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Ask Dr. Gott 6/9

Leg weakness call for medical testing

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am a 74-year-old white male. For the past two years, I have noticed a progressive weakening and unsteadiness in my legs. Although I still walk for about 45 minutes three times a week, I have to be very careful not to trip and fall. Going up a flight of stairs is becoming more and more difficult, and I'm very unsteady and slow going down stairs. Is this condition something other than normal aging?
    DEAR READER: As I have learned, advancing age is often the cause of poor coordination and weakness. So, in answer to your question, I'll say "maybe."
    However, I feel obligated to recommend that you see a neurologist just to be sure. Your symptoms, although common, could reflect a nerve disorder or "mini" strokes. You need further testing. Ask your primary-care physician for a referral to a specialist.
    While awaiting your appointment with the neurologist you should try physical therapy or balance classes, which are offered by most hospitals. These may help you, especially if your balance difficulties are simply the result of the aging process, as I suspect they are.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: My 49-year-old niece has had trouble all her life getting her hormones in balance. Now her breasts have gotten so large she is miserable. She also has bouts of depression. What can she do to improve her health and her life?
    DEAR READER: Although your niece's depression and breast enlargement probably would respond to a modification of her hormone therapy, she may be a candidate for breast-reduction surgery. If these options fail to relieve her depression, she may need to consider antidepression medication.
    She should start with her gynecologist, who can coordinate the solution to your niece's health issues.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Mental and Emotional Disorders." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: Sometime ago, I sent you a letter asking for the directions for mixing grape juice and Certo for arthritis relief.
    I have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, and I have much pain in my back and down my leg. I need to know how to use this mixture.
    DEAR READER: Certo in purple grape juice (1 tablespoon per 8 ounces grape juice) can be useful for osteoarthritis in the extremities. It is not particularly helpful in preventing back pain. You may wish to try rubbing odorless castor oil into your arthritic joints and back twice a day. Many of my readers have experienced success with this remedy. Or I recommend that you try a product called Castiva. It contains a natural base of castor oil and comes in both warming (capsaicin) and cooling (menthol) formulas. It is available in most drugs stores, or you can purchase it online at www.castivabrands.com.

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