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.

Fight Ragweed Allergies In Nashville!

For many Nashvillians, August and September mark the unofficial end of summer and the start of the back-to-school season. Fresh starts, new beginnings, new seasons… but it’s not all rosy. No, in fact, for many residents of Davidson County and surrounding areas, August and September bring the much-dreaded ragweed season.

What Is Ragweed?

Ragweed is a flowering plant that makes many who suffer from Nashville allergies think, “I guess spring wasn’t so bad after all.” Yes, ragweed really can be that miserable, bad enough to make Nashville’s spring allergies seem manageable. (And that’s saying a lot, considering that Nashville ranks in the top 30 cities in the U.S. for allergies.)

Ragweed’s 17 species produce a fine-powder pollen beginning in the Southeast region during late July / early August. The plant’s bloom cycle continues north and to the west as the weeks progress. Though ragweed season is the worst in Nashville during August and September, the plant often remains active into the month of November. Individuals who are especially sensitive to ragweed may be affected until cold weather season settles in.

If you’re allergic to ragweed, it may not give you much comfort, but know that you’re in good company: three out of four people with allergies are allergic to ragweed.

What Are the Symptoms of Ragweed Allergies in Nashville?

Also known as “hay fever,” ragweed allergies can produce many of the symptoms typically associated with rhinitis (inflammation and swelling of the nose’s mucous membrane), including:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy or runny nose
  • Nasal cogestion
  • Irritated, watery or puffy eyes
  • Itchy throat
  • Sinus headaches and pressure
  • Trouble sleeping

In individuals with asthma, ragweed can exacerbate symptoms, resulting in worsened coughing and wheezing.

What Can I Do About Ragweed Allergies?

It’s you vs. the one billion pollen grains that every ragweed plant has the capacity to release. (Multiply that times the number of ragweed plants in the area!) But our team at St. Thomas Medical Group is on your side. Here are a few ways you can fight back against ragweed allergies.

#1 Avoid These Foods

“Avoidance therapy” is one of three common approaches to treating allergies. Of course, it doesn’t help much to say, “Avoid ragweed,” as the pollen spreads everywhere. (That being said, you will still want to try limiting or avoiding time outdoors.)

You can, however, avoid certain foods, whose plants contain pollens similar to ragweed. These include banana, zucchini, sunflower sees, cantaloupes, cucumber, and others.

#2 Additional Methods for Reducing Exposure

For people who suffer from ragweed allergies, the best thing you can do is to reduce your exposure to the pollen. Follow these tips as best as you’re able:

  • Use HEPA air filters in your home HVAC system to help prevent pollen from entering the home.
  • Don’t air dry clothing or sheets on an outdoor line where they can pick up pollen.
  • If you spend an extended amount of time outside, remove shoes and clothing before entering the house so that pollen doesn’t track inside.
  • Wash outdoor pets regularly to limit pollen from entering the home.

#3 See an ENT/Allergy Doctor in Nashville

An ENT doctor at Nashville’s St. Thomas Medical Group may be able to confirm a ragweed allergy by performing a skin prick test. During this test, a small amount of the allergen is introduced to the immune system, and the reaction is observed.

While there is no “cure” for ragweed allergies, a positive result on this test may help your allergy doctor recommend anti-allergy medications that may be helpful.

Get Help for Your Nashville Allergies With an ENT Doctor!

Do you suffer from ragweed allergies in Nashville? Or do you simply suffer from some kind of allergen… you’re just not sure what? See an ENT doctor (sometimes called an “allergy doctor”) at St. Thomas Medical Group for care. Call the Nashville ENT & Allergy Clinic at +1 (615) 386-9089 or send a message online.

Joint Injections Can Improve Mobility & Quality of Life

Is joint pain just a part of getting older? Maybe. But who says you don’t have options for dealing with it? As the body ages, joints produces less hyaluronic acid (HA), a substance found in synovial fluid, a lubricant in the joints. A reduction in HA levels occurs in patients with arthritis and other conditions.

Fast Facts About Those Achy Joints

According to Arthritis Foundation, as many as 54 million adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, the leading cause of disability. Osteoarthritis accounts for approximately 31 million of those cases.

While arthritis may be considered an older person’s disease, as many as 300,000 infants and children have arthritis or a rheumatic condition.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “One in four adults with arthritis—15 million people—report experiencing severe joint pain related to arthritis. Additionally, nearly half of adults with arthritis have persistent pain.”

Is There a Solution In HA Joint Injections?

While there’s no “cure,” per se, for arthritis, many patients are able to find some level of relief with hyaluronic acid joint injections. HA joint injections reintroduce the lubricant the body should be producing on its own. Some patients may experience relief after just one series of injections, while others may need multiple injections over the course of several weeks or months. Whether one or several injection sessions are necessary, many patients find a reduction in pain and stiffness, better shock absorption, and greater range of motion as a result of HA joint injections.

Arthritis Foundation reports, “About 30 percent of people who undergo hyaluronic acid injections become virtually pain free, and symptom relief may last up to two years […] Yet, another 20 percent of patients experience no benefit.”

Is It All About Technique? Ultrasound-Guided Injections of the Joints

There are several methods for injecting joints with HA. At St. Thomas Medical Group, Nashville rheumatologists use ultrasound-guided technology for injecting joints. With ultrasound technology, providers can get a more accurate view of the tissues and internal structure of the joint. This allows for more precise needle placement and more effective results from the injection therapy.

In taking the ultrasound approach, providers will rub a clear ultrasound gel over the joint, which acts as a conductive medium, allowing for a clear image of the joint. This maximizes the opportunity for a successful, targeted injection by minimizing sound wave interference.

Many studies have investigated the efficacy of ultrasound-guided joint injections compared to landmark guided injections. A 2018 study evaluating the existing evidence on ultrasound-guided injections in sports medicine reports, “In the lower extremity, ultrasound-guided injections at the knee, ankle, and foot have superior efficacy to landmark-guided injections.” Clinicians, researchers, and insurers debate the effectiveness of ultrasound technology in some other joint injections. More research is being done.

Do Ultrasound-Guided Injections Hurt?

Prior to injecting the hyaluronic acid, your provider may use a numbing agent to reduce pain and discomfort. Also, in many cases, using ultrasound technology may speed up the procedure and result in a less painful injection.

After undergoing this brief outpatient procedure, you may experience some acute swelling or discomfort for 24 to 48 hours post-injection. During this time, patients are advised to rest and take it easy. Standing and walking should be minimal during this recovery period.

Get Joint Injections In Nashville & Gallatin

St. Thomas Medical Group is proud to offer joint injections that can improve mobility and quality of life in patients with sore, stiff, and achy joints. For more information, or to find a rheumatologist in Nashville or Gallatin, call +1 (615) 964-5823 or schedule an appointment online.

To Vape or Not to Vape?

Vaping has taken the U.S. by storm, rapidly eating into the tobacco market while implying a “safer” or “healthier” alternative to cigarettes. For those unfamiliar, “vaping” refers to the act of inhaling and exhaling an aerosol along with flavoring and various chemicals (typically nicotine). Vaporizers (or “vapes,” vaping devices) come in many different forms; many are rechargeable, refillable electronic devices. A wide range of flavors are available for every palate. Many popular flavors, such as cotton candy or fruit medley, are enticing to younger audiences.

Is Vaping “Better” Than Smoking Cigarettes?

Many vape manufacturers would have you believe vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. As Johns Hopkins Medicine points out, regular tobacco cigarettes contain approximately 7,000 chemicals (many of which are toxic), while e-cigarettes contain far fewer toxic chemicals. Though the toxicity may be lower, not enough research has been done to know precisely what chemicals (or levels) are present in vape devices.

At the very least, e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes always contain one highly addictive and toxic chemical: nicotine. Nicotine can increase blood pressure, cause an adrenaline spike, and elevate heart rate, thereby increasing risk for heart attack. Of course, nothing about device or delivery mechanism changes the addictive nature of nicotine.

Perhaps worst of all, vaping is introducing a new generation to nicotine by the millions. Let’s take a closer look at the connection between vaping and teenagers…

Vaping & Teens

The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports some key statistics in its Teens and E-Cigarettes report:

  • 30.7 percent of teen e-cigarette users will start smoking within six months, compared to just 8.1 percent of non-users.
  • Seven in ten teenagers are exposed to e-cigarette ads.
  • A shocking number of users don’t know what’s in their e-cigarette, due in part to the fact that manufacturers don’t have to disclose their ingredients. Only 13.2 percent of teen users say nicotine is in their device, while 13.7 percent say they don’t know, and 66 percent say “just flavoring.”

According to the American Heart Association, vaping use doubled among high school students from 2017 to 2018. It’s no wonder that on December 18, 2018, Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared vaping among youth an epidemic in the United States.

The Health Risks of Vaping

Vaping isn’t just risky for teenagers, who may use it as an entry point for years of tobacco abuse. Vaping has a few health risks of its own. For example, did you know that vaping can irritate cells in the gums, mouth, and throat? Or that many vaping liquids contain chemicals harmful to the lungs, including diacetyl, 2, 3-pentanedione, and acetoin, according to a 2016 study that analyzed 51 types of flavored e-cigarettes? (As an interesting aside, this study notes there are more than 7,000 e-cigarette flavors on the market… and that was over three years ago.)

Vaping: Not Safe or Harmless

It’s possible that vaping may be a marginally better alternative for adults addicted to nicotine. However, vaping is not safe or harmless, nor should it be recommended as a smoking cessation tool.

The question the medical community should ask is, “Just how harmful might vaping be?” More research is needed to understand the chemical relationships involved in e-cigarette devices. In the meantime, their use is not recommended.

You Can Quit! We Can Help!

If you desire to quit smoking, talk to your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group in Nashville about the many safe and approved cessation therapies that may be available. Change is possible. Call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule your appointment with a provider online.


Breath Easy Again With Septorhinoplasty or a Balloon Sinuplasty

For millions of people, chronic sinusitis is a constant irritant: stuffy nose, difficulty breathing, and swelling and tenderness around the eyes. Chronic sinusitis can interfere with overall quality of life for weeks, months, or even years on end. Medication therapies like nasal corticosteroids and saline nasal irrigation may help some patients. For many, however, surgery may be the best option.

At St. Thomas Medical Group, ear nose and throat (ENT) specialists in Nashville offer several procedures for treating chronic sinusitis. Two of these procedures are known as balloon sinuplasty and septorhinoplasty.

What Is Balloon Sinuplasty?

Balloon sinuplasty – you may also hear it referred to as “BSP” – is a minimally invasive procedure that may provide sinus pain relief to individuals with chronic sinusitis. It’s an in-office procedure that involves no cutting of any tissues or bone. Hundreds of thousands of people have undergone this procedure and enjoyed the fast-acting, long-lasting results.

How Does BSP Work?

During a balloon sinuplasty procedure, your ENT doctor will insert a small balloon catheter through the nasal passageways to reach the inflamed sinus. The balloon is inflated and saline is sprayed through the catheter in order to flush out mucus and infection. Once the sinus is cleared, the balloon is removed and the sinuses remain open. Additionally, use of the balloon helps widen the walls of the sinus passageway.

Again, this procedure is done in-office; local anesthesia is all that’s necessary for this procedure. The majority of patients who undergo BSP are back to work and normal activities in just two days. In a study of 203 patients who underwent the procedure, more than 82% said the procedure was “tolerable” or “highly tolerable.”

What Is Septorhinoplasty?

Septorhinoplasty is a surgical procedure during which any internal obstructions blocking the nasal passageway are surgically removed. Additionally, the appearance of the nose may be improved during this procedure.

The surgery combines two common procedures: septoplasty and rhinoplasty.

  • Septoplasty: During this procedure, an ENT specialist sets the septum straight. The septum is the bone and cartilage that separates the two nostrils and nasal cavities. “Deviation” of the septum is a common reason for having septoplasty.
    Rhinoplasty: In rhinoplasty, surgeons change the shape of the nose in order to alter physical appearance or improve breathing. Unlike many forms of cosmetic or plastic surgery, rhinoplasty may be covered fully or in part by insurance.
  • Septorhinoplasty is commonly used to obtain a desired nose shape and size while also improving a person’s ability to breathe clearly.

How Does Septorhinoplasty Work?

During the procedure, which is performed under general anesthesia, the surgeon removes parts of cartilage and bone in order to create the desired shape. The septum is broken and straightened in order to improve breathing and reduce symptoms associated with chronic sinusitis.

Recovery from septorhinoplasty may take between one and two weeks. It can take several months for the final appearance of the nose to take shape.

Do I Have Chronic Sinusitis?

While only a doctor can diagnose chronic sinusitis, individuals with this condition may experience symptoms such as inflammation of the nasal passageways, difficulty breathing, pain or tenderness around the sinus cavities, reduced smell and taste sensation, drainage, and abnormal mucus discharge. If you experience some of these symptoms, talk to your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group about what options may be available to you.

Schedule An Appointment at the Nashville ENT & Allergy Clinic

Have questions for an ENT specialist in our Nashville offices? For more information or to schedule an appointment, call +1 (615) 383-9089 or visit the Nashville ENT & Allergy Clinic online. You, too, may be breathing easy again… call today to learn about your options!

gluten celiac faq

FAQ: Your Gluten and Celiac Disease Questions Answered!

When it comes to gluten and celiac disease, many people have more questions than answers. Between fad diets, online supplements, and health claims that run the gamut from too-good-to-be-true to downright scary… how’s a person to know what to believe?

In an effort to better serve you, our patients, the gastroenterologists at Nashville’s St. Thomas Medical Group have put together this FAQ list covering the basics of celiac disease and gluten.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and many grains, including rye and barley. Gluten is what gives dough its sticky texture. While most common in wheat, rye and barley, gluten is also present in many foods that you wouldn’t expect due to food processing techniques. Even whole (non-gluten) foods, such as oats, may contain enough gluten to trigger symptoms. This can occur from contact in growing fields or processing plants.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease and genetic disorder that is triggered by gluten. In patients with celiac disease, the ingestion of gluten triggers an autoimmune response in the body’s digestive system, resulting in the destruction of villi, tiny finger-like projections within the small intestine. Villi increase surface area inside the small intestine, making it easier for the body to properly absorb food. Fortunately, the interior lining of the small intestine renews itself every few days, so the damage caused by celiac disease is not permanent.

Remember, it’s important to recognize celiac disease for what it is: an autoimmune disease. Celiac disease isn’t a food allergy or dietary choice.

How common is celiac disease?

The Center for Celiac Research and Treatment reports that one out of every 133 people in the United States are affected by celiac disease.

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?

Symptoms of celiac disease may include constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue, and more. Altogether, there are approximately 300 known symptoms of celiac disease. Many symptoms are “extra-intestinal,” which is to say they occur in body systems beyond the digestive system. Some patients may experience arthritis, joint pain, dementia, and other symptoms. That being said… some individuals with celiac disease experience no symptoms at all.

How is celiac disease diagnosed?

The initial screening for celiac disease can be done with a simple blood test, which detects specific antibodies. If the blood test indicates the possibility of celiac disease, then your gastrointestinal specialist may order an intestinal biopsy. Biopsy is the only way to make an official diagnosis.

How is celiac disease treated?

While there is no cure for celiac disease, the goods news is that affected individuals can lead normal, healthy lives by following a gluten-free diet.

What can I eat if I have celiac disease? What foods should I avoid?

Individuals with celiac disease can eat any foods that do not contain gluten. Avoid any foods that contain wheat or wheat-derived flour. This includes bread, pasta, and cereals, as well as foods you might not expect to contain gluten: canned soup, ketchup and mustard, processed meats, ice cream, and yogurt. (Due to increased awareness of celiac disease, gluten-free options are now available for nearly every food.)

Is celiac disease a major health concern? Is it dangerous?

Yes, biopsy-diagnosed celiac disease is a major health concern. Left untreated, the effects can be life-threatening. Untreated celiac disease may increase risk for cancer, osteoporosis, pancreatic disease, malabsorption, hemorrhaging, and other serious health issues.

If you have celiac disease, talk to your doctor or gastrointestinal specialist about following a proper gluten-free diet.

Schedule An Appointment With a GI Specialist

For more information, visit the St. Thomas Medical Group Endoscopy Center (phone +1 (615) 301-7040) or Nashville Gastrointestinal Specialists (phone +1 (615) 383-0165).


Concussion 101: Know the Signs & What to Do

As summer winds down and the school year starts up, so does the sports season. In fact, approximately three out of four US households with school-aged children have at least one child involved in organized sports, according to the Aspen Institute.

Playing youth sports offers a number of benefits. Children develop strength, coordination, confidence and social skills, all while learning important lessons about work ethic and being part of a team. But with those benefits comes risk… specifically, risk of concussion.

According to Brain Injury Research Institute, an estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year. During one four-year period, the Institute reported that six percent of all sports-related Emergency Department visits by children ages 5 to 18 involved concussion.

What Is Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that may occur when the head or body sustains an impact, causing the brain to move quickly in the skull. This quick and sudden shift can cause damage to brain cells and result in chemical imbalances.

The Signs of Concussion

Concussions may not always present obvious symptoms. It’s somewhat common for kids and teens who have experienced a concussion to say they just “don’t feel right.” Parents may notice their child:

  • Is forgetful or confused about what’s going on in the game.
  • Is slow to answer questions.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Appears to be stunned.
  • Exhibits changes in personality, mood, or behavior.
  • Has trouble recalling events that occurred before the impact.

Of course, if your child loses consciousness – even briefly – then removal from play and concussion evaluation is strongly recommended.

Self-Reported Concussion Signs & Symptoms

We’ve discussed a few signs and symptoms that parents can observe. However, it’s also critical that your child knows the symptoms of concussion, so that they can be “on guard” and perhaps more likely to remove themselves from play should they experience a concussion and no one else notices. Self-reported symptoms include:

  • Headache or pressure in the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance issues
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Troubled by noise or light
  • Feeling sluggish or in a haze
  • Feeling confused
  • Having trouble concentrating or remembering things
  • Feeling “down” or “off”

For more information, view a “Fact Sheet for Youth Sports Parents” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Heads Up offers many additional resources for parents, players, coaches, and providers.

What to Do In the Event of a Concussion?

If you believe your child may have sustained a concussion, remove them from play immediately. Your child should take the rest of the day off and be seen by a healthcare provider for evaluation. Only after receiving a return-to-play clearance from a provider should your child get back to practice or gameplay. Don’t try to determine the severity of the injury on your own. Instead, defer to a licensed provider, as symptoms may not appear until hours or days after the trauma. Concussion can be a serious brain injury; you don’t want to rush the recovery process!

Concussion Law In Tennessee

In April 2013, Tennessee joined 43 other states in passing a sports concussion law designed to protect youth athletes and increase awareness of the risk of concussion and traumatic brain injury. According to Tennessee state law:

  • Youth athletes and parents must sign a concussion form before competing.
  • Coaches are required to immediately remove an athlete who appears to have suffered a concussion from play and practice.
  • Youth athletes who have sustained a concussion must be cleared by a licensed healthcare provider before returning to play or practice.

Learn more about the Concussion Law in Tennessee, and download policies, forms, and other documents here.

See a Family Doctor in Nashville for Concussion Evaluation

Are you concerned that your child may have experienced a concussion? Do you need a post-concussion evaluation or return-to-play clearance? Schedule an appointment with your family doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group in Nashville online or by calling +1 (615) 301-7040.

Stress Management Techniques

6 Stress Management Techniques for Improving Health

To a certain degree, stress is a normal part of life. But all indicators suggest that stress has gotten out of hand for many adults and teens in the US.

The Global Organization for Stress reports:

  • Stress is a top health concern for US high schoolers.
  • Four in five adults feel stress on the job.
  • Three out of four adults report experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month.

At St. Thomas Medical Group, our physicians are committed to your total wellness, which includes understanding your stress triggers, family relationships and social issues so that we may provide a higher level of comprehensive care.

We encourage you to talk with your primary care providers about how you can reduce stress and improve your overall health with tactics like these…

#1 Exercise When You’re Feeling Stressed

Exercise releases endorphins, which boost mood, reduce perceptions of pain, and improve your outlook. Even as little as a half-hour of walking or jogging can have a significant impact on your mental and emotional health.

#2 Cut Out the Triggers

Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine can worsen stress. Try replacing caffeine and alcohol with non-caffeinated teas, natural fruit juices, water and healthy beverages.

#3 Create a Bedtime Routine

Stress often makes it difficult to fall asleep and get a good night’s rest. Avoid screens and intense mental activity in the hours leading up to bedtime. Also, set a regular bedtime and try to stick to the new routine. Caffeine should be avoided in the evening, and alcohol consumption kept to a minimum.

#4 Talk to a Friend

Sometimes just talking to a friend about the factors stressing you can make you feel better. You might find that talking about your problems out loud brings some perspective. You may find solutions and realize that some problems aren’t as bad as you initially thought. At the very least, it’s often comforting just to be heard and seen by others.

#5 Be Realistic About Your Time

If you try to cram everything into your day and find yourself stressed when you run out of time, then you might be able to de-stress by re-evaluating your expectations! Create a schedule that more accurately reflects what you’re capable of completing. Check things off as you go through your day. And, remember, it’s okay to say no to things that aren’t on your schedule or to-do list!

#6 Make Time for Yourself

Having hobbies and time for relaxing is an important part of a healthy, well-rounded life. Find activities that you enjoy in order to reduce stress!


Need a local primary care provider who will listen to you and advocate for your health and well-being? Find a primary care doctor in Nashville at St. Thomas Medical Group. Call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule online.