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Ask Dr. Gott 4/27

Nonsurgical treatment for spurs

DEAR DR. GOTT: Thirty years ago, I had a spur removed from my neck, which affected my whole right arm. The operation was a success, and, after the nerve pressure was released, I played golf again for many years. I also have sciatica occasionally (lower back and leg).
    Now the spur is back and the pain is returning. However, I am now 81 years old and am on Coumadin and Toprol for my heart. I played golf a few times this year and am pretty agile. No one would ever know to look at me that I have this problem. I would like to know how this is treated now, without the surgery to get rid of the spur.
    DEAR READER: Bone spurs in or around the spine can lead to severe chronic pain. Before even considering more surgery, you should try chiropractic manipulation or a course of physical therapy. Steroid injections or epidurals may also lead to significant improvement.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Managing Chronic Pain."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I have found a new use for castor oil. I used it two or three times daily on my thin fingernails. They are now thicker and stronger, and there is a lot less breakage.
    DEAR READER: Good for you. I am sure my readers with brittle fingernails would welcome a good over-the-counter remedy.
    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am writing to you for some advice.
    My oldest son, 59, has a terrible time with his hands. At the ends of his fingers, the skin splits like a cut, and they bleed. He has been to many skin doctors and has tons of salve and medications, and nothing seems to help. His hands are very sore, and he wears gloves when they open up in case of infection. I have never seen anything like it. Otherwise, he is in good health. Can you help?
    DEAR READER: I cannot diagnose your son's skin problem without seeing him and — I suspect — certainly could not out-guess his dermatologists, anyway.
    Having confessed my inadequacies, I suggest Bag Balm as a cheap, useful and safe therapy for dry skin that splits and bleeds. If your son finds that the Bag Balm doesn't work, he should try Vicks VapoRub. He may have a fungal infection that is causing the dryness and splitting.
    Please let me know how this works out.

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