Tag Archives | inflammation

Skin Thickening Disease on a Thicker View

Not everything that glitters is gold, and not everything that’s bigger and thicker is good. A skin that’s extraordinarily thick, which is commonly accompanied with one or more worse symptoms, is alarming.

Scleroderma – the skin thickening disease – is an autoimmune disease involving the connective tissue/s. One’s immune system behaves abnormally and overly active, that it attacks its own cells – thus, the term, autoimmune. Aside from skin thickening, the disease also features spontaneous scarring, blood vessel affectation, inflammation, and damages to internal organs such as the esophagus, kidneys and lungs. Truly, beauty is not the only thing which is skin deep, scleroderma too.

Skin Thickening Disease on a Thicker View

This skin thickening disease is classified according to the degree and location of the skin and organ involved. Currently, it has been categorized into localized scleroderma and systemic sclerosis or widespread. The latter is further divided into either limited or diffused forms based upon the extent of skin involvement. In both categories, overactive immune cells attack body cells and form scar tissue or fibrosis in the skin or on the internal organ affected. Scar tissue may form haphazardly that it leads to thickness and firmness of the involved organ.

What causes scleroderma is an FAQ. Like most autoimmune diseases, the long-awaited answer is still far unknown. But brilliant researchers have identified the potential causes, and even risk factors. Some evidence has associated the skin thickening disease with genes. A study for Choctaw Native Americans showed that this race has a high prevalence for the disease. However, environment still seems to take a major role as it contains most of our body’s stressors. When an individual becomes susceptible, his immune system is activated – but in a more intense manner – thereby damaging tiny blood vessels and injuring tissues leading to scar formation and collagen accumulation. This process continues until thickening and other worse symptoms appear!

These signs and symptoms will then be the reference for classifying the disease. Localized scleroderma includes skin changes in isolated areas. These can be morphea patches – hardened and slightly pigmented multiple skin lesions, or linear scleroderma – localized and hardened skin patches usually at the lower extremity. Sometimes, the latter is accompanied with a ‘satellite’ lesion, such as on the abdomen.

Whilst localized type involves only the skin, the diffuse form may afflict important internal body organs. It includes symmetric skin thickening of the extremities, face and trunk that can quickly proceed to hardening after the inflammatory phase. With this fast pace type, organ affectation may occur early and seriously, such as scarring of the lungs, esophagus, heart and kidneys. Elevation of blood pressure is definitely a danger sign and may lead to kidney failure.

The limited form of scleroderma is not that limited at all. There might be lesser skin involvement but remains as serious as the diffuse form. Its characteristic manifestation pattern is better known as CREST, or Calcinosis (tiny calcium deposits on the skin), Raynaud’s phenomenon (spasm of tiny arterial vessels due to heat or cold), Esophageal (weaker lower esophagus leading to acid reflux from the stomach), Sclerodactyly (localized thickening and tightness of the skin of the fingers and toes), and Telangiectasis (tiny red portions on the face, hands and mouths which blanch when pressed). Patients may have symptom variation of CREST and worse, may overlap to a diffuse form of this skin thickening disease.

Skin Thickening Disease on a Thicker View

Patients are diagnosed according to the signs and symptoms present and verified with a blood test that suggest autoimmunity and presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANA). Anticentromere antibody can be found on limited form and Anti-Sci 70 antibody for diffuse scleroderma.

Can it be treated? A universal treatment has not been identified yet, but sign/symptom – directed method has been used, especially for those life threatening manifestations. Indeed, this skin thickening disease is still a thicker and bigger challenge both for its patients and medical scientists.

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Remedies for Blue Joints in Fingers

Blue joints in fingers could be an effect of several things which may include aging, low levels of antioxidants, plain abuse and overuse. Downright abuse and age are the top reasons why there is pain in the finger joints.

Fortunately, there are a few easy ways which could be done to treat blue joints in fingers as well as in all other joints within the body. Two of the most used treatments are overnight and long-term solutions.

Overnight Blue Joints in Fingers Remedy

Until today, Castor oil is still amongst the most famous solutions for all types of health problems. Castor oil possesses the ability to remove any foreign matter or growth that does not belong to the body naturally. These foreign growths could be in the form of calcium buildup and bone spurs which may be the cause of pain in the joints.

While Castor oils have many beneficial components, these also have drawbacks like being gooey, thick and do not penetrate easily on the skin. This is the reason why a lot of individuals make use of heating pads in putting castor oil on their fingers; to facilitate the absorption of oil on the skin.

However, heating pads actually are awkward to use around the fingers. Hence, a rubber, latex or cotton gloves could help in making the application easier. In order to alleviate the pain the fingers, you can follow these steps:

  • Rub the castor oil on your hands and fingers, most especially. To achieve the best possible results, you can do the castor oil application at night before going to bed.
  • Put your cotton, rubber and latex gloves on. Wipe excess oils outside your gloves.
  • Sleep with your gloves on.
  • Remove your gloves in the morning. To be able to remove the oil on your skin thoroughly, make a paste out of mixing water and baking soda then apply on your skin.

Repeat this procedure daily within a month. When this is religiously followed, you will be able to realize that pain has been significantly decreased. Another great option is to incorporate some mixes of DMSO. This will act like water and baking soda paste since it also takes away all traces of castor oil in your hands. DMSO could be bought in almost all feed stores; however, a few hardware stores offer them also.

Long-term Blue Joints in Fingers Remedy

The term “antioxidant” is so popular today that most people think they know what it means. A good number of people would say that “antioxidants” are great supplements to health. However, they do not know how they function inside the body. To put it to simple words, antioxidants are both beneficial and nutritional substances which protect the cells from possible damages. Antioxidants protect the body against reactive and unstable molecules referred to as radicals. When free radicals are within the body, they could:

  • Interfere with the body’s metabolic functions
  • Damage the body’s cells and tissues
  • Speed up a person’s normal aging process
  • Allow diseases and infections to get inside the body

Aside from protecting the body against the effects of the actions of free radicals, these antioxidants also provide lubrication within the body such as in joints of fingers. Taking antioxidants could also help in restoring the health of damaged joints. A few good antioxidant choices are:

Remedies for Blue Joints in Fingers
  • Blue green algae
  • Concentrated wheat sprouts
  • Coenzyme Q10

While blue green algae and coenzyme Q10 could be taken as maintenance medications, it is best to have wheat sprouts for blue joints in fingers. This is because, wheat sprouts have a strong cleansing and detoxifying effect; thus, relieving inflammation and pain.

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Dupuytren’s Contracture of the Foot Rediscovered and Redefined

Ever heard of Dupuytren’s contracture of the foot? Nah, contracture of the hand is more popular but abnormal foot flexion is seldom discussed. What it is and what actions should we take to treat, or possibly, to prevent it?

Dupuytren’s Contracture of the Foot Rediscovered and Redefined

Dupuytren’s contracture of the foot is known as Ledderhose’s disease (LD), plantar fibromas or Morbus ledderhose. Like the hand disease, it is a type of fibromatosis – scar tissues developing inside, usually under the skin. Causes are still unknown but it is closely related with autoimmune diseases. Our body’s immune system destroys our own cells and forms scar tissues and accumulates excess collagen. What a weird yet hideous way of betrayal inside our body!

As exact causes are still unknown, risk factors are identified for precautions, early detection, and treatment. A person with family history of both Dupuytren’s curvature of the foot and the hand may incur the disease, much worse, when he is a Caucasian male with over 70 years of age. A person with other health problems such as diabetes mellitus, epilepsy, liver disease, and thyroid problems poses higher threat of acquiring it. Smoking and alcohol use can stimulate cell mutation – leading to an abnormal immune response – thus, both lifestyle-related factors have been included. Foot trauma and overuse of the feet may also place you at risk, as well as punctures – wounds or tears can cause fibromas or scar tissues.

What happens with Ledderhose’s disease? Scar tissues, as above, also called plantar fibromatosis grow on the plantar surface or the sole of the foot. These are firm masses that grow slowly along the plantar fascia- which runs from the heel to the toes on the bottom of the foot- containing excess collagen or fibrotic tissue. At earlier stages, fibromas are small and do not impact foot’s ability. As they grow bigger at your sole, flexing your foot or bending the toes becomes more difficult and walking becomes painful. Early symptom includes a painful and noticeable lump in the arch, firm to touch and grows over time. Multiple fibromas may develop or they can merge to form a unified lump! As they grow in size, wearing shoes or walking barefoot might be very painful.

Dupuytren’s contracture of the foot is diagnosed by excising a part of the fibroma. Most of the time, the disease can be confirmed. But to visualize this, imaging studies are done such as MRI. MRI results shall help the doctor to determine shape, size and depth of the fibroma. In most cases, it even reaches the aponeurosis – the flat, fibrous sheet of connective tissue that attaches muscle to the bone. A thorough medical history shall also be taken to identify predisposing and precipitating factors leading to the disease.

Dupuytren’s Contracture of the Foot Rediscovered and Redefined

Once diagnosed, treatment shall proceed based on the size and location of the fibroma and the pain it causes. Small fibromas causing minimal pain shall include treatments aimed to alleviate direct pressure on it. This is done through padding, functional foot orthotics, heel lifts, night splints or arch support. Reduction of pressure does not only minimize pain but shows to shrink the lump. Verapamil gel, a calcium channel blocker, usually used for cardiac problems, is applied to the mass twice daily to ‘constrict’ the fibroma.

For larger fibromas that inflict greater pain, two invasive treatment options are available. Cortisone injections stall the progression of the disease temporarily but may also induce inflammation. Surgery can also be done but with more accuracy and care since nerves, tendons, and muscles are located in the foot.

Now that you have rediscovered and redefined Dupuytren’s curvature of the foot or Ledderhose’s disease, you might think about your chances of acquiring it and ways of preventing it. Remember, prevention by being aware and living a healthier lifestyle is still the best deal than starting a cure!

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Trigger Finger Surgery

If you are likely to put severe stress on your hands on a daily basis then you might be prone to a condition which is called trigger finger. Basically, trigger finger is a condition that affects the fingers, specifically, the tendons that connect the fingers to the muscles of the hands. And individual with this condition is likely to experience some pain when moving the finger, this may happen in any five fingers. It will first cause numbness, swollenness and pain on the affected finger, as the condition is left untreated and continues to develop, there will be instances that the finger will be locked in a bent position. The affected individual may have difficulty in straightening the affected finger. In early stages, the lock will not last long and will be of a few seconds or moments, but if still continuously left untreated and the affected individual continues to perform severe activities that may cause stress and trauma to the hand and fingers, the individual will soon experience longer cases of locking. Furthermore, the finger may impose severe amount of pain upon movement.

The reason behind trigger finger lies beneath the tendons itself, our fingers our basically muscle-less meaning it depends on other muscles for its motor motions. The muscles that can be found in the hands and also in the forearms are mainly responsible for its motion, these are connected to the fingers with the structure called tendons, these are the string muscle like structure that are mainly responsible for the flexing and stretching of the fingers themselves. In short, the motion of the fingers are very dependent on the tendons, when the tendons are damaged, the finger’s movements are either eliminated or affected. In the event of a trigger finger, it mainly affects the tendons. The structures of the tendons include the tendons itself, covered by thin protective sheath and along the sheath, are lined with a structure called tenosynovium. The tenosynovium is a main structure of the tendon that is the key responsible in producing a lubricant that enables the smooth gliding of the tendon and the sheath itself. When the tenosynovium is inflamed, its capabilities to produce the lubricant is lessened or depleted, in this case, the lack of lubricant between the tendon and the sheath tend to result to a hard movement resulting in the lock of the finger during a trigger finger condition.

Trigger finger is a very treatable condition that can be cured in a number of ways. In earlier cases, this can be still treated through a non-surgical manner. Stopping all stressful activities that may affect the hands to give the inflammation some time to heal and recover. This can also be facilitated by a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen. Other than that, the use of a finger orthosis can be used in more developed cases, this will help stop the movement of the finger. The duration of how long the brace can be worn is usually prescribed by a doctor, depending on the severity of the condition. For some more developed cases, the use of stronger anti-inflammatory drugs like corticosteroid injections, which are steroid based shots, are used when the inflammation are already too severe. But in the cases of prolonged locks and pain during minor movements, trigger finger surgery is recommended.

The surgery mainly concentrates on removing the sheath that is constricting the movement of the tendon. There are two types, an open surgery release and a percutaneous release. By far, an open surgery is the most effective between the two but is more prone to complications and leaves a large scar. Basically, the process includes the application of an anesthetic on the affected finger, an open wound will then be done and removing the sheath. A percutaneous release, on the other hand, will no longer require the process of incision. It will require the use of a single needle that will be inserted on the affected area. This needle will then be used to separate the ligament that is constricting the tendon. This process takes place with the use of micro punctures. There would be no large scars left but is a very dangerous process. Neighboring the tendons are nerves that may be affected or damaged when not accurately performed

Trigger Finger Surgery

The treatment of a trigger finger does not end with the surgery itself. There are still precautions and a recovery process. The wound from the surgery will heal in a few days with a maximum of a week. Full movement will be back after a two-week period. Sports may be allowable after the first two weeks, but manual labor or more stressful sports like baseball, it is necessary to wait for a three week period. Patients who have undergone more than one simultaneous finger release surgery are more likely to have a longer healing period. In cases that the hands have been in severe conditions that led to stiffening of the fingers before the surgery, it is recommended that physical therapy may be applied to be able to improve the range of movement. Physiotherapy includes massage and minor finger movements, and occupational therapy, having a therapist to support you every day work to slowly help the hands development.

Surgery is not all of a safe procedure. There may be complications that would result. Minor complications like infection, pain and swelling that will heal over time. But there are cases that result in nerve damage causing lack of sensation in certain areas and are permanent effects. Tendons are placed in wrong positions also called as tendon bowstringing. Other than that, there is a small chance that the surgery is not at all effective, in an estimated of 3 percent of the cases, the trigger finger comes back.

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Treatment for Trigger Finger

As contrary to popular belief, the fingers are one of the most unique type of biological body structure because unlike other structures, the hands are the most developed, being able to perform any type of motor movement. What’s rather more bizarre is the unknown fact that fingers do not actually contain muscles. They are the only boned moving body structure that does not contain muscles, other than being unique, this fact makes our fingers also fragile. Because of the reason that fingers do not have muscles, their motor movement solely relies on the muscles that can be found in the hands and two long muscles that stretch to the forehand. The concept of motion within our hands is as simple as a puppet show. The bones in the fingers are connected to the muscles of the hands and wrist through string-like structures that are mainly responsible for the motion of the fingers. This is called tendons. Tendons are thin string like structures that are the ones that pull and give the fingers its motor motions, allowing the fingers to flex, stretch and move. They are the strings of a puppet, but like any puppet show, anything that happens with the strings, the puppets will no longer move. The same in fingers when the tendons are damaged, the finger’s capabilities is be either minimized or eliminated.

Treatment for Trigger Finger

A type of inflammation of the tendons in the hands is called trigger finger. Basically, trigger finger is named after the motion done when using a gun. In trigger finger, any finger affected may be locked in a bent position and after some time or struggle will directly pop back in a straight position. This condition affects the tendons in the fingers, what basically happens is that, tendons are thin strands of muscle like properties, the tendons are covered with a sheath like structure and in this sheath like structure is also lined again with another structure called the tenosynovium. This is the one responsible for producing a lubricant which allows tendons and the surrounding sheath to slide smoothly. In the case of trigger finger, the tenosynovium is enflamed causing the lack of production of lubricant, resulting in the inability of the tendons to simply slide through the sheath.

There are a number of reasons that causes trigger finger, namely strenuous activities using the hands may cause the tendons to be damaged or severely over used. Manual labor, baseball and many other forms that may cause regular trauma in the hands are considered some of the reasons. Also aging is a proven cause, as the human body ages, the muscles start to degrade, same as in the tendons, the tenosynovium produces less and less lubricant as an individual gets older. It is even said to occur mostly between the ages of 40 to 60 years and are most frequent in women compared to men. Diabetes, gout and arthritis are also seen as developmental causes of trigger finger. When an individual starts to feel the symptoms like a clicking or snapping sensation when the finger is bent, or pain and numbness on the joints of the fingers, it is likely necessary to seek treatment for trigger finger before the condition gets any worse.

There are a number of treatments used to control or cure trigger finger. Abstinence is a seen way to slowly recover from the injury, stopping all activities that may cause trauma to the hands, like strong gripping. This will help the inflammation to gradually heal and let the tendons recover. Some people who are not required to take surgery take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Splinting is a method which is acclaimed to be effective for over 70 percent who have undergone the treatment. This will require the use of splint or a finger orthosis which is a type of brace that will be placed on the finger. This will prevent the finger to perform any type of motion, reducing the inflammation. The amount of time that an individual may be required to wear an orthosis depends on the doctor’s prescription which is also based on the severity of the condition. In even severe conditions, the need of corticosteroid injections may be necessary. This is an anti-inflammatory drug that will be injected to the tendons. Side effects may include slight elevation in the glucose levels of an individual. This might not be that severe but may be damaging to some diabetic patients, slight discoloration of the skin and twitching of the fingers.

The famous type of treatment known are the surgeries, there are basically two types. All of which concentrate in the idea of removing the thickened ligament or separating the sheath and tendon. The open surgery is considered as the most effective, though it is more prone to complications. Anesthetics is applied and an incision is made to remove a thickened ligament that limits the movement of the fingers, also in other terms, the removing the sheath that is constricting the tendon. The end result usually of an open surgery is a large scar. The percutaneous release surgery may not lead to a large scar and is less likely to have any complications, the process includes the use of a needle which will be used to pierce through the skin and separate the ligament through a micro incision. This process though is very dangerous. It may damage neighboring nerves close to the tendon.

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