glands on the soles of the feet to boost copper absorption, reduce joint pain due to arthritis and improve circulation (£19.95 + P&P www.theoriginalcopperheeler .com, tel 020 7486 4664).

Tell your GP about pain in left breast

OVER the past month I've noticed that my left breast is always aching and painful. I can't feel a lump but the whole breast is quite hard.

ANY breast changes should be reported to your doctor as you may need a mammogram.

Nine out of 10 breast changes have a benign underlying cause, so it is reassuring that you have not found a lump.

Even so, don't ignore the problem.

Breast pain (known as mastalgia) affects two out of three women at some time during their life.

It is most common in women who are 30 to 50 years old and may be cyclical, and linked with the menstrual cycle, or non-cyclical with no relation to menstruation.

It is important to tell your doctor if you develop breast pain so that treatable conditions can be ruled out.

Breast pain is not usually due to breast cancer, but medical examination is important to rule this out where breast pain is one-sided and localised.

Make a request for referral to ENT specialist

HOW long does labyrinthitis last, and do people normally make a full recovery? I've been suffering on and off for six months, despite antibiotics and betahistine.

LABYRINTHITIS can have a number of different causes, and improvement usually occurs within a few days or sometimes weeks.

As you have found, recurrences are common, especially in the first five years following the first episode.

If symptoms have been going on this long, it seems sensible to request a referral to an ENT specialist for further investigation and advice.

Good idea to have check-up at GUM clinic

OVER the past few months I've experienced a mid-cycle cramping pain and discharge.

I feel like I'm about to start my period, even though it may have just ended. Sex is uncomfortable, too.

I know I'm not pregnant, so what could it be?

SOME women experience pain and a slight discharge mid-cycle at the time of ovulation. This is known as Mittelschmertz - German for 'middle pain'.

However, in view of your other symptoms it is a good idea to have a thorough check-up from a genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic to rule out other possible causes, such as Chlamydia infection.

Once you have received the all clear regarding possible infections, you can then ask your doctor to refer you to a gynaecologist for further investigation.

Sometimes symptoms such as this can be linked with fibroids, ovarian cyst, polyps, adhesions or a common condition known as endometriosis.

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