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ABSTRACT: Musculoskeletal pain can be difficult for children to characterize. Primary care physicians must determine whether the pain may be caused by a systemic disease. Change in activity, constitutional symptoms such as fevers and fatigue, or abnormal examination findings without obvious etiology should raise suspicion for rheumatic disease. A complete physical examination should be performed to look for extra-articular signs of rheumatic disease, focusing on but not limited to the affected areas. A logical and consistent approach to diagnosis is recommended, with judicious use of laboratory and radiologic testing. Complete blood count and erythrocyte sedimentation rate measurement are useful if rheumatic disease is suspected. Other rheumatologic tests (e.g., antinuclear antibody) have a low pretest probability in the primary care setting and must be interpreted cautiously. Plain radiography can exclude fractures or malignancy; computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are more sensitive in detecting joint inflammation. Family physicians should refer children to a subspecialist when the diagnosis is in question or subspecialty treatment is required. Part II of this series discusses rheumatic diseases that present primarily with musculoskeletal pain in children, including juvenile arthritis, the spondyloarthropathies, acute rheumatic fever, Henoch-SchÃ¶nlein purpura, and systemic lupus erythematosus.
ABSTRACT: Primary care physicians should have a working knowledge of rheumatic diseases of childhood that manifest primarily as musculoskeletal pain. Children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can present with painless joint inflammation and may have normal results on rheumatologic tests. Significant morbidity may result from associated painless uveitis, and children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis should be screened by an ophthalmologist. The spondyloarthropathies (including juvenile ankylosing spondylitis and reactive arthritis) often cause enthesitis, and patients typically have positive results on a human leukocyte antigen B27 test and negative results on an antinuclear antibody test. Patients with acute rheumatic fever present with migratory arthritis two to three weeks after having untreated group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal pharyngitis. Henoch-Schbnlein purpura may manifest as arthritis before the classic purpuric rash appears. Systemic lupus erythematosus is rare in childhood but may cause significant morbidity and mortality if not treated early. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy may be useful early interventions if a rheumatic illness is suspected. Family physicians should refer children when the diagnosis is in question or subspecialty treatment is required. Part I of this series discusses an approach to diagnosis with judicious use of laboratory and radiologic testing.
Primary Care of the Patient with Cancer - Article
ABSTRACT: Care of patients with cancer can be enhanced by continued involvement of the primary care physician. The physician's role may include informing the patient of the diagnosis, helping with decisions about treatment, providing psychological support, treating intercurrent disease, continuing patient-appropriate preventive care, and recognizing and managing or comanaging complications of cancer and cancer therapies. Adverse effects of therapy and cancer-related symptoms include nausea, febrile neutropenia, pain, fatigue, depression, and emotional distress. 5-Hydroxytryptamine antagonists are effective in controlling acute nausea associated with chemotherapy. Febrile neutropenia requires systematic evaluation and early empiric antibiotics while awaiting culture results. Cancer-related pain, depression, and fatigue often are underdiagnosed and undertreated. Use of brief screening tools for assessing fatigue and emotional distress can improve management of these symptoms. Exercise prescription, activity management, and psychosocial interventions are useful in treating cancer-related fatigue. The physician must be alert for signs and symptoms of cancer-related emergencies like spinal cord compression, hypercalcemia, tumor lysis syndrome, pericardial tamponade, and superior vena cava syndrome.
Common Problems in Endurance Athletes - Article
ABSTRACT: Endurance athletes alternate periods of intensive physical training with periods of rest and recovery to improve performance. An imbalance caused by overly intensive training and inadequate recovery leads to a breakdown in tissue reparative mechanisms and eventually to overuse injuries. Tendon overuse injury is degenerative rather than inflammatory. Tendinopathy is often slow to resolve and responds inconsistently to anti-inflammatory agents. Common overuse injuries in runners and other endurance athletes include patellofemoral pain syndrome, iliotibial band friction syndrome, medial tibial stress syndrome, Achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis, and lower extremity stress fractures. These injuries are treated with relative rest, usually accompanied by a rehabilitative exercise program. Cyclists may benefit from evaluation on their bicycles and subsequent adjustment of seat height, cycling position, or pedal system. Endurance athletes also are susceptible to exercise-associated medical conditions, including exercise-induced asthma, exercise-associated collapse, and overtraining syndrome. These conditions are treatable or preventable with appropriate medical intervention. Dilutional hyponatremia is increasingly encountered in athletes participating in marathons and triathlons. This condition is related to overhydration with hypotonic fluids and may be preventable with guidance on appropriate fluid intake during competition.
ABSTRACT: Chronic foot pain is a common and often disabling clinical complaint that can interfere with a patient's routine activities. Despite careful and detailed clinical history and physical examination, providing an accurate diagnosis is often difficult because chronic foot pain has a broad spectrum of potential causes. Therefore, imaging studies play a key role in diagnosis and management. Initial assessment is typically done by plain radiography; however, magnetic resonance imaging has superior soft-tissue contrast resolution and multiplanar capability, which makes it important in the early diagnosis of ambiguous or clinically equivocal cases when initial radiographic findings are inconclusive. Computed tomography displays bony detail in stress fractures, as well as in arthritides and tarsal coalition. Bone scanning and ultrasonography also are useful tools for diagnosing specific conditions that produce chronic foot pain.
Chronic Pancreatitis - Article
ABSTRACT: Chronic pancreatitis is the progressive and permanent destruction of the pancreas resulting in exocrine and endocrine insufficiency and, often, chronic disabling pain. The etiology is multifactorial. Alcoholism plays a significant role in adults, whereas genetic and structural defects predominate in children. The average age at diagnosis is 35 to 55 years. Morbidity and mortality are secondary to chronic pain and complications (e.g., diabetes, pancreatic cancer). Contrast-enhanced computed tomography is the radiographic test of choice for diagnosis, with ductal calcifications being pathognomonic. Newer modalities, such as endoscopic ultrasonography and magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography, provide diagnostic results similar to those of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. Management begins with lifestyle modifications (e.g., cessation of alcohol and tobacco use) and dietary changes followed by analgesics and pancreatic enzyme supplementation. Before proceeding with endoscopic or surgical interventions, physicians and patients should weigh the risks and benefits of each procedure. Therapeutic endoscopy is indicated for symptomatic or complicated pseudocyst, biliary obstruction, and decompression of pancreatic duct. Surgical procedures include decompression for large duct disease (pancreatic duct dilatation of 7 mm or more) and resection for small duct disease. Lateral pancreaticojejunostomy is the most commonly performed surgery in patients with large duct disease. Pancreatoduodenectomy is indicated for the treatment of chronic pancreatitis with pancreatic head enlargement. Patients with chronic pancreatitis are at increased risk of pancreatic neoplasm; regular surveillance is sometimes advocated, but formal guidelines and evidence of clinical benefit are lacking.
ABSTRACT: The most common cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. It is usually caused by a biomechanical imbalance resulting in tension along the plantar fascia. The diagnosis is typically based on the history and the finding of localized tenderness. Treatment consists of medial arch support, anti-inflammatory medications, ice massage and stretching. Corticosteroid injections and casting may also be tried. Surgical fasciotomy should be reserved for use in patients in whom conservative measures have failed despite correction of biomechanical abnormalities. Heel pain may also have a neurologic, traumatic or systemic origin.
The Woman with Dysuria - Article
ABSTRACT: Bacterial cystitis is the most common bacterial infection occurring in women. Thirty percent of women will experience at least one episode of cystitis during their lifetime. About one third of patients presenting with symptoms of cystitis have upper urinary tract infection. A careful history to identify risk factors for subclinical pyelonephritis is important. Symptoms of chronic cystitis accompanied by sterile urine without pyuria may represent interstitial cystitis. Dysuria may also be the principal complaint of women with vaginitis (infectious, atrophic or chemical) or urethritis. A stepwise diagnostic approach, accompanied by inexpensive office laboratory testing, is usually sufficient to determine the cause of dysuria.
ABSTRACT: Vulvodynia is a problem most family physicians can expect to encounter. It is a syndrome of unexplained vulvar pain, frequently accompanied by physical disabilities, limitation of daily activities, sexual dysfunction and psychologic distress. The patient's vulvar pain usually has an acute onset and, in most cases, becomes a chronic problem lasting months to years. The pain is often described as burning or stinging, or a feeling of rawness or irritation. Vulvodynia may have multiple causes, with several subsets, including cyclic vulvovaginitis, vulvar vestibulitis syndrome, essential (dysesthetic) vulvodynia and vulvar dermatoses. Evaluation should include a thorough history and physical examination as well as cultures for bacteria and fungus, KOH microscopic examination and biopsy of any suspicious areas. Proper treatment mandates that the correct type of vulvodynia be identified. Depending on the specific diagnosis, treatment may include fluconazole, calcium citrate, tricyclic antidepressants, topical corticosteroids, physical therapy with biofeedback, surgery or laser therapy. Since vulvodynia is often a chronic condition, regular medical follow-up and referral to a support group are helpful for most patients.
ABSTRACT: Lumbar spine stenosis most commonly affects the middle-aged and elderly population. Entrapment of the cauda equina roots by hypertrophy of the osseous and soft tissue structures surrounding the lumbar spinal canal is often associated with incapacitating pain in the back and lower extremities, difficulty ambulating, leg paresthesias and weakness and, in severe cases, bowel or bladder disturbances. The characteristic syndrome associated with lumbar stenosis is termed neurogenic intermittent claudication. This condition must be differentiated from true claudication, which is caused by atherosclerosis of the pelvofemoral vessels. Although many conditions may be associated with lumbar canal stenosis, most cases are idiopathic. Imaging of the lumbar spine performed with computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging often demonstrates narrowing of the lumbar canal with compression of the cauda equina nerve roots by thickened posterior vertebral elements, facet joints, marginal osteophytes or soft tissue structures such as the ligamentum flavum or herniated discs. Treatment for symptomatic lumbar stenosis is usually surgical decompression. Medical treatment alternatives, such as bed rest, pain management and physical therapy, should be reserved for use in debilitated patients or patients whose surgical risk is prohibitive as a result of concomitant medical conditions.