diabetes injection

Is There a Once a Week Injection that Controls My Diabetes and Helps with Weight Loss?

According to a 2017 report from the CDC, more than 100 million Americans live with diabetes or prediabetes. As we shared on the blog several months ago, nearly 15% of the adult population in Tennessee has diabetes, while 35.8% has prediabetes.

As diabetes becomes a growing concern, many patients are asking their doctor about new and alternative solutions, such as the once-a-week diabetes injection. In addition to helping control diabetes, these injections can also contribute to weight loss, making them a win-win for many patients.

Ozempic, Trulicity & More: GLP-1 Receptor Agonist Medications

Adults with diabetes may have new management options thanks to a class of medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. These drugs aid the body in releasing insulin as a response to elevated blood sugar. These drugs are not insulin medications. Rather, they limit the amount of sugar that can enter the bloodstream from the liver. GLP-1 receptor agonists also control the rate at which food leaves the stomach. GLP-1 receptor agonists may be used alone or may be prescribed in addition to insulin.

Overview of Popular Once-a-Week Diabetes Injection Drugs

Diabetes In Control has provided a helpful chart that covers basic information about a few of the most popular GLP-1 receptor agonist medications on the market. We’ve summarized some of this information below. Patients and providers can access the full chart here.

Dulaglutide (Trulicity)

  • Half Life: ~5 days
  • Average HbA1c Reduction: ~1.5%
  • Dosing Considerations: Start with 0.75 mg once per week, increasing to 1.5 mg per week if inadequate glycemic response.
  • Short-term weight loss*: ~5.5 lbs

Exenatide (Byetta)

  • Half Life: 24 hours
  • Average HbA1c Reduction: ~1%
  • Dosing Considerations: Start with 5 mcg twice per day. After one month, this may be increased to 10 mcg for better glycemic control.
  • Short-term weight loss*: ~4.4 lbs

Exenatide Extended-Release (Bydureon, Bydureon BCise)

  • Half Life: > 1 week
  • Average HbA1c Reduction: ~1.5% (Bydureon), ~1.4% (Bydureon BCise)
  • Dosing Considerations: 2mg once weekly at any time of day, regardless of food.
  • Short-term weight loss*: ~5.5 lbs with Bydureon, ~3.1 lbs with Bydureon BCise

Liraglutide (Victoza, Saxenda)

  • Half Life: 12-14 hours
  • Average HbA1c Reduction: ~1.5%
  • Dosing Considerations: Start with 0.6 mg a day for one week; increase to 1.2 mg per day. If glycemic control is not achieved, increase to 1.8 mg daily.
  • Short-term weight loss*: ~5.5 lbs

Lixisenatide (Adlyxin)

  • Half Life: ~3 hours
  • Average HbA1c Reduction: ~1%
  • Dosing Considerations: Start with 10 mcg per day for 14 days, then increase to 20 mcg per day. Administer within one hour prior to the first meal of the day.
  • Short-term weight loss*: ~4.4 lbs

Insulin degludec/liraglutide (Xultophy 100/3.6)

  • Half Life: ~25 hours
  • Average HbA1c Reduction: ~1% more than insulin degludec alone.
  • Dosing Considerations: Start with 16 units per day and titrate up or down every 3-4 days in two units range.
  • Short-term weight loss*: ~5.5 lbs

Insulin Glargine/Lixisenatide (Soliqua 100/33)

  • Half Life: ~3 hours
  • A1C: 0.5% more than insulin glargine alone
  • Dosing Considerations: See sheet for details.
  • Short-term weight loss*: ~3 lbs (when compared to insulin glargine)

Semaglutide (Ozempic)

  • Half Life: ~1 week
  • Average HbA1c Reduction: ~1.5%
  • Dosing Considerations: Start with 0.25 mg per week at any time of day regardless of food. Increase to 0.5 mg per week after four weeks. Max dose of 1.0 mg per week.
  • Short-term weight loss*: ~8.4 lbs with Ozempic 0.5, ~10.4 lbs with Ozempic 1.0

Are GLP-1 Receptors Right for Me?

Only a doctor can recommend and prescribe this type of weekly diabetes injection. If you’re curious about learning more, talk to your internal medicine doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group. We’re here to partner with you in better health.

* Based on results of FDA-approved clinical trials


Do You Know Your Risk for Osteoporosis?

Those bones you had a decade ago? They aren’t there anymore! In fact, your bone matter might have a shorter lifespan than the carpet in your living room! But don’t be alarmed… all this is completely normal. Through a process known as “remodeling,” the body constantly removes and rebuilds bone material in the body. After a period of approximately ten years, the bone tissue in your body has been completely replaced with new bone…

…unless you have osteoporosis.

What Is Osteoporosis?

In patients with osteoporosis, the remodeling process can’t keep up. Bone matter is absorbed by the body faster than new bone matter is produced. This means that bones lose mass over time, becoming weak, brittle and prone to fracturing.

Many people have osteoporosis, but few are aware that they have this disease until they experience a fracture. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Nearly one in four women age 65 or older have osteoporosis of the femur, neck, or lumbar spine.

Does Osteoporosis Cause Symptoms?

In the early stages, symptoms are rarely seen. That’s just one reason why getting screened in an osteoporosis risk assessment is so important. (More on that in a moment.) Once bones have become affected by osteoporosis, the following symptoms may be observed:

  • Gradual loss of height
  • Stooped posture
  • Back pain (may be caused by a collapsed vertebra or fracture)
  • Bone fracture that occurs with minimal stress

Keep in mind, not all individuals with osteoporosis will experience noticeable symptoms.

Osteoporosis Risk Factors

Knowing the osteoporosis risk factors may empower you to work with your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group to stop this disease before it occurs. There are some risk factors you can’t control. Let’s look at those first:

  • Being female
  • Being over the age of 50
  • Having a family history of the disease
  • Menopause
  • Having experienced broken bones or loss in height
  • Being thin or having a small frame

The good news is, there are some risk factors you can control:

  • If overweight, lose weight.
  • Reduce alcohol use to one drink per day (women) or two drinks per day (men) max.
  • Eat sufficient fruits, vegetables, vitamin D, and calcium.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Don’t over consume sodium, protein or caffeine.
  • If you smoke, talk with your doctor about developing a cessation plan now.

Who Is At the Greatest Risk for Osteoporosis?

Historically, women over the age of 50 have been viewed as the highest risk group for osteoporosis. However, a recent report published in June 2019 notes that osteopenia is on the rise among middle-aged women and men. (Osteopenia may be best understood as the “in-between” state of having healthy bones v. having bones at risk for fracture. It’s sometimes called “pre-osteoporosis.”)

A clinician involved with the report astutely noted that certain risk factors for poor bone health are indiscriminate, affecting patients across lines of age, race and sex. These risk factors include excessive alcohol use, tobacco use, lack of weight-bearing exercise, low exposure to sunlight and vitamin D, poor nutrition and prolonged use of steroids and certain other medications.

Osteoporosis Risk Assessment & DEXA Scans

If you’re concerned that you may be at an increased risk for this bone disease, talk to your doctor about having an osteoporosis risk assessment. During an assessment, your physician may ask about your lifestyle, as well as personal medical and family histories.

A DEXA scan may also be ordered at this time. DEXA, which stands for “dual energy x-ray absorptiometry,” is a completely painless and non-invasive procedure in which two different x-ray beams are used to scan the bones; the difference between these beams’ findings may inform your clinician about possible bone loss.

Help for preventing bone loss is possible… but it’s important that you take action early. Get help now!

See a Rheumatologist In Nashville or Gallatin, TN

Schedule an appointment with a St. Thomas Medical Group rheumatology doctor in Nashville or Gallatin, TN. Schedule online or by calling +1 (615) 964-5823.

hepatitis c

Yes, Hepatitis C Is Curable. Here’s How.

Hepatitis is an inflammatory liver disease often caused by a virus. While there are many types of hepatitis, the most common in the United States are hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus. While there are vaccinations for the A and B viruses, no such vaccine exists for hepatitis C.

The good news is that while hepatitis C cannot be entirely prevented through a vaccination, the infection is now curable! (More on that in a bit.) Let’s begin by taking a closer look at this illness…

What Is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a liver infection; severity can range from a mild illness to a serious, chronic illness. Of those who contract hepatitis C, more than three in four will develop a chronic hepatitis C infection. Some individuals (fewer than one in four) will clear hepatitis C from their body without any treatment; researchers do not fully understand why this happens.

Acute v. Chronic Hepatitis C

Acute hepatitis C is used to describe a new infection; it typically occurs within six months of exposure to the virus.

Chronic hepatitis C may last throughout a patient’s entire lifetime. This infection could result in scarring, cancer, or damage of the liver. In some cases, chronic hepatitis C may even result in death.

The Prevalence of Hepatitis C

2,967 cases of acute hepatitis C were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016. However, many people with hepatitis C do not experience symptoms; others experience symptoms, but do not know the cause of their illness. In reality, the CDC estimates there were as many as 41,200 cases of hepatitis C in 2016 – nearly 14x the number of cases actually reported.

A Cure for Hepatitis C

As stated, above there is now a cure for hepatitis C. Treatments have improved markedly over the last few years. Now, more than 90% of people with hepatitis C can be successfully treated with an 8-12 week round of oral therapy. A list of FDA-approved drugs (many of which have few or mild side effects) can be reviewed here. Talk to your doctor to learn more about these hepatitis C drugs. In addition to undergoing a clinical treatment, patients with hepatitis C should focus on caring for their liver.

What You Need to Know About Sustained Virologic Response (SVR)

If you’ve been researching hepatitis C, you may have heard about “sustained virologic response (SVR).” A virologic response refers to the presence of the hepatitis C virus being detected in the blood. If the virus cannot be detected in the blood after at least 12 weeks post-treatment, then a sustained virologic response has been achieved.

Having an SVR is essentially what it means to be “cured” of hepatitis C! Approximately 99% of people who experience a sustained virologic response live without the virus. Hepatitis C only returns in fewer than one percent of patients who achieve SVR. And, in many cases, that virus is actually the result of a new infection (i.e. being reintroduced to hepatitis C through a new exposure).

Once you achieve SVR you are no longer contagious, additional liver damage ceases, and liver function may improve. Not only does achieving SVR mean the virus is gone, but it also stops the progression of liver disease and other risks and complications associated with liver damage.

If you have been diagnosed with hepatitis C, help is available! Take action with your doctor today.

Get Care for Hepatitis C In Nashville

The care you need may be available at St. Thomas Medical Group. To learn more, schedule an appointment with a physician by calling +1 (615) 297-2700. You can also make an appointment online.

statins good or bad

Are Statins Bad? Let’s Take a Closer Look

We all want the best for our health. But sometimes it’s hard to agree on how to get there. (Just step into a room of vegans and paleo die-hards, and stand in the crossfire!) When it comes to statins, professional opinions and even the research, itself, can be rather polarizing. Some say statins are bad and should be avoided at all costs. Others say that statins are a great way for managing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and should be used for reducing risk of heart attack and stroke.

So, who’s right?

Let’s take a closer look at the issue…

What Are Statins?

Statins are a type of drug that inhibit the production of HMG CoA Reductase, an enzyme the liver relies on for the production of cholesterol. Common statins you may have heard of include:

  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • Fluvastatin (Lescol XL)
  • Lovastatin (Altoprev)
  • Pitavastatin (Livalo)
  • Pravastatin (Pravachol)
  • Rosuvastatin (Crestor, Ezallor)
  • Simvastatin (Zocor, FloLipid)

If you have high cholesterol and your doctor is concerned about your risk for stroke or heart attack, then you may have been prescribed one of these statins.

Risks Associated With Statins

Let’s explore some of the common risks, side effects (and misconceptions!) surrounding statins.

  • Muscle Soreness: One of the most common complaints heard from patients on statins is muscle soreness or fatigue. While there certainly are legitimate claims of muscle soreness, researchers have noticed something called a “nocebo” effect with regards to this side effect. A nocebo effect occurs when patients given a placebo in a clinical trial report a negative side effect associated with the actual drug (which they aren’t receiving) because they expect it. While the risk of developing muscle pain is somewhere around five percent or less, as many as 30 percent of people taking a placebo report muscle fatigue! This outcome suggests that many cases of muscle soreness associated with statin use may not actually be caused by statins.
  • Liver Damage: Statin use interferes with normal liver function. Occasionally, there could be an increase in the production of a certain enzyme that signals liver inflammation. When this occurs at a low level, many people are fine to continue their use of statins. If the jump in enzyme levels is severe, then your doctor may advise quitting statin use in order to avoid liver damage.
  • Elevated Blood Sugar Levels (sometimes Type 2 Diabetes): In some people taking statins, blood sugar may increase; in some of those cases, the increase in blood sugar levels could be significant enough to cause type 2 diabetes. Of course, patients who already have type 2 diabetes may be at a higher risk for heart attack. The benefit of added heart protection may outweigh the minimal increase in blood sugar level that’s caused by a statin.
  • Memory Loss & Confusion: There is some evidence that statin use may cause certain neurological problems, such as memory loss and confusion. If you do experience these side effects, the good news is that the damage is not permanent and is reversed once statin use is stopped. Interestingly enough, there are some studies that suggest statin use can actually have cognitive benefits for some patients with dementia.

So, are statins good or bad? For many of the 30 percent of American adults taking statins, the benefits outweigh the risks and side effects. For others, sustained statin use is simply not practical.

As always, it’s ideal if you are able to lower your LDL cholesterol through dietary, exercise, and lifestyle changes. If this is not possible, talk with your doctor about whether or not statins are right for you.

Schedule Your Appointment With an Internal Medicine Provider

Do you want to learn more about statins and high cholesterol? Schedule an appointment with your internal medicine provider at St. Thomas Medical Group in Nashville for more information. Call +1 (615) 297-2700 today.

teen suicide rates and prevention

Teen Suicide Rates on the Rise – What YOU Can Do

In June 2019, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that teen suicide rates reached the highest levels since 2000. Key statistics include:

  • In 2017, there was a 21 percent increase from the previous year in boys ages 15-19 dying by suicide.
  • Girls ages 15-19 experienced an eight percent increase in the same period.
  • 5,016 of the 6,241 teenagers and young adults who died by suicide in 2017 were male.
  • From 2008 to 2015, there were 115,856 emergency department visits for suicide ideation or attempts among young people.

Teen Suicide Rate on the Rise in Tennessee

Earlier this year, the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) reported “a more than 24% increase in child suicide deaths from ages 10 to 17.” There were 41 deaths in 2016 and 51 deaths in 2017 – a significant increase from 13 deaths in 2005.

We’ve written in the past about the opioid crisis in Tennessee. In 2016, there were 1,186 opioid-related overdose deaths in Tennessee. That same year, however, there were 1,110 recorded suicide deaths in the state, reports TSPN. While the opioid crisis gets significant media attention (and rightfully so), it’s worth noting that our state’s suicide crisis is just as serious.

So, What Can You Do?

As parents, we wish our children all the health and happiness. Learning to recognize the warning signs of suicide is a critical way in which you can better protect your child.

Let’s talk prevention. After all, suicide is one of the leading causes of preventable death among teens.

Warning Signs of Teen Suicide

  • Talking about suicide or death
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Loss of interest in school or activities
  • Social withdrawal
  • Impulsive or risky behavior
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Alcohol and/or drug abuse
  • Depression
  • Giving away prized possessions

Increased Risk Factors

Teens may be at an increased risk for suicide if they have these factors in their lives:

  • Perfectionist tendency
  • Learning disability
  • Being LGBTQ
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Having few or no friends
  • Depression
  • Exposure to violence, abuse, or neglect
  • History of self-harm

The Jason Foundation Parent Resource Program offers an excellent “Do’s and Don’ts” Resource for parents who have observed suicide risk factors in their child. Here is a brief summary of the foundation’s recommendations:

  • Remain calm. Your calmness can create an environment that allows your child to more comfortably reach out and talk.
  • Be prepared to talk. Communication is critical. Listen, ask questions, and don’t minimize or dismiss issues.
  • Be prepared to act. Know how to remove dangerous items, call 911, and get help for your child.
  • Don’t play the hero. You don’t have to do this alone. Get the support of others.
  • Don’t promise confidentiality. And if you do, recognize that you may not be able to keep this promise. Breaking a promise is not as important as saving a life.
  • Don’t think: “Not my child.” Suicide doesn’t only happen to “dysfunctional families” or those with histories. This condition reaches beyond racial, economic, social and ethnic lines.

For 24/7 help, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at +1 (800) 273-TALK(8255).

Help Is Available. See Your Family Doctor in Nashville.

Your family doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group’s Children & Adults Department is here to help, support, and treat you and your children. In some cases, teens may be more comfortable talking with a trusted medical professional about certain issues than with their friends or parents. To learn more about how we may be able to help – or to schedule an appointment – call +1 (615) 301-7040. You can also make an appointment online.

Do I Have Sleep Apnea?

If you frequently feel tired or restless, despite getting a full night’s sleep, you could be one of the 22 million Americans who suffers from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a widespread and dangerous sleep disorder that occurs when the brain fails to receive sufficient oxygen. As a result, individuals with sleep apnea may snore and wake up frequently – even hundreds of times – throughout the night. This is the equivalent of the brain sending out the emergency signal, jolting the sleeper awake for a gasp of oxygen!

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

The most common form of sleep apnea is known as “obstructive sleep apnea.” This occurs when the breath passageway is physically blocked, most commonly due to tissue in the back of the throat collapsing and/or the tongue falling back in the throat.

Not only does obstructive sleep apnea result in daytime drowsiness and low quality of sleep; low oxygen levels can lead to many other health problems, including high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and depression.

Sleep Apnea Help Is Available… Right Here In Nashville

Sleep and pulmonary specialists at St. Thomas Medical Group treat patients from all over Middle Tennessee for sleep apnea. While only a doctor can diagnose sleep apnea, if you or a loved one struggles with daytime sleepiness or poor quality of sleep, you may wish to begin the process of seeking evaluation and treatment by reviewing these statements…

You Might Have Sleep Apnea If You Say…

  1. “I’m tired all the time.” Daytime sleepiness can be one of the tell-tale signs of sleep apnea. Even if you’re getting a full eight hours of sleep, the quality may be very poor with sleep apnea. Because sleep apnea can occur during deep sleep, you may wake up many times and not even realize it – much less remember in the morning.
  2. “I wake up with headaches.” or “I always have headaches.” When your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, blood vessels may dilate, causing headaches. If you wake up with a headache or frequently have headaches during the day, sleep apnea may be to blame.
  3. “I snore.” Maybe you don’t make this statement… but your significant other will gladly say it for you! Snoring is a classic symptom of sleep apnea. Snoring occurs when collapsed tissues vibrate against one another, as is the case with patients who have obstructive sleep apnea. While occasional or light snoring may not be anything to worry about, chronic or heavy snoring may be something you want to discuss with your primary care doctor or a pulmonary specialist.
  4. “I have high blood pressure.” When oxygen levels are low, the body may restrict blood vessels, causing blood pressure to rapidly rise. In patients who have sleep apnea, this may occur dozens or even hundreds of times throughout the night. Eventually, your body may get used to this jolt in blood pressure, resulting in high blood pressure during waking hours, as well.

Free Resources from The American Sleep Apnea Association

The American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) recommends these three tests for anyone who is concerned that they may have sleep apnea:

<h2>See a Sleep Specialist In Nashville</h2>
Would you like to see a sleep specialist at St. Thomas Medical Group for an evaluation? Our sleep and pulmonary specialists work with patients experiencing a wide range of sleep disorders. Schedule an appointment online or call +1 (615) 964-5864.

Why Are My Prescriptions Getting More Expensive?

If it feels like your prescription drugs are getting more expensive, know that it’s not in your head. And it’s not normal economic inflation either! The fact is, the average American spends $1,208 per year on prescription drugs (latest year data available: 2016). That’s a 119% increase from $1,014 in 2013 and a staggering 313% increase from the $385 spent per year in 1997.

In less than two decades, prescription drug spending increased more than 3x.

And, no, it’s not simply a matter of Americans consuming more prescription drugs. A study published earlier this year in Health Affairs revealed that from 2008 to 2016, the costs of oral and injectable brand-name drugs increased by 9.2 percent and 15.1 percent respectively.

How Can I Get Lower Prices on My Prescription Medications?

While prices are increasing, patients may have some options for for getting lower prices. Not all pharmacies are created equal. Prices can vary significantly on some drugs. (And don’t always assume that the big box store pharmacies have the best deals!)

Want to save money?

Log into your account with your health insurer. Many insurers offer a tool for looking up prescription medication prices in your area. In some cases, these prices may even be updated on a daily basis, providing accurate and actionable data that you can use to keep more money in your pocket. (Note: it’s worth remembering that price may not accurately represent your actual actual out-of-pocket costs. Be sure you understand how your health insurance provider or Medicare plan reimburses covered medications.)

Learn to Ask the Right Questions

You don’t know what you don’t know, right? If you want to save money on your prescriptions in Nashville, you might be able to lower your monthly medication costs simply by asking the right questions of your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group! Jot down these questions and take them with you to your next appointment. Depending on your medications and insurance, one or more of these questions just may unlock the answer to produce significant savings in your health care costs…

#1 Is there a generic version of this drug?

Sure, you know that many name brand prescription drugs also have generic versions. But did you know that these generic drugs are required by law to have the same active ingredients and meet the same quality standards? When it comes to generics, they can be every bit as effective and safe as the name brands… just cheaper!

#2 Should I be ordering in bulk?

Purchasing a three-month supply of prescriptions is cheaper per dose than buying just a 30-day supply, right?

Well… it depends

While buying in bulk might make sense a lot of the time, it doesn’t make sense when the price of a drug temporarily spikes. Sometimes it’s better to ride out the increased price, purchasing just a small supply, and waiting until prices settle back down before buying the larger quantity.

#3 Can someone review my list of meds?

If you take several prescription medications, you may want to see a Medication Therapy Management (MTM) Pharmacist. An MTM pharmacist can evaluate your medications, review your doctor’s notes, and suggest lower cost medications, lower dosage, or perhaps even find ways to combine medications.

#4 Is there a different way of getting this medicine?

Many drugs can be taken orally or injected. Many medications can be taken once a day (or even once a week) through extended-release, while others are taken multiple times a day with immediate-release. Your doctor may be able to change the format of your prescription in order to maximize your cost savings.

Have Questions About Your Prescriptions?

Talk to your Nashville doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group. We’re here to serve you. Call +1 (615) 297-2700 today.

How Does Physical Therapy Help With Back Pain?

Back pain. Just about everybody gets it at some point.

The question is… how do you deal with it?

Rest, ice, opiates, yoga, stretching, sleeping… there are many responses, ranging from healthy to unhealthy… from pharmaceutical to natural.

Our team at St. Thomas Medical Group proudly partners with Results Physiotherapy in treating many instances of back pain. As we like to say, it’s time to think about physical therapy as a first line of defense. Physical therapy isn’t just for post-operative patients or individuals who have already tried other modalities.

If at all possible, treating back pain naturally through physical therapy is our preference. Of course, there are many considerations to take into account; patient and injury circumstances can vary widely. Talk to your doctor for diagnosis and treatment recommendation.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy for Back Pain

As detailed in a previous post, we recommend seeing a physical therapist first for a number of reasons:

  • It may be faster to go straight to the physical therapist after an acute injury, rather than go to your primary care provider only to get referred to a physical therapist.
  • It’s sometimes easier to get the care you need for a very specific back injury directly from the physical therapist.
  • It can be cheaper to make just one co-pay directly to the physical therapist (as opposed to your primary care provider and your physical therapist).

Also, did you know that as of 2007, Tennessee residents are able to schedule appointments with physical therapists without physician referral? This makes your path to care so much easier!

4 Ways Physical Therapy Can Help With Back Pain

Our friends at Results Physiotherapy share four ways that physical therapy can help with lower back pain. If you’re one of the millions of Americans suffering from back pain and not seeking professional help, give them a buzz!

#1 Stretch – The number one recommendation? Stretch! If you suffer from lower back pain, exercising and stretching those muscles can provide strength and support, help maintain a normal range of motion, and potentially provide pain relief. Oftentimes, back pain is caused by lack of use.

#2 Movement Control Exercises – Whether you have acute or persistent back pain, it’s possible that the pain may be a result of back muscles compensating for poor posture or movement patterns. Movement control exercises help “retrain the spine’s muscles,” as Results Physiotherapy puts it. This can help provide greater support and reduce pain.

#3 Manual Therapy – In the case of non-specific back pain, the experts at Results Physiotherapy often recommend a combination of manual therapy and exercise. Manual therapy may include “joint and soft tissue mobilization, dry needling, passive stretching, and Myofascial release (gentle pressure to Myofascial connective tissue),” according to Craig O’Neil, Vice President of Learning and Affiliation.

#4 Education – Finally, education is a major component of the practice’s approach to using physical therapy to treat back pain. When patients are educated about their symptoms, knowledgable about how to care for themselves, and equipped to do so, better outcomes may be possible! Great physical therapists are able to help remove fear of movement, freeing patients to restore their bodies naturally with healthy stretches and exercises.

Schedule An Appointment About Your Back Pain

If you’re currently experiencing back pain in the Nashville area, you can schedule an appointment with Results Physiotherapy online or by calling +1 (615) 373-1350. Additionally, you can see a provider at St. Thomas Medical Group. Just call +1 (615) 297-2700, or make an appointment online.

How to Help Your Child Deal With Anxiety About Shots

Let’s be honest: nobody likes shots. Parents, kids, providers… vaccines and immunizations is nobody’s favorite part about being healthy. However, a standard immunization schedule can keep children and adults healthy and safe from numerous preventable diseases and illnesses, which is why we all go through the temporary pain.

Of course, that’s hard to understand if you’re two years old. It might even be hard to get through to your twelve-year-old! As a parent, you naturally want your child to not only be healthy, but feel safe and comfortable as they receive the health care they need.

The Nashville pediatricians at St. Thomas Medical Group work with parents and children of all ages to minimize anxiety and make visits as enjoyable as possible – yes, even those combo-shot days!

Below, you’ll find a few tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that may make your next visit with a children’s doctor in Nashville’s St. Thomas Medical Group just a little more pleasant!

Preparing for Your Visit

Here are a few things you can do in preparation for your appointment…

  • Read up on the vaccines your child will be receiving. Jot down any questions you have about the vaccines prior to your visit so you won’t forget.
  • Learn about the benefits of the vaccine(s). Sharing this information with older children may give them some strength and encouragement as they go into the appointment. A “why” can be motivating!
  • Be honest with your kids about what’s going to happen. Tell them in advance that they’ll be receiving shots. Also, don’t tell them, “It won’t hurt,” when you know it will. Instead, tell kids that the shot may sting, but not for long.

Helping Infants & Younger Children

  • Infants and younger children may be soothed through soft singing, cuddling, and comfort.
  • Hold your child firmly in your lap to help the process go as easily as possible.
  • Let your child know that everything is going to be okay. Be present and there for them throughout – and especially after – the process.
  • Infants may be soothed after the shot with breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact or swaddling.

Older Children & Adolescents

  • For older children, you may wish to come up with a distraction. Telling or reading stories can also be helpful for redirecting focus and reducing anxiety during immunizations.
  • You can also encourage your child to take deep breaths to “blow out” the pain.
  • It’s important to always be supportive and to not criticize children for crying.

Know that fainting is not atypical among teenagers and preteens following a vaccination. Let your child have a 15 minutes or so to sit and rest after a shot. Mild reactions, such as pain, swelling, rash, or fever are also normal and will typically resolve rather quickly on their own. You may also notice that your child has a reduced appetite after receiving immunizations. This, too, is fairly common and should not be anything to worry about.

A cool wet cloth, sponge bath, plenty of liquids, and non-aspirin pain reliever (with doctor’s approval) can help reduce these mild side effects. Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns.

For more information about vaccine schedules, view this resource from the CDC.

See a Pediatrician Near You at St. Thomas Medical Group

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a Nashville pediatrician at St. Thomas Medical Group, please call the Children’s and Adults Department at St. Thomas Medical Group at +1 (615) 301-7040.

Being Able to Hear Promotes Cognitive Health

Over the course of a lifetime, there are millions of reasons why you want to have the ability to hear: a beautiful piece of music, the words of a loved one, or a life-saving alarm. It’s no overstatement to say that hearing is an absolutely critical and integral part of human life.

The relationship between hearing and our overall health is highly complex, affecting the physical, mental, social, and emotional. Researchers have even pointed out a connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline, which may contribute to dementia. As it would seem, hearing – or lack of hearing – can affect our health in a multitude of ways.

Hearing Impairment & Cognitive Impairment

While a variety of studies from over the years have examined the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive health, a meta-analysis published in February 2018 examined the results of 11 studies conducted in recent years.

The meta-analysis found that older adults with moderate to severe hearing impairment had a 29 to 57 percent increased risk of cognitive impairment when compared to their peers with normal hearing.

Another study published in JAMA by researchers at Johns Hopkins notes that cognitive decline happens faster among people with hearing loss. A study of nearly 2,000 volunteers over the age of 70 found that cognitive decline occurred within an average of eight years among those with hearing impairment, while adults with normal hearing did not begin to experience cognitive decline for approximately 11 years.

The nature of the relationship between hearing impairment and cognitive impairment is not fully understood, however it may be fair to at least speculate that…

  • …reduced hearing limits a person’s ability to engage in social activity.
  • …hearing loss may result in less brain stimulation and engagement with the environment.
  • …the extra effort directed toward attempting to hear may detract from other cognitive activities.

Can Hearing Aids Help?

Research surrounding the question of, “Do hearing aids help prevent cognitive decline?” can be a bit conflicting. Some studies have reported that hearing aids do not reduce risk, while others report that use of hearing aids can delay or prevent the development of dementia. In the case of both sides, however, it’s extremely difficult for researchers to know whether or not study participants are using their hearing aids as reported, as well as whether or not the hearing aids are properly calibrated and serving patients to the best of their potential.

Whether hearing aids reduce risk of dementia or not, there’s no arguing that their role in improving a patient’s hearing can be quite beneficial. Furthermore, it’s reasonable to believe that adults who can hear better have more opportunity to engage with other individuals and their environment, thereby stimulating the brain and cognitive activity.

Want to Learn More About Your Options for Dealing With Hearing Loss?

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, it may be time to schedule a hearing test.

  • Are you 60 years of age or older?
  • Have you recently experienced trouble with hearing?
  • Do you hear sound even when no external noise is present?

Schedule an appointment with one of our audiologists at St. Thomas Medical Group in Nashville by calling +1 (615) 292-5191. There are many options available today. Much has changed in hearing aid technology – these aren’t your mother’s hearing aids! Whether you’re looking for something discreet, affordable, or powerful, our audiologists can offer assistance.

Bonus Resource: Understanding Hearing Loss

Nashville audiologists at St. Thomas Medical Group have created this guide to help patients understand how hearing works, as well as some of the distinctions between different types of hearing loss.