National Epilepsy Awareness Month

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that causes abnormal brain activity, resulting in symptoms such as seizures, loss of awareness, and unusual behaviors. Generally, a diagnosis of epilepsy is given to people who have experienced two unprovoked seizures (meaning that they have no clear identifiable cause) within a 24-hour period.

There are several different types of seizures, each of which can cause different symptoms to occur. In most cases, a person with epilepsy will tend to have the same type of seizure each time, so the symptoms will be similar from episode to episode. Some of these types (and the symptoms associated with them) include:

  • Absence seizures (staring into space with potential loss of awareness)
  • Tonic seizures (muscle stiffening in the back, arms, and legs with potential loss of consciousness)
  • Atonic seizures (loss of muscle control, typically results in falls)
  • Clonic seizures (repeated jerking muscle movements in the face, neck, and arms)
  • Myoclonic seizures (sudden jerking or twitching in the upper body, arms, and legs)
  • Tonic-clonic seizures (sudden loss of consciousness with body stiffening, twitching, and shaking)
  • Focal seizures (affects a specific part of the brain, causing altered or impaired awareness and perception of your environment and senses)

While epilepsy often has no identifiable cause, approximately half of all cases can be traced to a variety of different factors, including:

  • Family history
  • Head trauma
  • Stroke
  • Infectious diseases such as meningitis, encephalitis, or AIDS
  • Developmental disorders such as autism

Medications or surgery can control seizures for the majority of people with epilepsy. Some people require lifelong treatment to control seizures, but for others, the seizures may eventually go away. Some children with epilepsy may outgrow the condition with age.

You can receive specialized neurological treatment for epilepsy at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Department of Neurosurgery. To get more information about our services or to schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-6713.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

3 Common Causes of Pinched Nerves

Pinched nerves occur when the tissues surrounding a nerve root press against it, causing symptoms such as pain, tingling, and numbness to occur in a particular part of your body. They’re fairly common, with approximately 80 out of every 100,000 adults in the United States experiencing pinched nerves at some point in life. They occur more often among people aged 50 or older, but they can happen at any age.

Pinched nerves develop most frequently in the neck, upper middle back, or lower back, and certain factors are often responsible for causing them. Some of these include:

Inflammation: When muscles and joints become inflamed, they can compress nerve roots. In young people, inflammation can occur due to a variety of factors, such as stress, disease, injuries, or obesity. In older people, it can more commonly result from chronic conditions such as arthritis.

Bone spurs: As people get older, the spine can experience a significant amount of wear and tear, causing spinal discs to flatten due to a loss of water content. This causes spinal vertebrae to move closer together and bone spurs to grow. These spurs, which are small growths of bone, can place pressure on nerve roots, causing them to become pinched. Bone spurs can also grow in other parts of your body and cause pinched nerves to occur in other locations.

Pregnancy: When a person becomes pregnant, the hormone relaxin is released into their body, causing ligaments to loosen in preparation for childbirth. This causes the body’s center of gravity to shift and can lead to compression and inflammation of the sciatic nerve. The fetus itself can also contribute to pressure against this nerve.

If you’re experiencing pain due to a pinched nerve, you can receive high-quality treatment from a neurosurgeon at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-6713.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month

Millions of Americans experience headaches and migraines each year, both of which can result in a wide variety of symptoms. For many people, however, it may not be easy to tell the difference between these two medical problems.

While both headaches and migraines commonly lead to pressure or pain in your head, headaches are only one potential symptom of migraines. A migraine can cause many other symptoms, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to lights, sounds, and smells

There are two common types of migraine. A migraine with aura causes visual disturbances and other neurological symptoms that may precede a headache by up to an hour, as well as temporary vision loss, trouble speaking, confusion, loss of appetite, numbness, or muscle weakness on one side of the body. A migraine without aura causes a headache that affects one side of the head without warning, as well as confusion, blurred vision, and mood changes.

There are also multiple different types of headaches, all of which may lead to varying forms of head pressure or pain. Some of these include:

Sinus headaches: This type of headache causes pressure and pain in and around your sinus cavities, which are located around your eyebrows, cheek bones, and nose. Sinus headaches are often caused by the common cold, seasonal allergies, nasal polyps, a deviated septum, or any other factor that increases mucus buildup. Migraines are commonly mistaken for sinus headaches.

Tension headaches: A tension headache, often caused by factors such as eye strain, stress, or hunger, results in feelings of pressure that can affect one or both sides of your head.

Cluster headaches: This uncommon type of headache typically affects one side of the head and occurs in clusters, meaning that they may occur almost daily for a period of weeks or months and cause attacks lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. It is unknown what exactly causes cluster headaches.

If you commonly experience migraines or headaches, you can receive specialized treatment from a neurologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is nerve pain that can occur throughout the lower back, buttocks, hips, and down the legs. This pain may be mild or severe and cause a variety of sensations, including anything from sharp or shooting pain to a burning or electric feeling. It can also occur constantly or intermittently and worsen based on posture, movement, and time spent sitting or standing.

The primary cause of sciatica is injury or irritation to the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body. This nerve is most commonly injured due to a herniated or slipped disk. However, injury to the sciatic nerve can occur in a few different ways, including:

  • Degenerative disk disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pressure from tumors
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Cauda equina syndrome

Several risk factors, such as aging, obesity, prior injuries to the lower back or spine, pregnancy, or a job that requires significant physical exertion such as heavy lifting, may increase your likelihood of experiencing sciatica. However, these risks may be reduced through adjustments to your lifestyle and activities, such as:

Improving your posture: Improper form while exercising or lifting heavy weights, as well as poor posture while sitting, standing, or moving can increase your risk of sciatica.

Following a regular diet and exercise routine: A healthy, balanced diet and a workout routine that incorporates aerobic and strength exercises can help you manage sciatica risk factors such as obesity and diabetes. Exercises that build core strength can be especially helpful, as a stronger core provides more support for your lower back.

Avoiding tobacco: Tobacco products such as cigarettes contain nicotine, which causes spinal tissue, vertebral disk, and bone damage over time that can impact the sciatic nerve.

You can find effective treatment for most cases of sciatica from specialists such as chiropractors and physical therapists. However, for severe cases, you may need to work with a neurologist to diagnose the most likely cause and find the right treatment approach. You can find a doctor to treat sciatica at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What is Neuropathic Pain?

Neuropathic pain occurs when your body sends pain signals to your brain, triggering a shooting or burning sensation as well as potential numbness. People who experience neuropathic pain may also have trouble sleeping due to their symptoms, potentially resulting in additional issues such as emotional problems. Symptoms can present in several different ways, including:

Allodynia: This form of neuropathic pain is triggered in response to typically non-painful stimuli, such as gentle pressure or cold temperatures.

Hyperalgesia: Some people who experience neuropathic pain may feel a greater-than-average reaction to normally painful stimuli, such as the prick of a needle.

Hypoalgesia: Unlike hyperalgesia, this type of neuropathic pain causes the opposite reaction, resulting in reduced pain in response to typically painful stimuli.

Spontaneous pain: This type of neuropathic pain occurs without any stimuli.

Dyesthesia: This symptom can occur either spontaneously or in response to an external stimulus, resulting in an abnormal sensation.

Neuropathic pain is typically chronic, as it is most often the result of long-term conditions such as diabetes, central nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis, or injuries that result in nerve damage. However, acute neuropathic pain can also occur in some cases.

Neuropathic pain is treated with the goal of resolving the underlying cause of your symptoms while providing you with relief and maintaining your normal functionality. This can involve a variety of treatment approaches, including medication, physical and psychiatric therapy, and potentially surgery.

One effective approach to relieving neuropathic pain is through nerve blocks, which are injections of steroids, anesthetics, or other medicines into the affected nerves. These injections are performed by pain management specialists from a wide range of clinical backgrounds, including neurology, orthopedics, and physical therapy, who can determine whether this treatment is right for you based on your symptoms and medical history.

You can receive pain management treatments such as nerve blocks at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. To schedule an appointment with a pain specialist, please call (718) 206-7246.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome diagnosis

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) or Willis-Ekbom disease is a common disorder that causes what is often described as tingling, pulling, throbbing, itching, burning, aching or crawling sensations in the legs. These sensations result in an uncontrollable urge to move your legs.  

RLS can also occur in other parts of the body such as the arms or torso; however, these instances are less common.

Anyone can be at risk for developing RLS.  According to the Sleep Foundation, “RLS affects 5 to 10% of adults and 2 to 4% of children in the U.S. and it is found in women more often than men. People of all ages can develop RLS, but the most severe symptoms tend to occur in older adults.”

Symptoms of restless legs syndrome can include:

  • An irresistible urge to move the legs or arms
  • Discomfort in the legs or arms
  • Trouble staying asleep due to the urge to move your limbs
  • Periodic limb movement or leg twitching while you sleep
  • Daytime sleepiness due to sleep disruption

These symptoms most commonly occur in the late afternoon or evening hours and may increase in severity at night. They can also happen when you remain inactive or seated for extended periods. Symptoms typically go away in the morning.

Although the exact cause of restless legs syndrome is unknown, it is believed that genetics and environmental factors play a significant role.  RLS is often associated with other medical conditions such as:

  • Iron deficiency
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Late-stage kidney disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy

RLS may also occur temporarily during pregnancy with most women developing the disorder during their third trimester.

Some medications such as anti-depressants, anti-nausea, and allergy drugs can contribute to the development of RLS.

A diagnosis for restless legs syndrome is determined after your medical and family history is assessed, a complete physical and neurological exam is conducted, and blood tests are ordered to rule out other possible conditions. Your doctor may also refer you to a sleep specialist for an evaluation.

Currently, there is no cure for restless legs syndrome.  However, there are treatments available to manage symptoms.  Your doctor may include the following treatments or therapies in your care plan: exercise, massages,  foot wraps, stress reduction, iron supplementation or prescription medications.

To schedule an appointment with a doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What is fibromyalgia and why is it painful ?

Fibromyalgia is a condition thought to be caused by an increase in the way the brain processes pain sensation throughout the musculoskeletal system of the body. The result is a chronic sensation of pain that is often debilitating and life changing. Women tend to be affected by fibromyalgia more than men but the reason for that is unclear. In some people, fibromyalgia appears after a trauma, a surgical procedure, an infection, or after a stressful event. There also may be some correlation to it running in families.
Scientists believe that there may be an overstimulation of the pain receptors that causes the symptoms.  Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
• Pain all over the body
• Fatigue
• Difficulty focusing
• Migraine headaches
• Anxiety
• Depression
Fibromyalgia is diagnosed through a physical exam and blood tests that examines thyroid function, red and white blood cell count, rheumatoid arthritis factor and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate. If a person has pain for three months and no obvious medical reason for it, it might be reason to rule out fibromyalgia.
There is no one method of treating fibromyalgia that is completely effective.
• Treatment options include:
• Physical therapy
• Pain relievers
• Anti-depressants
• Getting adequate rest
• Acupuncture
• Regular exercise
If you have symptoms of fibromyalgia and would like to schedule an appointment with a doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Early Onset Alzheimer’s

Many people associate Alzheimer’s disease with older adults that are advanced in age. However, the disease can also affect people who are younger than the age of 65.  When this happens, the disease is referred to as younger-onset or early onset Alzheimer’s.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s has been found to mostly affect people in their forties and fifties.   Currently, experts are unsure why some people get the disease at an earlier age than others.  Research does point to genetics as a contributing factor in some cases.

The symptoms and signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s may differ with each person and can include:

  • Personality or mood changes
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Misplacing items on a regular basis
  • Frequently withdrawing from social situations
  • Difficulty finding the right words for specific items
  • Difficulty finishing a sentence
  • Losing track of locations, dates or times
  • Asking for the same information again and again
  • Difficulty learning new things

If you are experiencing symptoms or displaying signs of the disease on an ongoing basis, it is recommended that you consult a physician who specializes in treating Alzheimer’s.   In order to diagnose the disease, the physician may complete a comprehensive medical evaluation which can include cognitive tests, brain imaging, neurological and medical exams.

Early detection of Alzheimer’s disease can maximize the benefits received from treatment and may help you to maintain your independence longer.  Therefore, it is highly advised that you seek the assistance of a specialist immediately.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What is Bell’s Palsy ?

Bell’s palsy is a condition that causes the muscles on one side of the face to become very weak or even paralyzed. When this happens, the face droops on one side. The cause of this is usually damage to the seventh cranial nerve, known as the “facial nerve” . It is more common in people who have diabetes, are pregnant or who have recently had a viral infection, but it can happen to anyone. Bell’s palsy is usually only temporary with the symptoms disappearing within a few weeks to a few months.
Symptoms of Bell’s Palsy:
• Unable to blink on one side
• Facial droop
• Drooling
• Problem with chewing
• Loss of sense of taste
• Unable to close one eye
• Possible pain behind the ear or in the jaw
Diagnosing Bell’s palsy usually involves taking a detailed medical history as well as ruling out other causes of nerve damage to the face. These symptoms can also be caused by a stroke, Lyme disease and a stroke.  A physician may order a few tests to help with the diagnosis. This might include an MRI, a CT scan and an Electromyography (EMG).
Bell’s palsy often will start to resolve on its own after a few weeks. To relieve some of the symptoms, which can be very uncomfortable, a physician might prescribe corticosteroids which have an anti-inflammatory affect and also some physical therapy.  To relieve some pain, a mild pain reliever can be taken such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol.
If you have any symptoms of sudden facial drooping you should go to the nearest emergency room immediately. .

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.  During this month, the Alzheimer’s Association is asking healthcare providers to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease affects over 5 million Americans and is fatal.  It is a progressive brain disease that currently has no cure.  Alzheimer’s is more than memory loss and can appear through a variety of signs and symptoms such as:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty planning and solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Difficulty determining time or place
  • Difficulty finding the right words
  • Misplacing items often
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Personality and mood changes
  • Withdrawing from work and social events

Alzheimer’s, unlike Dementia (which is syndrome that affects mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning) causes the person to lose the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

Jamaica Hospital is committed to raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia through social media and providing medical services to those who are experiencing the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

If you or a loved one has questions or concerns and would like to see a medical professional, call Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center for an appointment at 718-206-7001.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, visit www.act.alz.org

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.